Over recent days, a few people have said to me: "I'm going to X hustings or Y hustings - which question would you suggest?" In a way this is an academic exercise, because the chances of anyone: a) picking up on one of my suggestions, and b) being called to speak, are pretty slim. However, just for the fun of it, here is my own list of burning questions that I'd like to see asked. Bear in mind that I only saw parts of the first two hustings, and didn't see any of the third earlier today, so apologies in advance if any of these questions have already been asked and satisfactorily answered (with the operative word being 'satisfactorily').
For Kate Forbes: "You've said that the first part of the 'process' element of your plan for winning independence is to put the subject front and centre of the SNP's campaign for next year's Westminster election. You wouldn't, you say, call that election a de facto referendum, but you'd be using any SNP victory as a mandate for an early democratic vote on independence. That actually sounds a bit like the second option that the NEC was intending to put before the special conference - with the Westminster election used to gain yet another mandate for a referendum, and the 2026 Holyrood election then used as a de facto referendum if the UK government ignore the mandate. But you haven't really been mentioning that last crucial part of the equation. Does this mean you are still open to the idea of a de facto referendum in 2026, or are you ruling out de facto referendums completely in exactly the same way Humza Yousaf is?"
OK, there's probably a more concise way of asking that, and there might well need to be if you're faced with an impatient moderator, but to me this is the most crucial question of the campaign. If Forbes is open to a de facto referendum at some date in the future, then we still have a credible candidate offering a credible path to independence. But if she's not open to that, then no matter whether she or Yousaf wins, we'll have a leader who has ruled out holding a vote on independence unless a Section 30 order is granted, which we all know it will not be. We'll effectively just be twiddling our thumbs for years on end, because we'd already know that independence will not and cannot happen.
For all of the candidates: "Will the postponed special conference still definitely take place under your leadership, will that conference be able to make a free choice without leadership diktat, and will you be bound by the decision it makes even if it contradicts your own personal preference?"
That last bit is particularly relevant to Humza Yousaf, who has been going around cheerfully 'ruling out' all three of the main options the conference had been expected to consider - ie. an early Holyrood election this year, a de facto referendum in 2024, and a de facto referendum in 2026. And yet he's still been pretending the members will ultimately decide, which is an absurdly contradictory position.
For Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes: "Didn't Nicola Sturgeon's strategy of going to the Supreme Court depend totally on having the Plan B of a de facto referendum in case the court closed off the option of Plan A? Doesn't abandoning the strategy in an unfinished state halfway through mean that it's been converted - totally needlessly - into a Scotland-shooting-itself-in-the-foot exercise, with literally the sole effect of it being that we no longer have the tactical option that we used to have of tabling a Referendum Bill?"
For Humza Yousaf: "The definition of insanity, Einstein said, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. That is what you appear to be doing by saying that you will use an election victory to pressure the UK Government into granting a section 30 order, something that has already failed to work on at least four separate occasions. But isn't it even worse than that, though? On those previous occasions, at least we had some leverage because we had the option of tabling a Referendum Bill, which the Supreme Court hadn't yet ruled out. If your strategy didn't work when we did have some leverage, why would you to expect it to work now that we have no leverage at all?"
For Humza Yousaf: "You've spoken warmly of Nicola Sturgeon and say you wish to continue her work. Doesn't that sit rather oddly with your plan to totally ditch her flagship policy of a de facto referendum on the day you take over from her? Given her immense political experience, shouldn't you be considering the possibility that she has made the correct strategic call in this case and that you are being far too hasty in rejecting her judgement?"
For Humza Yousaf: "The first opinion poll of SNP members in this campaign suggests the result could be incredibly close once second preferences are taken into account. If you win very narrowly, there will be a perception, probably correctly, that you only won because party HQ did not ensure a level playing-field during the campaign. That could create years of toxic bitterness within the SNP that would cause both you and the party immense harm. Wouldn't it be in your own interests to call for a much fairer and more transparent election process before it's too late?"
For Humza Yousaf: "Approval ratings for party leaders are often highly predictive of election results. The current approval ratings show that you are considerably less popular than the Labour leader Anas Sarwar. They also show that Kate Forbes is considerably more popular than Mr Sarwar. Did you ever consider that it might be irresponsible to even offer yourself as a candidate, because if you win, you may be needlessly condemning your party to defeat in the 2026 Scottish Parliament election?"
For Kate Forbes: "If you win, will you appoint Ash Regan as Deputy First Minister and Constitution Secretary?"
If she answered "yes" to the above question (which admittedly she probably wouldn't) that might just win her the leadership by sewing up Ash Regan's second preferences.
And a couple of non-strategy questions, just for the hell of it...
For all of the candidates: "Are you in principle supportive of a conditions-free universal basic income that would ensure every citizen has access to basics like food and shelter, regardless of personal circumstances?"
For all of the candidates: "Do you support unilateral nuclear disarmament, or do you think multilateralism has a role to play too?"
Asking it in that innocent way might just coax an unwary candidate into revealing whatever multilateralist impulses they may harbour.
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Ash found her legs tonight.ReplyDelete
James, the last eight questions in your article are cracking questions.ReplyDelete
With regards to the first two questions I have, apart from a minute at the beginning of the first hustings, watched and listened to all three hustings and can say that all three candidates ruled out de facto referendums and nobody mentioned the previously planned SNP special conference at all. It's as if we all imagined it.
When that amemdment by Angus went in to the conference for a de facto Holyrood referendum in October this year it's like everything else got collapsed instead of Holyrood in October. I think some people thought this is too big a risk that members may vote for it and Scots may then vote for independence in Oct.
I have noticed Forbes and Yousaf talking about independence more in each hustings to try and catch up with Regan but Regan is still the only one with an actual plan that she has been consistent on. Regan has got more confident and assured as each hustings went on. Basically Regan's plan is similar to what the SNP used to be - namely a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence but Regan's plan is a majority of votes is what counts as distinct from in the past a majority of MPs. It's not a de facto referendum but it's still better than just begging for a sec 30.
I don't quite follow - in what sense is what Regan proposing not a de facto referendum?Delete
Regan wants to distance herself from a de facto referendum but her plan is similar but not a de facto because it will apply at each and every election. Each election will be a vote for independence but it will not be a single issue independence manifesto. Normal manifesto policies will be stated as usual. It has its advantages as well as disadvantages as I am sure you will recognise.Delete
Regan calls it her Voter Empowerment (something).
(Something) = mechanism I believe.Delete
Yeah, surely independence has to be the only item in the manifesto. Otherwise, how does the party answer the question "If someone opposes independence but does support, say, your drug policy, should they vote for you?"Delete
Keaton, sure I would prefer a proper referendum. No candidate is proposing that. Sure I would then prefer a de facto referendum. No candidate is proposing that. Next best thing is what Regan is proposing. When voting in elections people always have to balance things they like and don't like. The other candidates are not proposing a specific mechanism for independence but indeed are raising the bar for any vote to be (unspecified ) to a far greater percentage than >50%.Delete
As James often says when perfect isn't available then go for next best not the worst.
Your question above has already been asked of Regan and answered.
What was her answer?Delete
Keaton, her answer was what I said in my post. I kinda thought that might be obvious. Example, I voted SNP for independence but wasn't keen on their obsession with identity politics.Delete
If it was ok to take Scotland out of the EU on a UK 52% leave vote I do not agree with the two candidates who want polls consistently way much higher for independence. In fact neither Forbes or Yousaf give any figures for the actual yes amount or for how long. Vague and varying verbal statements ala Sturgeon. There were no consistent polls for the UK to leave the EU. In fact there were no polls showing a leave vote. This viewpoint is both undemocratic and accepting Scots are second class citizens in the UK. Has Westminster or any Britnats ever stated a percentage yes vote they would accept.
Personally, I find it a symptom of the Sturgeon years that people find it strange that a vote for the SNP should be for independence. That's what it was for many decades in the past.
Irrespective of whether the electorate are asked to approve a referendum,or independence,we need to win the economic argument,which we lost during the referendum .For that reason ,I think that Kate Forbes plan to develop a 10 year costed vision (informed by members) of how independence will be used,is the most inovative suggestion that I have heard so far.It could be used to make a comparison between devolution and independence.ReplyDelete
I do like the questions posed by James,and I would add one more.
If the UK government continues to ignore the wishes of the Scottish people,would you consider seeking international support from the UN,or
I understand the belief from the candidates that if we maximise the pro
referendum or independence vote consistently,t the UK government will
cave in,but I am slightly skeptical about that.My understanding is that we only got the second referendum on devolution because of EU pressure on
Blair.Having lreturned from Europe (Finland and Netherlands) after 20 years,I know that there is a lot of support for Scotland both to be independent and to rejoin the EU.
Antonymous: I think it was the Council of Europe (not the EU) that pressured the UK to enable a Scottish referendum on devolution (If that is the one you refer to). And of course the UK is still a member of the CoE, which is significantly wider than just the EU member states. Tony LittleDelete
I'll just add my customary note here that the idea the UK government held a devolution referendum because the Council of Europe pressurised them into doing it is a very, very silly myth.Delete
Perhaps it is a myth James.What I do know is that there is strong support for Scotland within several EU. countries.Also,while I hope that the candidates belief that the UK government will cave in if we keep wining elections with large majorities is correct,it would seem prudent to seek international support.just in case.That would put extra pressure on the UK government.That could work,because irrespective of the isolationist attitude of the many Westminster politicians (Labour included),we live in a world where we are dependent on each other.Delete
There is unfortunately next to zero support for non agreed succession. The first port of call is to convince a substantial majority of our people to support independence before real support will be forthcoming internationally.Delete
I support Regan's approach and this is part of the reason for the "each and every election" route. It's about testing the feeling and continuing the push until (if) the majorities start to rise and stack up, meaning more pressure on London by ourselves and internationally.
Unfortunately the idea of new independent nations is not on the EUs agenda. We have more than just a majority hurdle to jump here but also an ideology too.
As long as it's not the softball questions we got in the last hustingsReplyDelete
"What is your favourite part of the job?"
If asked about Universal Basic Income, I hope the answer is no.ReplyDelete
UBI reduces the incentive for companies to pay people properly. It will not eradicate poverty since it will be factored into wage levels in the same way Working Tax Credits were. Before WTCs were introduced, only about 0.5% of people in work were on or below the minimum wage. In 2016 there were six times that number, because employers were taking advantage of the WTC being there to make up the difference, and people were similarly willing to take those lower paid jobs.
Hmmm. If people have a genuine, unconditional safety net, they can afford to be choosier about which jobs they accept, which might actually drive wages up.Delete
The macroeconomics don't stack up. When there is unemployment, capital (the bosses) can keep the wage claims of the workers at bay. That’s the unemployment regime which suits capital. So if you add in a UBI, it supplies cash to consumers to maintain the sales of the bosses – job done for the bosses who are relieved of their responsibility to pay proper wages, and thereby keep their profits up.Delete
I don't think anyone really knows what will happen in a global capitalist world with UBI. I like the idea but not sure it can work in a capitalist world.Delete
WGD numpty Dr Jim says:- " This election for new leader will be decided on a couple or three things, competence dependability and whether folk like it or not, image, and image is incredibly important, because the new leader will be the face of Scotland, the voice of Scotland and sales person in chief for Scotland."ReplyDelete
What word is missing from Jimbo's criteria for selecting a FM - INDEPENDENCE.
Jimbo's criteria is for selecting a colonial governor of Scotland. Is the SNP full of these devolutionalist/gradualists? We will find out at the end of March.
Hiya Alf Baird!...Hiya pal!Delete
Hiya James Scott - you ain't no pal of mine.Delete
Would that be the same Alf Baird who defends the Scots language. Strange that his terms of abuse just extend to 'numpty' !Delete
It makes a change for a WGD numpty to post on SGP not hiding under the anonymous label that you suggested to your fellow numpties that they should do. Now Lomax how about apologising for supporting Sturgeon all these years when there has been a mountain of evidence she would never deliver independence. Own it, take some responsibility, show some humility for your contribution to 8 years wasted under Sturgeon and apologise or forever be a numpty. Your choice.Delete
Incredible headline in the Mail about GCHQ helping the SNP.ReplyDelete
We're through the looking glass.
We do realise we are trying to dissolve the Union eh?
We are not a benign force to the London establishment. There is a drip drip now of attempting to describe independence as too dangerous a shift for the West now. That our independence should be sacrificed for the greater good.
This needs nipped in the bud. We are a threat to the UK's stability and shouldn't shirk from it. We are not a threat to the West.
Taking cyber security advice is a good idea. Doesn't mean GCHQ are interfering with the election. That would depend on the people running the vote to be either idiots (allowing a UK government agency to monitor the vote) or corrupt (using the advice to fake the vote themselves).Delete
My point is that GCHQ and the SNP shouldn't be fraternal organizations.Delete
How about, in the absence of an agreed referendum the FM, her predecessor, and her predecessors predecessor have all declared an intent/ favour for defacto referendum(s) either at Holyrood or Westminster or both:ReplyDelete
What indy seeking strategy is best associated with the 'continuity candidate' label and why?.
'''''Fergus Ewing: Kate Forbes has the talent needed to take Scotland to independence'''''ReplyDelete
''''WATCH: BBC's chuckling Kuenssberg asks Ash Regan how 'independence thermometer' works''''ReplyDelete
gimicky - she hasn't got the Salmond smarts
Stevie - I watched this interview after reading your post as you seem to want to give a negative impression of the interview. The interview was fine. Tell me anyone in Scottish politics who has the 'Salmond smarts'. So my conclusion is that you are deliberately misrepresenting the interview. Each interview and hustings Regan gets better in terms of composure and delivery.Delete
Independence for Scotland. Agreed. Stevie overdoes the pro Yousaf rhetoric. A sign of desperation methinks.Delete
The Mail on Sunday now rubbing our noses in it that the spooks are 'helping' the SNP with securing the leadership vote. Now people have suggested in the past that Murrell is working with them but who expected the The Tory Mail to tell us it is true.ReplyDelete
Is it possible that while the spooks are fixing the software for the SNP they might think - oh well may as well fix the SNP accounts while we are here. The British state helping the SNP who would have thought it.Delete
Maybe Tory boy Campbell?Delete
Maybe Alyn Smith SNP MP who has a case worker in his office whose previous work experience just happens to be 26 years of service in GCHQ.Delete
Maybe Murray Foote. Funny how the SNP could only find Murray Foote ex Daily Record editor and self confessed architect of the Infamous Vow in 2014 as the suitable candidate to run their communications and Smith could only find someone who to work in his office who has given 26 years of service to the Cheltenham spooks.
Links to the British state are supposed to be severed by the SNP not strengthened by the SNP under Sturgeon.
More likely the Rev. He and his disciples want Holyrood closed down.Delete
I am increasingly worried that Humza will win this.HQ are pulling out all the stops to make sure he winsReplyDelete
Polling and my own conservations with people confirm he ain't popular.He has mobilised the LBTQ community against Kate so as to move attention away from his let's say patchy record as a minister. We are going to gift Labour 20 seats in the UK GE.
Wanting to continue with the GRR debacle with his court challenges is electoral suicide ..
We should be hammering the cost of living in particular energy bills .In energy rich Scotland many are having to choose wether to heat their homes or eat whilst Humza wants legislate that you can be a woman if you have a penis.
We are going to pay big time at the ballot box
Identity politics activists have yet again threatened to flounce out in an adolescent strop if the party membership doesn’t accede utterly to their demands. Thoughts on this in no particular order.ReplyDelete
It only impacts one candidate, the other two may welcome this.
This repeated, self-indulgent whining will p-off the electorate.
Call their bluff. It’s an empty threat. They would be depriving themselves of the State subsidised sinecures they rely on to function as full time activists. If they decamp to the Greens, the Greens have a limited number of State salaries to dole out and they’re already taken.
I agree with you Rocksie 67.As Bill Clinton taught us:It is the economy stupid.Late Forbes has correctly identified that as the key area that needs to be won in order to move the Yes vote beyond 50 percent.There is a need to provide a vision of how an independent Scotland will look (in respect of living costs,poverty,health care,education etc),in contrast to devolution.While we must listen to all candidates,I do believe that Kate has the forensic ability to make the economic case clearlyReplyDelete
Cherry needs to regain some credibility says top thicko WGD numpty Hamish100. This is the guy who thought Sturgeon would deliver a referendum and independence and has been played for a fool by Sturgeon and Kavanagh for years and he is telling Cherry to regain credibility. He probably even believes Sturgeon is tired. Comedy gold on WGD as ever.ReplyDelete
Yousaf starts off by paying tribute to Sturgeon and Swinney. Plonker.
Yousaf says he will deliver independence. He will inspire people he says.
Yousaf now copying what Forbes said in previous hustings about poverty.
Yousaf says every election will be fought to get a sec 30. Even bigger plonker. He says he will be first activist not first minister. Total plonker.
Forbes says again independence is a means to an end. The end of poverty. She asks who do Unionists fear the most of the candidates. She says she got £300 m from the UK that they weren't going to give Holyrood. Very strong applause.ReplyDelete
Regan talks about the 2014 referendum. She says we are now treading water. We need a change of direction. We need a different plan. Independence convention. Independence commission. No begging for a referendum from Westminster. She will be bold brave and relentless.ReplyDelete
Yousaf says again he will be first activist and he wants to convince everyone of the need for independence. Oh well that will take some time. If he likes a challenge he could start at Ibrox on match day. He punts Sturgeon once again as a global ambassador. Worth noting that Yousaf has thanked Sturgeon/Yousaf on a few occasions now for their great work. Nothing from Forbes or Regan.ReplyDelete
Regan lives in the borders and claims to understand their needs. SNP action plan written by Regan she says. Internal SNP democracy needs improving. Too much top down direction.ReplyDelete
Yousaf talks as if he will still be in government after the election. Presumptious?ReplyDelete
Yousaf and Forbes much stronger on farming issues than Regan. Yousaf puts the blame on Brexit/Westminster. Pity he didn't honour the mandate for a referendum after the EU vote and how long is he thinking it will be before Scotland gets back in to the EU.ReplyDelete
Yousaf punts the rebuttal unit again. Doesn't say why the current(?) unit isn't working.ReplyDelete
Regan says MSPs need more training to rebut nonsense and sell independence.
Sadly none of James questions were asked. A bit of repitition now creeping in re the questions and answers.ReplyDelete
So what do the WGD numpties have to say about tonight's hustings - after all they all claim to be independence supporters and most SNP members. Not a word. Yep not a word.ReplyDelete
We do get Dr Jim saying something nasty about J. Cherry and saying she should be chucked out the door as far as he could throw her. Now Dr Jim has a significant problem about advocating violence against women and has previously boasted about grabbing women by the neck and chucking them out the door. I'm surprised Kavanagh accepts this on his blog. So much for the progressive SNP.
Get the trumpets out Skier actually posts something about Skiing. He claims to have gone on a skiing trip to Italy. Trouble is he has posted so many lies can you actually believe his story is true. At least I haven't seen him advocating violence like Jimbo.
I'd sooner believe Skier than an inveterate stranger to the truth such as yourself.Delete
What is meant by WGD. and why is that so bad.If people are going to introduce acronyms,it would be helpful if they could anticipate the information needs of other readers who might like to comment.ReplyDelete
Wee Ginger Dug. It's another blog site. I was going to say another "indy" blog site but many would question that nowadays!Delete
WGD = Wee Ginger Dug and as I say in the post above it is a blog.Delete