As expected, the recall petition against Margaret Ferrier has hit its target and triggered a by-election. What I didn't expect, though, was how relatively close it came to failing. Only 14.7% of the registered electorate signed the petition, which means that the drive to persuade people to sign may have made the decisive difference in reaching the 10% threshold - and of course that was a drive the SNP were active participants in, even though they knew any by-election was highly likely to see the Rutherglen seat move from the pro-independence camp to the unionist camp. As I pointed out recently, there were only two officially registered campaigning organisations in favour of the petition succeeding - one was Labour, and the other was the SNP. It's the absolute epitome of self-defeating behaviour. And make no mistake, this isn't necessarily just about one seat - landmark by-election results often produce snowball effects in the subsequent general election. We could look back on what the SNP have done to Ferrier as a crucial milestone on the way to the loss of the pro-indy majority at Westminster.
I have no time whatever for the notion that the SNP's actions were made inevitable by the gravity of Ferrier's trangressions. In February and March 2020, the Scottish Government, including Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, ignored the pleadings of the World Health Organisation and deliberately allowed Covid to move freely through the population. They even sent Jason Leitch out on a Grand Complacency Tour of the TV and radio studios to hubristically imply that the WHO were wrong and that "what the science is telling us" is that people should keep going to large events, such as Stereophonics concerts, held in confined indoor spaces. The only thing that put a stop to that unforgiveable folly was the realisation that the NHS would literally collapse if the "libertarianism for pathogens" approach was maintained.
And over the last year to eighteen months, of course, all mitigations against Covid have been completely dropped, even though the virus is still ubiquitous and is still causing considerable amounts of death and severe illness. Literally the only thing that seems to matter to the government is that the numbers are no longer high enough to overwhelm the NHS - they simply don't care about the human toll along the way.
In a nutshell, then, Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf must by definition be responsible for many, many times more Covid deaths than Margaret Ferrier was (and of course there's no way of knowing whether Ferrier was responsible for any deaths or infections at all). To portray Ferrier as a monster, as the SNP leadership shamelessly did, and themselves as saints, is just rank hypocrisy. And I would stress that I've been making similar points about the Scottish Government's catastrophic early handling of Covid since 2020, when I was still a member of the SNP myself.
There's also the question of what we can glean about the characters of SNP politicians who turned on Ferrier so instantly and savagely. This is a woman they used to praise to the skies as the SNP's hardest-working campaigner, especially in local council by-elections. If they can decide literally overnight that she's irredeemably evil and untouchable, who is actually safe from being betrayed by them?
If the coming by-election is not going to be reported as a straightforward tale of Labour triumph and Yes disaster, it may well be that it can't be allowed to be a straightforward Labour v SNP battle. As has been well-rehearsed, I think in normal circumstances Alba need to be incredibly cautious about splitting the Yes vote in first-past-the-post elections - but in this particular case, with the SNP seemingly almost guaranteed to lose, a good showing for a big name Alba candidate could be the only thing with any chance of preventing Labour from using the by-election to generate unalloyed momentum for themselves. And a big name Alba candidate can only really mean Alex Salmond.
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SCOT GOES POP FUNDRAISER 2023: This year's fundraiser has now been running for well over two months, and it's been partially successful - it's around a quarter of the way towards its target figure of £8500. Please bear with me as I plug away at continuing to promote it at the bottom of every blogpost, because there's very little point in leaving the job half-done - that would mean continuing with the current service for maybe two or three more months and then more or less stopping. We wouldn't necessarily need to hit the full target figure to avoid that outcome, but substantial progress would need to be made. Why is it a bit harder to raise money these days than it used to be? Obviously it's partly because of the cost of living crisis, but I think the bigger issue is that it's far easier for a pro-indy blog to inspire people to donate if it's pumping out a "purist" message that appeals to one of the two opposite ends of the spectrum - ie. either that the SNP leadership can do no wrong and deserve our unquestioning support, or that the SNP is unremittingly evil and must be totally destroyed. Scot Goes Pop has a much more nuanced analysis that is pretty much bang in the middle between those two extremes. But the glass-half-full way of looking at it is that £2000+ raised means that people still think nuance and independent thinking (alternatively known as "being in the scunnered middle") have their place. A million thanks to everyone who has donated so far, and anyone wishing to make a donation can do so HERE. Alternatively, direct donations can be made via Paypal (in many ways this is preferable because it cuts out the middle man). My Paypal email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org