Saturday, April 20, 2024

On the whole, it would be a relief if the Greens withdraw from the coalition

As long-term readers may recall, I initially supported the idea of an SNP-Green coalition after the 2021 election.  The unionist establishment and media were rather implausibly arguing at the time that the SNP falling one seat short of an overall majority somehow tarnished the mandate for an independence referendum, and it seemed to me that putting together a government with a clear parliamentary majority comprised of two parties that both had commitments to independence and to a referendum in their manifestos was a powerful way of making the point that the mandate was in fact watertight.  There was also quite a bit of harmony between the SNP and Greens on non-independence matters, and although I passionately disagreed with both parties on some of those points of harmony, it seemed to me there was no harm in the independence movement benefiting from a strong basis for cooperation.

However, that logic only held true if the Scottish Government was actually going to do something about independence during this five-year parliamentary term.  Clearly they intend to instead let yet another mandate expire, in which case the underscoring of how clear the mandate is no longer has any great relevance, and all we're really left with are the downsides of the Bute House Agreement.  Fergus Ewing is probably overstating the case when he says the public will heavily punish the SNP for association with the "extremist" Greens, but it's undoubtedly the case that the agreement has left the SNP with far less flexibility than they otherwise would have had in reacting to disquiet on a whole range of policies the public have found objectionable or irritating.

It therefore ought to be something of a relief for SNP members if the Greens do the hard part for them by breaking off the agreement.  That's probably the only way it would ever happen, although it's unlikely to happen even that way given that Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater sound extremely keen to be allowed to remain in ministerial office.

The one caveat I'd add is that there is - amazingly - one key policy on which I think the Greens are completely right, and both the SNP and my own party Alba are completely wrong.  That's the Green opposition to the heavily ideological (some would say "woowoo-based") Nordic Model on prostitution law.  Although that subject is excluded from the Bute House Agreement, it's probably fair to say that Green involvement in government has helpfully put the brakes on any move towards introducing the Nordic Model in Scotland.  But that benefit perhaps isn't enough to outweigh the bigger picture.

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It's getting close to the last-chance saloon, but there's still time to help Scot Goes Pop continue through this general election year.  Donations can be made via the fundraiser page HERE, although if you have a Paypal account, a better way to donate is by direct Paypal payment, because the funds are usually transferred instantly and fees can be eliminated altogether depending on the option you select from the menu.  My Paypal email address is:

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Murrell development is no cause for celebration - but there may be a silver lining

Of all places, I was at the AGM of Alba North Lanarkshire when the news broke about Peter Murrell last night.  Understandably, a touch of schadenfreude rippled through the group, but personally I didn't feel any cause for rejoicing. As an independence movement, we need the SNP to get out of jail at the general election, and the prosecution of Murrell (especially the timing of it) makes that harder.

On the plus side, a recovery for the SNP is likely to depend on the toppling of the continuity Sturgeon faction, and that also now becomes much more likely - but the problem is that there just doesn't yet seem to be any interest in striking against Humza Yousaf before the general election, so the reckoning may come too late to avoid the worst of the damage.

There's an interesting 'levelling of the score' here, though.  Immediately after Alex Salmond stepped down as SNP leader, the perception was that he remained extremely influential as his successor's mentor.  It would have seemed unthinkable that under that successor's watch, he would come to be regarded with hostility by many SNP members.  That ultimately happened because of his prosecution, even though he was acquitted.  Logically, now that there's been a prosecution within the heart of the former Sturgeon leadership, the SNP membership will start to distance themselves psychologically and emotionally from Sturgeon, just as they did with Salmond before her, even though she had remained popular and influential immediately after her resignation.  There may then be an opportunity for the SNP to finally escape from the baggage of the Salmond-Sturgeon war, and emerge with a fresh leadership that has no special loyalty to either clan.

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Ah, my devoted stalker from Somerset, launching his 928,745th unprovoked attack on me on Twitter.  Bless him.

I know from long experience that his fan club will defend Mr Campbell almost regardless of circumstance, but I trust they won't on this occasion, because leaving aside the unprovoked nature of the attack, it's also mind-bogglingly hypocritical, nonsensical and illogical.  Let's start with the hypocritical: "please give us money!"  Seriously, Stu?  Would this be the same man who has solicited many hundreds of thousands of pounds from his readers, possibly even more than a million pounds over a ten year period, and including a five-figure sum only a few weeks ago?  I certainly don't criticise him for that, because I know as well anyone that regular, lengthy writing requires funding to be sustainable, but would it be too much to request a touch of consistency from him here?  Or is it fine when he does it, and somehow reprehensible when it's anybody else?  (And would it be unkind of me to point out that a large proportion of what he's raised disappeared into the bottomless pit of his counterproductive vanity legal action against Kezia Dugdale?  He also threatened legal action against me a few years ago - if he had proceeded with that stunt, would crowdfunded money have paid for it?)

Also hypocritical: the inverted commas around the words "pro-independence" when referring to Bella Caledonia, Wee Ginger Dug and Scot Goes Pop.  I've had my disputes with Mike Small and Paul Kavanagh, but I don't think I would ever doubt their belief in independence, especially not Paul's.  Whereas Mr Campbell has openly declared that he will vote Tory at the general election and would abstain in any independence referendum held in the foreseeable future.  I know which blog warrants the inverted commas.

The nonsensical part is criticising me for a blogpost I wrote and published several hours before the news about Peter Murrell broke.  Was I supposed to have premonitory knowledge of what was about to happen?

And the illogical part is lumping me in with Bella, John Robertson and WGD as if I'm some sort of SNP leadership loyalist blogger who is trying to hush up the news.  As previously stated, when I heard about Murrell, I was at the AGM of the Alba North Lanarkshire LACU, where I was elected the LACU's Organiser.  Is Mr Campbell similarly active in a non-SNP, pro-indy party?  No I don't suppose he is.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Scot Goes Pop 2024 Fundraiser update: it's getting close to the last chance saloon, but there's still time to help keep the site going through general election year

In many ways, Scot Goes Pop has been going from strength to strength in recent months.  The number of page views in March was higher than in any month since the Holyrood election month of May 2021.  OK, page view stats can be confounded by bots and so on, but it's a rough guide, and of course the number of comments on many recent posts has been staggeringly high, sometimes exceeding 300.

However, the general fundraiser for 2024 has so far fallen well short of its target.  You might remember that I said at some point last year that if the fundraising fell short, I would just carry on with the blog for as long as I possibly could and then stop.  I'm getting very close to reaching that point now.  Our political opponents may sneer about "grifting" but the reality is that I've been living on a shoestring for the last three years and lurching from mini-crisis to mini-crisis.  It's about just barely staying afloat, not about buying luxury yachts.

As I always say, writing Scot Goes Pop is not a full-time job and I have other sources of income (although fewer than in pre-pandemic times).  But it is the equivalent of an extremely time-consuming part-time job, and to drop everything when a new poll comes out requires time and flexibility.  I know there are some people who think it should be possible to be a prolific blogger as a sort of hobby or 'personal contribution', but all I would say is try it and see how far you get.  Eventually you'll run out of time or money or both.  I can think of at least two high-profile political bloggers who once made a virtue out of the fact that they would never accept donations but who ended up doing exactly that.  It's not about being hypocritical, it's just about learning from experience.

(Incidentally, I know I didn't drop everything on Monday to blog about the Norstat poll when it came out, but that was partly because there was an extremely lengthy Alba committee meeting that required a lot of preparation.)

I recently had a bracing chat with a family member who basically told me that the game was up.  She said she admired the way I had made Scot Goes Pop work for so many years, but that the political situation had changed through no fault of my own, and I had no choice but to move on and spend my time on other things, because sufficient funding was never going to be forthcoming now.  What she was getting at was the so-called "scunnered middle" problem.  In other words, Scot Goes Pop used to attract funding from across the independence movement, but now I'm caught between two stools.  SNP leadership loyalists are annoyed at me for joining Alba three years ago, but the more radical elements don't necessarily give me any credit for joining Alba, because I don't believe the SNP should be totally destroyed or whatever.  The funding base has therefore narrowed to those in the "scunnered middle", or to those who disagree with me on some points but who value a plurality of views in the pro-indy alternative media.

I want to prove my family member wrong, but it's getting close to the last chance saloon.  The frustration is that if everybody who reads this blog over the next week donated just £2, the problem would be solved instantly, but of course the world doesn't work that way.

If you'd like to see Scot Goes Pop continue during general election year, the fundraiser page can be found HERE

However, if you have a Paypal account, a better way to donate is by direct Paypal payment, because the payment usually comes through instantly and fees can be eliminated altogether depending on the option you select from the menu.  My Paypal email address is:

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Keir Starmer reels in HORROR as Labour loses its outright lead in Scotland, according to shock new Norstat poll

Apologies to anyone who thought from the title of this post that it's a completely new poll - it was in fact published on Monday, so you may have already seen it.  I was up to my neck that day due to an Alba committee meeting and a few other things, but I thought I'd better bring the numbers to you belatedly.

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:

SNP 32% (-1)
Labour 32% (-4)
Conservatives 16% (-)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+2)
Reform UK 5% (+1)
Greens 4% (n/a)
Alba 2% (n/a)

Labour going from a three point lead to level-pegging may look like possible margin of error noise, but it's worth pointing out that the Greens and Alba were not offered as options for Westminster in the previous Norstat poll (even though Reform UK were), so assuming a lot of the Alba and Green respondents would have plumped for the SNP in the previous poll, the trend may be even better than it looks.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 47% (-3)
No 53% (+3)

Scottish Parliament constituency vote:

SNP 35% (-1)
Labour 30% (-1) 
Conservatives 17% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+3)
Greens 5% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 28% (-2)
Labour 25% (-4)
Conservatives 19% (-)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+3)
Greens 9% (-)
Reform UK 4% (+2)
Alba 3% (-)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

More on Craig Murray and dual party loyalties

It's rather timely in view of my previous post that Craig Murray has now written a blogpost setting out more details about his plans to stand for the Workers Party of Britain in Blackburn, even though he is a member of the Alba Party.  Now, as I've done before, I want to make clear that I am not in any way having a go at Craig - I think Alba should absolutely be flexible and tolerant enough to allow one of its members to stand for another party in England.  But I also want to ensure that other Alba members can expect similar levels of flexibility and tolerance in equivalent situations, and that unwritten "special rules" that benefit certain prominent individuals should apply to all, so that they can be of benefit to all.

This is the crucial part of what Craig has said -

"Secondly, I talked it over with Alex Salmond before I accepted to stand in Blackburn. I have not left the Alba Party. Alex and I mutually agreed that at this election it would be better for me not to stand for Alba in Scotland, as that would give the unionist press an opportunity to continue to muck-rake over the lawfare to which we had been subjected.
Thirdly, George Galloway has declared that he no longer will participate in the Independence debate in Scotland.
I have also seen it reported that the Workers’ Party will not stand candidates in Scotland. That will need to be worked through, but at the minimum I expect we can reach an agreement they will not stand anywhere against the Alba Party, which would render my own position impossible. As Alba is only planning to stand in up to 16 constituencies this should not be difficult."

That latter point is not sufficient according to the Alba constitution.  Annex F of the constitution is entitled "Membership Rules" and Section 6 of that annex is entitled "Membership of Other Parties and Organisations".  It reads - 

"6.1 A member who is a member of another party registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission in the Great Britain register and intending to contest elections in Scotland is regarded as being a member of a political party expected to contest elections in opposition to the Party. A member in this situation ceases to be a member."

That leaves no room for doubt - if a party intends to stand anywhere in Scotland, you can't be a member of that party at the same time as being a member of Alba.  It doesn't matter whether Craig cuts a deal with George Galloway so that the Workers Party commits itself to only stand in Scottish seats where there is no Alba candidate - their involvement in those other seats would still render them "a political party expected to contest elections in opposition to the Party" according to the Alba constitution.  It's plain from Craig's words that he does not yet have a high level of confidence that the Workers Party of Britain will defy their own name to in future become an England-and-Wales-only party - he's "seen it reported" that they will not stand candidates in Scotland, but it sounds like he hasn't heard it from the horse's mouth and doesn't fully believe it, which is unsurprising given that the Workers Party's registration on the Electoral Commission website clearly states that it stands candidates in Scotland.

People have argued in BTL comments on this blog that all of this is a moot point because Craig has not technically become a member of the Workers Party of Britain yet, although he'll have to at some point between now and the general election.  However, based on specific examples from past experience, I strongly suspect that if an Alba member (who is not Craig Murray or someone similarly prominent or well-connected) had been selected to stand as a candidate for an anti-independence party which is registered with the Electoral Commission as standing candidates in Scotland, that person would have been immediately interpreted to have "publicly resigned from the Alba Party" and would thus effectively have been banned from the party until and unless the NEC lifted that ban.

Again, to be clear, I am not arguing for that to happen to Craig and I don't think it should.  But I do want to see all Alba members benefit from the same type of tolerance, and if that means a blind eye being turned to bad rules, as is undoubtedly happening in Craig's case, so be it.

Monday, April 15, 2024

A prescription for the Alba Party

I'm sure you'll all understand why I have to be cagey about my exact reasons for feeling moved to write this short blogpost, but I am becoming increasingly concerned - bordering on distressed - about the direction of travel of the Alba Party.  Being "no worse than the SNP" just isn't going to cut it.  In fact it would render the party pointless, because people don't defect from a large party to a small one unless they can be assured of a marked improvement.  Alba does have very different policies from the SNP, but the SNP's woke, indy-lite authoritarianism is not necessarily any worse than a more radical indy authoritarianism.

This would be my prescription - 

* Alba must be, as promised at its outset, member-led.  The reality should match the words.

* Alba must be, as promised at its outset, the "best of Yes".  It should not be a curated niche fraction of Yes.

* Alba should be a party in which members are free to speak their minds on social media.

* Alba should be a party in which members are free to blog, to write articles, and to speak to the media.

* Alba should not be a secret society in which the only freedom of speech permitted is behind closed doors.

* Alba should be a party in which members are free to criticise the leadership or even poke gentle fun at it.  

And there endeth the lesson.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Poll of Polls: Support for independence stands at 49.6% so far this year

We're now over one-quarter of our way through general election year (no, I don't buy the notion that Sunak will cling on until January 2025), and the independence movement obviously finds itself in a very challenging situation because the SNP are in real danger of losing the majority they hold among Scottish seats at Westminster.  However, it's worth drawing breath and taking stock of the other side of the coin - ie. just how extraordinarily strongly the support for independence is holding up as the SNP have slipped back.

As far as I can see, there have been nine independence polls so far in 2024, and no fewer than three have shown a Yes majority.  The other six have shown only modest No leads that have never exceeded 53-47.  Crucially, the three Yes majority polls came from three different firms, so no-one can dismiss it as being a house effect from one "dodgy firm".  And, indeed, the only telephone poll of the year so far has shown Yes ahead.

The average of the nine polls works out as - 

With Don't Knows left in:

Yes 45.1%
No 45.8%

With Don't Knows stripped out:

Yes 49.6%
No 50.4%

Wow.  So by any standard we'll have something to work with if we can just somehow get out of jail at the general election.

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If you can, please help Scot Goes Pop continue with a full-fat service throughout this crucial election year.  The 2024 fundraiser has received three very generous donations recently, and a million thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.  But we're still a long way from the target figure.  Donations by card can be made via the fundraiser page HERE, but if you have a Paypal account, the preferable way to donate is by direct Paypal payment, because that way the funds are usually transferred instantly and fees can be eliminated completely depending on which option you select from the menu.  My Paypal email address is: