independence – self-determination – autonomy

Build it and they will Come


Build It and They Will Come: Scotland and Independence after the election by Gerry Hassan.

The 2017 election marks the end of an era of Scottish politics.

The immediate shadow of the 2014 indyref dominating everything is over. As is the age of the Big Tent, omnipotent SNP carrying all before it. The re-emergence of the Scottish Tories and the stalling of the retreat of Scottish Labour has confounded many Nationalists.

Not only is the post-2014 indyref environment over, so too is politics defined by the constant invoking of Thatcher and Blair. No matter the depths Blair fell to, firstly, the two aren’t completely comparable, and second, Blair was once massively popular in Scotland – the 1997-99 period being one such example. Plus the Blair Government’s for all their faults did do a host of positive things: such as legislate for a Scottish Parliament (not that he really believed in it, but that’s another story).

The SNP ‘won’ this election in they got the most seats and votes – the criteria for judging success. But the party lost 476,867 votes, 13.1% of their vote, and 21 seats out of 56 – which cannot be called by any standards much of a success. The SNP imperial age is over and in some places there is denial and refusal to accept reality, and even anger and wanting to kick out at the usual culprits (BBC, MSM, etc, everybody basically but the SNP).

The Context of 2017

The SNP ran an awful campaign. It lacked any clear message, spine or purpose. It seemed to fall back in the last few days on the ridiculous line: ‘If You Agree with Jeremy Corbyn vote SNP’.

This is bad tactics and bad strategy. The tactics were terrible. Derek Mackay has now run several inept campaigns: running the 2012 and 2017 local elections and doesn’t inspire with his political touch and intelligence. But much more is wrong than how to run an effective campaign: ergo the steadfast belief in the brilliance of the SNP ‘machine’ – a myth which isn’t based on any facts.

The chimera of the SNP assuming it occupies the centre-left and social democratic ground of Scotland while disparaging its main opponents with disdain is over.

In reality the SNP isn’t that much of a centre-left, social democratic party. Instead, it has at best been a defensive progressive party, holding off the worst aspects of the tearing apart of the social contract we have witnessed down south.

But often that hasn’t actually been that progressive here. For example, defending the entitlements of health, education and law professions, and never daring to invoke ‘public sector reform’, isn’t that radical. It is actually quite conservative and going with the grain of the vested interests who have historically defined civil society.

Instead, the mantra has been that for ten years the SNP has tried to be all things to all men, women and citizens of Scotland. A nod to social democracy here, a wink at the landed interests there, and at all times keep the business community on board. This has been a mélange of social democratic sentiment and neo-liberalism – rather like New Labour before the scandals and wars – but with much less detail in the former. The deception was that we weren’t meant to notice, mind and criticise this until last Thursday.

Salmond was explicitly this mixture. Sturgeon was meant to talk left, be more about detail and more straight dealing. All we have got has been the practice of the latter, and little else.

The myths of the SNP have to be held up for the threadbare stories many of them are. Thus, we have the line punted by some SNP media sympathisers that the Corbyn manifesto was a tribute to the SNP in its plagiarism and copying of universal benefits.

But this isn’t the case. Corbyn’s manifesto – which wasn’t perfect and articulated a Labour radical nostalgia – put back on the political agenda a host of popular left-wing policies. Some of these such as nationalisation and standing up to corporate capitalism, are policies the SNP has never ever gone remotely near.

The SNP in their decade in office have been silent on the macro-issues of crony capitalism – apart from Salmond’s eulogies to Fred Goodwin and RBS pre-crash – which were as embarrassing and wrong-headed as Gordon Brown’s. Indeed, there is one kind of nationalism the SNP have barely ever touched in the last decade and that is economic nationalism: talking about ownership, control and takeovers. The only exception over the last decade was Salmond’s populist campaigning on Diageo’s decision to close their Kilmarnock plant.

The myopia of centrist ministers like Humza Yousaf calling the recent SNP manifesto ‘left-wing’ indicates a political class which has no real understanding of what the term left-wing means, and who don’t do substantive policies – instead being content to be managers and administrators of the embryonic Scottish state – nothing more and nothing less.

It is this big picture which matters most. Tellingly, Nicola Sturgeon seems to have burned through much of the goodwill and energy of the two and a half year indyref campaign; and in two and a half years as First Minister, has little tangible achievements. That is a tragedy because Sturgeon has many qualities as a campaigner and communicator, but so far she has shown herself as missing critical elements of leadership, and lacking a sense of strategic direction.

There is the issue of the SNP’s swollen membership of 120,000. This was meant to provide the party with a huge advantage over its opponents. It hasn’t so far delivered. It has proven across large swathes of the country in the recent campaign to be an elusive and almost invisible army. There were across numerous Glasgow and West of Scotland constituencies, little obvious door-to-door canvassing and campaigning. This pattern has been developing for a while. It was evident in the recent local elections. And in last year’s SNP depute leadership contest which had a derisory 34% turnout.

It is this which provides a backdrop to public concerns about the style of Sturgeon’s leadership. This isn’t a sudden issue which has just emerged, but has been building for a long time. For example, late last year, myself and James Mitchell’s book, ‘SNP Leaders’ contained Mike Russell’s concerns about the culture of groupthink at the top of the party, as well as Mandy Rhodes’ portrait of Sturgeon which painted a picture of an isolated leadership – with major decisions often made only by herself with her husband, Peter Murrell, Chief Executive of the SNP.

Sturgeon’s leadership is a mix of command and control and uber-caution. The first element has seen the slow atrophying of the political intelligence of the party that first got it into a dominant position. The party leadership have swallowed the stories of their own wisdom and hype which is always a bad sign. This has been combined with a caution and even inaction in government which hasn’t helped matters. This has slowly allowed the SNP to lose the initiative it had, and find itself in the unusual place of being defined by its opponents, and in particular, Ruth Davidson’s abrasive and energetic campaigning – which has been the sort of robust challenge the SNP haven’t been used to and Scottish Labour have not given them for many a year.

All of this has to be seen in the light of a party which has willfully refused to engage in a major appraisal of the reasons why the 2014 indyref was lost. Or indeed spent any time putting together a new vision. Instead, the SNP leadership and official line became that the combination of the power and reach of the 56, Brexit, the footsoldiers of the swollen membership, and the power of the abstract idea of independence would be enough. These factors would take independence over the winning line – by a mixture of charm, cajoling, hectoring and impatience. It wasn’t a great strategy. Indeed, it was a win ugly approach and it has now been discredited. It was never a good approach or good politics.

The Limits of the SNP Victory on 37%

For those who say stay calm as the SNP won, a little closer examination of the results is needed. The SNP won 37% of the vote. This was the biggest share by far, but in two years across two Westminster elections, Scotland has shifted from a dominant one party system to multi-party politics. It is also telling that some SNP and indy supporters are complaining about the three pro-union parties engaging in tactical voting to defeat the SNP. That’s what happens under FPTP; is something Scotland has seen many times such as against the Tories in the 1980s and 1990s; and is what occurs to incumbent parties.

Beneath the SNP’s 37% of the vote and 35 seats there is fragility. Nine of the SNP’s 35 seats have majorities under 1,000: four with majorities under 100 – Fife North East (2), Perth and North Perthshire (21), Glasgow South West (60), Glasgow East (75). A total of eighteen – more than half the party’s seats have majorities under 2,500. Not one of the six SNP Glasgow seats looks impregnable. The only formidable SNP majorities look like Dundee West and East, Kilmarnock and Loudoun and Ross, Skye and Lochaber – the only seats with majorities over 5,000. In not one of the SNP’s 35 seats did the party win over half the vote, making the party very vulnerable to continued tactical voting.

The party support has shifted westward. It has lost huge swathes of support in the North East and Perthshire – areas where it has long been dug in but which have now returned to their traditional Tory allegiance. This was always the implication of the shift from the Salmond to Sturgeon leadership – but the party hasn’t gained any radical edge as a result, and doesn’t look that secure in large parts of the west. Another worry must be that the much vaunted democratic spirit and engagement of the indyref seems already to have exhausted itself: with turnout of 66.4% down 4.7% on two years ago and below the UK figure. Turnout in many Glasgow and West of Scotland constituencies was back to the shocking levels of pre-indyref.

Where does this leave us? The politics of just blindly following everything the SNP does and says because they believe in independence was always a bad option. Effectively it just gave the SNP leadership a free pass and has produced poor government and politics.

Secondly, the SNP and independence aren’t synonymous. To treat as such – as some true believers and fanatical unionists do – has not been very helpful to either cause. Thirdly, there is a problem in the SNP with leadership. It has engaged in micro-control without being prepared post-indyref to openly talk about hard decisions on independence, the choices explicit in government, or act in a mature, long term way talking to the nation. Instead, everything has been tactical and about positioning.

Fourth, the rise of the SNP in recent years and all its related excitement has distracted from the narrow range of politicians who have come to the fore. Despite the SNP 56 and large Holyrood group there isn’t a surfeit of talent at the top. There is an absence of campaigning politicians prepared to graft and do the hard work on an issue – Alison Thewliss on the rape clause being a rare exception. The party needs a culture of encouraging politicians to nurture and champion issues and causes, and have less of the TV pundit Nationalists of the likes of the now departed John Nicolson and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

Fifth, there is the wider culture and psychology of independence supporters. There are many shades and gradations of opinions, but one which has done the SNP and independence no good has been the over the top partisanship, blinkeredness and intolerance of its most fanatical supporters. The worst examples of this have done lasting damage to the SNP and independence – allowing them to be painted in the most derogatory styles. They have to be stood up to and told to stand down and find some other vent for their misanthropic sentiments.

Sixth, show more interest in policy and after ten years in office encourage and aid some alternative centres of power. The SNP and independence desperately needs at least one and preferably more than one independent, self-government supporting think tank which can compliment the work of the likes of Common Weal and others.

Finally, this was the fifth Westminster post-devolution election. The mainstream media didn’t have a good election in informing voters. The two BBC and STV leader debates, for example, were both dominated by devolved issues and the record of the SNP at Holyrood, to the exclusion of Westminster issues. Is it beyond broadcasters to structure discussions with explicit sections on devolved and reserved issues? This wasn’t a conspiracy as this is how they covered elections under Labour too, but it probably hurts the SNP more who already suffer in such elections from a Westminster squeeze. One SNP voter said to me during the campaign: ‘This is a contest just between Labour and Tories isn’t it? Am I allowed to vote SNP?’

Critically, there is the question of whether the SNP can change in office, or need to lose power at Holyrood to change. Funnily enough this is an argument Scottish Labour used to have with itself when it was in office – with senior ministers believing they could renew while being in office in perpetuity.

The SNP have only been in office for ten years. The Labour Party dominated Scottish politics for fifty years. It hasn’t taken long for the sheen to go off the SNP. How it responds will tell whether this becomes a major crisis and retreat, or one which it can manage and bounce back from.

Underlying all of the above is the missing ingredient in the SNP’s politics and independence offer. There is no coherent national project about Scotland’s future. The party has invited us to just trust them and believe everything will be alright the other side of independence. It was never good enough. This is transparent now.

An independence referendum looks extremely unlikely for the next few years. That gives the SNP and Scottish politics a breathing space to develop a different course. It should be one which is based on the principle of ‘Build it and they will come’. Mark out the territory, policies and detail of a self-governing and independent Scotland and start out in its direction of travel. But that requires a different SNP and leadership which has until now shown no interest in a politics of the long-term or of developing a truly ambitious strategy.

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96 Comments

  • Jim Bennett 4 months ago

    Ouch!

    Reply
    • Henry Hooper 4 months ago

      ouch indeed..but Gerry is renown for his dislike (putting it mildly) for the SNP.
      I agree with a few details, only a few..the rest seems regurgitated from the usual anti-SNP media sources.
      Where we can agree is that a settling down period is required – if it was possible…it has virtually not been possible the last three years and it looks that way for the next two years…for example if there’s a hard Brexit i would still think it prudent that the SNP provide as a last resort indyref2.
      Who knows what the next two years bring, but i for one me anxious that we have a drawbridge available to escape this Brexit mess.

      Reply
      • Onwards 4 months ago

        Ian Blackford is reported as viewing another referendum as an ‘insurance policy’ against a hard Brexit.

        Personally, I think the benefits of independence should have been played up more in its own right. Most Scots want to stay in the EU, but it seems likely that Brexit cost the party a chunk of votes, and it seems a better strategy to defer the choice to the voters, alongside or after indyref2.

        That goes along with the main benefit of independence – taking back control and giving Scots the powers to make major decisions here.

        For the same reason, I think authors conclusion is nonsense.
        “build it and they will come”.

        Impossible when we have such limited economic powers under devolution. The pragmatic centre-left approach was the correct one in the circumstances imo. The pressure to take a more left-wing socialist agenda gifted the Tories the line about Scotland being the mostly highly taxed part of the UK.

        And losing these rural seats to the Tories prevented Corbyn from forming a government where the SNP held the balance of power. That would likely have got us federalism as the next step.

        Reply
  • J Anderson 4 months ago

    Good, stuff damn shame it had to come to this.

    Had high hopes for the SNP when sturgeon took over, but found it difficult to argue for their vague policies and lack of detail on policy, they have charted a very clever course in politics, but reliant on the catastrophic failures of the UK parties. I believe Sturgeon is a shy social democrat, but they are trying to hold too many disparate votes together, trying to hold the centre come what may doesn’t cut it.

    Reply
  • manandboy 4 months ago

    Ah, Gerry, so you thought you’d just jump on the bash-SNP BritNat bandwagon. You might not be able to tell the difference between winning and losing, Gerry, but the rest of us do.
    And, sure, you make a few good points but none that we don’t already know all about, but you know what, nobody’s perfect, Gerry. But, one thing’s for sure, the SNP are a million times better than the Brit-Nat Unionist Alliance, always in bed with one another swapping lies, and now squeezing up a bit to make room for Theresa May, and the BBC, as always, right next door getting those daily scripts ready.

    Don’t call us, we’ll not be calling you.

    Reply
  • Connor McEwen 4 months ago

    Do you want Independence ???? Then work together

    Reply
  • Ian 4 months ago

    For me the main issue that should have been a key factor since the run up to the referendum in 2014 is the performance of the UK compared with our northern European neighbours over the past 50 years. I clearly remember going to West Germany in 1979 and being amazed at the obvious wealth and lack of relative poverty. Coming back to the UK after six months was even more of an eye opener. Decrepit and delusional seemed to accurately describe it. That subjectivity can be seen in official figures that compare countries performance over the past few decades. Wealth, investment, R&D spend, trade balance, health spend etc, it’s all there in clear graphs with the UK and it’s neighbours performance clear to see, with the UK year on year usually being worst.

    http://www.theglobaleconomy.com/compare-countries/

    It begs the question – are most people unaware of how badly the UK has consistently performed compared with it’s European neighbours for decades (and that’s with the UK having North Sea oil as a one off windfall), or if they are aware of this, just how bad does the UK’s performance need to get before they decide that enough is enough. Even more scary – what’s the UK going to be like once the NHS has been privatised, adding overall long term health decline to overall long term economic decline.

    They would of course say that Scotland would be worse off, but since our similar sized European neighbours have all done consistently much better than the UK, that begs another question – why wouldn’t an independent Scotland become equally as wealthy as our neighbours. Without the London centric drag on real social and economic development, Scotland would be well positioned to develop a very healthy economy.

    Better together ! I’m sure George Orwell would have appreciated that one.

    Reply
    • Me Bungo Pony 4 months ago

      I’ve been putting those very points to unionists for years without an answer. Duncan Hothersall on Labour Hame has failed to answer it on several occasions.

      Which is bad enough but, when you put them to “non-political” folk at work or the pub etc, they are far more often than not either hostile to the idea the UK compares poorly with our small independent neighbours, indifferent to it or disbelieving of it.

      What often happens is that a single fault or issue that “appears” (doesn’t actually have to be true) to disadvantage any one particular country is honed in on, magnified and used as a reason to discount said country as a model. The already magnified fault is then magnified further when describing the effect it would have on an independent Scotland.

      Unfortunately, many people are only too willing to believe the negative narrative. I don’t know what the answer is this apparent manifestation of the “cringe” is. Perhaps others do?

      Reply
      • Ian 4 months ago

        The answer I think is to get solid information made public. Brexit is only the last in a long line of UK incompetence and it won’t be the last. The reason the UK parties focus on meaningless soundbites is because that’s all they have. Their track record is pathetic when compared with our neighbours. Whether you compare the UK with Germany or Scotland with Denmark, the European countries have almost always consistently outperformed the UK for decades on a range of key issues. The UK parties need to have their record of failure and waste exposed repeatedly. They can’t deny it (other than by lying) so they can’t hide from it. Some people may not like the idea and consider it negative but it’s the reality and the future reality will be much worse. Time to get the gloves off and put the UK in it’s proper place – consistently bottom compared with other similar countries. It’s not good enough and it’s never going to change for the better.

        If the UK can’t outperform other countries when it gets a gift like North Sea oil, what chance does it have without it. And just imagine what the UK would be like now had it not had North Sea oil. North Sea oil allowed the UK to pretend that all was ok for a while longer. That time is now gone. Yet they still want to pretend (“UK to be a global leader in trade”).

        People in Scotland need to know about how the UK really stands compared with similar countries. That for me is the key to driving home the independence argument to the 20% or so that are open to real information. Treat the voters like adults not children or idiots. Give then something substantive to form their opinion on and leave the empty rhetoric to those who have proven to be failures.

        Reply
    • Lawrie 4 months ago

      I suspect one of the big differences is how control over taxation, economy, health, education is run locally in other European countries (by local i mean Municipality and Region, my municipality has 12,000 people in it, region 290,000 most of my income tax is paid to them). It has been a big question mark in my head for years as to how come when GERS figures show such a huge subsidy there is such a poor quality of services in Scotland compared to other countries. Drive on rural roads, compare waiting times for health, how pensioners are doing, how young people find jobs and how much they are paid, motivation of teachers and standards in schools, economic health and the population of rural villages. Is it too much to ask the SNP that they start to look at why other Northern European countries function so much better? Nordic comparison seems to have gone quieter recently from the SNP but there are lessons to be learned, from Nordics, Switzerland and from Germany.
      I realise that a lot of power is still with Westminister, but is it too much to ask the SNP to show direction of travel? a pilot project in rural and urban areas with local government? give them the power to set their tax rates? including LVT. I suspect some of those lost votes in the NE and borders are votes against centralisation of power in Edinburgh, and domination by the central belt.
      Some things are out of SNP control, like defence spending, i suspect the difference in defence spend over say 30 years of investing and re-investing the returns (education, R and D, renewable energy infrastructure, housing) instead of something that costs ever more (catastrophic foreign war, Trident) is also a factor.

      Reply
    • JonnyMc 4 months ago

      The main reason that there is so much wealth and lack of poverty in Germany is quite simple – they didn’t allow their industrial & manufacturing base to collapse, or move abroad for lower wage costs. Hence, companies Faber and Faber the pencil makers could easily have found cheaper manufacturing overseas but the company knew that if they did that it would be the death of their small town economically. They know that a successful economy depend upon everyone being able to earn a living and have their own money to spend. How wonderful it would be if the British looked after their own like that. Just look at companies like Ford who closed a profitable factory in Southampton (making Transit vans) and moved the production to South Africa whilst also building another Transit factory in Turkey with E.U. pre accession funding to the government of Turkey. In all the time Britian “lost” its car manufacturing Germany kept theirs. They even took of Czech joke car SKODA and turned it into a market leading brand! Why are we exporting our scrap metal to China and importing their lower standard product back here at the same time as closing our own steel companies. There are countless examples of this race for Globalisation which means nothing more than cheap wages elsewhere, and sod the guys back home. The wonderful Dyson vacuum manufacturing has gone to Malaysia, Nestle have taken their Blue Riband work to Poland, etc etc. The one that really bugs me is Farming. We have the EU paying farmer not to produce anything by paying set aside whilst we are importing 70% of our chicken consumption from Brazil and Thailand. Surely to God we can do without this nonsense!

      Reply
  • George Mcgrory 4 months ago

    Christ people are just trying to be up beat about results . And this wasnt a great result but after sustained media and opposition onslaught things could be a lot worse

    Reply
  • Henry Hooper 4 months ago

    Am i missing something…” lost 476,867 votes, 13.1% of their vote”
    so they got more than 3.1/2 million votes?…wasnt it around 1.1/2 million votes

    Reply
  • Stephen Jones 4 months ago

    Good article

    Once it became clear that a significant number of SNP supporters had voted leave in the EU ref, the party leadership should have considered a more radical approach to secure new support within the central belt. Those affluent rural areas are lost for the time being, they don’t want independence, EU membership or a Corbyn government they are unreachable until the negative effects of brexit start to kick-in. I doubt any of those seats could have been won with even the most polished of SNP campaigns.

    The biggest threat to the SNP would be another snap election before they have time to achieve results in education, health and the economy.

    Reply
    • John Fotheringham 4 months ago

      Hi, I’m a Labour supporter but I wanted to make two points about this article. First, leaving aside his verbosity – he always tests his readers’ patience – Hassan has absolutely nothing to say about what policies he thinks the SNP should adopt. His criticisms centre mainly on presentation and personnel, but he has nothing concrete to propose. This is typical of him, though. Second, in recent years he spilt a lot of ink predicting the death of Labour and telling all who would listen how useless Jeremy aCornyn was. Yet now, without a word of apology or even a recognition that his analysis was useless, he emerges to resume the pose of prophet. It is this, his supreme confidence in his own non-existent powers of insight and analysis which makes him, to me, so odious. If I were a Nat I’d be even more annoyed.

      Reply
  • Erik 4 months ago

    I think you only have to look to their recent dealing of the College strikes to see how they might manage a future independent Scotland. This “let’s leave it until indy” doesn’t exactly strike a chord with myriad of lecturers who are hungry and are weeks behind in wages, and 4 weeks behind in marking students’ grades. The money owed to them seems to have vaporised. The SNP don’t seem to want to take responsibility for anything. I’ve got friends who are lecturers emailing me utterly desperate to help them get their message out about what is happening as Kevin Pringle et al spin lies about them with £10k/week of taxpayer money that is being paid to the PR firm, Charlotte Street Partners, to: “spin that we are somehow lazy or wanting something that normal workers wouldn’t expect.”

    Reply
  • Alban Fry 4 months ago

    Firstly, interesting article Gerry. I can’t agree with all of it; some of it seems to confuse, IMHO correlation and causation. But anyway, my 2p worth:

    1. Gerry is quite right about one thing. SNP cannot, and should not be the ‘central’ social and cultural voice at the centre of the work towards independence. The SNP are vital to that work, but although they are necessary, they are not sufficient. not least because Independence cannot lie entirely on one party’s fortunes for fear both are dragged beneath the waves together.

    I am minded, for example, that in Catalonia there are two erstwhile independence parties – one of the left, one of the right, with two different, nay competing visions of independence – but agreed on independence. In a sense, Scottish Unionism/British Nationalism has that dichotomy – a Unionist Left and a British Nationalist Right, whereas both Independence minded parties in Scotland (SNP and Greens), and indeed both the microparties that were independence minded (SSP and RISE) all come from the left, from a culture of understandable Toryphobia.

    Now, I am of the left, but I can recognise that a lack of variety in the Indy offering leaves the field open, in many ways, to cornering SNP, as has been achieved partially successfully in this election.

    2. This leads on to another observation; that in an understandable desire not to be ethnic nationalists, unlike many of our Tory neighbours as it happens, the independence minded have become so ‘civic’ in their nationalism that they are starting to miss the power that exists in a cultural offering. It should be possible to create an independence minded Scottishness that’s not entirely fearful of broad cultural statements without becoming in danger of going ‘ethnic’ : that is, one can actually allow some space for a genuine Scottish ‘exceptionalism’ – not better, just different, and importantly, ours – without turning on the ‘Pakis and the Poles’ as Brother Smart suggests.

    I am reminded of the rather wonderful slogan, to imagine you are living in the early days of a better nation. well, how about it then, how about creating those unique cultural capacities and institutions? Gerry says build it, and they will come – I go a little further – Build the new Nation, and the Independent State will come.

    This site, of course, represents part of that conversation, an attempt to create a media space that is distinctly Scotland, despite the suffocating reach of the BBC. but it’s only a start. There’s a lot to be said for ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ – true – but there’s a hell of a lot to be said for strategy too. WE can’t continue to be optimistically aimless.

    In a sense, politically, the Baby Box is an example of the way forward, innovative thinking based on observed experience of other Northern European Countries, especially smaller and newer ones. what can we learn from Sweden? Germany? Netherlands? Ireland? Belgium? Time to be more than just an exotic flavour of England-ness in our political and cultural world (education and legal system notwithstanding)

    Reply
    • Firedept 4 months ago

      The “baby box” is not an example of the way forward: its a gimmick, which voters may have seen through.

      The original Finnish baby box came with a package of public health measures; the finns themselves have told you that implementing the baby box alone would not improve the metrics.

      The SNP have announced no new public health initiatives or money.

      The true believers and sturgeon acolytes insist it is “nation building”

      But it is really a gimmick, which in fairness people will see through

      It’s not

      Reply
      • James Scobbie 4 months ago

        Its not in any way limited by the lack of powers to implement such measures ?

        Reply
  • Mick Reilly 4 months ago

    If the Vow had ever come to fruition, and a sort of federalism had been delivered with no reserved powers, then your thesis would stand up.
    However with so many powers still reserved by Westminster and an openly hostile right wing pro Union media, any attempt at what you suggest, would be political suicide and exactly what WM has been daring them to do all along!
    Unfortunately there are far too many variables and the road to freedom was never wrote easy!

    Reply
  • ronald alexander mcdonald 4 months ago

    There is no doubt that 2015 was a one off election. The SNP benefited from a perfect storm.

    You have omitted the most obvious point. A UK general election is to elect the government of the UK.

    Reply
  • Geoff Caldwell 4 months ago

    I’d agree with some of the stuff he has said but certainly not all. Gerry has shown a real dislike for the SNP here and as if it weren’t difficult enough combating the media as it is, along comes the likes of Gerry. Hindsight is a great thing.

    The SNP do need to look at their policies and come up with some new ideas. They need to communicate a whole lot better. They need to have think tanks, focusing groups – what do people like, not like about Indy etc. They need to do a whole lot of work on currency,pensions etc – where the hell is the Growth Commission report? They need to spell out that Corbyn is an old fashioned Unionist, Labour supports Trident and that their policies are uncosted or unaffordable. Corbyn is a man of straw and Kezia is Post Truth and Davidson, Fake News.

    Nicola is still the SNP greatest asset but has been a little damaged.

    Another referendum needs to be the SNP objective once Brexit is known and that life raft is available to Scots.

    Time for some serious debating within but snipping fro the sidelines will not achieve our long term goal

    Reply
  • Jamie Stirling 4 months ago

    A lot to agree with there. Nicola Sturgeon’s biggest mistake was thinking that those who voted to remain in the EU were made of sterner stuff and would fight Brexit – like the losing side in the Indyref.
    Nobody saw the Corbyn ‘bounce’ coming least of all Kezia Dugdale – who was the undeserving benificiary.
    I do not blame Nicola Sturgeon for calling for Indyref 2 – after Theresa May’s Mansion House speech she had no choice – May not only shot Nigel Farage’s fox she skinned it and wrapped herself in the pelt. Throw in grammar schools and foxhunting and UKIP’s days were numbered.

    The fight for independence must go on – we have the Catalan vote later this year and a fatally weak Tory government that will be taken to the cleaners in the EU negotiations.

    We can expect a torrent of polls that will show the independence vote decreasing but the Scottish government and the remaining SNP MP’s have a fight on their hands

    Reply
  • Murray McCallum 4 months ago

    “But that requires a different SNP and leadership which has until now shown no interest in a politics of the long-term”

    Aye, the SNP are new comers and have simply jumped on the populist bandwagon of Scottish independence!

    Reply
  • John Hutchison 4 months ago

    There is much in Gerry’s piece that I agree with. We need to be prepared to welcome all comments and carry out a rigorous analysis. Independence is far too important to be left to the SNP and we need a national movement. Common Space is to be commended as a think tank as may be the Growth Commission once we see its report but leadership from the Independence Convention supported by the Radical Independence Campaign, all working in a national network could be the best way forward at the moment. We need to energise the people as well as changing the SNP.

    Reply
    • T’other Guido Fawkes 4 months ago

      Agree or disagree, need to accept criticism and learn all that we can from defeats as well as victories.

      Reply
  • Redgauntlet 4 months ago

    A few things:

    A) Theresa May called the General Election in part to weaken the SNP. Everybody knew that to repeat the 2015 GE result was impossible for the SNP. The loss of SNP seats was to be spun by London to argue that there was no support for indieref2.

    The idea of Scotland heading for the exit door as London negotiates Brexit would have left the British ruling class in a ridiculous light when they sat down in Brussels. Landing a body blow on the SNP was no small factor in calling the GE I would venture.

    B) Nicola Sturgeon, if she had known a GE was forthcoming, might well have held back on her moves towards indieref2. In a sense, her hand was forced to initiate indieref 2 legislation proceedings. If she hadn’t done so after Brexit, she would have received criticism not only from indie supporters, but plenty of raised eyebrows in Europe too.

    And she would also have fallen into contradiction. You cannot argue that the Scottish people are sovereign and then, when they vote, by a handsome majority, to stay in the EU, not do anything to redress the violation of the will of the people of Scotland. She was right to talk of indieref2, though perhaps wrong on the dates she said she wanted.

    C) The SNP’s goal of building support for indie from one political party is doomed to failure. It is almost impossible to convince 55% or 60% of Scots that independence is the best course from the HQ of a political party. Independence is meant to be a movement, not a political party, much less one run by a husband and wife. That smells bad, it doesn’t matter who the individuals are involved. It looks bad. It is incredibly naive to think otherwise.

    D) The SNP have based far too much of their case for indie on politics, left of centre politics – and watch out, Corbyn is coming – and not enough on the principle of self-determination for a culturally distinct country, with its own institutions and sensibilities. For example, the SNP has done nothing memorable for Scottish culture at all. Jack McConnel at least passed the Gaelic Act. There is not one single piece of nationalist cultural legislation which might change Scotland. And it is only by changing Scotland that you will win indie.

    E) The figure of 53 seats and almost 50% for indie only came about because of the grassroots campaign of the Yes movement, which transformed Scottish politics in 18 glorious months.

    We need to start the grassroots campaign again, because, clearly, the indie movement has lost the initiative. The 53 MPS in Westminster were always in danger of giving the indie movement a false sense of ascendancy. Angus Robertson may have been a polished speaker in Westminster, Salmond may have struck the fear of God into some Tory MP’s, but Ruth Davidson’s photo call today at Nº10 is worth much more politically than any of that; namely, that the Scottish Tories can actually influence policy.

    We need more voices from the indie left, and more socially progressive policies in Scotland. Like scrapping the council tax and replacing it with a local income tax – a surefire vote winner. Why on earth the SNP haven’t done this already reveals just how asleep at the wheel they have been…

    Ultimately, though, it is still very much all to play for for indie. Losing 20 seats is hardly the end of the world. And Brexit is going to be a total disaster….

    Reply
    • Doghouse Rielly 4 months ago

      I was enjoying that until I got to the bit where you suggested that a local income tax was a vote winner. Income tax is the least popular of all taxes. A local income tax would be hated all the more.

      The failure to scrap the council tax as promised was a mistake. Seems to me that the answer is a property tax levied on all property.

      Do that right and you can return real accountability to local government which, by the way, looks ten years over due for a proper shake up.

      Reply
    • Doghouse Reilly 4 months ago

      I was enjoying that until I got to the bit where you said a local income tax was a good idea. Income tax is the least popular of all taxes and a local income tax will add that unpopularity to the general distrust of local councils and dissatisfaction with local services.

      And going back to a rejected policy will look like a lack of imagination.

      I agree that the failure to scrap the council tax as promised was a mistake but it seems to me that answer is a property tax applied to all property.

      Get that right and it coukd return real accountability to local councils which, by the way, look ten years over due for a shake up.

      Reply
      • Redgauntlet 4 months ago

        Doghouse, you’re right, it was a slip of the pen / keyboard for me to mention a local income tax when I meant to write property tax….I agree with you.

        Reply
      • MBC 4 months ago

        If you have a property tax does that mean that non-property owners don’t pay for local services?

        Reply
  • S.Jardine 4 months ago

    I think blaming the SNP alone for all the reasons we had a less than good election result as you are doing and then throwing in as many things as possible which you can rip the SNP and Yes to pieces for is not actually helping anyone and it is not really real either.

    The facts are it was a Westminster Election, many were charmed by Corbyn and voted for him, and many unionists voted unthinkingly for the simple message of the ‘no-referendum’ party.

    All my anger is directed, as it was in 2014, at the British press and the BBC. This is not to say that the SNP does not have to reflect, of course they do, they need to inspire once more and start to believe once more in their principles, but the fact is that the biggest obstacle we have is the British press and the BBC in particular.

    The British media in Scotland is a disgrace and we deserve better. Everything the SNP does is belittled and mocked, they do the same with Corbyn. Sturgeon, like Salmond before her, is treated with a lack of respect, and the achievements of the SNP, and they are many, are belittled and never given the acknowledgment they deserve. I for one, am totally sick and tired of the lies and spin, and general diminishment of everything positive about Scotland and the SNP that Independence supporters have to put up with on a daily basis.

    The question is, how do we raise awareness that we are all being brainwashed and manipulated by the press. Where are the independent journalists who can expose this stuff? What can the Yes movement do themselves to tackle this problem? What can the SNP do?

    For me, this is the number one issue, exposing the behavior of the BBC and media in Scotland for the disgrace that it is.

    They are responsible for allowing the Tory party to get away with their toxic policies and promote them as a one topic party, the NoReferendum party. Where is the scrutiny of their ‘other’ policies, where is the exposure and the educative journalism? Nowhere. The depth of journalism is non existent.

    Something has to change. I look forward to the day that Scotland has a public broadcaster of maturity, constructive analysis and impartiality. The parochial and bitter mindset of the British press and BBC when it comes to Scotland and the SNP has to be exposed.

    Reply
  • Velofello 4 months ago

    This is one lengthy piece of drivel. Doesn’t Bella review articles before publishing?

    Reply
    • carthannas 4 months ago

      Well said!
      Apparently not. For a more articulate opinion try James Kelly on TalkRadio and ScotGoesPop.

      Reply
  • seonaidh 4 months ago

    Some good points, though it’s ay easy for talking heads to criticise when they don’t have much to lose.

    Gerry says, ‘The two BBC and STV leader debates, for example, were both dominated by devolved issues’. True. Why then should the SNP adopt causes such as nationalisation into their manifesto when then have no power over it? Personally, rail nationalisation makes sense but there’s no use promising it if you can’t deliver it. Plus, would it be a vote winner amongst the Tories of the North-East?

    All fine and well being radical but the likes of the SSP, Greens or RISE aren’t exactly setting the heather ablaze. The latter seem to have been completely absent from recent elections and reduced to running a night-club in Glasgow.

    Truth is that no-one really ‘won’ the election. Corbyn lost despite the Tories’ shambolic campaign. Tories lost their majority and the Unionist alliance in Scotland has hit its peak.

    Reply
  • T’other Guido Fawkes 4 months ago

    Wow. As a disappointed SNP voter and active foot soldier, I welcome criticism more than any other posts. It might be some of these ideas hit the nail on the head, others maybe opinion but stepping back and looking at what has happened we can blame all our woes on others or probably better that we reflect long and hard on what has happened and do better next time…

    Reply
  • Geoff Caldwell 4 months ago

    I’d agree with some of the stuff he has said but certainly not all. Gerry has shown a real dislike for the SNP here and as if it weren’t difficult enough combating the media as it is, along comes the likes of Gerry. Hindsight is a great thing.

    The SNP do need to look at their policies and come up with some new ideas. They need to communicate a whole lot better. They need to have think tanks, focusing groups – what do people like, not like about Indy etc. They need to do a whole lot of work on currency,pensions etc – where the hell is the Growth Commission report? They need to spell out that Corbyn is an old fashioned Unionist, Labour supports Trident and that their policies are uncosted or unaffordable. Corbyn is a man of straw and Kezia is Post Truth and Davidson, Fake News.

    Nicola is still the SNP greatest asset but has been a little damaged.

    Another referendum needs to be the SNP objective once Brexit is known and that life raft is available to Scots.

    Time for some serious debating within but snipping from the sidelines will not achieve our long term goal.

    Dout Gerry is even a member. Parting of the ways methinks. Cochrane would be more positive.

    Reply
  • George Mackenzie 4 months ago

    Well said Gerry. Sturgeon leads a tired government determined to pretend the dream is still alive. She’ll cling on for as long as she can in self-interest with her useless hubbie.

    Reply
  • George Mackenzie 4 months ago

    Well said Gerry. Sturgeon leads a tired government determined to pretend the dream is still alive. She’ll cling on for as long as she can in self-interest with her useless CEO.

    Reply
  • Geoff Caldwell 4 months ago

    I’d agree with some of the stuff he has said but certainly not all. Gerry has shown a real dislike for the SNP here and as if it weren’t difficult enough combating the media as it is, along comes the likes of Gerry. Hindsight is a great thing.

    The SNP do need to look at their policies and come up with some new ideas. They need to communicate a whole lot better. They need to have think tanks, focusing groups – what do people like, not like about Indy etc. They need to do a whole lot of work on currency,pensions etc – where the hell is the Growth Commission report? They need to spell out that Corbyn is an old fashioned Unionist, Labour supports Trident and that their policies are uncosted or unaffordable. Corbyn is a man of straw and Kezia is Post Truth and Davidson, Fake News.

    Nicola is still the SNP greatest asset but has been a little damaged.

    Another referendum needs to be the SNP objective once Brexit is known and that life raft is available to Scots.

    Time for some serious debating within but snipping from the sidelines will not achieve our long term goal.

    Doubt Gerry is even a member. Parting of the ways methinks. Cochrane would be more positive.

    Reply
  • IJM 4 months ago

    I got to the bit where the writer ( who gets a few paychecks from writing for the MSM) basically
    discounted the massive campaign against the SNP by the media. I was aware of it.Don,t know about you

    The rest was just ” I am your friend, just a little friendly advice”( SNP BAAD), which the writer
    should know we are becoming increasingly immune to.

    Get a real job mate! The SNP won in Scotland, all the words you type can not alter this. Cheers

    Reply
    • carthannas 4 months ago

      Nice one!

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    • Johnny 4 months ago

      I find it hard to believe people still read Hassan’s scatter-gun journalism. It always gave me a headache. I haven’t read this piece but I bet he slags off everyone, particularly the SNP and Nicola, but not himself or the MSM. Gerry is a wrecking ball journalist with little coherence other than a deep wish to destroy anything good.

      Reply
      • Bella Caledonia Editor 4 months ago

        A valuable comment Johnny only slightly undermined by your note that “I haven’t read this piece”.

        Reply
  • bringiton 4 months ago

    The SNP,of course has it’s faults but right now is the only thing standing between Scotland and the BT (Bigots Together) unholy alliance in Westminster.
    Scotland didn’t vote for England’s Tory government and certainly not for the party of NI having a say over our affairs but thanks to a minority of unionist voters,that is what we have.
    We are the laughing stock of the planet and maybe the SNP should step aside and let the unionists be exposed to the full consequences of their actions.
    While Corbyn and his Labour party were bending over backwards to assist Tory austerity,our government was doing all it could to protect public services on a diminishing budget.
    Despite the spin from the unionist press,Westminster was directly responsible for this situation (Labour supporting Tory policies).
    We now have a pretendy socialist revival in England which will probably not last until the next election after which England will return to business as usual with a further Tory government.
    Labour unionists in Scotland are just going to have to face facts that the UK “union” is one dominated by England which means Tory governance for the vast majority of the time.
    As long as these Tories hold Scotland’s purse strings,we will always be stuck with their economic policies which of course have a knock on effect in terms of social policy.
    Gerry is attacking the wrong people.

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    • john young 4 months ago

      We deserve what we get,we are subservient bottlers lacking in confidence/spunk,we just love to whine.

      Reply
      • Jim Bennett 4 months ago

        Reminds me of the Trainspotting speech where Ewan MacGregor excoriates the Scots for being colonised by effete wankers.

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  • Big Jock 4 months ago

    I don’t agree with the build it and people will come sentiment. People did come and now it looks like they are trickling away.

    The steady, steady approach only works if you can keep winning. That is now looking a very shoogly peg.

    Devolution has a glass ceiling. The Snp took it further than Labour, but now we are just rearranging the furniture. We can’t grow the economy on a macro scale or control our immigration policy, or develop an international outlook of our own.

    I believe that come 2021 the Snp will be less of a force. They might cling onto power but it will be real minority. Then like Labour they will lose and keep losing.

    So to me indy ref 2 has to come before 2021. That mandate is very precious, use it or lose it.

    Reply
  • Jamie McEwan 4 months ago

    I am a Labour-turned-SNP voter who has wanted independance since before I even understood what the word really meant. I joined the SNP right after the indyref and I’m not about to hand my card back now.

    That said, the past few months have been frustrating. The bandwagon’s wheels have become shoogly and momentum was slowing long before the General Election was called. I think the SNP now need to take a step back and – oh god, forgive me for saying this – concentrate on the job.

    Scotland needs them to get some policy wins from Holyrood. Good infrastructure like the Queensferry Crossing and new motorway links is good! Keep that coming! But the article is correct: we need them building a better Scotland first and foremost, and making sure Nicola Sturgeon’s record is judged well come 2021.

    I’m #StillYes, I’m still SNP, but let’s take a breather, fix the wheels and start gathering some speed again.

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  • Interpolar 4 months ago

    Gerry raises a few interesting points. He is certainly right that the husband-wife position of Sturgeon in the SNP is not healthy. Also, that SNP was not able to develop clear messages during the campaign (e.g. unfortunate to have to launch their manifesto quite late).

    But in Sturgeon’s defence, while not being inspiring, she has remained competent, in fact, her grasp of the political middle was more tangible than any other major politician across the UK. The SNP has just not been able to keep up with the way events have unfolded over the last few years, and were caught wrong-footed by May’s launch of an early election.

    Gerry is right that the SNP lost the initiative. Instead of campaigning for independence, they found themselves talking about a referendum for independence. They never managed to shake the accusations of the referendum being “unwanted” or “divisive”. This has to change. The Indy movement has to first argue that choice is important. Getting to vote on independence is giving power back to the people. Then they relentlessly have to push home that independence is worth having. With the economic fortunes of the UK in doubt, the Arc of [relative] Prosperity could make a comeback – and be an anchor point for arguing the middle term economic case.

    The other thing is that by moving the political focus to Westminster, the SNP has in some ways become a British party as opposed to being a Scottish party. At times the attempted to assume the responsibilities of the only functional opposition and spoke (or at least attempted to speak) for many people in England too. Too some extent, this dilutes the message of what the SNP stands for, who must relentlessly establish Scotland as the true arena of action.

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  • Willie 4 months ago

    How fickle the talking classes.

    Through ten years the SNP have been a bulwark against right wing Tory and Labour. Tuition fees, free prescriptions, expanding infrastructure delivery, anti austerity, free bus pssses, anti bedroom tax measures, cancelled hospital parking and tolls, and much more.

    But now, in a flash, after a relentless BBC and MSM campaign against the SNP and independence, the fickle classes say the SNP are finished, doomed, and of a time past.

    Rubbish. Pure rubbish. We once again have a Tory government aided this time by a NI right wing WASP party. What a great result, no wonder folks like Jackie Baillie could not contain herself.

    Time to celebrate indeed.

    Reply
  • john young 4 months ago

    Robin McAlpine of the “Common Weal” told them in his booklet”A book of ideas” that if they didn,t come up with forceful far sighted ideas but relied on others making an a–e of things then they would fail and boy didn,t they fail they never made any attempt at harnessing the young the energetic,they were typical of how Scots are portrayed,dour subservient lacking in confidence fcuking bunch of whingers.

    Reply
    • Interpolar 4 months ago

      One particularly frustrating Scottish trait is that of detached ennui: “Och, I dinnae see the point” as a receipt for letting others take control of your destiny.

      Reply
  • John Page 4 months ago

    Wouldn’t normally respond, Bella, but you asked on Twitter for feedback.
    I think it is caic.
    Unfollowed him ages ago on Twitter for being a crashing and repetitious bore.
    John Page

    Reply
    • MBC 4 months ago

      I usually think that too. But here I think he is delivering some home truths we need to take on board.

      Reply
  • Alf Baird 4 months ago

    35 seats is still a Scottish majority and constitutionally sufficient to end the union of parliaments in the same way it began. The SNP should therefore give notice to end the union, more especially give refusal for a mandated referendum. There should now be less cooperation between Holyrood and Downing St., and the Scottish Government should appoint its own senior public officials and not leave this to Whitehall. There is much that can be done to make life even more difficult for our Tory ‘friends’, who are turning the screw on Scotland. Cooperating with them gets Scotland nowhere. The SNP should start to act like it actually wants to run an independent Scotland, and not a powerless puppet unionist charade.

    Reply
    • Malcolm Pate 4 months ago

      Some good points Alf, I am following the post Election from Cape Town and I dont have a tv and just find out via internet. My view is that Nicola has done a good job for Scotland but she needs to get tougher on those three Unionists in the Scottish Parliament. I see the Labour and Tory banging on their desks and creating a lot of noise. The SNP look like they need to waken up. They should also start banging on their desks and if the Speaker stops them then he will have to stop them all.
      I also feel we need to have a plan for Independence and let them all know about it. We need to tell them what currency we are going to use also steal a bit of Jeremy Corbins style and tell the country what we are intending to do nationalise oil industry / fishing / power industry etc etc. This is what Corbin has done he has a plan whether he will be able to carry out his plan is another story. So we can do the same we need to shake it up a bit. We have lost a bit of momentum and we need to be ready for Brexit and another Election as sure as hell there will be one. Come on guys rally the troops !!!

      Reply
    • john young 4 months ago

      Alf do you really think that the bunch of “fence sitters” would ever make such a pragmatic move/ they would rather whine away and hide,we are a nation that are known for it.

      Reply
      • Alf Baird 4 months ago

        John, there seems to be far too many recent unionists among the SNP’s ranks of MP’s, and to some extent the MSP’s too, who appear unaware that their primary purpose is to secure independence. Which possibly explains why they ‘don’t do independence’ no more. Its no wonder the Yes vote did not materialise at the recent election.

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        • John Hutchison 4 months ago

          Alf,

          You might need to explain this – I’m certainly not seeing where the recent Unionists are within the SNP MPs and MSPs……

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          • Alf Baird 4 months ago

            Maybe this relates more to the MP’s, people like Kerevan, and Sheppard etc plus possibly half or more of the 56/2015 were unionists within a decade of taking their Westminster seats for SNP. And the psyche of former researchers cum bag carriers now MSP’s is more pc neoliberal, and hence mair career politician than fundie nationalist. The latter remind me of kids in Edinburgh who used to support Rangers or Man U simply because they won things every year, while the rest of us went to Tynecastle or Easter Road each week, content to wallow in mediocrity; but at least we retained our principles and rejected jumping on any fashionable bandwagon that happened to be passing by. The young ones recently jumping on the SNP politico bandwagon remind me of Oxbridge political minded graduates who would ask themselves: “Layba, Toree or Wiberal, whit ane offers me the best fewtya fir masel, the noo?”

  • Tom Platt 4 months ago

    What Gerry has not realised is that SNP MPs are only the Indy reserve team…the politicians. The first team..the grass roots YES, AUOB etc ..just were not standing in the General Election. The Indy marchers through Glasgow the week before were overshadowed in the media by the terrorism in England. Gerry Hassan has no such excuse. These marchers are only part of the real team and always will be. SNP have only about 100000 members, even if we count voters we can only multiply that number by about 10. YES numbered, and apparently still would number, far more ( I say that because of this…http://scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/surveymonkey-subsample-finds-54-of.html). Scottish Greens had the wisdom to largely not stand in this Westminster binary type election. Their intelligence and zeal will be imperative in the #ScotRef. #Scotref must take place on or about the end of Brexit..Spring 2019 perhaps.

    Reply
    • David Allan 4 months ago

      This survey published on May 27th ! has Nicola made reference to it ? Has the SNP any researchers ?

      So the Scottish people don’t want a second ref – This survey shows otherwise Ruthie !

      I wish the SNP had made an attempt to reference it to counter the “Scots don’t want another ref” bla bla.

      Reply
  • Alan Bissett 4 months ago

    Gerry is right about many things here. The SNP took the left-wing Yes vote as banked, and tried to appeal to the right-of-centre voters they felt would take them over the 50% mark in a future indyref. It has given them a centrist air during a time of left/right polarisation and led to this insipid, policy-lite GE2017 campaign. Labour, under Corbyn, have sneaked in round the back and reclaimed many of those left-wing voters, and would have won more had Scottish Labour, full of anti-Corbyn plotters and still tainted by Better Together, not been so very unappealing to many Yessers. Should that change, and Scottish Labour go the ‘full Corbyn’, the SNP could then be in serious trouble.

    But there are many things left out of Gerry’s analysis:

    1. He writes that they ‘won’ the election. Why the inverted commas? They won it. Unambiguously. The SNP’s unrepeatable and freakish success in 2015 is now being used against them. To put it into perspective, a mere three years ago the SNP had six Westminster seats. SIX. They now have thirty-six. Tony Blair shed votes in each of his three wins and no-one claimed he ‘lost’ those elections. I understand the narrative about momentum, but the media have anointed Ruth Davidson the ‘winner’ in Scotland with a THIRD of the SNP’s seats. Winning thirty-six seats in an election where the SNP had no chance of forming the govt is still remarkable by any measure. Of course this result is a slowing of pace, but the SNP has now won four elections in a row by a comfortable majority, an astonishing feat which has been drowned out by a hyperbolic reaction to this one.

    2. Of course the Yes movement was channeled into party politics after the indyref. Since 2014 there have been two Westminster elections, a Holyrood election and a council eleciton. By necessity the movement was swallowed up in campaigning – for either the SNP, Greens or RISE – during these. You can’t expect people to campaign for ‘independence’ when there’s an election on the horizon and no set date for an indyref2.

    3. Gerry says the SNP “has willfully refused to engage in a major appraisal of the reasons why the 2014 indyref was lost”. Well, see above. The SNP have had to charge forwards into election after election, so to spend time putting forward a new independence prospectus at this time would’ve swallowed up resources that would’ve damaged the campaigning. Here is where the wider Yes movement took up the slack: they haven’t STOPPED analysing the failure of 2014, which is why Common Weal are now ready to press the button on a renewed case.

    4. The SNP were caught, like everyone else, by the snap election. Having already passed an indyref2 bill, in the expectation that Brexit/indyref2 would unfold and conclude before they found themselves in another election, the SNP inadvertently gifted the Unionists a chance to damage their SNP’s mandate. But this was no ‘tactical error’ on Sturgeon’s part: she had a moral duty to signal to the EU, EU citizens within Scotland, and the 62% who voted Remain that she was prepared to fight their corner, and the threat of an indyref was the only leverage she had over Theresa May in the negotiations. This is one of the reasons why the GE was called.

    5. There is a grievous democratic outrage being perpetrated before our eyes which no-one in the media (nor, for that matter, an exhausted SNP) is challenging. The mandate for indyref 2 is now cast-iron, having been voted for by the Scottish electorate in 2016, passed by a majority in Holyrood, and now triple-locked by the fact of the SNP winning a majority of Scottish seats. If we are being told that is not enough to secure indyref 2 then we are being told that the Scots have no democratic means of bringing about self-determination. On what possible basis is Ruth Davidson being allowed to get away with a statement like ‘indyref2 is dead’ when the Unionist parties COMBINED could not reach the SNP’s total of seats and a bill has *already been passed by the Scottish parliament*. Simply because the SNP secured 35/59 seats in a UK election instead of 56/59? Is no-one else alarmed by the grave repercussions here for Scottish democracy?

    6. Corbyn certainly ran a spirited campaign, with many appealing left-wing ideas, but crucially *he did not win*. Scotland is being asked to put its faith in a Labour party which has now lost three elections in a row, the latest against the most shambolic and hollow Tory campaign in living memory. What’s more, I’ve lost count of the amount of Labour activists who’ve (rightly) attacked the SNP from the left for their (former) proposal to reduce corporation tax, but stay silent about Corbyn *currently* intending ‘one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe’. What’s good for the goose, etc.

    So, yes, this is a setback. But can we also retain a sense of perspective please?

    Reply
    • Tony Little 4 months ago

      Alan Bisset: Good comments to which I agree. Only one small issue to take up on. You said “The SNP were caught, like everyone else, by the snap election. ” I am not so sure EVERYONE was caught out. The mobilising of the Unionist collaboration and all the (to me at least) well-organised agreements in transfer voting was more than something that was thought through in the few weeks of the actual campaign.

      There was the coordinated BBC/STV focus on devolved matters to the exclusion of everything else. The structure of the so-called debates putting the SG performance front and centre (which the media had been undermining with, let’s be polite, exaggerated criticisms); the complete ignoring of the Tory performance at WM; the apparent collision with “plants” in the various debates and discussions. It all smacks of a carefully thought through strategy to me. (I shall remove my tin-foil hat now!)

      That said, the SNP campaign was awful and not helped by the two tragic terrorist attacks in England which delayed both the launch of their manifesto and the final debate of the campaign. (Note: I do not think these were planned for that reason, just to be clear).

      Despite all that, despite four or more years or relentless lies, spin, exaggeration, hyperbole, distraction, accusations, misleading “information” from the Media, especially the BBC, the SNP still managed to win the election in Scotland.

      And yesterday we hear that the Scottish Tories are only interested in “supporting the anti-indy constituents” which would seem to be the final kick in the ***** that Scots seem to accept without complaint. The time for trying to be nice and conciliatory seems to have passed. It’s time to take our independence.

      Reply
      • BrianSJ 4 months ago

        I fear that you may be right with your tinfoil hat; the voting analyses by Wings indicates considerable organisation, and we don’t know what the LibDems are getting for their sacrifice.

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    • Michael 4 months ago

      Most sensible response I’ve read, Alan

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    • Justin Kenrick 4 months ago

      Really helpful points Alan.

      All I would add is:

      This is not in the end about political parties, it is about movements.

      Our need is to combine the movement for self-determination (which knows this is not about parties but about building our sense of care for all who live here, and beyond) and the social justice movement that manifested in RIC etc and that brought Corbyn to where he is (applauded and not derided by his MPs as he walked into Westminster, and able to momentarily stop the mocking media as they are shocked at their own blindness)

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    • Joe 4 months ago

      I think it’s time you made another video Alan. Your voice has been missing from the debate for far too long and is needed now more than ever.

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      • Valerie 4 months ago

        Great response from Alan.

        When it was clear A50 was to be triggered in March, Sturgeon reluctantly, 13 March, announced she would seek to prepare for indyref2. She made a point of saying it was a difficult decision. Many of us agreed, the announcement was to protect Scottish assets during upcoming Brexit talks.

        On 28 March, May dragged her ass up here for that weird looking meeting in a hotel room in the Crowne Plaza. No detail was shared. We can guess that May was perhaps asking Sturgeon to officially remove indyref2 from the table, ahead of Brexit negotiations, because Scotland putting a marker down, just wasn’t helpful.

        The Tory rhetoric has always been, not now for indyref2, and Sturgeon was clear it would be lost Brexit, but she didn’t want to hand over Scotland’s assets unequivocally for May to trade away.

        The rest they say is history, except for the independent investigative journalists who are pursuing the threads of dark money that funded skint parties like Slab and Lib Dems.

        Reply
  • Hortense 4 months ago

    This was a UK general election not a Scottish election. I reserve judgment.

    Reply
  • Arthur Gall 4 months ago

    It is all very well to use other European countries as examples of the benefits of independence but the fact is Scottish people are ‘Scottish’, Norwegian people are Norwegian and so on. The Scottish people are accustomed to being part of the UK and have benefited / *benefitted from this. The Scottish people have also suffered as a result of the Union. This is not to say that England has not also benefited from the union with Wales, NI and Scotland. Indeed, without these other three partners of the union, England would be in dire straits and with a much reduced influence in Europe. It is a fact that the mind-set of older Scottish people, in general, is one of dour resignation of the status quo. It is known that older people ( the grey haired vote) do not like change and independence without a rock solid plan is not a temptation they are willing to go for. However, younger people see independence differently. They see it as a risk, exciting, challenging and patriotic. The problem is, for young people today, Scotland offers very little, and the constant stream of workers from Eastern Europe is seen as a factor in the current low wage regime. Immigration is stretching our NHS, Housing, Policing, even our jails, with the second biggest population by nationality who are serving jail sentences is Polish. Can that not be addressed by sending jailed Eastern Europeans home to their country of birth to serve their sentence. Once served, they could then re-apply to enter UK under stricter rules. Of course, this would require an agreement between nations and would be reciprocated. It is this sort of thinking that the SNP lack. Being afraid to offend anyone and trying to please everyone brings with it problems such as appearing to be weak. The fact that a ranting indecisive Labour leader and a Tory telly tubby took so many seats from SNP is alarming in itself and magnifies the state of Scottish opinion towards SNP. The Tories and Labour could not lose more seat as they were at rock bottom and have made such an appalling mess of political party unity yet they both increased their support at a cost to SNP. The SNP needs to re-group, decide who they want to appeal to, possibly younger people since older people are reluctant to change. They need to drop the immediate conversation about independence and work on a realistic plan of how it would change people’s lives. People do not want to take a leap in the dark. The public need to be convinced of the benefits independence will bring, not just a vague scenario of hopes and possibilities. The SNP has many bright young people along with experienced political veterans who could be working behind the scenes, researching, calculating convincing possibilities based on realistic scenarios. Talking with foreign politicians, seeking foreign support in the future, constructing a fair and realistic immigration strategy and get the damn economy working for the many, not the few, (to borrow a phrase from Jeremy Corbyn)

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  • David Allan 4 months ago

    Alan Bissett – “Here is where the wider Yes movement took up the slack: they haven’t STOPPED analysing the failure of 2014, which is why Common Weal are now ready to press the button on a renewed case.”

    Gerry and others above make many valid points in reference to the SNP and it’s failings there can be no doubt that the current leadership,organisation structure or it’s membership have been exposed as incapable of maintaining momentum toward a winning indy2 campaign.

    This SNP 2017 campaign was lacklustre by any measure . With limited resources it was more important than ever to harness all effort against for the first time a sustained Unionist attack which emphasised the very real division that now exists in this country. Nicola failed miserably not only to defend or remind voters of it’s impressive achievements in 10 years of power .
    She also continually failed to respond to the annoying accusations that the “Scottish people didn’t want another divisive referendum” .

    Having launched the OUR NATION’S FUTURE . YOUR CHOICE CAMPAIGN (ref.scot ) surely that could have been referenced requesting that those in favour of ref2 access the site and show Ruthie that there was indeed a very real demand. Why was Nicola Silent? (I wonder how many have signed the pledge).

    With Salmond and Robertson now available it’s time to present the media with an alternative to the over exposed and understandably exhausted Nicola Sturgeon .

    Getting back to the Alan Bissett point on the common weal being ready to start a new case . It’s time for the SNP to stop believing they can achieve Indy on it’s own. This election has demonstrated it’s organisational weakness it needs to realise now that enlisting ideas and skills from a wider pool of YES experience will be necessary to achieve it’s aim. It’s time to adopt Robin McAlpine and others in an advisory capacity.

    SNP it’s time to Listen.

    Murrell / Sturgeon need a serious re-think. The period of reflection had better result in tangible change or next time i’m afraid we may not only lose more seats we may lose the right to ever present the case again.

    Corbyn ran the winning campaign that the SNP didn’t.

    Reply
  • Donald Adamson 4 months ago

    This is an excellent article from Gerry. The points he makes about the close circle that comprises the SNP leadership and how this has limited the strategic direction of the party, the poor campaign, as well as the small margins of victory, particularly in the strategically important seats in Glasgow, provide food for thought for anyone concerned about where the independence movement goes from here. The latter is, as Gerry says, bigger than the SNP but, obviously, it cannot win the independence referendum without a strong SNP, that is, without an SNP government.

    There is a lot of substance in these points and it would be foolish, in my opinion, to dismiss them. However, the most important argument that Gerry makes here is when he says:

    “There is one kind of nationalism the SNP have barely touched in the last decade and that is economic nationalism: talking about ownership, control and takeovers”.

    There is more to economic nationalism than this (I’m sure Gerry knows this) but the point I want to emphasise here is that the same accusation could not be levelled at the Labour Party, including under Corbyn. This was Labour’s most Keynesian manifesto in a generation. Keynes himself was an economic nationalist for most of his career. Indeed, it was only in the last years of his life, when he understood that Britain’s influence in the world was in irreversible decline, that he started to distance himself from this position. But it is a tradition that has been maintained by both the main British parties up to the present. And while I take Gerry’s point about Labour’s manifesto referring back to a “radical nostalgia”, the manifesto also has to be understood as very much in keeping with previous Labour manifestos in this (economic nationalist) respect but with one obvious added dimension to it this time – this was a post-Brexit manifesto. The substantive point here, though, is that Labour’s economic nationalism rather than ‘socialism’ means that it can speak to the electorate with the kind of authority on economic issues which the SNP has been unable to compete with.

    Having said that, I think Alan Bissett is surely right to argue that it’s important to keep a sense of perspective about this result. The SNP won over 977,000 votes and seems to have been driven down to its core vote in this election. Without wishing to gloss over the fact that this was a bad result for the SNP, if this is even a close approximation to the SNP’s core vote at a British general election, that is a huge base upon which to build for future campaigns, most importantly for the second independence referendum. It is not far short of the average 1.1 million votes that allowed Labour to dominate general elections in Scotland for the 50 years between 1959 and 2010. Of course, political parties’ core vote does change in time, as the Labour Party has discovered to its cost. But the SNP, over two general elections, albeit in a relatively brief interval of time, has demonstrated a resilience in an electoral environment which was stacked against it and in which it is typically crowded out by British voices and a British policy agenda, not least, British post-Brexit economic nationalism.

    I wonder also if the Corbyn effect did have a significant impact on Scotland but in a less obvious way. It was clear in the last week of this campaign that the polls had narrowed significantly and that a Corbyn victory became a distinct possibility in that final week. It may be that one possible explanation for the significant increase in the Tory vote in Scotland was not so much Ruth Davidson’s leadership qualities, or some voters being scunnered with the prospect of a second independence referendum (both of which were clearly factors in this campaign) but rather that many of these ‘soft’, Tory-inclined, former SNP voters were so terrified at the prospect of a Corbyn victory that they voted Tory in an attempt to defeat what, for them, was the unthinkable. In other words, if there was a significant Corbyn-effect in Scotland it may have been an anti-Cobyn rather than a pro-Corbyn effect.

    None of this is to underestimate the extent to which tactical voting clearly occurred in this election and that, notwithstanding the extent of any possible anti-Corbyn vote, the SNP was the primary target of this. How else can we explain the phenomena of the Tories coming from nowhere in so many constituencies to win the seat, or the Liberals recording their lowest vote in any general election in Scotland since 1970. Wings Over Scotland has done some excellent analysis of this latter phenomenon and it seems to me that Stuart has identified an important trend here, see: https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-cannon-fodder/ The arithmetic looks compelling but we’ll need to wait for more detailed analysis and voter feedback to discover the reasons why this happened.

    We also need to note that the lower turnout, some 106,000 fewer voters than in 2015, disproportionately affected the SNP. Here, Gerry’s point about the SNP’s uninspiring campaign was surely a factor. Against this, there’s no question that Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP politicians were made to sound defensive by being forced to address devolved issues in many debates. Contrary to Gerry, I don’t think that this bears comparison with the similar experience of previous devolved Labour administrations at British general elections. Labour’s experience, in this respect, occurred when there were Labour governments at Westminster. Discussing devolved issues then was a means of avoiding the repetition of Labour’s British campaign. That was obviously not the case with the SNP and the effect was to blunt any critical scrutiny of Tory policies and put the SNP on the defensive. The SNP was consistently put in the position of being a defensive government rather than a critical opposition.

    These are just a few of the factors that need to be taken into account in any explanation of this result. This result has been a wake-up call not just for the SNP but for the broader independence movement. I still think that the SNP should stick to its timetable for a second referendum or, if there is a delay, it should be a matter of months rather than years. It has the mandate for it from the British general election, the Scottish Parliament elections and last, but not least, the EU referendum result itself. The argument that no referendum should be held until Brexit has done permanent damage to Scotland’s economy and society is not an alternative to independence, it is another argument for independence.

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  • Jamie McEwan 4 months ago

    I am a Labour-turned-SNP voter who has wanted independance since before I even understood what the word really meant. I joined the SNP right after the indyref and I’m not about to hand my card back now.

    That said, the past few months have been frustrating. The bandwagon’s wheels have become shoogly and momentum was slowing long before the General Election was called. I think the SNP now need to take a step back and – oh god, forgive me for saying this – concentrate on the day job.

    Scotland needs them to get some policy wins from Holyrood. Good infrastructure like the Queensferry Crossing and new motorway links is good! Keep that coming! But the article is correct: we need them building a better Scotland first and foremost, and making sure Nicola Sturgeon’s record is judged well come 2021. So get back to Holyrood, keep indyref2 on the backburner, for “after Brexit”, and get the gears of government grinding in favour of the more socialist Scotland I think a lot of us want.

    I’m #StillYes, I’m still SNP, but let’s take a breather, fix the wheels and start gathering some speed again.

    Reply
  • Brochan 4 months ago

    “The party has invited us to just trust them and believe everything will be alright the other side of independence. ”

    I agree with some of the article but this is just nonsense. I have never heard anyone from the SNP claiming such a thing. No one ever claimed that independence would be a walk in the park.

    Reply
  • Justin Kenrick 4 months ago

    Interesting point from Donald Adamson that the Corbyn-effect may have included not just a pull to Labour in Scotland but also soft Tories in Scotland pulling in behind the Tories in response to the prospect of Corbyn wining.

    Really helpful points from Alan Bissett, all I would add is:

    This is not in the end about political parties, it is about movements.

    Our need is to combine the movement for self-determination (which knows this is not about parties but about building our sense of care for all who live here, and beyond) and the social justice movement that manifested in RIC etc and that brought Corbyn to where he is (applauded and not derided by his MPs as he walked into Westminster, and able to momentarily stop the mocking media as they are shocked at their own blindness).

    Reply
    • Redgauntlet 4 months ago

      The Labour vote barely went up by more than a few thousand votes in Scotland. I think only by about 10,000?

      Also, it is hard to give any credence to the idea that voters rushed out to vote Tory to keep Corbyn out of Nº10, because nobody thought he was going to win, and not one single poll put him ahead during the campaign.

      So I can’t see how anybody can talk about a “Corbyn effect”.

      What we have in prosperous Scotland are hundreds of thousands of rancid, bed-wetting Tories. Michael Gove is Scottish remember…

      And about one million deluded Breixteers who boosted the Tory vote. It’s the Brexit factor which accounts for the rise in support for the Tories, surely?

      The day of the election, a taxi driver in Glasgow told me he was voting Tory, because “he didn’t like nationalism” and to stop a second referendum. Nonetheless, he had a sticker on his taxi dashboard which said “Erin Gu Bragh” and described himself as a Labour voter.

      He’s the kind of mixed up and confused character who voted Tory…how do you convince a guy like that he’s wrong? An Irish nationalist Scottish unionist Labour man who votes Tory? Where do you start?

      Reply
  • Richard MacKinnon 4 months ago

    All these long and deep analyses of Gerry Hassan’s article miss a couple of fundamental points that should be uppermost in the mind of anyone commenting upon it and on the future of Scotland and its constitution.
    1. Gerry Hassan is a journalist and an author. That is how he makes a living.
    2. A second Scottish independence referendum will not happen, probably ever but definitely not in this generation of Scottish politicians. These politicians made that pledge to the electorate and Scotland’s unionist politicians will rightly hold them to it.
    The time for Scotland’s deluded nationalists, to accept the reality of Scotland’s constitutional position past, some time ago. Scotland is part of the UK.

    Reply
    • Alan Bissett 4 months ago

      So how do you explain the Scottish electorate voting in 2016 for a second independence referendum, or a pro-independence majority in Holyrood, or the SNP winning the majority of Scottish seats (again), or support for independence remaining rock solid at 45-47% in the polls since 2014? That does not seem even remotely like a settled will to me.

      Reply
      • Richard MacKinnon 4 months ago

        I am not getting into a debate about who said what and when.
        The truth is the SNP, the party of independence have built themselves into a room with no doors. They are the party of independence yet they know it will never come about. They talked up the possibility of a second referendum to satisfy the cravings of their massed ranks of fanatical ideologues. It was a massive mistake.
        Had the SNP held their fire about indyref2 and waited for the chance the recent general election offered, they could have sprung the biggest democratic coup ever. They could have put one statement in the manifesto, ‘ a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Scottish government to negotiate independence’. If they had they could be down in Westminster now with a mandate to start those negotiations. They missed it. The truth is they decided yo avoid it.

        Reply
        • Alan Bissett 4 months ago

          They already have a mandate for a second independence referendum. You can’t just dismiss that with, “I am not getting into a debate about who said what and when.”

          Reply
        • Hortense 4 months ago

          Fanatical ideologues? That’s amusing when you look at the state of the Tory Party and the Brexiteers. Our govt seems to be the only stable one at the moment.

          Reply
  • Alin Scot 4 months ago

    I have been an independence supporter and member of the SNP from an early age and I agree with almost everything Gerry Hassan has said in the above article. That quite a few correspondents on here disagree with it and put down to his bias of the SNP, comes as no surprise.

    Indeed I have encountered a number of senior SNP politicians in recent times who would disagree with it too. These will be the same politicians who have had no answers to a myriad of questions arising after 2014 from an increasingly frustrated SNP membership and Gerry Hassan is spot on in suggesting the branch membership “army” did not turnout to support and canvass as hitherto.

    It would be very interesting if Gerry would now compile another article on what might be the way forward for the SNP because as member, I have absolutely no idea where we are going. No wonder Ruth Davidson did well.

    Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 4 months ago

      Hi Alin, Commonweal are publishing a six point policy development plan in The National tomorrow – watch out for it

      Reply
  • barakabe 4 months ago

    By now we have all went over & over how this Tory revival has come around in Scotland of all places- especially if we consider historically the economic destruction of Thatcherism to Scotland AND the irony of voting for them when they have arguably the worst government in British history- but the two main reasons for me that cannot be avoided are the demographically driven Unionist rallying around the Tories & the irresistible power of the Unionist mainstream media in Scotland. The demographics appear to revolve around an older generation of voters who gain all their data from the mainstream outlets such as BBC, the red-tops, Herald, Scotsman etc; the other factor is a solid middle class, largely professional class, including a large minority of Unionist incomers, who want nothing to do with independence for various self interested reasons; another factor is traditional Tory rural & semi-rural areas of Scotland such as Perthshire, the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway & Aberdeenshire reverting back to what they believe to be safe ground. Alongside this demographic is the undoubted Power of the Unionist media in Scotland. Let’s not kid ourselves, the media more or less won the Independence vote for the incompetent No Campaign, and more or less do the unionist parties campaigning for them, especially the Tories. All the SNP are left with are the whimper of The National & the single day Sunday Herald, & outwith this the monolithic structure of the Scottish media are stridently, even belligerently, pro-Unionist. These are factors no analysis can leave out. What can the SNP do about these two most powerful factors? The demographic vector has led to Salmond & Angus Robertson both losing their seats to Tory fodder, people voting for probably the most comically inept politician in Scottish history in David Mundell or the hapless Ian Murray & even voted in the liar Alistair Carmichael in Orkney & Shetlands- what can you do against such demographics? The same can be said for a media that refuses to report anything negative about the Tories or had a blanket ban of the recent suspect packages sent to SNP offices for fear of negative associations to Unionist parties- if this is how far the media is prepared to go then how do you negotiate with them? Even today the BBC Scotland headline is utilizing itself as a mouthpiece for the Unionist bloc calling on the SNP to take Indyref2 ‘off the table’. This of course would eliminate any form of redemption or escape route for Scotland in light of a particularly devastating Brexit deal- would these Unionist rather see Scotland irreparably damaged to being an Independent State? The answer has to be a Yes. Therefore this Unionist establishment are utterly inflexible fanatical ideologues that cannot be reasoned with in their present hysterical state. The unionists in Scotland have the ‘battle fever’ & are in full throttle war mode, believing themselves under siege, hence the rallying movement around a remarkably toxic Tory party, as well as the shift of liberal media outlets such as the Herald to their corner. It would be naive in the extreme to believe we can deal with this new no surrender civic Scotland that has publicly emerged. And Gerry Hassan is right the SNP need to extend the Yes Movement for Indyref2 to the movement that existed during Indyref1- we cannot win Indyref2 without a wider appeal to those for example who voted Remain. The Unionists realise that existential constitutional questions transcend party politics, hence the tactical voting, cross party collaboration & the coordinated Unionist propaganda across the media in Scotland. The SNP’s ‘don’t scare the horses’ approach is I think exacerbating the situation & offering the Unionists oxygen to expand their message. The SNP by consequence can’t be allowed to think it is the Yes Movement, as many swing yes voters have moved to the Tories & most certainly to the Labour Party revitalised by Corbyn- so we can see the million or so SNP voters will defintely be bolstered by many Labour voter, even Tory voters, EU nationals & the young ( who voted for Corbyn in this election).
    If Brexit is an utter disaster, which is inevitable, then we need an escape plan & of course Indyref2 is it- Scotland as a nation needs that choice- hence we cannot allow the self-interested Unionist establishment to ‘take it off the table’ with their no surrender brand of British nationalism. Personally I was in favour of waiting for a decade or so for the demographics to shift in favour of Yes, but Brexit has forced the issue, & now more than ever Indyref2 is the only agenda in town & must be kept on the table at all costs: the SNP & the wider Yes movement must now realise that we are in an ideological war of all or nothing with the Unionist in Scotland, & if we fail to do so, we threaten the only escape plan we have from the nightmare we’ve been thrust into by the selfish incompetence of the British establishment.

    Reply
    • Alf Baird 4 months ago

      “…including a large minority of Unionist incomers, who want nothing to do with independence..”

      Recent census data indicates this to be rather less a minority than some people appear to think. Historically the largest immigrant group to Scotland has comprised people from rest UK, particularly in the professional classes. This movement has intensified in recent years; during the past 20 years over 1 million people have moved to Scotland from rest UK, whilst around half this number of Scots have left. This actually represents a very substantial change in population within a small nation like Scotland, and which also brings with it a major shift in culture (e.g. inevitably a feeling of being British/English outweighs any feeling of being Scottish, and hence limits any desire for Scottish nationhood, the latter perceived as more of a ‘threat’ to this group). Current trends suggest over half a million more people from rest-UK are coming to live in Scotland every decade. In Indyref14, people from rest-UK made up around a third of No voters. Next time, if there is a next time, it may be nearer 50%. Such major ongoing population changes appear to be bringing Scotland more into line with Wales, and historically with N. Ireland. There is of course a recognised name for this phenomenon, but I leave others to dwell on that. Also important here is a rather deeper consideration of the voter franchise in any future referendum, especially given that, on current trends, the No vote is being replenished year-on-year, as the recent election results also suggest.

      Reply
    • S.Jardine 4 months ago

      I cannot agree with you more.

      Until YES and SNP wake up to and expose the bias of the media, day after day, week after week, month after month, which is actually getting worse, then we are not confronting the true enemy.

      The SNP gets no credit for the good things it does, everything they do is belittled and criticised and meantime, the Tories are never challenged on their toxic inhumane policies and instead are treated with great respect and authority.

      We have to expose this!

      This reason alone is a huge factor in why we lost the referendum and why SNP support has fallen. It is not the whole story but a very, very big part of it.

      Reply
  • Susie Kemp 4 months ago

    Is part of the reason the SNP have to try to be all things to all voters the fact that there are as yet no large pro independence right or left wing parties?

    Reply
  • w.b.robertson 4 months ago

    remarkable response to this SNP inquest. don`t despair Gerry H. folks always want to shoot the messenger if they don`t like his news. or his views.

    Reply
  • Mike Fenwick 4 months ago

    What if?

    What if … we stopped endlessly analysing and just did something?

    Something like creating and adopting an independent Scottish currency, not after independence, but now? An independent Scottish currency for use in and for Scotland, established not top down, but grassroots up.

    So far, and I am only at Stage 1 in a series of Stages to bring this to fruition, perhaps the critical factor is that I have gained support from all the shades of opinion across the spectrum of independence supporters, right, middle, and left.

    Rubbish, it will never ever work, we need to analyse it to death. Doing things, creating change, allowing it to be tested, shaped, all the while gaining lived experience – how utterly preposterous!

    If you spend a bit of time reading a recent Bank of England report “Money Creation in the Modern Economy”, you will not only find that the door is wide open, but that a change of that nature, created and adopted now, marks the starting point for a future Scottish economy. (Just saying!)

    Details for anyone who might be interested, here: https://www.facebook.com/thescottishhand/

    Reply
    • John Hutchison 4 months ago

      Interesting, Mike. Many communities work with LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) and several variations. It’s not the same as your point of course but the common aim is keeping the ‘money’ in the local community.

      There are others that are closer to currency such as the ‘Bristol Pound’; https://www.theguardian.com/local-government-network/2013/jun/17/bristol-pound-local-currencies

      Your suggestion to ‘do something’ is import; it’s about taking control.

      Reply
      • David Allan 4 months ago

        Taking control is all very well – useless on a ship with no rudder!

        The SNP and it’s leadership have no appetite for “taking control”.

        Reply
  • Graeme Purves 4 months ago

    This pretty much nails it, apart from the curiously irrelevant jibe at John Nicolson and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh for being “pundit Nationalists”.

    “For there shall be no other pundit but Dr. Gerry Hassan, except, perhaps, David Torrance.”

    Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 4 months ago

      Well certainly there are dozens of other pundits on here where Gerry is a rare voice. It would be better if you responded to the other substantial points he raised?

      Reply
  • Donald Adamson 4 months ago

    Redgauntlet, I wouldn’t dismiss the extent to which an anti-Corbyn vote occurred in Scotland in this general election and that this may have out-weighed any pro-Corbyn vote that occurred. Of course Brexit was a big factor in this election and other factors, for example, tactical voting, the puffing up of Ruth Davidson in the media, the relative success of the ‘No Referendum’ campaign, were significant. But the evidence of the changing fortunes of the two main British parties in the polls is compelling, as can be seen if you look at the trend lines of the polltracker, see here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39856354

    What is so remarkable about this is that, from the first week of the campaign, we saw the beginning of a uniform increase in Labour’s polling commensurate with a uniform decrease in the Tories’ polling, to the extent that, on the eve of the election, one poll (Survation) showed the Tories with a lead of just one per cent. Of course, no-one expected Corbyn to win but the point I was making was that it was the growing fear of many ‘soft’ Tory (former SNP) voters in Scotland – in light of the changing fortunes of the parties in the polls – that may have provided them with a decisive reason to vote Tory, even though some/many of them may have been pre-disposed to vote Tory anyway for the other reasons cited above.

    But there is another reason why I think there may be substance in this point. The membership of Momentum is significantly smaller in Scotland than in England. Momentum played a big role in Corbyn’s performance in England. In Scotland, on the other hand, much of the Left is committed to independence and this acted as a kind of firewall against Momentum gaining any traction in Scotland. This is one of the main reasons why the pro-Corbyn vote seems to have been more muted in Scotland and may have been significantly outweighed by the anti-Corbyn vote.

    The upshot of this is that the independence-supporting Left outside the SNP and the SNP itself need each other now more than ever. With a UK government tottering on the brink of collapse, and Labour positioned to at least lead a coalition government, it is vital now that the independence-supporting Left doesn’t haemorrhage support to Labour. Against this, it’s important also to put Corbyn’s ‘success’ in context. While the SNP won a landslide victory in Scotland, at least in terms of seats (winning 59 per cent of seats), the Tories in England also won a landslide in terms of seats (winning 56 per cent of seats). The Tories won 70 seats more than Labour in England (it’s this more than anything else that kept Theresa May in power) but they did this with the most ineffective prime minister they have had since Alec Douglas-Hume in 1963-4, and running the most dismal general election campaign of any incumbent Tory government in living memory.

    The UK is now one of the most politically unstable liberal democracies in the world. Added to this is the growing economic uncertainty over Brexit. One of the inevitable consequences of Brexit is not only that Britain will become more isolationist, but that it will become more aggressively nationalist, politically and economically, even more so than when it was a member of the EU. This is part of the future that awaits Scotland should it remain part of the UK. On the surface, therefore, for the independence movement, the UK is the gift that just keeps on giving and these are, remarkably after 2014, the most auspicious circumstances for Scottish independence.

    In light of this, it is unfortunate that the SNP and the independence movement itself have not been more forthright in promoting Scotland’s EU membership. Much of the emphasis – too much I would argue – has been on the single market. It’s true that many of the front-line effects of Brexit will be felt there first – on trade, investment, employment etc – but what is so worrying here is the absence of any acknowledgement that these front-line effects as well as Brexit itself will have numerous repercussive effects which will be felt in Scotland’s society and economy for several decades into the future. Remarkably, here we are, almost exactly twelve months after the Brexit vote and 48 hours before the Brexit negotiations start, and no-one, least of all this awful, chaotic and directionless British government, can clearly state what Brexit means, what its full effects will be, or how long those effects will be felt.

    In putting so much emphasis on the single market, Nicola Sturgeon has risked being out-manoeuvred by the British, particularly if they do negotiate a softish Brexit that results in even limited access to the single market. Already Ruth Davidson has tried to claim ownership of this position for the Scottish Tories. There was, and still is, an opportunity for the SNP and the independence movement to position themselves as more emphatic supporters of EU membership. That, after all is what the Scottish electorate voted for in the EU referendum, even though the British EU ‘debate’ was dismal, it was a debate (at least in England) that was largely about immigration in which the EU, its institutions, its people, its future trajectory and Britain’s place in that were, at best, incidental.

    Scotland should be promoting itself as aspiring to be part of a larger union and a larger solidarity between nations, particularly in contrast to the increasingly aggressive British nationalism that will follow Brexit. On so many issues that are most relevant to nations in the twenty-first century – climate change, renewable energy, human rights, workers rights, co-operation and solidarity between nations – EU membership offers Scotland opportunities not only to express its support for these issues but, more importantly, to participate in their implementation and development in ways that are impossible to envisage in an increasingly insular and isolationist post-Brexit Britain. One of the benefits of independence would be that Scotland could surely have a mature and informed debate about the EU free from the hysterical Euroscepticism that has contaminated politics in England over the last 30 years.

    One of the perverse positives to come out of this general election is that no-one will underestimate the Scottish Tories again. It’s true that Ruth Davidson is very much a teflon Tory, promoting a benign form of cheeky-chappy Conservatism whilst deflecting attention away from her party’s pernicious policies. In this general election campaign, it can accurately be said of Ruth Davidson that never before has a political ‘leader’ gained so much by saying so little about her party’s policies. That will surely change from now on and it’s difficult to see how the Scottish Tories can improve on their present position, as Ruth Davidson is put on the defensive and given the precarious position of Theresa May and this Tory government at Westminster.

    One final point worth noting about the SNP, to add to Alan Bissett’s point about keeping a sense of perspective about this result is that, as recently as the 2010 British general election, the SNP won a total of 491,000 votes. Only seven years later in this general election, the SNP could afford to lose almost half a million votes and still win the election with a landslide victory in terms of seats. That, notwithstanding the obvious difficulties for the SNP in a number of the it still holds, is a testament to the electoral resilience of the SNP, and this, let’s remind ourselves once again, in a British general election.

    Reply

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