Since I last blogged, I've written an article for The National's website (it wasn't in the print edition as far as I know) about the Focaldata poll which suggested the SNP are on course to be routed by Labour at the general election. You can read the article HERE, but basically my two main points were that the poll is directly contradicted by an Ipsos poll conducted at around the same time showing the SNP with a decent lead, and that the SNP cannot bet the house on Ipsos being right and other firms being wrong. My gut feeling for some time has been that the SNP are heading for defeat unless they change course.
However, if Rishi Sunak can be taken at his word, it's likely that the general election is still nine or ten months away, which is enough time to make strategic decisions that could change the political weather. What might work and what wouldn't?
Target Keir Starmer personally and relentlessly. I think this one should be a no-brainer that all independence supporters can agree on. Starmer's personal ratings in Scotland are moderately good, which is wholly undeserved given his extraordinary record of deceit, betrayal and shameless U-turns which could be ruthlessly exposed by an advertising campaign.
Replace Humza Yousaf with Kate Forbes. This is obviously highly unlikely to happen prior to the general election but I do have to raise the prospect because I firmly believe it would be effective. Nicola Sturgeon was, at least from the London media's point of view, the surprise star of the 2015 leadership debates, and my sense is that Forbes possesses a similar X Factor that could be transformative during the campaign.
Replace the Team Humza factional rule with a unity SNP Government. This would have a more limited effect than a change of leader but it's also more realistic which is why I keep suggesting it. The SNP would look a more attractive proposition with Forbes back as Finance Secretary and possibly as Deputy First Minister, and with some of the more talented people who have been frozen out back in the Cabinet. Probably all sides would have to swallow some pride to make this happen - Forbes would be unlikely to get her way about the ejection of Greens from government, for example.
Be really specific about the concessions you'd be looking for from a Labour government. Alyn Smith's idea that the SNP can win a general election on the nebulous platform of "making Scotland's voice heard" or "maximising influence over the UK" seems pretty hopeless to me, but if it's to have any chance at all of working, wedge issues would have to be identified so that voters would feel they'd get something specific by voting SNP that they wouldn't get by voting Labour. This of course carries the danger that Labour would retort that if the SNP don't get their way on specific issues they might not support a Labour government (thus justifying a false charge that the SNP would "prop up the Tories") but I think that's a risk that would have to be taken.
Pro-independence unity. As an Alba member I accept the party's democratic decision to stand against the SNP in a dozen-odd seats, but I do doubt the wisdom of it, just as I doubt the wisdom even more of the SNP putting up a candidate against Angus MacNeil which could hand the Western Isles seat to Labour for potentially decades. The Greens standing more candidates than before against their own coalition partners is also deeply unhelpful. We now have a good few months for pride to be swallowed and sensible compromises to be reached, so for heaven's sake let's do that, and not regret our failure to see the bigger picture for years to come.
Bang on about a referendum being denied by Westminster. Forget it, Humza. It's like trying to sell Easter eggs at Halloween. You have the opportunity to make this election a direct vote on independence, but if you spurn that opportunity, as you seem hellbent on doing, soft Yes supporters will not even be thinking about independence when they visit the polling stations. You'll have to win this election the hard way, without the pro-indy vote being galvanised, and whether that's even possible I don't know. But that's the task you've set for yourself, whether you realise it or not.
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