Friday, November 18, 2022

Support for pro-independence parties increases in the Linn by-election - but Labour still take the seat

First of all, the normal disclaimer that I'm taking this result from a Twitter post, so I can't 100% guarantee its accuracy.  When I've manually checked Twitter reports of local by-election results in the past, it's amazing how often there have been major discrepancies in the percentages.

Linn by-election result on first preferences (17th November 2022)

Labour 43.4% (+11.3) 
SNP 33.2% (-0.2) 
Greens 8.0% (+1.9) 
Conservatives 6.4% (-5.1) 
Liberal Democrats 5.7% (-0.6) 
Alba 1.8% (+0.5) 
SSP 0.9% (n/a) 
UKIP 0.4% (n/a) 
Freedom Alliance 0.4% (n/a)

If you do the sums, the first thing you'll notice here is that Labour have overtaken the SNP in the ward since the local elections six months ago.  But in the strange world of STV by-elections, this will still be classed as a Labour hold, not a Labour gain, because the vacancy was caused by the death of one of the ward's two Labour councillors.  The good news is that the combined total vote for pro-independence parties has increased from 40.8% in May to 43.9% yesterday - although that may be partly due to a sizeable chunk of votes for an independent candidate in May becoming freshly available.

The result is actually strikingly in line with what you would have expected from the recent Scotland-wide opinion polls.  Labour have made gains that are significant but hardly of biblical proportions.  The extra Labour voters have come to a substantial degree from the Tories and not from the SNP, whose support has held up since May - when remember they won an all-time record high share of the vote in local elections.

Linn was a particular test for my own party Alba, who were standing in a by-election for the first time ever.  Our result can be viewed in either a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty way, because we did slightly increase our share of the vote in the ward.  However, I suspect the general feeling will be one of disappointment.  A by-election removed some of the disadvantages faced by Alba in previous elections - our resources weren't stretched too thin, with activists able to pour in from across the country, and Alex Salmond was there to campaign in person.  The leadership probably hoped that would be enough to get us out of the frustrating 1-2% zone, but unfortunately that hasn't proved to be the case.  

This is merely the first in a double-header of by-elections Alba are standing in, and if we get a better result in two weeks from now, it'll be entirely reasonable to 'split the difference' and conclude that a little progress has been made.  However, taken in isolation, the Linn result supports the observation I made a few weeks ago that Alba's current coalition of support appears to be too narrowly-based and will not be sufficient to win list seats at the next Holyrood election.  There are still three-and-a-half years to go, so it's entirely possible list seats could yet be won, but that will depend on using that time to grow our support rather than contentedly flatlining in the 1-2% zone.  It looks like we've pretty much maxed out the 'furious at Nicola Sturgeon, let's destroy the SNP' vote and that we'll have to move out of our comfort zone to find the considerable extra support we need.

As I said after the local elections six months ago, the people who assume Alba will shortly cease to exist because of repeated poor electoral results are missing the point.  Defeats played a part in the demise of parties like Change UK, but that was only half of the equation - the other half was that the people involved had alternative political homes (such as the Liberal Democrats) to turn to.  Alba will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, irrespective of election outcomes, simply because we do not have an alternative home in the SNP under its intolerant current leadership.  But that doesn't mean that we should settle for mere existence without non-trivial support at the ballot box.  We can choose to actually do something with our continued existence, but achieving the elusive breakthrough will mean being brutally honest with ourselves about the fact that, as currently constituted, we're too narrow a sect.  We've been lulled into a false sense of security by the knowledge that we genuinely represent a substantial proportion of the independence movement, and we've assumed that's bound to be reflected sooner or later in a similar proportion of pro-independence votes.  But the wider pro-independence Scotland - made up of the vast swathes of people who aren't members of political parties and aren't involved in Yes groups and don't go to public meetings - is a very different universe.

Towards the end of my year on the Alba NEC, I became concerned that - paradoxical though it may seem - a sense of complacency was creeping in about the party's chances in 2026.  That was generated in part by some truly heroic assumptions about the voters who gave their third preference votes to Alba in May behind two SNP candidates.  The thought that people who don't actively hate you are bound to vote for you on the Holyrood list is seductive when you're looking for glimmers of hope, but I'm afraid political reality is a lot harsher than that for small parties.  Non-hate is not support.  We don't yet have the support we need and we're going to have to earn it.  We need to pitch our tent on the radical end of the pro-independence mainstream, with mainstream being the operative word.  That means, I would suggest, no longer pandering (albeit in a deniable way) to ethnonationalists, and massively toning down the near-homicidal rage at the SNP and senior people within it.  Putting a decisive end to the constant dark hints that we might try to sabotage a plebiscite election with a revenge mission against the SNP would be an extremely positive first step along that road.

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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Panic grips Westminster as bombshell Ipsos poll shows 54% of Scottish voters want independence

It was brought to my attention earlier today that Ipsos UK (formerly Ipsos-Mori) recently published a poll relating to Scottish independence.  It's a UK-wide poll, but the results are presented separately for each constituent nation, and the Scottish sample is not only correctly weighted, it's also actually bigger than you'd get in an average full-scale Scottish poll.  What makes it particularly interesting is that it's an online poll, whereas the vast majority of Ipsos polls we see in Scotland are conducted by telephone - which we usually assume is the explanation for them showing a higher Yes vote than polls from other firms.

Frustratingly, there's no standard independence question, ie. "Should Scotland be an independent country?", but there is an indirect question that ought to be reasonably effective at finding out whether people would vote Yes or No - and the Scotland-only results suggest there is a majority who would vote Yes, at least once "don't knows" and "don't minds" are excluded.

If a referendum were held in Scotland on its constitutional future, would you personally prefer Scotland to vote for or against leaving the UK and becoming an independent country?  (Ipsos, 13th-19th October 2022, Scottish sample only)

Would prefer Scotland to vote for independence: 50%
Would prefer Scotland to vote against independence: 43%

With undecideds and those who aren't bothered stripped out, that works out as 54% in favour of independence and 46% opposed - which is strikingly similar to some of the more recent telephone results from Ipsos.  Leaving aside the issue of the non-standard question, it's also better for the Yes campaign than any other online poll from any firm for approximately eighteen months.  So maybe the factor that causes Ipsos to produce better results for Yes is specific to the firm rather than to the data collection method - or maybe it's a bit of both. 

Also very encouraging from the poll is that Scottish voters are split down the middle on whether independence would have a positive or negative effect on the economy - a far cry from the 2014 referendum, when the Yes campaign were loaded down by the millstone of a widespread public belief that indy would harm the economy.  Trying to win against that backdrop was doubly hard - of course you could attempt to direct people's attention to counterweighting considerations, but it was like trying to ascend an escalator that was going downwards.  No such problem nowadays.

Incidentally, you might remember that in the early stages of the 2014 campaign, Tories down south used to boast that Scottish independence was more popular in England than in Scotland - although why they were so happy about such an obvious threat to the Union was something of a mystery.  For better or for worse, it's certainly no longer the case - Scotland is the only country in the UK that actually wants Scotland to become independent.  England is opposed by 54% to 14% with a very substantial minority who don't mind either way, and Wales is opposed by a similar 54% to 16%.  It's a closer run thing in Northern Ireland, which is only opposed by 43% to 28% - probably because those who desire Irish unity have such an obvious point of empathy with our cause.  In fact, the Northern Ireland results could potentially be presented the other way around - because the combined total of those who favour independence or who don't mind either way actually exceeds the anti-independence total, perhaps it should be said that only a minority are in favour of the Union.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Remember, remember, the twenty-third of November: the point of no return for both the British state and the SNP

As a Doctor Who fan, 23rd November was always a very meaningful date when I was growing up (it's the anniversary of the programme's first transmission in 1963 and has frequently been used for anniversary specials).  But it looks like that meaning will soon be overtaken for me: 23rd November will forevermore be the date on which the British authorities in London declared that the UK is no longer a voluntary union, and that Scotland has no democratic means of escaping its imprisonment in the British state unless given special permission by the UK Government.  I use the term 'British authorities in London' advisedly, because one of the clearest signals of the way the wind is blowing was the extreme touchiness the President of the Supreme Court exhibited during his opening remarks at the October hearing, when the only supposed 'public misconception' he seemed interested in clearing up was the entirely accurate claim that he heads a British institution in London deciding Scotland's future.  He tried rather implausibly to portray the court as a part-Scottish institution that has sometimes sat in Scotland (yeah, how many times would that be?) and that applies Scots Law.  He would hardly have felt the need to do that if there was the remotest chance of the court actually upholding Scotland's right to democratically choose its own future.

So one week from today, everything will change for the independence movement, and for the SNP leadership in particular.  Unless the court serves up a massive surprise, the "2023 referendum" that the SNP have continued to hype up over recent months will be officially off.  That will leave behind a vacuum in terms of a mission and a focus for the party membership.  But as long as Nicola Sturgeon sticks to what she has already promised, that vacuum should be very easily filled by a plebiscite election that we can expect within two years.  Indeed, this should be a moment of liberation for the independence movement, because it will free us from the tyranny of 'once in a generation' - we will no longer need be haunted by an excessive fear of defeat, because if we are forced in future through no fault of our own to seek an independence mandate via scheduled elections instead of referendums, the only limit on how quickly we can go back and try again after a defeat will be the frequency with which scheduled elections occur.

Will Nicola Sturgeon stick to the promise, though?  There have been some troubling signs, most notably Mhairi Hunter and Angus Robertson both making comments that seemed to imply that they think a plebiscite election is simply an election in which the SNP seek a mandate with which to pressurise the UK Government into granting a Section 30 order - ie. exactly what they've been doing for years and years and that has proved beyond all doubt to be a dud strategy.  Additionally, Nicola Sturgeon indicated that the SNP might need to take some time to reflect after a Supreme Court defeat - why?  If you've already announced that a plebiscite election will automatically follow such a defeat, why wouldn't you simply use the high-profile nature of the occasion to reiterate that plan, rather than allowing the momentum to flag by embarking on a seemingly redundant spell of humming and hawing?  The only obvious reason I can think of is that you want to use the 'reflection period' as part of a pre-planned choreography for a U-turn, or at least for a watering down of the plebiscite election concept until it comes into line with Hunter's and Robertson's interpretations - in other words until it ceases to be a plebiscite election in any meaningful sense.

I strongly urge rank-and-file SNP members to be vigilant against that danger.  A plebiscite election is not an election in which a mandate for a referendum is sought, nor is it merely an election in which - to use Angus Robertson's odd choice of words - "independence is the key issue".  To qualify as a plebiscite election, the SNP manifesto would have to make it clear that a majority of the vote would constitute an outright mandate for independence, and that if such a mandate is achieved, the UK government would be expected to negotiate an independence settlement without any further need for a referendum.  If that isn't the path the SNP stick to, the Supreme Court verdict will turn into a lose/lose outcome - we'll just carry on ineffectually seeking a Section 30 order, and the only thing that will have changed is that we'll have thrown away our only back-up plan.

That said, if the SNP's members succeed in keeping the leadership honest and a genuine plebiscite election occurs, there will then be a challenge for the smaller pro-independence parties, who will have to realise that splitting the Yes vote under a first-past-the-post system is an indulgence we simply can't afford.

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The social media pile-on directed against me by Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland has predictably continued over recent days.  It's purely and simply an attempt to stop any further legitimate criticisms of Mr Campbell from being expressed, but at some point the penny will have to drop with his supporters that the bully-boy tactic isn't working.  Quite the reverse, in fact: the more attacks I have to respond to, the more you'll find that I do respond to them, and all the outrage and mockery and affected "boredom" will not actually prove to be any sort of deterrent. 

Craig Murray intervened the other night with a friendlier and more equal opportunities attempt at silencing, because he wanted both me and Mr Campbell to shut up. But in doing so, he unwittingly provided some highly revealing light relief.  He told us to stop focusing on each other and instead to train our fire on "the real enemy".  It quickly became apparent that the real enemy he was referring to was not the unionist parties or the UK Government, but instead Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP!  

This is where I think Craig and any of the other more well-meaning of Mr Campbell's defenders need to show a touch of humility and perspective.  To them, it may honestly seem impossible for anyone to criticise Mr Campbell in even the tiniest way without being "divisive" or "obsessive" or "not altogether sensible" to use Craig's own words.  But for years Craig has churned out article after article attacking Nicola Sturgeon, Angus Robertson and other leading SNP figures as enemies to the independence cause who must be ruthlessly defeated.  To at least 80% of the independence movement, and to 99% of pro-independence voters, he must look as if he's taken leave of his senses.  They'll be quietly screaming at him to stop causing "division", and to stop being "obsessional", and certainly to stop saying things that are "not altogether sensible", and instead to turn his attention back to "the real enemy" in the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Now, that actually is not the position I take - although I don't share Craig's view that Nicola Sturgeon is an out-and-out enemy of independence (I just think she's overly timid and cautious), I nevertheless don't doubt his sincerity in believing that she is.  But given the extreme extent to which he is pushing against the tide of mainstream opinion in the movement about Nicola Sturgeon, I think it would do him some credit to acknowledge that even though he or one particular group of people hold a view that Stuart Campbell remains an ally of the independence cause, others may sincerely reach the opposite conclusion without in any way being misguided or 'cranks' or 'missing the bigger picture' - especially since the evidence that Mr Campbell has turned against independence is considerably stronger than the equivalent evidence for Ms Sturgeon.

Last year, Mr Campbell chose polling day of all times to post a disgraceful piece urging his readers not to vote for the pro-independence candidates on the Holyrood constituency ballot in a significant number of seats.  If he had got his way and unionist parties had won those seats, it could have cost us the pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, which would have set the cause back years, if not decades.  For quite some time, he has joined with the unionist media in pushing false propaganda about polling to leave his readers with the bogus impression that Yes support has flatlined since 2014 (and because many readers are sufficiently under his spell to abandon all critical thinking, they just take his false claims as read and honestly think they "know" that Yes support has been static since 2014 - or even more ludicrously that Yes support among women has "dropped 17%" because of the GRA issue).  And he's taken a scorched earth approach to the pro-independence New Media by peddling bogus statistics to give the impression that the Yes blogosphere has essentially withered to nothing, because his so-called "closed" website (which in fact he's currently blogging full-time on!) is, he'd like us to believe, the only site that anyone is interested in looking at.

It is far from obvious that the above are the actions of an independence supporter.  When he's not actively trying to defeat independence at the ballot box, he's indirectly willing the destruction of our movement by means of self-fulfilling prophecies.  Can anyone doubt that he wants his claims about a stagnant Yes vote to be true?  Can anyone doubt that he would love his claims that there is no thriving pro-independence New Media without Wings to be correct?  

It may be that if the Supreme Court surprise us by allowing a referendum, Mr Campbell will just about be on the Yes side once again, perhaps by running his own dedicated "Yes to independence, No to a Scotland where women have beards" campaign.  But in the more likely scenario of a plebiscite election, I have no doubt whatever that he would attempt to sabotage the vote.  What he did at last year's election is a very clear precedent for that.

Incidentally, Craig tried to portray the differences I have with Stuart as purely personal, on the basis that you couldn't put a cigarette paper between our political views and that I'm even closer politically to Stuart than Craig is (presumably he's referring to the fact that I broadly share Stuart's views on the gender identity issue).  Even leaving aside the fact that I remain in favour of independence while Stuart appears to have become ambivalent about it at best, I can actually think of at least three fundamental political differences between us, just off the top of my head:

1) Stuart wants to concede that Trident can remain in an independent Scotland in return for massive financial compensation, whereas for me the removal of inhuman weapons of mass destruction from our shores is an absolutely non-negotiable red line.

2) Stuart is opposed to the continued existence of the Gaelic language, whereas I want it to be protected and if at all possible revived (and indeed on a nightly basis I plug away on Duolingo trying to learn Gaelic myself).  As a Welsh commenter on this blog pointed out the other day, Stuart even went so far as offensively equating the speaking of Gaelic with "the burning of witches", ie. something society used to do but should have grown out of by now.  Although an irrational hatred of Gaelic isn't necessarily incompatible with support for independence, it's hard to see the point of having an independent Scotland that simply seeks to replicate English culture as much as humanly possible.

3) Judging from his Twitter activity, Stuart gives the very strong impression of supporting the SNP's official policy of a so-called "Scottish Model" on prostitution law, which is essentially a carbon copy of the Nordic Model with a saltire slapped on it.  I believe the Nordic Model infantilises women and deprives them of agency, stops men and women from being equal in the eyes of the law, and is based on an ideology every bit as nonsensically metaphysical ("all sex work is literal violence against women") as the gender identity ideology.  This isn't an issue on most people's radars, but you can hear more about it in a podcast I did with Maggie McNeill last year.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Memo to London Labour: you do realise people in Scotland can hear you when you speak, yeah?

Back in July, which feels like a different lifetime politically because in those days it still seemed fairly plausible that there would be a Tory victory at the next general election, I had intended to blog about an extraordinary comment made on the BBC by the English Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh.

"Well, Keir Starmer's made it completely clear that there's absolutely no deals to do with the SNP, and actually in Scotland, Labour's gone so far as to rule out any relationship with them, even in local elections.  I mean, I think we lost control of Aberdeen Council because we refused to do it.  Only last week, we suspended two Labour councillors in Edinburgh because they weren't prepared to vote for the Tories over the SNP."

That was unwittingly a party political broadcast for the SNP.  It said to former Labour voters in Scotland: "don't trust us, we'll always favour the party you want out of power over the party you quite like and have been voting for since 2015, and we'll do that because we're hellbent on stopping independence, which you support".  Ironically, Labour's USP in Westminster elections in Scotland is that only they can keep out a Tory government - it's based on a fib, but it resonates with some voters because it has a 'truthy' feel to it.  If McDonagh's comment were ever to become widely known, that USP would be straight out of the window, because apparently Labour suspend their own elected representatives for refusing to install Tory administrations. That's how much they love Tory rule.

There's also the problem if that if you want to win voters over, you generally want them to feel that you're on their side and on their wavelength.  Treating the SNP as the equivalent of a terrorist organisation who must be stopped at all costs, even at the expense of putting the Tories in power, just seems downright weird to members of the public who have been routinely voting SNP since 2011 or 2015.  Even if those people are becoming slightly jaded with the SNP, they'll look at the obvious major alternative in Labour and think "well, if you'd put the Tories in power to stop the SNP and independence, that's totally alien to my thinking and my values, so actually it looks like the SNP are still closer to being on my wavelength than you are".

Presumably McDonagh would be horrified if it was pointed out to her the effect her words were having in Scotland, but let's be honest, she shouldn't need to be told - it was a pretty bloody obvious blunder.  So what on earth was she thinking?  Naturally she had only one thing on her mind and that was voters in England.  Labour are haunted by the success of the Tory attack line in 2015 claiming that Ed Miliband as Prime Minister would be a puppet dancing to Alex Salmond's tune, and ever since then they've gone to increasingly extreme lengths to be seen to be treating the most popular party in Scotland as untouchable scum.  But they forget that their words are heard just as loudly in Scotland, and that those words demonstrate that the entire English political system and English political culture are literally at war with Scottish democratic aspirations, thus underscoring the necessity of independence. The impression given is that the primary motivating factor for English voters is to stop Scottish voters having any influence over the government of the UK - which is the perfect description of a toxic union, not a 'precious' union.

It certainly couldn't have been the case back in July that Labour had calculated that they didn't need Scottish voters - at that point there was no convincing polling evidence that they could form a government without either a) winning their old Scottish heartland seats back, or b) doing a deal with the SNP.  So it must have been the age-old story that they felt safe in ignoring Scottish voters, who could be expected to just dutifully "fall into line" if enough English votes could be sewn up.  And sure enough, since Labour's confidence has grown that they can win an outright GB-wide majority, we've seen their familiar sense of entitlement come to the surface - they plainly don't think they need to have any engagement with Scottish voters or to tailor messaging or policies to Scottish aspirations.  They think they're just 'owed' Scottish votes as soon as they say "we are the only alternative to the Tories" - which is rather optimistic a mere four months after McDonagh boasted that Labour suspend councillors who oppose Tory rule.

That sense of entitlement is the only possible explanation for Keir Starmer's declaration the other day that "there is no case" for returning to the EU or for restoring freedom of movement.  Unless, of course, like McDonagh, he's simply forgotten that Scots will hear his words too. A Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll in June 2020 showed that by a 60%-40% margin, Scotland wants to "rejoin the EU".  It's not just that we think it was a mistake to leave in the first place, we actively want to rejoin.  So what does Starmer have to say to us?  Nothing it seems, other than to metrosplain to us that the only reason we could possibly want independence is because we don't like the Tories much and that he's about to solve that problem (notwithstanding the McDonagh plot hole).  Well, newsflash, Keir: one of the other major attractions of independence is a return to the EU.  If you're not offering an alternative route back into the EU or at least into the single market, and if you're not even going through the motions of showing empathy with a country which clearly thinks there is very much "a case" for rejoining, it may not make a great deal of difference to independence supporters whether there's a Tory government or a Labour government in London.

The uncomfortable reality for Labour is that the SNP first took power when Tony Blair was still Prime Minister, and when there hadn't been a Tory government for a whole decade.  It may be that Labour will only get one shot at winning back their former Scottish voters in 2024, because once in power their popularity in Scotland will fade, just as the Blair government's popularity eventually faded.  And when that happens, it won't be the Tories who the bulk of Scottish voters will look to as the alternative to unpopular Labour rule from London.  It'll be independence.

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Sunday, November 13, 2022

Thoughts on treason

On a previous thread, our regular commenter "Independence for Scotland" disagreed with my view that it was inappropriate and offensive for Stuart Campbell to call Pete Wishart MP a "traitor" the other day.  I'm just going to briefly explain why I think it was.  There's a pretty clear gulf between the way in which people use the words "betray" and "traitor" in normal speech.  Common or garden "betrayal" is something a large number of people are routinely claimed to be guilty of - for example, if someone has an affair, they are said to have betrayed their spouse or partner.  The fact that it's so common doesn't mean it's not a serious thing to accuse someone of, but nevertheless it's not remotely on a par with "traitor", a descriptor which is generally saved for a very select few, the absolute worst of the worst.  Criminal codes generally reserve the severest punishments for treason - indeed Britain technically kept the death penalty on the statute book for treason until the late 1990s, a whole three decades after it was abolished for murder in the 1960s.

So for that reason I wouldn't think twice about suggesting a politician had "betrayed" the independence movement, if indeed that's what I believed they had done, but I would never call them a "traitor".  Anyone who uses that word is almost automatically going to sound like a zealot or extremist, because it carries all sorts of connotations about the "penalty" the supposed traitor should suffer.  It's almost fatuous to apply a term like that to Pete Wishart, an unimportant and faintly ridiculous figure who spends half his life running away from root vegetables.

What was it he did that was supposedly so "treasonable", you may wonder?  It was simply that when he wanted to become Speaker of the House of Commons, he was asked whether he would hypothetically vote against independence with his casting vote as Speaker if that was what convention demanded, and he said he would.  That was just a statement of the bleedin' obvious - you can't take on an office without committing yourself to the duties of that office.  Any SNP MP becoming Speaker would be required to give up their party affiliation and become neutral on all matters of political dispute, including independence.  That's one reason why it's so obviously stupid for the SNP - or any other small party for that matter - to seek the office of Speaker.  Holding on to your own representatives is far more important.   You can maybe imagine the Liberal Democrats thinking to themselves that they have a "duty" to give up one of their number if that is thought to be in the best interests of parliament, but it should be no part of any pro-independence party's function to help make the British parliament work, particularly not at a cost to the independence cause.

My guess is that the bid to become Speaker was Wishart's own crazy idea and his SNP colleagues just indulged him because they knew he had zero chance anyway.  In his own mind he probably saw it as a de facto audition for some kind of lesser role within the Commons committee system.

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And just a quick thanks to the people who have got in touch privately over the last 48 hours to offer supportive words after the latest social media pile-on from Stuart Campbell and his fan club, and to encourage me to keep speaking out.  Although it may sometimes appear that it's only the "trendy" wing of the SNP, the Greens and the ex-RISE radical left who have wised up to Mr Campbell, in fact there are a good number of people from other parts of the movement, including card-carrying members of the Alba Party, who realise that he's ceased to be a friend of the independence cause and that to some extent he's become a problem that needs to be solved (not that there are any easy solutions).  However, they understandably feel unable to say that in public because they know they would be instantly monstered, including by people they regard as friends.  But I, at least, have nothing to lose by continuing to speak up - or if there is anything to lose, it's barely worth having if it entails going along with the pretence that Mr Campbell is somehow a "vital asset" that the movement "needs". (In reality, his following among the general public is very limited, and probably always has been - which is just as well in view of some of his behaviour over recent years.) 

Mr Campbell's disciples may have conveniently forgotten the events of January 2021 five minutes after they happened, but I certainly didn't - that was the moment at which any lingering illusions I had about who Mr Campbell is, and what he's about, melted away forever.  Others I've spoken to have had their own similar individual moments of epiphany, often when Mr Campbell's vindictive wrath threatened to cause them (or actually did cause them) genuine personal harm.  So the endless attempts on social media to bully, mock or "yawn" me into silence, and to make me think that there's much too high a price to pay for making further legitimate criticisms of Mr Campbell in future, will if anything have the opposite effect from the one intended.  I don't respond favourably to bullying, and it simply redoubles my determination to continue to call out, for example, any misrepresentations about independence polling numbers that may appear on Mr Campbell's "closed", "non-existent" website now that he appears to have returned to blogging full-time.  Blatant fibs about polling have become a persistent problem on Wings since he first turned against the campaign for independence several years ago - can anyone see any particular reason why they should go unchallenged?  Nope, me neither.

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