Pete Wishart's position is now essentially identical to the one Ash Regan took during the leadership election (which, with characteristic but truly comical delusions of grandeur, a certain Tory voter in Somerset is claiming as his own policy which Ms Regan merely "adopted"!). This is odd in a way, given how scathing Wishart was towards Regan during the campaign, but let's not be churlish about it. You'd only need to wind the clock back around a year or so to find Wishart positioning himself as the most vehement opponent of plebiscite elections, and blasting those of us who believed in the idea as "absolute menaces". We initially thought his screeching U-turn on the subject was nothing more than a sign of robotic loyalty to the SNP leadership, but it can no longer be dismissed in that way. By maintaining his belief in the Sturgeon plan after Yousaf has ditched it (and indeed by demanding that the SNP go even further than the Sturgeon plan), Wishart is actually rebelling against the SNP leadership, so his reversal of stance can now be regarded as authentic. That may not be a game-changer in itself, but it certainly has the potential to help shift the dial somewhat.
It may be that Nicola Sturgeon's conversion to the idea of a plebiscite election caused Wishart to look at the proposal with a fresh eye, free from his prejudices against the people who had previously been putting it forward, and he suddenly recognised that it made perfect sense. I've said this many times, but even if you put the SNP's self-interest ahead of independence, shying away from trying to deliver independence at elections is an illogical thing to do, because it demotivates your own support base, increases the abstention rate, and in Westminster elections may even lead to SNP voters drifting off to Labour. Suppose you're a committed independence supporter in Glasgow, but you also loathe the Tories, as all right-thinking people in Glasgow do. In the 2024 general election, you're faced with two competing pitches - Labour saying "vote Labour on Thursday, the Tory government will be gone by Friday", and the SNP saying "vote SNP to send a message to Westminster". Which of those two would you find most inspiring? Whereas if you replace the meaningless waffle of the SNP's pitch with a concrete commitment to negotiate an independence settlement if pro-indy parties win more than 50% of the vote, and end London rule once and for all, it's a totally different proposition. You need to give people something to vote for.
James Mitchell's advice to the SNP for many years has been 'don't do anything that might look like you're trying to deliver independence'. They've broadly followed that advice and this is the state it's brought them to. He's still not satisfied, though.https://t.co/kWGQkOJvSl— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 6, 2023
My anger about the above is totally genuine, because it literally is the case that listening to the "do nothing" advice from the likes of James Mitchell has got the SNP into the almighty mess they are currently in, with all the consequences for the independence cause. I vividly recall that, just after the exit poll was published on the night of the 2017 general election, I decided to take the SNP manifesto at its word, and point out in a tweet that the "triple lock mandate" for an independence referendum had been completed by the SNP winning a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster. It didn't matter that 35 seats (or 34 as the exit poll initially projected) was a sharp reduction on before - it was still a very clear majority, and according to the terms of the manifesto, a referendum should thus swiftly follow. Professor Mitchell, who I don't think I had ever previously interacted with, instantly jumped on my tweet with absolute fury. "This is insane!" he said. "There isn't going to be an independence referendum!" By which he meant that he thought there shouldn't be a referendum and he was determined to ensure that there wasn't, and he was enraged by any narrative that might threaten his attempt to use the general election result to kill off the whole plan.
Well, he got his way, and the most important consequence of that was suddenly the SNP didn't have a referendum to spend their ring-fenced fund on. Regardless of whether it turns out that there was anything wrong from a legal point of view with what they did with the money instead, the fact remains that this chain of events killed the Sturgeon leadership. The police investigation would never have happened if there'd been a referendum or de facto referendum to spend the money on, and without the police investigation Sturgeon would never have been forced out. The SNP would not have suffered a slump in support due to the installing of a much less popular leader and a string of dreadful headlines about alleged corruption and/or illegality.
You'd have thought Mitchell might be somewhat chastened by having demonstrably offered such dud advice, but instead he's urging the SNP to double down on its idleness by not even using any opportunity thrown up by a hung parliament (and I agree with him that any such opportunity is improbable) to bring about independence. With the greatest of respect to the man, the idea that SNP voters (especially the rump that is left after the Humza slump) don't want their party to seize opportunities to deliver independence when they're there, and to just be cowed into pathetically going along with whatever Starmer wants, is pretty obviously bogus.
In any case, the choice between unconditional support for Labour in a hung parliament and "letting the Tories in" is a false choice. Much more probable is that the SNP would let Labour stagger on as a minority administration but use guerilla tactics in parliament to ensure Starmer would never be sure of whether he'd get his business through, leaving him "in office but not in power", to use Norman Lamont's famous phrase. The hope would be that this might drag Labour reluctantly to the negotiating table, with the prize for them being a stable spell in government.
* * *
Labour people like Blair McDougall criticised the SNP for "joining with the Tories" in talking down Labour's gains in the English local elections last Thursday. The reality is, though, that those gains were pretty easy to talk down, because Labour objectively underperformed. According to the BBC, Labour's lead over the Tories on projected national vote share was nine points, and according to Sky it was only seven points. That's hung parliament territory, not Labour majority territory. To put this in context, both Tony Blair and David Cameron enjoyed double-digit leads in local elections in the run-up to taking power. Putting on a Canadian accent, Thursday night was another trrrrrr-ible night for the Conservatives, but that trrrrrrr-ibleness was inflicted by several parties, not just by Labour, or even primarily by Labour.
The latest episode of the Scot Goes Popcast aims to win a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's shortest podcast as I give my succinct verdict on the local elections.
There does seem to be a slow dawning of reality in some bits of the SNP 'aristocracy'. I suppose we have to say better late than never to that.ReplyDelete
So, optimistically assuming that this continues and may even become the norm - what next ?
To provide themsevles with experienced and motivated 'ground troops' they are going to have to do something else difficult for themselves - give the membership some of it's stolen influence in the party back.
If they were to manage that then they are also going to have to come up with a convincing answer to the question - 'what do we do if an anti democratic tory or labour government chooses to simply ignore our future democratic majorities as 'regional peculiarities' ? We need to start sorting that one now not later.
Prior to March 2000 every Parliamentary election actually was a referendum on independence. The accepted position of the unionist parties - including Thatcher and Major - was that a majority of SNP MPs elected at a UK general election was a mandate for independence negotiations to commence. As I constantly remind people whenever this issue is raised, that particular position of the SNP was changed when Alex Salmond led the SNP. I was at the meeting of the National Council in the Mitchell Library Theatre when Alex Salmond, supported by Kenny MacAskill, persuaded a majority of those present to vote in favour of altering the policy. I voted against it.ReplyDelete
Sounds to me that you got it right.Delete
Unionists didn't consider that majorities were going to be possible. Now their days of posturing as democrats on this issue are far behind them.
Our move !
Hopefully Alba's stance on all this will be made clearer at Saturday's conference. It needs to be clearly more radical than the SNP if it is to attract disappointed SNP supporters. Copy Sinn Fein's policy of not taking up seats if elected to Westminster? Unlikely at the moment to see Alba winning a Westminster seat but they should state abstentionism as their policy nonetheless. All good publicity IMO. No point in Alba just being SNP 2.0Delete
Alba actually has two MPs in Westminster at the moment - MacAskill and Hanvey. Would it not be open to either of them just now to stop going to Westminster?Delete
It would but since they were originally elected as SNP candidates I think it would make much more impact if they were re-elected as Alba candidates with a manifesto pledge not to take their seats.Delete
I think Alba's official policy is action through disruption by its MPs in Westminster and to be fair they have both caused stooshies in the past but it is a limited policy because Westminster can simply change the rules in order for disruption to be negligible one-off occasions. Far better to keep pro independence MPs permanently away from the cesspit in order for the rest of the world to see just how much a sick undemocratic joke Westminster truly is.
Hanvey was elected as an independent.Delete
Prior to March 2000 every Parliamentary election actually was a referendum on independence. The accepted position of the unionist parties - including Thatcher and Major - was that a majority of SNP MPs elected at a UK general election was a mandate for independence negotiations to commence.Delete
Can we once and for all get a citation for this? Where and when exactly did Thatcher say it (and apparently Major too, now)? Only source I can find is a Twitter meme, which makes me suspect this is a "Don't believe everything you read on the internet - Abraham Lincoln" situation.
Keaton - seemingly Thatcher said it in her memoirs. Personally, I haven't bothered to buy a copy to check as I really don't think it is important. What does it matter if Thatcher said this or Major said that. What is important is that the SNP have a leadership and a membership who want independence and will not bow to Westminster. We do not have that at present under Yousaf. So we will have to endure more phoney promises from the SNP for years to come thanks to numpties who supported Sturgeon and then Yousaf.Delete
Pete came within 18 votes of loosing out to the Tories in 2017. If ALBA ran a candidate against him next year and Pete promoted the devolutionist stance of NuSNP under Yousaf, “pension Pete” would be living aff that pension sooner rather than later.ReplyDelete
And how would putting another tory into Westminster be constructive ? Progressive politics is about improving lives not about replacing sad chancers with vicious swine. I'll vote Alba where they have a chance or where it doesn't help our enemies. SNP where only they can beat the unionists.Delete
And let in a Tory?Delete
Remember “both votes SNP”? How many Tories did that let in?Delete
Its Westminster anon, so only one first past the post vote.Delete
No thanks - prefer a pro-indy candidate, even if he or she isn't exactly what I want. Pete's a good guy - he's helped our movement (can't say I've been happy with some of his rhetoric but I'd much rather have him in the seat than a Brit. Should Alba be responsible for the movement losing MPs or SMPs then many will consider them self-indulgent tit-for-tat enemies of independence. I recommend to Alba to be very careful what it wishes for.ReplyDelete
Stevie instead of focussing on what Alba may or may not do you would do well to remember Both Votes SNP which was way more than self indulgent.Delete
"Pete's a good guy" - aye right. Wishart contributed along with many other SNP devolutionalists to a decade of wasted years.
Don't misunderstand me(Stevie) - I'm fkn irate with the last 8 years of the castrated Sturgeonista SNP - though nobody wanted to hear what a traitor I considere her to be to the cause of independence she was from Day 1 (people hear/see what they want to) - but we are where we are, so time to make up and move on. 81/2 years lost and still the Sturgeonista only see perfection - but only way ahead is together.Delete
Something else - there are Brit agents in the SNP and there are Brit agents in Alba - make sure the priority is always furthering indy and not Alba - there are good people in Alba, just make sure you listen to those and not be swayed by the wrong voices.ReplyDelete
Well that's what it should always have been, instead of a referendum that even in Ireland has never been used to obtain IndependenceReplyDelete
What Pete Wishart actually said was:ReplyDelete
"What I believe should now happen is that we contest every election with the first line of each successive manifesto stating that ‘if the Scottish National Party secures 50% plus of the vote this will mean Scotland will become an independent nation’." (https://archive.is/4xC89#selection-1701.3-1701.252)
So, whilst his position may have changed, he's referring to ballots for SNP only that count towards the 'Independence vote total'.
So maximise the SNP vote will likely produce a lot of SNP MPs but would not be sufficient on its own to get 50%+ of the total.
I'm not getting too excited.
Surely for votes for other parties to count towards the total, it's up to them to put a similar line in their manifestos? The SNP can't speak for them.Delete
Agreed that other parties would have to put a line in their manifesto.Delete
But that line would have to be explicitly that a vote for Alba Party or ISP or SSP etc would be a vote that would count towards the total all-pro-Indy party vote to end the Union.
Currently Wishart is stating explicitly that 50% for SNP only would count.
Keaton, I like your thinking. I wonder if that's occurred to Mr Wishart?Delete
James, know anything of a new Survation [True North] poll showing Alba on 6% in Glasgow?ReplyDelete
What is this wet fart Wishart vomiting about. The SNP alraedy have an electoral mandate to fuckin hold a Referendum. Get tae Fuck on with it.ReplyDelete
Is James ok? He has been very quiet recently.ReplyDelete