Saturday, January 21, 2023

Why is a campaign on "the right side of history" characterised by hate speech and threats of extreme violence?

Does it matter that several SNP parliamentarians were today photographed smiling in front of placards calling for women to be murdered, mutilated and cannibalised?  In one sense it shouldn't, because in most circumstances it would be obvious that any politician in a situation of that sort must have found themselves there by accident rather than design - and in any case, the arguments for or against the GRR Bill don't become any stronger or weaker depending on the character defects of those on either side of the debate.  

One problem is, though, that many of the proponents of gender self-ID have repeatedly suggested in the past that the characteristics of campaigners should in fact be taken into account.  For example, when there were competing protests outside the Scottish Parliament a couple of weeks ago, I saw people on Twitter drawing a contrast between the supposed anger and hatred displayed by anti-GRR campaigners, and the sight of pro-GRR campaigners bringing fun and sunshine to the occasion by doing the conga with huge grins on their faces.  The implication was that the people on one side of the argument are likeable and 'normal' and the people on the other side are 'abnormal', and thus there must be a lesson to be learned about which side was in the right, and on the "right side of history".  That was always a completely bogus narrative, because we all know it's extremely common for pro-self-ID protests to feature placards riddled with hate and calling for physical violence.  But the fact that such a prominent example has occurred today is nevertheless a catastrophic setback for the self-ID campaign and the image it has tried to cultivate of itself.

And the fact that this is far from being the first time is why the SNP parliamentarians can't be given a free pass in saying that it was something they couldn't possibly have foreseen.  Senior SNP politicians, most notably Nicola Sturgeon, are notorious for avoiding pro-independence rallies because of paranoia about being seen to be around campaigners dressed as William Wallace, or who might be carrying placards that could be interpreted as anti-English.  It therefore must reasonably have occurred to them that if they attend pro-self-ID rallies, there's a risk that the behaviour on display will be very similar to previous rallies about the same subject.  Which begs one simple and obvious question: "why didn't you at least turn around and check?"

The unwarranted suspicion that the politicians knew exactly what was going on behind them and were comfortable with it can be pretty easily explained by the blind eye they've turned to similar hate speech so many times before.  They literally only seem to notice anger and hate when it comes from those they disapprove of, rather than from their own allies.  They've never had any difficulty lecturing a generally very well disciplined Yes movement about the supposed need to "put its house in order", so it's arguably long past time for them to deploy some of the same tough love on a considerably less disciplined gender self-ID movement.

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Friday, January 20, 2023

It's actually not "the second-highest Yes vote ever recorded" - but 54% for independence in a remarkable new poll is still plenty high enough to be getting on with

There are two completely contradictory polls on independence out today - one shows a substantial Yes lead, and the other shows a substantial No lead. The good news is that the poll with the Yes lead has more recent fieldwork dates.  The bad news is that the poll with the No lead comes from a more established firm and some people will perhaps intuitively assume it to be more accurate.

Should Scotland be an independent country?  (Survation / True North, 10th-12th January 2023)

Yes 46% (-1)
No 54% (+1)

Should Scotland be an independent country?  (Find Out Now / The National, 11th-18th January 2023)

Yes 54% (-)
No 46% (-)

As you can see above, the Find Out Now poll with the Yes lead was commissioned by The National, who are claiming in their write-up that 54% for Yes is the "second-highest level ever reached".  I can't make any sense of that.  54% is certainly unusually high, but it's identical to the previous poll from the same firm, and there have been multiple previous polls from other firms putting Yes anywhere between 55% and 58%.  The National are citing Mark McGeoghegan as the source of their claim, which is odd, because although he's an abusive troll on social media and an identity politics extremist, he generally does know his stuff about polling.  But if he's been quoted correctly, he seems to have got it wrong on this occasion.

If I had seen the Survation poll on its own today, I would have been fairly despondent, because taken in combination with the ComRes poll at the end of last year, it would have looked very much like the effect of the Supreme Court ruling had eased off and we were back to the status quo ante of a small-to-moderate No lead.  However, Find Out Now's figures have very much muddied the waters and we'll thus have to wait to see which version of public opinion is corroborated by future polls.  It's also possible, of course, that the later fieldwork can partly explain the difference between the Survation and Find Out Now results, because perhaps public opinion has changed due to the veto of the GRR Bill.  However, I doubt if that would have been sufficient to transform an 8-point No lead into an 8-point Yes lead, especially given that only the very tail-end of the fieldwork would have been affected.

There are party political voting intention numbers in the Survation poll, which are a bit of a curate's egg from a pro-indy point of view.  Although they show the SNP falling a few percentage points short of the self-defined target for victory on the popular vote in a Westminster election used as a de facto referendum, they nevertheless add further weight to the findings of other recent polls suggesting that the Labour surge has either stalled or gone very slightly into reverse - which is crucial, because at least in terms of seats in a first-past-the-post election, Labour is where the threat lies.

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election (Survation / True North)

SNP 43% (-1)
Labour 29% (-2)
Conservatives 18% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)

Seats projection: SNP 48 (-), Labour 5 (+4), Liberal Democrats 3 (-1), Conservatives 3 (-3)

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 46% (+2)
Labour 27% (-2)
Conservatives 17% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 33% (-)
Labour 25% (-1)
Conservatives 18% (+3)
Greens 12% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-1)

Seats projection: SNP 61 (-3), Labour 28 (+6), Conservatives 22 (-9), Greens 11 (+3), Liberal Democrats 7 (+3)

The SNP's projected seat losses can be mostly explained by the regional list vote - which means they should be taken with a pinch of salt, because Survation always seem to understate the SNP on the list ballot.  In fairness, Survation appear to have made an attempt to address that problem by changing the wording of the question they ask about the list, making it clear that you can if you wish vote for the same party on both ballots, thus by implication stressing that the list is not a second preference vote.  But for some reason that hasn't made any obvious difference to the results.

In case you're wondering about Alba's absence from the list results, it looks very much from the datasets as if Survation have dropped Alba as an option - which is really odd, because they included Alba in their recent propaganda poll for Scotland in Dungeon.  Indeed, Alba registered in that poll with 2% of the list vote.

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

No, Mr Kavanagh, "decent nationalists" have not suddenly started rejecting independence and cheering on Tory rule in Scotland. You'll find that people who do that sort of thing are generally known as "Unionists".

Above is another incredibly revealing tweet, which presumably refers in part to Wings blogger Stuart Campbell's announcement two days ago that he no longer supports independence (or, to use his careful euphemisms, that he "is the least Yes he has ever been" and that his "conscience" would now prevent him from campaigning for independence - and presumably from voting for it).  It's not just Mr Campbell, of course, but many of the others in the same category are people he's led along like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.  It was absolutely fine to give voice to the concerns about the GRR Bill - it was a terrible piece of legislation and I opposed it myself.  But there is nothing inevitable, or even logical, about opposition to the Bill morphing into hostility towards Scottish independence or Scottish self-government.  What is unforgivable about Mr Campbell's role in this drama is that he's brainwashed a number of people - albeit mercifully only a tiny minority - into believing that cheering on the Tories as they trash devolution is somehow the only stance that is consistent with support for women's sex-based rights.

Which I think in turn has led to others with an anti-independence agenda (ie. "you can only be a 'decent' person if you oppose independence"), such as Dennis Noel Kavanagh, to overplay their hand massively.  They looked at Mr Campbell's passionate embrace of the Westminster veto, leaped to the conclusion that everybody else in Scotland must be reacting in the same way, and were emboldened to imagine they could suddenly say things out loud that they were previously too cautious to say, in case they alienated independence supporters who otherwise agreed with them on the GRR issue.  But the reality is that nothing has changed.  "Decent nationalists" still have no intention whatever of making a false choice between independence and women's rights, and thus they still passionately support independence - the clue is in the word "nationalist".  Mr Campbell - of all people - is not representative of "decent nationalists", because he no longer supports independence and is therefore not a Scottish nationalist of either the decent or indecent persuasion.  I understand that Mr Kavanagh is London-based and may not be well-versed with the vocabulary of the constitutional debate here, but surely if he'd taken a step back before posting his tweet, he'd have realised that a nationalist Unionist is a contradiction in terms (unless the nationalism in question is British nationalism).

Presumably with a name like Kavanagh, he's either originally from Ireland or has an Irish family background.  Which is somewhat ironic, because the Republic of Ireland introduced gender self-ID several years ago, and yet I doubt if even a single opponent of that law in Ireland reacted by saying "oh well, that's it, then, we'll have to let the Brits take over so they can overrule our democratically-elected parliament".  No, what they do instead is organise and campaign in Ireland with the hope of reaching a tipping point where at least one major Irish political party supports repeal - and once they get that far, they'll campaign to get that party into power.  That's how it works in a self-governing country.  That's the democratic process you support if you truly believe in self-government for your own country - if you're not, in short, what Jim Sillars called a "ninety-minute nationalist", who crumples and reverts to the comfort blanket of "UKOK" at the first sign of any discomfort or difficulty.  And good luck to anyone in either Ireland or Scotland who is daft and naive enough to think London rule is the answer to this problem, because in all likelihood we're only a year-and-a-bit away from a Starmer government which will impose self-ID across the whole UK anyway.  It'll be with a minimum age of 18 rather than 16, but it'll still be self-ID.

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I raised an eyebrow at some of the BBC's reporting of the veto.  They called the GRR Bill a "draft Bill", which is an incredibly odd way to describe a Bill that actually completed the entire legislative process with the sole exception of Royal Assent.  Presumably they did that to play down the significance of the veto.  And both James Cook and Chris Mason suggested the SNP's opposition to the Section 35 order was "complicated" by the fact that they voted in the Commons to pass the Scotland Act in 1998, knowing that Section 35 was in it.  I mean, what?  By the time the whole Act was being voted on, it was a take it or leave it package.  By voting against that package, the SNP would have been voting to uphold direct London rule in Scotland.  And yet if you buy into Cook's and Mason's logic, the SNP should have voted in favour of direct London rule in order to defeat Section 35.  It's a complete nonsense even by BBC standards.

I think what's going on here is that Cook spotted that the Tories had raised serious concerns about Section 35 in 1998, when they described it as a "Governor-General clause".  They also tried unsuccessfully to amend it to address those concerns.  Cook quite rightly pointed out that this potentially gives rise to a charge of Tory double-standards now, but seemingly he felt he could only get away with saying that by manufacturing a "false balance", which he did by suggesting that the SNP's position is also somehow contradicted by what they did in 1998.  It really, really isn't.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

WINGS-WATCH: When someone tells you who they are, believe them

The above is a genuine tweet posted by Stuart Campbell nine hours ago in response to the question "You Yes Yet?", and let's be honest - it's not easily reconcilable with his supporters' insistent claims over recent months that he is still somehow full-bloodedly working towards independence, albeit by counter-intuitive and seemingly contradictory means.  

I would guess I speak on behalf of most readers of Scot Goes Pop when I say that I am just as Yes today as I have ever been, if not more so.  No principled dispute with the SNP / Green Government over an individual piece of legislation would ever dent my support for independence, but it appears the opposite - in fact far more than the opposite - is true for Mr Campbell.

The narrative being pushed today by Mr Campbell and certain others is that the Westminster veto of the GRR Bill is fully justified because Scotland's parliament is a second-rate, juvenile, irresponsible institution that needs to be kept on a tight leash by the altogether more sensible, seasoned and mature Westminster parliament, in the best interests of the people of Scotland. To state what should be the bleedin' obvious, that Tory-style narrative is not helping to build the case for independence. It's actually building the case for the abolition of devolution and the reintroduction of direct London rule.  And it's absolutely natural coming from someone who answers "no" to the question "You Yes Yet?" (and who goes on to say in a further tweet that his "conscience" would now prevent him from campaigning for independence).  I don't doubt the sincerity of Wings readers who have practically been mass-hypnotised into believing that by adhering to Mr Campbell's essentially unionist narrative they are somehow - God knows how - following the "only true path to independence", but that just makes it all the more vital that we at least endeavour to bring to their attention the real destination at the end of that path, before it's too late.

I've never bought into the wild conspiracy theory that Wings has been "compromised" and is now serving a new master. But I'd just note that he's currently behaving in the *exact* way that he would if that conspiracy theory were true.

Sticking to a belief in Scottish self-government, even when mistakes are being made by our parliament, is not an endorsement of the awful GRR Bill.  It's not a betrayal of women and girls.  I entirely agree with what Joanna Cherry said today - the GRR Bill is a problem made in Scotland and it should be solved in Scotland.  Solving your own problems as a country is what self-government is all about, and indeed it's what sovereign independence will be all about.  No parliament anywhere in the world gets it right 100% of the time, but the UK Parliament has done far, far more harm to Scotland over the years than the Scottish Parliament ever has.  If we didn't believe that to be true, we would have no logical reason to support independence - and it's no coincidence that Mr Campbell, who doesn't believe it to be true, apparently no longer supports independence (or to use his euphemistic language, he's "the least Yes he has ever been").  His statement today is also entirely consistent with his call for his readers not to vote for pro-independence candidates on the constituency ballot in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.

If Scotland becomes independent and then passes the GRR Bill, the logic of Mr Campbell's support for the Westminster veto - which he openly admitted to in absolutely crystal-clear fashion last night - is that he would want Scotland to rejoin the United Kingdom so that the grown-ups in London can set us straight once again.  Or perhaps he'd want England to launch a White Knight Invasion and repeal the Bill to save us from ourselves.  That is not the position of an independence supporter.  If you think MSPs have got it wrong, then at the next election you elect MSPs who will put the mistake right.  That's how parliamentary democracy in any self-governing country works.

By the way, anyone concerned at the standard of MSPs such as Emma Roddick and Maggie Chapman should take a closer look at some of the Tory and Labour lobby fodder in the House of Commons before concluding that the grass is greener down in the metropolis. And although I'm certainly no admirer of Ms Roddick myself, I remain deeply concerned at the overtones of some of the attacks on her from Wings and others, which seem to imply that anyone with a diagnosed personality disorder should automatically be regarded with hostility, suspicion and derision, and should have no place in our parliament.

UPDATE: I see that Mr Campbell has deliberately misled his readers today by yet again trotting out his fraudulent and long-debunked graph which falsely claims that support for independence has remained static on 47% since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister.  To read a detailed explanation of how and why Mr Campbell's graph is a lie, and to discover the real trend on independence support over recent years (there have actually been considerable shifts in public opinion from year to year), please click HERE

Pro-indy politicians who loathe the GRR Bill should take care not to lose the room by appearing to be on the wrong side of a dispute between Scottish democracy and Westminster diktat

Out of curiosity, I ran a Twitter poll last night to ask whether people supported the UK Government in vetoing a Bill passed by the elected Scottish Parliament.  I wasn't entirely sure what the result would be, because when I've run Twitter polls in the past, it's been clear that my followers are roughly evenly split between sympathies for the SNP and Alba, and of course we know that Alba supporters are generally extremely hostile to the GRR Bill.

The poll still has a few hours to run, but as of 2pm, here are the provisional results -

Regardless of your opinion of the GRR Bill, do you support or oppose the UK Government vetoing a Bill passed by the elected Scottish Parliament?

Support: 14.5%
Oppose: 85.5%

Now, of course this is an unscientific, self-selecting poll, but it does suggest that a very large chunk of committed independence supporters who loathe the GRR Bill are nevertheless opposed to the UK Government vetoing it.  And that shouldn't be a major surprise, because committed independence supporters are first and foremost opposed to London rule in Scotland, and there can hardly be a more extreme example of the exercise of raw London colonial power in Scotland than the vetoing of a Bill that has been properly passed by the elected Scottish Parliament.

I'd suggest there's a timely warning here for pro-indy politicians, both inside and outside of Alba, who are tempted to publicly welcome the veto because of how they feel about the GRR Bill.  We've yet to see polling evidence of how the wider public have reacted to the veto, but if committed indy supporters generally abhor it - which seems to be the case - that's what matters for a party like Alba, because that's the pool in which they're seeking votes.  There's a big danger of losing the room by seeming to be on the wrong side of a dispute between Scottish parliamentary democracy and Westminster diktat.  

Nobody is suggesting that people who hate the GRR Bill, for very good reasons, should dishonestly shed tears for its demise.  But there's nothing to be gained from going to the other extreme and being publicly seen to celebrate or gloat about the outrageously anti-democratic way that the Bill has been thwarted.  You're not going to win over pro-independence converts by indicating that you prefer Tory ministers in London to be making decisions for Scotland, rather than elected Scottish ministers.  Or by giving the impression that you're glad that the Tories are in power to be able to make such a decision.  Or by claiming that the Tories simply had no choice but to do what they did (that's most certainly not true, by the way). Or by asserting that it was somehow the Scottish Parliament's own fault that London overruled it.  Or by saying that the onus is on the Scottish Parliament to sort out the mess by coming into compliance with London's wishes.  That is not going to sound to anyone like the sort of things a pro-independence party would or should be saying.

For my money a much better tack is simply to note that, while it's a good thing that the GRR Bill will not be coming into force, the ends do not justify the means, and the Tories should get their hands off Scottish democracy and let us make our own decisions - including our own mistakes.  And it could also be pointed out to the SNP leadership that they bear some responsibility for this outcome due to their failure to push urgently for independence over the last seven years.  There would have been no Westminster vetoes in an independent Scotland.  

There's actually no downside to saying any of the above, because the Tory veto isn't going to go away just because you condemn it.  You can have the quiet satisfaction of knowing self-ID isn't coming into force for the foreseeable future, while not needlessly taking a hit for being associated with the way in which that happened.  You didn't cause the veto, so why the hell would you want to take responsibility for it?

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Monday, January 16, 2023

The Scottish Government have used apocalyptic language to justify the absolute necessity of the GRR Bill. Surely, therefore, London's veto of the Bill creates a "human rights emergency" that MUST now be addressed by an urgent push towards independence?

So it's official.  For the first time in the twenty-four year history of devolution, the UK Government will use an obscure power that was generally assumed to be merely theoretical to veto a law passed entirely properly by the elected Scottish Parliament.  Not to challenge it in the courts, but to literally veto it with the flourish of a pen, thus putting Holyrood firmly in its place as a subordinate legislature - a far cry from the post-indyref claim that it was "the most powerful devolved parliament in the world".  And although the veto is potentially subject to judicial review, the smart money is that the courts will uphold it.

Let me put this to the Scottish Government.  You didn't think the loss of freedom of movement with European countries was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.  You didn't think the loss of access to the EU Single Market was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.  You didn't think Scotland's enforced exit from the EU customs union was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.  You didn't think the post-Brexit power-grab of devolved powers was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.  You didn't think London's disastrous mishandling of Covid, which needlessly cost hundreds of thousands of lives, was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.  You didn't think the importance of getting the post-Covid recovery right was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.  And you didn't even think the UK Government's grotesque priorities in the face of the cost of living crisis was a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence.

But you've used some pretty apocalyptic language about the GRR Bill.  Although it would have conferred legal rights that have never previously existed at any point in history, you have argued that, from this point on, the absence of those rights would be totally incompatible with basic human rights and basic human dignity.  You have also argued that voters felt so strongly about the importance of those rights that they marched to the polling stations in May 2021 with the specific intention of rejecting the "bigoted" politicians who opposed the Bill.  And yet without independence, there now seems to be no prospect of those rights ever reaching the statute book in the form that you want, especially in view of the cold water that the London Labour leadership have been suddenly chucking in your direction.  Can we therefore assume that we now at last have a big enough emergency to warrant an urgent push towards independence?  In your own terms: an emergency of the withholding of "basic human rights"?  An emergency of the denial of "basic human dignity"?  A democratic emergency where voters' "rejection of bigots" has been reversed by remote control from London?  Surely it is now unconscionable to wait until 2026 to address these unprecedented emergencies?

A Westminster veto on gender self-ID, combined with Starmer becoming a born-again sceptic on the issue, could be the perfect storm that radicalises the SNP and Green leaderships on independence

In a small way, I was involved in the campaign against legally-recognised gender self-ID, via the Panelbase poll I commissioned just over a year ago.  The hope was always that an opinion poll with balanced, non-leading questions would help wake some MSPs up to the extent of the gulf that had opened up between themselves and public opinion on the gender topic.  But given the scale of the pro-self-ID majority in Holyrood, which extended well beyond the ranks of the SNP and the Greens, it always seemed an extreme long shot to imagine that the campaign would end in self-ID actually being defeated.  When the GRR legislation finally passed just before Christmas, I was left (like many others) with the empty feeling that we needn't have bothered, which I suppose inevitably follows any campaign that ends in failure.  Admittedly there was still the small consolation of feeling confident that we had been (ironically) on the right side of history, and that time would eventually prove that to be the case.

Now, in the ultimate plot twist, it appears from today's Financial Times front page that our campaign may have succeeded after all, and that the legislation will not be permitted to go forward for Royal Assent - and yet that just makes me feel emptier still.  Regardless of what some people might say, it does matter how you achieve your political objectives.  For anyone using perverted logic to suggest a Westminster veto is somehow upholding the will of the Scottish people, please understand that way of thinking simply isn't consistent with a belief in self-governing Scottish parliamentary democracy.  If a mistake is made by the Scottish Parliament, no matter how grievous, the place to clear it up is in the Scottish Parliament.  The solution is not for a colonial master to intervene as some self-appointed God that enforces the will of the people as expressed in opinion polls, but only when it happens to feel like doing so.  The place-man Alister Jack acting as colonial Governor to veto a Bill of the elected Scottish Parliament by means of nothing more than the flourish of his pen will be an unprecedented tragedy for the cause of democratic Scottish self-government.

That said, there may be side-benefits, as I noted the other week.  A veto is likely to radicalise supporters of self-ID on the subject of independence.  Maggie Chapman, perhaps the very worst of the MSP zealots, is quoted in Pink News hyping up the narrative that Sunak is on the verge of triggering a constitutional crisis.  I had previously thought this effect might be tempered by the knowledge that a Starmer government is probably just around the corner and will introduce self-ID across the UK - but the ground is suddenly shifting on that point too.  Having been a fully paid up adherent of the Stonewall ideology, Starmer suddenly seems to be rowing back a little, and is giving every impression of having just been alerted to private polls and focus groups suggesting that his stance could cost him votes. His refusal to even state that he opposes a veto on the legislation is particularly astonishing given that Scottish Labour full-bloodedly supported the Bill, and given that Labour MSPs have been queueing up to state that a veto would be an attack on devolution.  Suddenly Scottish Labour looks once again like a mere branch office of the "whole party", to use Starmer's own withering words.

If Starmer no longer looks like he can be 100% relied upon to deliver full-fat self-ID, then forget about Peter A Bell - it could be Maggie Chapman who will be the keenest proponent of UDI going forward.

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

A warning from the future

Fresh constitutional chaos as no-one can agree on whether Scotland has just voted for independence or not

by Pamela Molly Bannatyne

- Edinburgh, Friday 3rd May 2024

Hopes that yesterday's general election could resolve the long-running constitutional stand-off over Scottish independence took a knock early this morning as results came in.  The Scottish National Party (SNP) defied the expectations of many pundits by surging to 51 seats north of the border - even more than the 48 they won in their 2019 landslide.  They also increased their share of the Scotland-wide popular vote from 45.0% to 47.4%.  Crucially, two other pro-independence parties, the Scottish Green Party and Alex Salmond's Alba Party, grabbed 2.4% and 0.6% of the vote respectively, meaning that the combined vote for pro-independence parties slightly exceeds 50%. Since all three parties had declared the election to be a "de facto referendum on independence", First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to claim later today that a mandate for independence has been secured, and to demand that the UK Government enter into immediate negotiations on an independence settlement.

However, unionist parties have already rubbished this claim.  Their objections are mostly centred upon the SNP's insistence prior to the election that votes for the Alba Party should not count towards the pro-independence tally.  This appears to have been intended as a tactic to deter independence-supporting voters from drifting away from the SNP in the small number of constituencies where Alba had put up candidates.  But it may have backfired badly, because Alba's modest vote effectively holds the balance, with the SNP and Greens alone only having secured a combined vote of 49.8%.  Pamela Nash of anti-independence group Scotland in Union was dismissive of what she described as "Nicola Sturgeon's attempt to shift the goalposts after the game is already over".  She pointed out that the plan to exclude Alba votes had been indirectly announced by the SNP's National Executive Committee as long ago as 14th January 2023.

But Mike Russell, President of the SNP, angrily retorted that the constitutional future of Scotland was not a game.  "Independence is a matter for the people of Scotland," he commented.  "It's not a private cricket match between a closed group of politicians who can decide 'the rules' between them.  There can be no credible doubt that the people who voted Alba yesterday intended to express their backing for independence, every bit as much as the people who voted SNP and Green.  That's what matters, not the minutiae of what individual politicians may or may not have said before the election."

There were also growing signs of recriminations from independence supporters who feel Nicola Sturgeon's vendetta against her predecessor Mr Salmond has led her to make a "catastrophic unforced error" which may have needlessly called into question what would otherwise have been a clear-cut mandate.  But some SNP parliamentarians seemed almost relieved that the UK Government may now have a ready-made excuse for disregarding the pro-independence majority.  One MP, who asked not to be named, said he hoped the election outcome would come to be seen as "a small but important incremental step in a long-term process that may eventually result in independence one day".  He added: "The last thing we should be doing now is forcing the issue.  Remember the tortoise beat the hare in the end.  Let's keep the heid!"

SNP activist Marcus Carslaw agreed.  "Gradualism has served the Yes movement extremely well over the last eighty years, and frankly I can't wait for the next eighty. Slowly slowly catchy monkey."

Controversial Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell reacted furiously. "Women can't have beards," he thundered.

Meanwhile, many Scottish political commentators are speculating that independence will now be an issue settled by the 2029 general election.  "That's what we expected all along," said one prominent columnist, although his recollection was disputed by a colleague sympathetic to independence, who suggested that journalists had been predicting for several years that whichever election happened to be "the next but one" would be decisive.