Saturday, July 6, 2024

So what happens from here?

One of the reasons why I suggested that independence supporters would be crazy to abstain or vote Labour on Thursday was that it would not just be business as usual afterwards - the media would try to turn any defeat into a 1979-style setback that would put independence off the agenda for a generation.  That is the process we're now seeing, and I'm troubled that the SNP are - just as in 2017 - not doing enough to resist the media narrative, in fact they may be fuelling it.  OK, in one sense it's a statement of the obvious to say that independence is off the imminent agenda because there is no practical way of achieving it between now and the Holyrood election - but there certainly is a practical way of achieving it at the Holyrood election itself, and if the SNP start denying that, that's when the alarm bells should start ringing. 

Most incoming governments enjoy a honeymoon, so when the next opinion polls are published (which may not be for quite some time), it's likely that Labour will have a large lead over the SNP, possibly even at Holyrood level.  Nobody should panic about that because the honeymoon effect wears off with time, possibly even within six months or so.  But the important question is whether the honeymoon will also affect the numbers on the independence question and produce a boost for No.  That's why it's so dangerous for the SNP to be bending the knee to the "defeat for independence" narrative - Yes supporters could take their cue from that and drift away, resulting in bad polls for Yes, which will just further embolden commentators to inform the public that independence is dead.  It could be a vicious circle.  However, even if Yes does take a knock, I would expect that to recover once the Labour government becomes unpopular.

For all that we used to say that a Tory government was the best recruiting sergeant for independence, it should never be forgotten that Tony Blair was still Prime Minister when the SNP first came to power in 2007, and that the Iraq War played a big role in that breakthrough.  If Starmer makes a mis-step on that scale, which can't be totally ruled out given his obscene comments on Gaza in October, it could be the decisive moment in moving Scotland towards independence.

*  *  *

Now that Stuart Campbell has got the unionist victory he campaigned for, you might be wondering what he thinks comes next.  Thrillingly he's given us an insight into his thinking, although it doesn't make a lot of sense.  Firstly he claims that the SNP is "stone-cold dead in the water". Er, really?  This is the result in the popular vote on Thursday (which will only change minimally once the Inverness result is announced) - 

Labour 36%
SNP 30%
Conservatives 13%
Liberal Democrats 9%
Reform UK 7%
Greens 4%
Alba 0.5%

Objectively, does that look "dead in the water" to you, or does it look like a party that is firmly in a duopoly with Labour, is not very far behind Labour, and is well placed to profit if Labour become unpopular?

Secondly, now that the election is over Campbell is suddenly making a show of being interested in Alba again and wanting them to overtake the supposedly "dead in the water" SNP.  Er, Stu, if that was what you had in mind, don't you think it might have been an idea to urge your readers to vote Alba on Thursday rather than Labour?  And given that you backed Labour instead, how in God's name do you now expect Alba to totally replace the SNP from 29.5 percentage points behind?

72 comments:

  1. Turnout under 50% in Glasgow. Down 10% almost everywhere. Starmer elected with LESS VOTES than Corbyn got in 2019's disaster for him. Non-voters, which is to say lost-voters, were the story of this election.

    There's a lot being said about the abstention rate. Meanwhile, I haven't seen a word about spoiled ballots. They're just not as effective at sending the message: to hell with this election, this false country and the lot of you.

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    1. It is very important that Holyrood turnout does not drop. If we are able to maintain or increase voter engagement above 2021, then we'll have a situation where more Scots voted in two consecutive Holyrood elections than did in the intervening Westminster election.

      The independence future is that very few of us vote in Westminster elections and most of us votes in what we'll simply refer to as "our general elections". Nae more of this Westy-Holly back and forth.

      It can happen organically before independence is formally delivered. There are reasons for pro-independence parties to continue contesting Westminster elections... but there are also reasons not to.

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  2. Interesting how accurate the pre election polling was on vote share. They were all pretty similar, ie more or less 35% in favour of a Labour government, 65% opposed to a Labour government.

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    1. Yes, they were spot on about that.

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  3. Whilst, like Campbell, I also “hoped” for a gubbing like this, I don’t share the SNP is dead belief. Unlike, I also don’t think the situation is the same as Reform / Tory:

    SNP poll 30. Alba poll 0. SNP is very hard to replace on these numbers.

    A winning strategy (in the long term) for Yes, is SNP1 / Alba (or any other Yes party) 2. The movement needs to learn to work together constructively.

    Indy is probably off the table 5 - 15 years, depending on the time taken for SNP self-reflection & willingness to reach out to wider Yes.

    An SNP destruction & replacement (if even possible in a PR system), would likely extend beyond that 15 year period. We need a clear out of the ruling faction, not the ruling party.

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    1. I think Indy will be very much on the table the minute Prime Minister Farage becomes as inevitable as PM Starmer has been since Trussmageddon.

      Soft unionist Scots need a scare. And, boy, is he terrifying for them.

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    2. When are you going to learn that Scotland does not and will not consider Alba or anything to do with Alex Salmond ever again, the electorate just told you that they positively despise the very idea of Alba and still you refuse to listen

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    3. 1008; I hoped for a gunning. Did you ? Happy that the britnat labour appoints union flag decked Murray as governor general. If you are an example of ALBA then you have gubbed them too. Not a clever strategy.

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    4. Anon 11:34.

      What? No votes in an English Election under FPTP?

      πŸ˜†πŸ˜±πŸ˜±πŸ˜±

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    5. Dr Jim at 11.34am - the song remains the same from Jimbo for years now. Alba are both irrelevant but also to blame for SNP failings.

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  4. James,
    First off, I really appreciate your blog and the information & analysis you provide.

    My view is Independence was going absolutely nowhere under the SNP. We could all see it. A Labour government is like the match going to penalties - it’ll either cool support and put a vote off the cards for 10 years, or it could in fact help elevate the 48-50% ‘yes’ to 55%… all in the same time frame, during which the SNP would’ve achieved nothing anyway.

    WOS is full of delusional quacks but they have one thing right - the SNP have done nothing to progress the argument, particularly in these last 2 or 3 golden years. More importantly, there wasn’t a shred of evidence things would change.

    Swinney talking about Indy the day after this defeat is completely insulting as well…

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    1. John Swinney spoke about his belief in independence at every press conference, this spreading of lies is deliberate by those who wish to bring down the only vehicle there is for independence out of some misguided loyalty to a toxic politician and his invented ego party to fool the gullible
      Scotland's voters just told you clearly to take your Alba and toxic Salmond and do one

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    2. Anon at 11.38. That sums it up. If SNP don't bring in Kate as outright leader, publicly name and expel the personal agenda cabal, both from Gno matter what that takers, and restore the constitution to its pre 2014 status, Indy is going nowhere for at least the next two terms or longer. Immediate measures must involve taking the ferry contract from those currently screwing it up, giving it to a third party and getti9ng it completed. See the incompetents in court.

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    3. Typos abound.

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    4. 1210- Forbes lost a leadership election and didn’t stand for the most recent.

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    5. Anon 11.38. ‘Spreading of lies’? Please describe a single thing the SNP have done in the last 5 years to progress the debate or a vote?

      The SNP flyer put through my door in Fife DID NOT EVEN MENTION INDEPENDENCE ON IT!!

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    6. Anon @ 11:38.

      Support for independence is around 50% (give or take), the SNP just won 29% in the General Election.

      Is the plan now just to say: That other 20% got it wrong and we'll spend the next 2 years stating why they've got it wrong!

      Or will there be a willingness to accept that it's the SNP themselves who got things wrong and urgently needs to change in order to win some of that 20% back to have any hope of retaining power in 2026?

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    7. Anon at 12.28. Do you have a point? Why would Kate stand for leader in an already rigged process? Now is the time. She may look at the shower of arseholes presently claiming to be pro Indy but doing all they can to damage the cause and perhaps think it’s not worth it.

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    8. Dr Jim at 11.38am - blaming Salmond and Alba for the SNP being useless. You ARE pathetic Jimbo. If Alba disappeared tomorrow who would you blame Jimbo. Try yourself and others like you.

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  5. If this had been a de facto referendum result, we would have been no worse off in terms of representation in Westminster but would at least have tested how a de facto referendum could work and a baseline to work from?

    But there is still the question of whether Westminster would accept the result, and what to do if they didn't.

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    1. They wouldn’t have accepted a unilaterally announced referendum. It’s a bit like me saying to you “I bet you a tenner it’s going to rain tomorrow” then you owe me a tenner if it rains even if you didn’t agree to the bet. Would you give me the tenner? I think not.

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    2. They won’t accept anything we do. That’s the point. We must demonstrate firm majority support and take the moves—quite beyond the Scotland Act—which establish our independence, de facto.

      It takes a lot more than begging, cap in hand. That’s why the SNP leadership must change outright.

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    3. Anon @ 12.30

      The de facto idiot has just commented.

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    4. Anon@1:03, the idiots are the people who somehow think that independence can somehow be achieved through a de facto referendum.
      Delusional nonsense.

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    5. Anon at 1.03.Maybe try to get basic things right. Who are you referring to? and where is the post? There is no post at 12.30. And de facto is in the original comment. Try reading more slowly. You appear to be something of an idiot and an incompetent. Go away. Adults want to talk.

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  6. We need to get real here. No amount of spinning against the "independence is off the table" narrative is going to work. It would be too easily countered by the "SNP aren't listening" narrative. Even the 2026 SNP1 + other indy party needs rethinking. Obviously the SNP could never have officially endorsed it, but the fact is, the SNP will now be dependent on list seats. The days of disproportionate FPTF seat gains for the SNP are almost certainly over. Even if the SNP regain the lead before 2026, the FPTP gains only worked because LAB were in third place. The rise of the central belt Tory vote from 2017 has basically found their way back to labour. So even an SNP vote share of 40% won't yield the same gains they did in the past. 45% in 2011 got 53 seats. Even on the list, Unionist parties under-represented will gain. There's no reason to suppose Reform won't hoover up a handful of seats, which just leaves fewer seats to go round. That was the problem for the SNP in 2003. The notion that the list vote was a "second choice" depressed their list vote and there were too many parties in the "rainbow parliament" chasing too few compensatory list seats.
    The "doing the same thing without success is the definition of madness" attack is probably wrong. A strong SNP showing despite the colour of Westminster government would have caused narrative problems, but it would have been a long term strategy.
    Anything resembling UDI (including after a de facto referendum strategy) is frankly absurd, and this is why the Cherry/McNeil/Salmond "SNP missed opportunities" nonsense is so corrosive. There's no point blaming the SNP for reality of the Union. the media had started to get quite good at quizzing Labour figures on the voluntary union conundrum, but now the answer is simply "look at the SNP collapse. Clearly there's no evidence Scots want to leave." That's not true, but we're stuck with that narrative until the 2028 General Election (Labour have no reason to pay any attention to Scotland with that majority), which really puts the onus on the 2031 Scottish Election. Depressing, but I honestly can't see a credible alternative route.

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    1. Oh grow up. The SNP aren't going to win the 2028 Westminster election, the days of Westminster victories are over thanks to all the fannying around with identity politics. The focus has to come back to Holyrood elections as the vehicle to deliver independence, which means 2026 is the next opportunity, not 2031. You may want to give up on independence, but the grown-ups in the room have work to do.

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  7. You are a Britnat.

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  8. Truth hurts? 50% of the vote to 29% feel any better? She and her acolytes destroyed the SNP and no amount of delusional sugar coating will sweeten that fact. I resigned years ago because of the way the wind was blowing. Those who remained can own it! All of it!

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  9. Anon@11:21,
    I doubt @11:18 is a Britnat, but regardless, he/she states correct facts.

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  10. Aye 11.18 is probably English and sending his distorted message from that country . This is the British nationalist technique of stating the bloody obvious to make there pathetic points.

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  11. The result wasn't about independence. It was about the drip-drip effect of the many cases of sleaze and incompetence by an out of touch cabal at the top of the SNP that has an internal democracy that is too weak for the honest independence supporters in the grassroots of the party to hold to account.

    Voters that would likely still vote for independence, given the chance, simply have had enough of the incompetence, failed or irrelevant policies and general impression that rules that apply to regular people don't apply to those in the SNP leadership's inner circle and they voted accordingly or just chose not to vote at all.

    The problem is that this has been going on for so long that it is hard to find people competent and untainted to replace the leadership with. If that cannot be done then a period of opposition at Holyrood may be the only way that a solution can eventually be found.

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    1. Isn't it funny how Alex Salmond's sleaze is good but Nicola Sturgeon's sleaze is bad
      She kept the numbers up, Salmond was just almost voted out of existence, who do you think Scotland believes is the real toxic person?

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    2. Scotland rejected both of them, Jimbo.

      The independence cause is so much bigger than both those two. The pitiful Alba vote tells it like it is. They didn’t destroy your grip in Scotland. You did.

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    3. Anon@11:39,
      You’re right, some people won’t agree, but to achieve independence we need a strong SNP which is good in government. This is something we clearly haven’t got at present.
      Difficult to see the party turning things round in less than 2 years, so a term in opposition may indeed be for the better. If the SNP come back stronger and govern well, after a period in opposition I feel support for independence would then increase.

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    4. So the next tactic of the britnats/ Albanists is that next Holyrood elections SNP should go in opposition. Really? You don’t stop to give you your due.
      Remove tuition fee’s, free prescription charges, travel, child support, mitigation measures against labours austerity. Allow labour to hand over more territorial waters to England.
      Yes I can see why the britnats would like that to happen.
      No.

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  12. What makes you think Nicola Sturgeon has vanished from the world, the woman most responsible for saving the SNP from Salmond's treachery in 2014
    Nicola Sturgeon never begged for devo max as an option in 2014 in the hope of surviving after the vote with a handful of powers, she wasn't the one that begged Cameron

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  13. It's IFS, he's been celebrating since Friday morning.

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  14. IfS always writes as himself.

    Most of Scotland has clocked the SNP for what they are: cynical hacks who feed off the independence cause. That’s why we rejected them.

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  15. Can you possibly expand upon what you think should happen from here?

    If you were in charge of the SNP what moves would you make from this point etc?

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  16. If the SNP is to survive at holyrood 2026 it needs to get back to its principles and promote TRANS RIGHTS NOW

    - that is all the public care about. I would also like to see new prisons created especially for hate criminals.

    Back to basics, win back support.




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    1. yes the SNP was always a trans rights party, Cunninghame Graham a well known cross dresser on the scene

      trans people will not be invisible


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    2. Trolling standards are really falling.

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  17. Hi James. I agree with your first point above that the SNP needs to be on their guard that they don't follow the narrative set by Labour and the Unionist Press. However I fear that they will because the alternative for the SNP is to recognise that they were in fact the architects of their own fate and that they need to change. There's no evidence from the last 2y in particular that they think that there's anything wrong. When I contacted my now ex-MP last year he thought that I was a crank and while my MSP was much more receptive he was very much "wait and see what Humza Yousaf's reorganisation does" - still waiting on that. Almost everything wise concerned external observers have warned against has come to pass.

    While pro-indy sentiment has partially decoupled from the SNP the danger is that a weak, cliquey and corrupt SNP (for it is all three) devalues independence as an idea. The fair weather fans and hangers-on will cancel their memberships or migrate to Labour.
    While I'm no Starmer or Blair fan (although I was in 97 and 01) they both expressed remodelling and refreshment of their party - "New" and "Changed". The SNP now needs this thoroughly as it will not re-establish itself in the minds of voters and potential members and activists until it has a leadership that provides a focused message of hope that a better Scotland can only be realised through independence. Any potential donors or media support will not materialise until that hope exists.

    Alba are a complete busted flush and your piece yesterday about Comrie and McAskill makes that clear. The tactic in Grangemouth was insane at worst and petty at best. The folk that thought that that was an acceptable strategy are not interested in independence only being the biggest fish in a puddle. Alba are now on a par with Sheridan's Solidarity. Alex Salmond, Kenny McAskill and George Kerevan are best retiring from politics and writing their memoirs or pamphlets on how to best achieve independence.

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  18. Anon at 11.51. How do you know that IFS always posts as ISF? Is he different from Independence for Scotland?

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  19. It was clearly stated prior to the G E that it was the wrong election for registering unhappiness with SNP, but people didn't listen. And there are anti SNP cabals, here and elsewhere that directly contributed to where we are now, but with absolutely no plan for where we go from here. They were specifically warned of the Indy is Dead Narrative that they were facilitating, but went ahead anyway. To avoid vitriol from the usual suspects, SNP played their own significant part in the disaster of Thursday. We know that so spare us any rambling.

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  20. Paul makes a very good series of points about Holyrood 2026 election.

    It occurred to me that the result on Thursday now gives us factual data on where the Scottish voters are. We can map the WM constituencies onto Holyrood and it suggests that the SNP will lose most of its constituency seats to Labour and few to the Libdems. In the absence of a list vote we can use the WM results as a set of assumptions for the regional list. Here the problems continue for the SNP for two reasons - their vote share is less than Labour's and from the quick look that I've had Reform and the Tories scored above 6% in every region. My hunch is that the SNP won't be able to make up for the lost constituencies by list seats. The most likely outcome seems that we will have Labour as the largest party with a number of LibDems maybe 8 to help them along with some Greens in the mix when votes require it.

    While I've not done this exercise, I invite those who post here to have a go at it. I am certain that on Tuesday that the UK Labour Party will sit down and start this analysis and base their campaign over the next 2y off of it while the SNP sits numb and penniless in a dark corner.

    John Swinney has to come back on Monday morning with the outline of two plans:

    1 - a short term one (4-6wk) to counter the "indy is dead" narrative.
    2 - how to win in 2026.

    Both require him to fess up on the problems and and demonstrate change & renewal by suspending sacking those responsible, regardless of how high up they are or were.

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    1. @Jacob7.

      My only issue with that is John Swinney himself had a large part to play for the position the SNP now find themselves in. He was Sturgeon's Deputy during her entire tenure and is more of a continuity candidate than Yousaf ever was.

      I don't believe he had what it takes to make the radical bold decisions that would be necessary to reform the SNP and he would probably need to sack himself due to the part he played in the decline.

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    2. @Anon1.36 Yes, I agree that that is the logical conclusion that John Swinney should take. He is very much a part of the group of people who are responsible. I'd go as far to say that he takes the largest part of the responsibility because he failed to take a principled stand in September 2014 on the clear conflict of interest when Nicola Sturgeon became leader at the same time as Peter Murrell was party CEO.

      The culture of an organisation is set by the behaviour of the people at the top of it. We have all seen clearly how that has played out in the Tories and we should see clearly that in the SNP. Here's a series of mis-steps which individually might be ridden out but collectively create an impression (or provide evidence of arrogance and incompetence):
      Picking Humza Yousaf as the leader when it was obvious he was strongly disliked by the voters.
      Ending of the Green coalition.
      Bottle recycling scheme.
      Gender recognition reform.
      Michael Matheson and his iPad.
      The missing £600,000 indyref fund.
      The campervan.
      The arrest of Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell and Colin Beattie.
      Peter Murrell being charged with embezzlement.
      Deletion of WhatsApp messages at the covid inquiry.
      Census debacle.
      Ferry construction at Ferguson's.
      Lack of indy plan.
      Appointing Murray Foote as CEO.
      Promotion of people who are politically correct rather than competent.
      Covid exam results favouring the middle class.
      Creating the impression that Scottish secondary education is failing.
      NHS waiting lists and A&E waiting times.

      Each of these issues would resonate negatively with many voters or SNP supporters or activists. Collectively they are why the SNP did so poorly.


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    3. Moving forward I struggle to see anything meaningful happening tbh. Many will argue that Swinney didn't have a long enough time as leader to steady the ship heading into the General Election but will try and make us believe that he can turn things around by 2026.

      It would surprise me if he steps down as leader now & it would surprise me even more if any radical reforms happen under his leadership. I don't believe he's the right choice to change the party and while they might say that they will reflect on these election results... I can easily see a scenario where that ends up just being all talk, nothing more.

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  21. Hmm, no mention that Reform UK won 14 times what Alba got without even campaigning in Scotland, and that might be you best route to independence, because Reform UK will cut Scotland loose for the dead weight it is full of anti English bigots

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    1. Well, the "your" is the giveaway that you're joining us by satellite link from the Home Counties. Reform UK stood in three times as many constituencies as Alba, and also benefited from far, far, far more media coverage than Alba, so the comparison you're attempting to draw is a bogus one.

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    2. Tee hee. You’re an ignorant arsehole. Why do you think your lords and masters in Westminster are desperate to hold on to Scotland. Think as hard as you can. And take some paracetamol for the head pain. You’ve won wank if the year and it’s only July.

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    3. Hmm, your powers of deduction are spectacularly poor, I'm actually in Northumberland. The fact it stood in more constituencies tells you two things - its a more serious party than Alba, and that it can gather far more votes.

      And remind us how Alba has done in elections when Reform wasn't standing? Not very well. How many votes did you get in TOTAL? 11,784 in ALL constituencies you stood in. But then you seem to live peeing into a force 9 gale.

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  22. Glasgow and the central belt agreed with the MSM and the Unionist Parties when they told them they were far to stupid to run their own country, and turned their area Labour red.

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    1. FPTP did that, with significantly less than 50% of the votes. that's how it works, and those are the consequences. The 'give them a bloody nose' crew together with the hopelessly ineffective and increasingly incompetent SNP govt appeared not to understand the consequences, and in particular, the resultant Indy is dead narrative. I warned of this on multiple occasions, but there you go. Indy is in a coma for at least the next decade. Well done.

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    2. Anon at 7.06pm - Indy is not in a coma.

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    3. Listen to what SNP are now saying? And Alba pand IPS didn’t even register. Inspired? Thought not. Coma.

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  23. I don't see why the SNP would be more popular in two years. They are now virtually invisible at Westminster, and their Holyrood incompetence shows no sign of waning. And the Scottish electorate got the government they voted for. I get the feeling that the nat blogist take on that is disconnected from reality.

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    1. In one sense they don't even need to be more popular - most of the pre-election polls suggested they would have won a Holyrood election even now. But in practice, Labour are likely to be suffering from mid-term unpopularity by 2026. If you don't even accept that as a *possibility*, you're the one disconnected from reality.

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  24. And the next thing Swinney has to do is become ruthless. Get rid of many of his "continuity cabinet" who continue in their incompetence, and appoint his own. Preferably with more than one MSP from the West.

    That might send a message to previous SNP voters.

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    1. The next thing Swinney has to do is resign.

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    2. As Sturgeon's Deputy during her entire leadership isn't he himself not the biggest continuity in the Cabinet?

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  25. Elsewhere, WGD in fact, I wrote this as part of a posting:

    “I get the impression of a Westminster SNP – and a Scottish SNP. Just for a laugh, let’s call it “The Westminster Mafia”. Well, there’s just the 9 of them now. The others got chucked in the grey bin.“

    It’s not the first time I’ve posted something similar, just the first time I called it the Mafia, with unfortunately, the Don re-elected but just with fewer made men and women. I’ve also said before that perhaps it is them leading the SNP leadership by the nose like a prize bull with its knackers cut off, but nobody notices.

    So – it’s up to Swinney, without the Westminster hangers-on calling the shots.

    New balls please.

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  26. Some good words from Robin McAlpine:

    “Please, if you have any belief in independence I urge you to push back hard on some of what you will hear over the coming days. This wasn’t a function of ‘unionist media’. This wasn’t an MI5 plot with Branchform as its coup de grace. This isn’t just because people wanted rid of Tories. This isn’t because the SNP didn’t shout independence enough.

    “This happened because the SNP has been failing to deliver a better Scotland for ten years and, slowly, one by one, more and more people came round to realising this. When they did, what they saw was a tone-deaf, tin-eared party which could only blame others for its poor performance.”

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    1. In my experience, those of us who raised the alarm were considered ‘a problem’ and ruthlessly and vindictively struck down. That way, independence does not lie.

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    2. The loyal fanboys yelp but signify nothing. Just ignore them. Especially the racist one who stalks IfS and calls all dissenters “probably English.” That’s no way to win a culture war, buddy. πŸ˜‰

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    3. Personally when McAlpine speaks my gut reaction is to think the opposite. Seems ifs is getting worried about being stalked. He wish.

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    4. Anon at 5.25pm - give it a rest with your lies you moronic troll. That is not me at 4.37pm. Anon trolls like you say get a life - well I have a very good life but you moronic trolls are never happy whether I am posting or not.

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  27. Im aghast at the idea people for Independence either chose not to vote or voted Labour. Those in my family who are against independence have delighted in telling me all day, "It's all over. Scots have spoken. That's the aend of Independence "

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  28. When Salmond won a landslide at Holyrood. Independence support was below 30%. He managed to get a referendum.

    Independence support is at 50%. I don't think we should be at all worried about the SNP losing. The correlation between party support and Independence is on opposite planes. Support for the SNP, doesn't mirror Independence support.

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