Monday, November 28, 2022

The SNP have to display absolute conviction that an election is a decision on independence, not on a Section 30 order, if they want Labour supporters and the BBC to react in the desired way

As I've noted a few times over recent days, the SNP leadership have clearly decided that using a Westminster election - as opposed to a snap Holyrood election - as a plebiscite vote is not even up for discussion, and have no intention of telling us the real reason why they're so determined to go down that road.  To the extent we're hearing any reasons at all, they're just 'truthy' sounding excuses that don't stand up to the remotest scrutiny.  So for the sheer hell of it, let's speculate as to what the real explanation might be.  Here are a few obvious possibilities that spring to mind...

1) They're worried that if a Holyrood plebiscite election goes catastrophically wrong, they might lose power altogether (something that can't happen in a Westminster election).  This is not a completely unfounded concern, because electorates in western countries are more volatile than a few decades ago, and if things start to go wrong in the middle of an election campaign there is the danger of the wheels coming off completely - as they did for Iain Gray in 2011, for example.  But it still doesn't make sense to give in to that worry, because the purpose of the SNP having power is to use that power to attempt to bring independence about.  It's not the function of the independence campaign or of the independence cause to keep the SNP in comfortable, risk-free power for its own sake.

2) They're worried about the symbolism of Nicola Sturgeon resigning as First Minister, as she would be required to do to trigger an early Holyrood election without a two-thirds majority vote.  If so, they're being absurdly risk-averse, because from a procedural point of view there really is nothing that can go wrong.  The SNP and Greens in combination have enough seats to prevent any alternative government from being viable.  Any unionist government that might technically take power on a minority parliamentary vote would find itself humiliated in a confidence vote within a matter of days.

3) They've decided to make a virtue out of necessity by using the clamour for a 'Plan B' to help the SNP win seats at a potentially tricky general election.  Although this would be a very cynical motivation, it's the most interesting one, because it would suggest they've war gamed it (perhaps with the help of private polling and focus groups), and come to the conclusion that the SNP would do better in a plebiscite Westminster election than in a regular Westminster election.  And ultimately anything that's in the self-interest of the SNP in a plebiscite vote is also in the interests of the independence cause.  Perhaps they think Yes-supporting Labour voters (the Cat Boyd Paradox) would be more likely to switch to the SNP if independence seemed to be genuinely on the ballot.  Maybe they reckon the BBC and other broadcasters would be more open to giving the SNP fair access to leaders' debates if the election is presented as a de facto referendum on independence.

But if that is their thinking, it further underscores what I said the other day about the absolute imperative of closing down any suggestion that the plebiscite election is just a ruse and all you're really looking for is a Section 30 order.  If you don't have absolute conviction that the election is an outright decision on independence, don't expect Labour voters or the BBC to believe it either - and if they don't believe it, they simply won't change their behaviour in the way you're banking on.  One of the most extraordinary spectacles I've ever witnessed on British television was the edition of Newsnight on the day Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the plan of using an election as a de facto referendum if the Supreme Court ruled against her.  Astoundingly, it never even occurred to Kirsty Wark to pose the question of whether the UK Government would respect a mandate for independence at a plebiscite election and would then agree to negotiate an independence settlement.  Instead, she just took it as read that the plebiscite plan was nothing more than yet another attempt to gain a Section 30, and only considered the question of whether that ploy would have the desired effect if the SNP won a majority.  Angus Robertson, who was one of her guests, did nothing to challenge that narrative.  

If this strategy is to have a hope in hell of working, the implicit surrendering has got to stop right now.

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  1. Are the weak-willed SNP worried that Westminster would close down Holyrood if the Scottish government resigned en masse? Anarchy as excuse? However facile.

    The SNP's cowardice and selfishness must not be allowed to ruin it for the rest of us. But how to keep the pressure on them?

  2. My read is number 2. Nicola resigning, and Scotland’s government with her, has suicidal optics. Scots outside of the Indy movement, who don’t hang on John Curtice’s word let alone the cross tabs, Stu Campbell or Paul Kavanagh, will be rightly disgusted with her. I would have been too, before I got into politics thanks to Eck making Indyref more than a distant pipe dream. It’s normal, regular, non-obsessed Scots who will determine Scotland’s future. We need a big fat majority of them. Quitting on them to make a fuss—and playing into the what about your day job narrative like every Britnat MSP’s Christmases all came at once—is utter madness.

    There is no occupying army in Scotland. The reason we aren’t commanding two million plus Scots as keen for Yes as the 200 of us who bothered showing up on Wednesday to see Nicola give her speech, is because our message is too shrill to be credible. Scots don’t trust the tories and they don’t trust Sir Keir either. Why aren’t they with us? Because we aren’t as credible as the National and Wings alike are both so convinced we already are.

    1. "Nicola resigning, and Scotland’s government with her, has suicidal optics."

      The alternative (and more accurate) interpretation is that it says to the public that we're in a crisis and independence is needed urgently. If instead we say that it's business as usual, why would anyone think that independence should be a priority?

    2. Anonymous we are not credible because we do not have a credible leader.
      You really aren't that bright anonymous - the forts and garrisons of past days have been replaced by the big media garrisons on the Clyde called STV and BBC and the newspaper buildings.
      What we need to do IS make a fuss or we are just pathetic sheep signalling that we will accept any colour of shit Westminster chooses to dump on us. Weak weak weak weak SNP.

      The Sturgeon approach summarised - we are in a cost of living crisis and we are denied democracy so let's just wait two years and in the interim I'll get on with the important task of passing a GRA that will be subsequently declared illegal by Westminster- aye just brilliant stuff anonymous. We need a real independence leader.

  3. "To the extent we're hearing any reasons at all, they're just 'truthy' sounding excuses that don't stand up to the remotest scrutiny. So for the sheer hell of it, let's speculate as to what the real explanation might be."

    One potential explanation is that a Westminster election is far away. A Holyrood election could be much sooner if desired.

    So, if you don't really want to do anything and just want to kick the can down the road for potentially another couple of years, then make some excuses up as to why it has to be a WM election not a Holyrood one.

    It's not a particularly palatable explanation, but I'm not sure there's any reason why it should be discounted as a potential rationale.

  4. The problem isn't deciding what to do with a +50% result, it's what to do with a sub-50% result, of which there are two types:
    a) The SNP gets less than 50%, but Yes parties collectively have more than 50%.
    b) The SNP and other Yes parties collectively get around 45-49.9%.

    One of the reasons we don't want to use a Holyrood election (yet) is because 2021 showed us that a "draw" scenario is possible, with Yes winning either the constituency or list ballot while No wins the other.

    Another reason is that it's possible to secure a parliamentary majority without winning 50% of the vote. If the SNP had campaigned on the single issue of independence, then what the hell do they do for a term without any policies if Yes fails to win an absolute majority on both ballots?

    The flailing at the moment is because it's not easy to establish a nuanced approach where an absolute majority becomes a mandate to negotiate independence and a plurality is a mandate for IndyRef2. Part of the difficulty is that Britain pretends its pluralities are majorities.

    You must realise that if a plebiscite election, in whichever parliament, is held and we narrowly miss the 50% threshold(s), the unionists who spent that campaign insisting it isn't one will turn around and accept that it was a plebiscite, claiming they won. Then what?

    1. Another anonymite who rightly claims it is super important to win a vote then insists we use the worst possible franchise election to actually win the vote. And numpties say I am a Unionist.

    2. Holyrood has a 5-10% point yes electorate advantage before the information and media advantages which are additional..if you use wm you lose

      The route to indy is UDI..there will be no recognition by wm of this process. We can't afford to lose a wm b4 a subsequent holyrood victory as that hugely lessens the chances of un recognition.

      You play to win. yes alliance at holyrood. All other strategies are for little girls as a a certain faux Kazakh once said.

  5. The SNP = The Surrendering National Party.

    First established in January 2020 by Nicola Sturgeon.

    Kept alive by numpties.


    That is what Keith Brown now says we are in on Scotland Tonight this evening. Wow tough talking from the ex soldier. What is a closed union? Who on earth does he think wants to join this closed union? Are countries forming an orderly queue somewhere to sign up to be oppressed by England and have any natural resources they have stolen to be stashed away in offshore accounts like Better Together's Baroness Mone. The SNP are to scared to even say what the UK truly is but numpties think this lot will force open the door for us to escape. Truly pathetic stuff.
    It's a prison Keith Brown - how hard is it to say the truth.

  7. Alba needs to stand, 49 can be 51 with Alba votes. Don't listen to Wings or mad liar Skier with their flat line and ski slope graphs. Sturgeon is not a leader.

    1. The gateway has sprung open again has it. Hey are you me in a parallel universe and Alba is trapped in the UK.

    2. Sturgeon is not a leader ? The Scottish electorate think she is !.

    3. Wee walker you know that exactly how. The leader of the SNP is supposed to be an independence leader not a politician who wins elections and mandates for a referendum that are unused. 8 years a leader in your mind but no referendum never mind independence. You want to give Sturgeon another 2 years. Ok that will be 10 years of failure. Hope you will be pleased with yourself.

  8. Obvious explanation is at Westminster they don't have to form a yes alliance as there will be huge pressure on alba not to stand so as not to split the vote as it's fptp..

    Same doesn't apply on list at holyrood and SNP would find it harder to do a SNP *2 narrative there for indy. This could give Alba a platform if elected and thus deny SNP future devo indy vote hegemony..

    That's the main reason for wm Vs holyrood..

    The other one is just to get their mps reelected Vs labour rise..

    They don't give a shit about indy as if they did they'd stop doing stupid plebiscites at clearly the wrong election with weasel words about what victory would even entail (i.e. in reality can I have a section 30again? Answer: no phuq off)

    1. This actually puts Alba in a position of power. We will stand down and tell our supporters to vote for you... If and only if you have it explicitly in your manifesto that on winning 50% + 1 you will go straight to negotiating independence with Westminster, not simply asking for an S30. Including all party members to actually say this in public.

  9. Alister Jack: - " You can't have a mandate for something we now know you do not have any power over." This is Jack referring to the de facto UK GE referendum in response to a question by Pension Pete Wishart in the H. of Commons.
    So it looks like the Britnats are going for the all out 100% illegal stance. They are doing a Catalonia on us and that is exactly what was warned about if Sturgeon kept time wasting.

    So this argument that a Holyrood de facto would be deemed illegal but not a UK de facto is unlikely to be true. We could wait two years and against all odds get a >50% vote and the Britnats say it is illegal just like Jack said. But more likely the Britnats say it is illegal and Sturgeon folds and no de facto UK GE happens.

    In summary, Sturgeon is a time waster and has played right in to the Britnats hands. You can make up your own mind if it is incompetence or her secret master plan.

    1. The point about a 'de facto' referendum is relevant as it's all kide on anyway.. Macbeth was on about indy being fought as the main issue if we must hours after sturgeon's de facto initial announcement on newsnight..

      They'll just put independence on the side of a bus get re-elected..and the brits will say you didn't get 50% and they'll be correct..and that'll be it...

  10. Some say we cannae collapse Holyrood and have a de facto election people won't like it. Very true Britnats won't like it and that is as good a reason as any to do it.
    David Cameron did it, Theresa May did it, Boris Johnston did it. It's all the rage in Westminster circles you know.
    This line of thought by people is just more of the cringe - we cannae do this we cannae do that. If the Britnats boycott it the worst outcome will be an independence supermajority in Holyrood.

    1. A wee reminder Johnston collapsed the English parliament and had an election in December on a single issue of Get Brexit Done - and he got it done with the help of the SNP who lobbied for this election. That's right Sturgeon was happy to collapse the English Parliament and have an election in December to help the English get their Brexit but for Scots it's let's have a talking shop some time next year and then at the end Sturgeon tells them what is happening which will be what she wanted at the beginning. Sturgeon is a time waster doing a great job for the Britnats which is basically moving Scotland to the same position as Catalonia. Except Sturgeon won't be in jail.

  11. Somewhere in a parallel universe the BBC has a headline warning of the creeping authoritarianism of Rishi Sunak's regime.

  12. It’s just a sub-sample but YouGov’s latest, detailed polling breakdown is just out. Field work 22nd - 23rd November, so hardly hot aff the press.
    Con - 16%, SLab - 32%, SNP - 42%
    SLab’s resurgence (purchased from the Tories and Truss’ wee experiment) persists in Scotland as it dissipates UK wide.
    On these figures (it’s just a sub-sample) SLab would take plenty seats in the Central belt in a Westminster election. In a Holyrood election the losses would be recovered on the Regional list.
    Why was manufacturing a Holyrood plebiscite dismissed so out of hand?
    Curiouser and curiouser.

    Just for laughs. LibDems are on 2%. Farage’s latest Facebook based grift posing as a political party, Reform UK are on 4%. Alex Coal-Scuttle’s erse must be making buttons.

  13. Alex Neil has branded the Scottish Government’s independence proposals ‘crap’. He said: “We need clarity. What are we asking for a mandate on? Is it a mandate for independence negotiations or a mandate for a referendum? At the moment that’s not clear. More muddied waters. Vote Alba Declare UDI

  14. Holyrood election vs UK General Election as de facto referendum, the pros and cons - the title of the latest article from Nicola Sturgeon - oops sorry it's actually by one of the many Sturgeon mouthpieces calling himself a Wee Ginger Dug. And like all dogs they tend to crap all over the place and this article needs picking up in a wee black bag and chucked in a bin. The diddy doesn't even mention voter ID and suppression of votes.

    The big dug has no credibility. A Sturgeon schill. Leading us nowhere but stretching it out for year after year.

    The article moans about the Britnat media but Swinney had an opportunity in the Smith Commission to get it devolved but did nothing.

    The article says there is no chance of a section 30 but he went along with the SNP for years saying the Britnats will cave in to Scottish democracy. How wrong can you be.

    He ignorantly claims everything but doing what Sturgeon wants is "fantasy politics. "

    He says a benefit of a Holyrood election is that it could be engineered for Oct 23. Kicking the can down the road as ever. It could be engineered NOW if there is a will.

    He ignorantly talks about bubble thinking when there is no greater bubble thinking than btl on his blog.

    He tries it on with the argument the Britnats will declare a Holyrood election illegal but not a Westminster one. Thats just his guess. My guess is they will declare either of them illegal so we may as well try and have the one that gives us a better chance of winning - Holyrood.

    There is so much more crap in this article I cannae be bothered listing it all. What a dogs mess Sturgeon has led us in to. 8 years and this is where we are - right in the shit.

  15. An actually good strategy. Which I highly highly doubt will happen is (actually let's be honest it won't happen):

    SNP keep saying they will use a General Election as the pleb. Have Westminster preparing for that, investing money in that. Wait for the voter ID thing to happen and then say, sorry Westminster are not playing fair, we must do a snap Scottish election as they are trying to rig the game.

    Catch them off-guard and ill-prepared. Give the Scottish people a better reason to understand why we must dissolve parliament etc and get more folks on our side.

    But the fact they won't even allow the word 'shackle' to be uttered, I hold no such hope this will ever happen.

    But it would be potentially best case scenario.

  16. Agreed but the SNP hasn't shown any determination (outside of Trans / EU membership) for indy since 2014. Too many brown nosers telling the leadeship what it wants to hear.

  17. They obviously have to go into the vote seeking outright mandate to begin independence negotiations.

    However, if on the event of a clear majority Westminster offered a section 30 at a specific point in time, I think they'd bite their hand off if it meant international recognition.

  18. BBC launching a new programme tonight based in the Highlands. I'm guessing it is for BBC Scotland staff as it is called Traitors.