What puzzles me about Stewart McDonald's call for the SNP to back down yet again, and totally abandon its plans to try to win independence in the foreseeable future, is not so much that he's done it (we all know exactly where he's coming from on this) but that The National decided to make it a front page splash and prominently place the entire text of his "report" (ie. extended opinion piece) on their website. As the saying goes, "retweets are not necessarily endorsements", and by the same token "front page splashes are not necessarily endorsements", but the unspoken words that follow in both cases are "but more often than not, they are". It must be hoped that this is one of the exceptions - perhaps The National's plan is to encourage and facilitate the widest possible debate in the run-up to the special conference in March, and we can look forward to equivalent front page splashes about the release of "reports" strongly making the case for the de facto referendum to be moved ahead to an early Holyrood election in October of this year, which a growing consensus within the independence movement recognises to be the option with by far the greatest chance of delivering a successful outcome.
McDonald's piece contains an enormous number of words but it boils down to the following: "A de facto referendum cannot deliver independence because the UK Government will not respect the result. We should therefore instead use the next election to seek a mandate to hold a referendum, and start a campaign to increase support for independence." It really is as thin as that, when you strip away the frills. The fundamental contradiction in it is that McDonald is arguing that any plan that cannot deliver independence must by definition be rejected, and yet the evidence that his own plan cannot deliver independence is considerably stronger than the equivalent evidence that a de facto referendum cannot do the trick. Why? Because his own plan has already been tried, and it has failed. Indeed it has been tried multiple times, and it has failed on each and every occasion. McDonald tacitly acknowledges this himself in a passage that unwittingly borders on the comical -
"By reinforcing such an unambiguous mandate with the issue front and centre of our campaign - even putting the commitment into a form of words on the ballot paper itself - coupled with existing support for a second independence referendum, we will have steeled the mandate to such an unprecedented level that no Prime Minister can misinterpret, delay, or ignore it. It would be the fifth parliamentary election across two parliaments with such a commitment [to a referendum in our manifesto], but there must be a noticeable difference in the prominence that the issue is given compared to previous elections."
In other words, we've tried this four times before and it's had zero effect, but the fifth time, yeah baby, the fifth time it'll work for sure, as long as we're a wee bit more enthusiastic about it than we previously were. As my old American gun nut buddy Kevin Baker used to say, "Do it again, only HARDER!!!!" Stewart, mate, if you think your wholly untested assumption that victory in a de facto referendum will not result in independence negotiations is a fatal flaw, then I'm afraid it's a massive problem for you that we already have such overwhelming evidence that a mandate for an independence referendum does not, and never will, result in an independence referendum.
Aha, Stewart will say, you're overlooking my cunning plan for an independence campaign to take place at the same time, and that will ingeniously tip the balance and ensure the UK Government cannot possibly ignore the fifth mandate for a referendum in the way they have the previous four! Well, this begs the obvious question of why the hell the SNP have not been campaigning for independence thus far (if Stewart thinks they haven't). But more importantly, there are sound reasons for thinking that the UK Government would become even less likely to agree to a referendum if a campaign successfully pushed Yes support higher than it currently is. From London's point of view, there is only strategic sense in facilitating a referendum if they believe they at least have a realistic chance of winning it.
I don't think Stewart has quite thought through the psychological impact of the SNP putting an outright commitment to independence in its manifesto, campaigning seriously on that commitment, and then winning more than 50% of the vote on it. For the first time, the 2014 mandate to remain in the United Kingdom will no longer be uncontested - and indeed the mandate for independence will be seen to be of superior quality to the 2014 result because it'll be much more up to date. I don't know whether independence negotiations will follow thereafter - perhaps they won't, but what I do think is that there would be a recognition that there is a constitutional crisis that needs to be resolved by negotiations of some sort, especially if the mandate is followed up by either disruption at Westminster or a deadline for withdrawing Scottish MPs from the Commons, thus seriously calling into question the legitimacy of continued London rule. It's certainly far more likely to move us on from the current deadlock than the magical thinking of "the fifth mandate for a referendum will be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the way the fourth wasn't".
Stewart claims that the whole idea of a de facto referendum is bogus because only one side of the argument will be fighting the election on that basis. Well, the 1918 election in Ireland is generally regarded as the mandate for an independent Ireland, even though only Sinn Féin fought that election as a de facto independence referendum. Exactly the same point could be made about any other mandate sought via a manifesto commitment - including, for example, a fifth mandate for a referendum. Is Stewart saying that such a mandate would only be valid if unionist parties agree that the election is about whether a referendum should be held? And if so, why on earth should they conveniently play along? What Stewart is actually arguing for is a losers' veto - a sentiment that Alister Jack would thoroughly approve of, but it's nonetheless nothing short of an anti-democratic outrage.
To delegates at the forthcoming conference, let me say this. The de facto referendum was an indispensable part of Nicola Sturgeon's strategy for going to the Supreme Court. It had to be there, because it was the only way of ensuring that no matter what the judges' verdict was, it would not be a defeat for the independence cause, and there would still be a way for Scotland to make its choice. What Stewart McDonald wants to do is turn the Supreme Court's decision into a real defeat - one that bestowed London with a permanent veto over Scotland's right to democratic self-determination. Moreover, it's a veto that McDonald has utterly failed to show he has any even remotely credible plan for overcoming or circumventing. Don't waste even five seconds' thought on his craven plea that we should haul up the white flag at this moment of all moments.
Well said and well argued.ReplyDelete
S30 really does seem to be the 'suits' only strategy. I guess this piece is another illustration that even they don't believe it can work. McDonald wants us the expend our energy creating sufficient background noise to fuel plenty more empty talk by SNP parliamentarians thus enabling his salary cheques and other ample benefits to keep flowing.ReplyDelete
Essentially he's just inviting us to help him and his ilk to keep their jobs.
Sturgeon's SNP has taken a keyboard to a 'gunfight' . Wasters !
If the SNP back down, water down, weasel out of the de facto referendum promise then I will not vote for them again. It's that simple for me. I've had it with their obfuscation, their stalling, their continued attempts to look like they're doing something without actually doing anything.ReplyDelete
If they don't know how to achieve independence in the face of an intransigent UK government that's going to say no, no matter what, then it's time for them to come clean and just say that.
If by some miracle they do manage to achieve a second referendum that way I will vote Yes. But I will not keep voting for the SNP to keep doing the same things that demonstrably don't work whilst they get comfy on their WM pensions along the way.
Well said James. Where I can agree with McDonald is in having a properly funded independence campaign up and running. We need that whichever decision is taken in March. Since we have £600k to start with, albeit “woven through the accounts”, it should be no problem, right?ReplyDelete
A theory (and I"m just guessing, but it's an educated guess): Stewart McDonald is doing this with the First Minister's blessing, and possibly even at her instigation. That would explain the National's weirdly lavish coverage. The intention is to balance out the calls for a 2023 Holyrood de facto ref with an obviously ridiculous option for abandoning the de facto ref altogether. That way the leadership's own preference will be left looking like the 'reasonable middle' option, rather than the excessively slow and cautious option that it actually is.ReplyDelete
Yes, I don't know whether you're right, but that's certainly a plausible explanation.Delete
The amount of coverage was astonishing. It surely must have had the go ahead from the FM but why use McDonald as the mouthpiece. He's not exactly the brightest spark in the SNP MP ranks.Delete
Stewart claims that the whole idea of a de facto referendum is bogus because only one side of the argument will be fighting the election on that basis.ReplyDelete
Why does this claim keep getting made? It doesn't stand up to any scrutiny. In fact, never mind scrutiny, it's internally contradictory. If 50% of people vote for a manifesto containing a single commitment, then 50% of people have, in fact, voted for that commitment. It doesn't matter whether other parties have mentioned the issue at all, that's unambiguously what people voted for. What other possible reality is there?
Even if we overlook that, of course, it wouldn't only be Yes parties who make the election about independence: the Conservatives, at least, always campaign on the issue since there's no other reason anyone would vote for them, unless they really hate Romani people or something. It seems unlikely that they're suddenly going to drop that strategy and start campaigning on their record in government.
Did anyone else find McDonald's report tedious to the point of being almost unreadable? Never say in one hundred paragraphs what you could say in one, Stew.ReplyDelete
McDonald's grand strategy will just be destroyed with more "now is not the time". Either he's a total idiot (and should be out on his @rse) or he's more concerned with keeping his salary than getting independence (and he should really be out on his @rse). I know which option I view as the more likely.ReplyDelete
The SNP and the independence campaign = giants led by feartie minnows, in both cases.ReplyDelete
Please do remember that a UK GE that illustrates a higher than 50% vote for Indy parties has already happened in 2015, where SNP plus Greens passed the 50% barrier. Stewart McD MP is flying a kite to allow the 1st M to row back to her previous, pension plus salary, plan of Sec30 IndyRef2 is the only way. 1st M probably asked Stewart to write the piece. Do not be surprised if this option suddenly appears as an amendment in the 18th Mar conference agenda.ReplyDelete
Today is TRANS DAY at Wings Over Scotland - again! Yes, folks, Stuart Campbell has just published his TWENTY-FOURTH post in a row about trans people. Perish the thought that he's gone totally doolally!ReplyDelete
He's an online anti-indy pub boreDelete
Yes, he's really lost the plot now, I'm afraid. What a sad end for a once-great blog.Delete
I wonder how many years ago Campbell really gave up on independence? Certainly a lot longer ago than he's admitting.Delete
He'll be after an MBE.Delete
Although it may be premature at this stage to speak about the "end" of Wings Over Scotland, its popularity does seem to be declining. The SimilarWeb estimates (which in the past Campbell has insisted are highly accurate) show a 2% drop in the number of visits to Wings from December to January. That makes perfect sense given that Campbell has practically turned it into a one-subject website, with that one subject being a fringe concern that most people don't care about and find quite boring. I would expect the decline to continue over coming months.Delete
Whereas visits to Craig Murray's site have increased 20% over the same period. So if current trends continue, there could be a changing of the guard. It may be no bad thing if Craig Murray does become the top site, because he does at least still mention independence occasionally.Delete
Incidentally, James, SimilarWeb seem to only measure "desktop" visits. So that could explain why they're understating visits to your site. You have a mobile version of your site and Campbell does not, which may mean all his visitors are counted as "desktop" visitors. If the majority of your visits are from mobiles (very likely in this day and age), they wouldn't be counted by SimilarWeb at all.
That's interesting, I hadn't noticed that. I don't think that can explain the full discrepancy, though, because the trend is also way out of kilter. They're suggesting a fairly steady month on month decline in traffic for this blog since August, whereas in fact practically the opposite has happened. August was a particularly poor month, and there was then a gradual increase in traffic until December, which produced the best figures since mid-2021. There was a bit of a drop-off in January, but the figures for January were still considerably higher than any month between August and October.Delete
In a nutshell, SimilarWeb's estimates are just not reliable at all (even if they are currently showing a setback for Wings!)
Steve Campbell is a libtardDelete
This could of course be a huge disinformation campaign to keep London guessing.ReplyDelete
There right about one thing,Scottish Independence is now existential for the English elite. Before Brexit UK GDP was 90% of Germany's,after its 70%. Without Scotland and NI it will be 50%.
"This could of course be a huge disinformation campaign to keep London guessing."Delete
LOL. In 2016 I might have fallen for the idea that the SNP were implementing a brilliantly nuanced and sophisticated secret strategy to win independence, but not now. "A pessimist, my dear, is merely an optimist with experience."
I can't stop reading McDonald's line "we will have steeled the mandate to such an unprecedented level" and it just gets funnier and funnier each time.ReplyDelete
It's obvious for a long time that Sturgeon does her public bidding from a range of on board loyalists like wishart, Macdonald, alyn smith and Mhairi hunter. Add flynn to that list.ReplyDelete
They are going to not do the 2024 wm option (which in itself is no bad thing as likely defeat due to franchise and information disadvantages would've killed indy in terms of being recognised by people who need to recognise us - international community, UK citizens in general etc).
And they'll dangle a loose commitment to a final section 30 request for wm and then a holyrood de facto referendum if (when) it's refused. Holyrood is over 3 years away so plenty of time for people to forget, events to happen or fudge that particular commitment.
Most independence supporters don't have independence as a high priority. There is plenty of evidence ranking the population from 1-10 (1 completely anti, 10 completely pro) that only a small minority of independence supporters rank it as a 10. They don't care much and are just as taken in as the actual nawbags. SNP exploit them to stay in power as it's hard to campaign and deliver independence with no certainty of success. The best chance of doing so would be a full yes alliance at holyrood but the process of doing so would lend legitimacy to alba and threaten SNP devo unionist hegemony so by the time holyrood 2026 comes round don't expect any talk of a yes alliance.
And no I won't be voting SNP at wm for their 5th section 30 2024 request.
I genuinely don't think that Stewart McDonald's opinions hold too much sway inside the SNP and it is going to be our members who will determine one way or the other how we proceed after the Special Conference. The referendum route has been closed by Westminster - forever in my opinion - and it's now up to our members to tell the party leadership what the next steps must be and not the reverse. My own opinion is that this is no longer solely an SNP matter and that there simply has to be a Scottish Constitutional Convention involving all parts of the wider YES movement to agree the way forward.ReplyDelete
Yes, Stewart McDonald's argument is obvious nonsense, which he must know that we can see through, and The National’s decision to splash his ‘opinion piece’ so prominently seems bizarre.ReplyDelete
Perhaps he is Kite-flying on behalf of NS? But this kite can’t possibly fly. It could be a ruse to keep Westminster guessing. However, NS has not wavered from her stated position that failure to grant a section 30 order means next GE is a de facto referendum.
Crucially, while an S30 referendum would be a consultative ‘testing of the water’, a de facto referendum would be a definitive instruction to negotiate independence.
Westminster knows that a pro-independence majority in a de facto referendum/GE is the game changing democratic event which will enable NS to appeal to the international community. They have less than two years to derail it or they will be outmanoeuvred.
I suspect Westminster is in panic mode and is now mobilising/activating all its dormant resources to prevent the de facto referendum.
McDonald is a backbencher who speaks for himself. His plan for winning independence only makes sense if you picture him writing it at his laptop while someone from MI5 holds a metaphorical gun to his head. He wouldn’t be the first to be guilty of an indiscretion which MI5 happened to have evidence of. I suspect there will be others
That McDonald’s nonsense was printed in The National is unsurprising; that’s where the ‘independenistas’ hang out! More importantly, I believe The National was always a ‘false flag’ operation. The idea that Newsquest would publish an independence supporting sister paper to The Herald is the stuff of fairy tales. Imagine a left-wing, non-racist, Rothermere funded, sister paper to The Daily Mail; doesn’t work does it?
Watch out for more backsliding nonsense from ‘prominent nationalists’ (Stephen Noon?) published in The National which seek to undermine the de facto referendum.
Regarding newspapers owned by the same organisations having different political stances, is this not actually the case with the organisation that owns the Labour supporting Mirror newspapers (including the Daily Record) and the Tory supporting Express newspapers?Delete
Are you suggesting there's some sort of difference between Labour and the Tories? The Record and the Express are pretty much as one.Delete
It's ages since the Express newsprintsoild my fingers, but the Daily Ranger can be summed up as pages of adverts with the odd bit of News (usually about a former Rangers player) and opinion.Delete
If he doesn't succeed with his cunning "as long as they keep refusing, we'll keep asking" strategy, McDonald and Smith will surely find some other way to undermine independence. I expect they'll try to irrevocably attach independence to some awful policy or else push for some sort of 60% majority hurdle that makes it harder for yes to win.ReplyDelete