Thursday, August 24, 2023

The future of Scot Goes Pop: an update

First of all, for those of you who have been asking, the reason blogging has been a bit light during most of August is that I was away on a family staycation last week and the week before.  In fact I may have some photos and videos for you at some point, because there was a slightly unexpected episode right at the start of the trip.

Since I got back home at the weekend, I've been doing some sums in my head based on the state of my bank balance and the current trajectory of the fundraiser, and I've been coming to the regrettable conclusion that we may be inching closer to the end of the road with Scot Goes Pop.  When I launched the 2023 fundraiser in May, I said that if the target was reached or even if we got well over halfway there, I'd be able to continue indefinitely, and that if nothing or almost nothing was raised I'd pretty much have to stop straight away, and that if the fundraiser was partially successful I'd keep going for however many months the funds allowed and then stop.  It's that third scenario we've ended up with - the fundraiser is over one-quarter of the way towards its target, and that has allowed me to keep going for the last three months and may allow me to keep going for a few weeks more.  But I can't keep lurching from mini-crisis to mini-crisis, so if substantial progress isn't made there'll come a point in the near future where I'll have to draw a line and start devoting far more time to other activities that will probably leave much less space for blogging, although I dare say you'd still see me pop up with an occasional blogpost every few weeks when I feel the urgent need to sound off about something!

Just to explain briefly how we've ended up at this point, until two or three years ago I was in an enviable position whereby the annual fundraiser was almost always hitting its target and I also had several other income streams from political writing that were essentially spin-offs from the blogging itself.  The combined funds from all of those income streams made it reasonably easy for me to devote huge amounts of time to the blog, especially during election periods and at other times of high political drama.  It also gave me the flexibility to just drop everything whenever a new poll came out and blog about it as quickly as possible.  I used to earn quite a bit by writing extensively for The National - in some years I was literally writing dozens of articles for them, but that more or less dried up after I joined the Alba Party in 2021, which I assume is not a coincidence (although admittedly no-one has said that to me directly).  For many years I was also earning from regular columns for the International Business Times, but that fizzled out gradually due to changes in the editorial team.  (One of them eventually ended up at the Talk Radio website and took me on again as a columnist there, although that time he wasn't able to offer payment.)  And in my early years as an iScot columnist, I was earning from that, but as many of you will know Ken has been walking an impossible tightrope recently trying to keep iScot financially viable, so for around the last three years or so I've been contributing my monthly column for free.  Basically what used to be an enviable position has become a perfect storm, with all of the income streams closing off more or less at the same time.  And even the part of my income that has nothing to do with politics or writing has taken a big hit over the last three years due to the pandemic - that's just a coincidence, but obviously it doesn't help.

I'm not quite ready to give up just yet, though, because I know from past experience that sometimes fundraisers follow odd patterns - they can appear to run out of steam and then there'll be a sudden spurt for no apparent reason.  So I'll make one final push via this post, and also at the bottom of every blogpost over the next few weeks, to see if I can raise enough to just about keep Scot Goes Pop going until next year, or at least to postpone the final decision for a bit longer.  Also if anyone has any brilliant suggestions that I may not have thought of about how I can find alternative income streams from the blog or from other forms of political writing, by all means let me know.  People always suggest a subscription model like Patreon, but my strong suspicion is that if there isn't the money out there to fund the blog by one crowdfunding method, it wouldn't be there to fund the blog by any other crowdfunding method either.  My guess is that Yessers are currently looking to fund blogs that tack to one of the two extremes, for want of a better word - either they want blogs that say the SNP leadership are saintly figures who can do no wrong, or they want blogs that say the SNP have stabbed the independence movement in the back and thus must be totally destroyed in an act of crazed revenge, even if that means installing unionist MPs and MSPs.  Scot Goes Pop has a nuanced position somewhere in between those two extremes, and I suspect that's why it's no longer attracting the scale of support that is still enjoyed by certain other websites.  I make no complaints about that - it's a form of market forces in action, and ultimately independence supporters will end up with whatever alternative media landscape that they think is worth having.

Once again, thank you to the dozens of people who have donated to the 2023 fundraiser so far, and if you're one of them please just ignore my ongoing crowdfunding efforts.  If you haven't donated so far and would like to do so (and please don't feel under any pressure to do it - I know most people are feeling the pinch right now), the preferable method is direct payment by Paypal.  That cuts out the middle man, which helps a lot because the payment usually comes through instantly and fees can be eliminated completely depending on which option you select.

For direct payments by Paypal, my Paypal email address is:

If you don't have a Paypal account, payments can be made by card via the fundraiser page HERE.


  1. Understand your thinking James, but would be sorry to see you go.
    Voice of reason and all that.
    How about turning the blog into a podcast, with invited guests, and, crucially, advertising and/or patreon?

    1. In 2021/22, I did a semi-regular podcast called the Scot Goes Popcast. But it was a similar story - I suddenly ran into problems with it after I joined the Alba Party. There were people who were enthusiastic about being guests before that who suddenly wouldn't even consider doing it once I was an Alba member. Alba being a well-known "far right", "transphobic" party, don't-cha-know, rather than the mainstream centre-left party it actually is in the real world. And on the other end of the spectrum, there were still Alba people who regarded me with suspicion because I'm not a Wings devotee. I got so exasperated that at one point I intended to keep the podcast going by doing it solo if needs be, but in the end I just went back to focusing on written blogposts. I certainly wouldn't rule out further podcasts in future, but from what I can gather podcasts are even harder to monetise than blogs. There's money to be made from sponsorship for podcasts that build up really big audiences, but that may not be attainable for a Scottish politics podcast.

    2. 1. Alba: Alba is our only hope. Please, discuss its policies critically, but don't give in to the slanderers.
      2. Podcasts: I'm increasingly annoyed by the tendency for them to replace written communication. The latter gives time to consider, to look back and check (yes, you can rewind, but it's not the same thing), to refer to it in future discussions, and to keep a record of it. Who wants to look at someone's face?
      3. Will donate. Good luck.

  2. Clearly split off Alba activity - and poll or other activity. Either account for the fundraiser splitting between polls that have questions about Alba, or do a totally separate fundraiser for that. It's tribal, SGP, and very few are prepared to give aid to the "enemy", even if we are all supposed to be on the same side.

    Your main strength is that you're genuine, and trustworthy. Use it.

    1. Off the top of my head I can't recall asking any question about Alba in the polls I've commissioned. If I have done, it can't have been more than one or two questions at most.

  3. James. I wish I could do something to help because your blog is the only one I can trust. The problem is I retired shortly after Gordon Brown stole our pension savings, so I'm living on what I built up in the few years since he screwed over working class people like me with no money background, unlike himself, who were dependent on what we'd saved. And they call themselves the Friends of the Workers. Apart from money, is there anything I can do to help?

    1. Hi Iain, many thanks for your kind words. I certainly don't want anyone to donate money they can't afford or that would leave them stretched - that would be the worst thing of all. I'm definitely planning to continue for at least a few weeks, during which time I'll continue to plug the fundraiser, so sharing my posts on social media during that time would be another way of helping.

  4. Hello James. My pension day contribution landed on the same day as your explanation of your current situation. After a lifetime (60+ years) of supporting Independence I have become very weary of all the arguments within the movement. I have taken several steps back from active campaigning. Your blog was always informative and never nasty or spiteful and I really appreciate that.
    However, you have a life to lead and you must do what is best for you and your family and friends. If you decide to stop your blog as it is at the moment, I would appreciate a periodic update or comment from you at whatever time intervals you can manage.
    Thanks for what you are doing and have done.

  5. A sad loss. You’ll be missed.

  6. Despite some of the differences between some of the bloggers (for whatever reason) I don't find it difficult to read and post on a good many of them as I find they all have something to offer and give me a rounded view of what's going on.

    Your field of expertise James is obviously psephology and, as a statistician myself, I have a real interest in your assessment of the opinion surveys and polls.

    I do hope you are able to carry on (but understand your reasons if that proves not to be possible).

    After all, who's going to keep IPSO slightly less dishonest than they already are when the biased British media in Scotland are reported to them for misrepresenting and misleading the facts and findings of polling firms publications?

  7. Back from hol and doing a quick catch up. Angus McNeil ( an SNP MP who actually wants independence) booted out the party and Murray Foote ( Britnat ex editor of the Daily Retard and architect of the Infamous Vow ) now Chief Exec of the SNP. Just how much proof do the numpties need to understand that the SNP is completely compromised by the British state and independence is NOT on its agenda. Turning the SNP into a laughing stock is probably the objective.
    Still no reply from any numpty as to where the missing ring fenced £600k is. Show us the money. Oh that's right despite getting loads of dosh every year from Westminster they ain't got any money.

    Tempted to go to Edinburgh next Saturday and shout - "where's the £600k." "Where's the indyref next month?"
    Will the numpties get upset and turn nasty ? Believe in Scotland I do but not these charlatans in Sturgeon's gang.

  8. Just donated James. Hopefully enough others can join in and keep you going for a good long while yet.

    Given the strange importance that opinion polls have assumed in the Indy debate it’s important that we have someone like you to provide the prompt analysis that you’re known for. God knows we can’t trust the newspapers to report the figures fairly.

  9. Did you ever consider substack as a new or additional home? If I understood it correctly you can have a mix of free and paid for content, so not everyone has to be a subscriber. But even just a few dozen subscribers paying, say £5/month, would earn you a few thousand pounds a year. Might be worth a try before you knock it on the head.

  10. You've hit the nail on the head that you're not extreme and polarised enough for the majority of the independence movement these days, James. You've fallen between two chairs, and it's sad to see.

    When Alba started out, I thought it would be an antidote to the way the SNP and the Greens were going. Instead, it seems to have become just a sad reaction to them. Equally radicalised, equally as entrenched in the cul-de-sac of gender politics, the only difference being that they've become the flip side of the coin.

    Most Scottish people don't agree with Self ID, but most Scottish people also barely give it a second thought. The independence movement's strength of being so online in 2014 has become its downfall. It has become intensely obsessed with an issue that very few care much about in the real world, next to the cost of living crisis, Brexit, etc. To my dismay, I've even seen a lot of Alba officials fall into this trap, where they seem to think Twitter likes will be converted to votes, so long as they just keep harping on about an issue that's already been won for the time being.

    Of course, you tried to reason that point at the time. But I think it's been widely ignored. The vast majority of activists I see these days, Green, SNP, or Alba, all seem to have political identities that entirely revolve around gender. For the Greens and the SNP, if you care about other things more, it means you're a TERF. For Alba, if you care about other things more, it means you're a deviant. For ordinary voters, it has all just become a bunch of crusading, bug-eyed maniacs screaming at each other about other people's willies.

    I've heard some truly toe-curling stories about Green activists turning up to Rutherglen to badger people on the doorsteps about trans rights. But by the same token, just today I heard an equally toe-curling story from a Ruggie pal about a certain Alba official who very recently imposed herself upon the citizens of Rutherglen, going from doorstep to doorstep and lecturing people for 30 minutes apiece about the "global trans agenda". And as much as people in Scotland don't agree with the trajectory of Self ID, they also do not agree with making other people's genitalia their entire personality, identity, or reason for being. This moral crusade that the Greens, SNP, and Alba are battling themselves to the death over is seen as a sideshow by most of Scotland, and Alba officials and activists have to take some of the responsibility for the fervency of that.

    I'd be sad to see you go, because you're one of the few people in the independence movement who is still able to take a stance on gender politics while keeping that all important perspective, and remembering the main goal. From Patrick Harvie to Denise Findlay, there is a distinct lack of perspective these days. And you're one of the few who has it.

    But that has also been your downfall. You have too much perspective to make other people's genitalia your entire identity. And unfortunately, we're in an era where perspective doesn't pay the bills.

  11. Sorry to hear this, James. I have just contributed what I can afford & will spread the word.

    Another reason is a lot of folk also aren’t contributing because we (me included) don’t read many indy blogs now or pay attention to politics on a daily basis like we used to. Nothing realistic happening for indy on the horizon, so we get on with our lives instead of putting the world to rights on the internet all day long. The more fervent minded read & participate in the other blogs you mentioned. Sad times for Yes, but on the plus side new opportunities will come, things will change, momentum will garner, & I still see a place and a market for your blog all things considered.

    Good luck to you whatever you choose, but I hope your blog remains, even in a reduced capacity.

  12. What a push over the British state has found the SNP and it's house jocks to be. So many seemed to believe that we were in a 'gentlemens' match governed by Queensbury rules. Did none of the Sturgeonites and parliamentary troughers ever read the history of Ireland.
    It's all been said above James - you have been the best for a long time and it can't have been easy. Very best wishes to you however it pans out.

  13. What a push over the troughers and house jocks of the SNP 'elite' have been for the British state. Did they think that they were playing a cricket match ? Did none of them ever read the history of Ireland ?
    You have fought hard and long James for realism in the struggle for independence. You have a right to think of yourself sometimes. Scotland seems to be incapable of producing the necessary leadership 'stuff' to get us out of the wreck of avaricious, vicious, broken Britain at this time. Maybe 'tomorrow'.

  14. Apologies for the duplication. Thought that I'd accidentally deleted the first one.