Gravedigger? Or Saviour?


Jim ‘Not a Unionist’ Murphy

By Gordon Guthrie @gordonguthrie

Is He The Gravedigger?

A popular meme among the ’45 leaning Twitter crowd. But to realistically address it, there needs to be an assessment of the current state of the Scottish Labour.
Where Stands Scottish Labour?

Clearly it’s not in its grave — it is the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament and has just been the biggest member on the winning side of the Referendum.

But Scottish Labour is looking more than a bit peelie wallie at the moment. To the outsider, Scottish Labour seems punch drunk.

The ‘07 election was seen as an aberation by Labour insiders — I remember being told by a Labour pal and former MSP that the SNP would be out by Xmas. The ‘10 Westminster election seemed to confirm that Labour had just lent some voters to the SNP for Westminster — and all was basically well.

Indeed the SNP had been lucky to win in ‘07— the fatal ballot paper (ironically approved by Wee Duggie Alexander) effectively eliminated the 2nd-vote-only parties — a point little appreciated.

But Labour and the SNP went into the local elections held on the same day ’07 with 509 and 181 councillors respectively — they came out with 348 and 363 — in 2012 the gap widened to 394 and 425 — and critically these councillors were all over Scotland and no longer coralled up in the SNP ‘heartlands’.

Labour went into ’11 with what appeared to be a commanding poll lead. Actually the underlying figures were terrible. Alex Salmond was seen as a more credible FM than Iain Gray among Labour voters, the SNP trust figures generally were strong — the voters thought the Holyrood Goverment was doing a good job (by impressive margins). The headline poll figure tracked the UK opinion poll ratings and coverage of Westminster and unwound during the election proper. The result struck Labour like a bomb — and the SNP’s slim majority put the referendum on the table.

Confident (and as it turns out, correct this time) that its opinion polling was good on #IndyRef it plunged into the Referendum Campaign calculating that victory would put Scottish Labour in pole position to regain its rightful place in Scottish politics. If you had to summarise Scottish Labour in a single word, rightful would be it — entitlement made flesh.

But now after a clear victory in the Referendum it finds itself channelling Alan Cochrane: “We won! Didnt we?”.

They Won? Didn’t They?

It appears that there is a great paradox in Scottish politics (winning losers Vs losing winners)— but there really isn’t. The present circumstances can be explained by three things.

Firstly, the 3-fold nature of the 45 is:

  • 45% gets you a narrow majority in a de Honda split seat/list parliament like Holyrood
  • 45% gets you a solid defeat in a binary referendum like the #IndyRef
  • 45% gets you strong government under the intentionally lethal First-Past-The-Post system used at Westminster (in a 4 party election)

Secondly, the Yes campaign spent 2 years encouraging, engaging and inspiring its voters and building a massive, inclusive campaigning and cultural infrastructure — and its voters are disappointed by the outcome but ambitious, engaged and enthused.

Conversely, the No campaign spent the first year trying to dampen the campaign (as had worked so successfully in the AV Referendum) by, in Willie Whitelaw’s words, going round and round the country stirring up apathy —  not responding to speaker requests being the biggest example. It then spent the last 6 months scaring the living bejesus out of its voters preaching the 4 black gospels of war, famine, death and pestilence.

Its voters are relieved by the outcome, but not inspired or enthused — hence the reason Scottish Labour has membership figures so poor that the voting figures in the leadership election had to be supressed.

Thirdly, the Yes coalition was a coalition of 85% of the SNP’s core voters, 40% of Labour’s and a smattering of Tories, Liberals and smaller parties. The No coalition only includes 60% of Labour’s core voters — but only if you define core voters as people who vote Labour at Westminster.

Given that the Labour Party has now ‘lent’ the SNP a big chunk of its voters 7 times (Holyrood ’07 and ’11, local elections ’07 and ‘12, European elections ’09 and ’12 and the IndyRef) and got them back once (Westminster ‘10) — it might be argued that Labour’s Westminster vote used to consist of its core vote plus a 1/3 of the SNP’s voters on loan. Oops.

To the outsider it appears that Scottish Labour has never had a proper post-mortem on either ’07 or ’11 — and it is not clear that there will be time for anyone to have an IndyRef post-mortem before May. These repeated lacunae now look rather serious.

So what charges are people laying against Jim Murphy and can they be held up?

  • he’s the most prominent Blairite in Scotland —an assasin in the much loved Labour nest
  • he plotted to replace Johan Lamont and undermined her in the Indyref campaign damaging the party
  • he has some responsibility for the failure of Labour to be able to capitalise on their victory

Charge 1 — The Blairite Assassin

No jury would find Jim Murphy Not Guilty on a charge of being a Blairite — but that’s not the charge: the charge is that the Blairites corrupted Scottish Labour.

There’s very little evidence of it, though. The Scottish Labour Party was never ‘Blairised’ in any significant way. Run through the Leaders: Dewar, Macleish, McConnell, Alexander, Gray, Lamont. Brownites, Scottish Labour Actionites, a ‘Smithite’, thrawn Feminists — Blairites are most conspicuous by their absense. All of them worked with your bog-standard Blairites: Reid, Murphy, McKenna — but the Labour Party in Scotland was largely left to itself — and the Scottish Labour Group at Holyrood voted for the Iraq War — with a very few honourable exceptions.

It is also important to separate out the two components of Blairism — the personality cult aspect, and the transformation of centre-left politics which that took advantage of.

The 1948 Labour Party nationalised the commanding heights of industry, Steel, Coal, Railways, Electricity as they understood it, the very sinews of war. By the time the Berlin Wall fell that class of ‘socialism’ was a dead as a doornail. The commanding heights of industry now are Amazon, Google, Apple and a host of other technology, computing and electronics companies.

Nobody, nobody, in Scotland, from RIC and the SSP, through the SNP and Labour argues that these commanding heights should be brought under workers control by being nationalised.

This substantive political issue was what Blairism-the-movement (the ‘modernisers’ as was) was about. And it won the battle in the Labour Party convincingly in Scotland and across the UK — and was supported more strongly among ordinary party members than in the Trade Unions or MPs.

Blairism-the-leadership-cult (hello John McTernan! waves) profited mightly from it. All the other stuff (NHS reformarama, management gobbledegook, invading Iraq) was an attempt to cobble together a new centre for a movement that (like the rest of the 2nd international parties) had lost their raison d’être.

One of the problems that the Labour Party has though, is that two Blairisms are conflated. The political moment of the modernisation of the Left brought huge numbers of people into politics. If you were to simply taking Blairism-the-leadership-cult on tour again like an 80’s revival band it would be entirely hollow.

But given that the Labour MP with the most votes under his belt for that period was Jim Murphy — the fluke winner of a safe Tory seat — it is quite possible to argue Scottish Labour might have benefited from more of his style of Blairism.

Verdict: Not Guilty

Charge 2 — The Plotter

Hard to say from an outsiders perspective. The Scottish Labour Party does not traditionally have a reputation for conviviality in the conventional sense. Murphy did serve on the commission which recommended more powers for the Scottish Labour Party leader — though that doesn’t appear to have been delivered on.

However, given the dire state of the Scottish Labour Party since the 2011 decapitation, the charge should probably be why didn’t he plot sooner?

Anyway Harrington’s chestnut will also be taken into consideration by the court of history:

Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

Verdict: Balance of probability in a civil court case, not proven in a criminal one

Charge 3 — Murphy has responsiblity for the tenor and techniques of the No campaign

This is really a charge of common purpose. The Blairites (of whom Jim Murphy was one) won 3 smashing election victories (as Mr Rawnsley had occasion to point out the other week):

Tony Blair’s Parliamentary Majorities

The underlying picture is not quite so clear cut though, turnout crashed over the period between ’97 and ’10 — and the winning parties share of the vote fell as well (not by as much).

Political parties have two overwhelming imperatives:

  • to dominate the centre ground in politics and use that pluralities to get into Government
  • to move the centre ground in politics in the direction of their underlying ethos

New Labour ditched the old ethos of workers control, but struggled to replace it with another one. This isn’t anyone’s fault in particular, the old 2nd International world is as politically dead as the Jacobins — the new world is not yet born.

But the practical consequences have been the wholesale adoption of triangulation — moving to the centre because that’s how you win elections.

Triangulation brings a couple of problems. One is that your opponents can move the centre of the debate in their direction — as the SNP has been doing in Scotland, and UKIP quite differently in England. The other is that turnout tends to fall, or can be made to fall.

The techniques and approach of the No campaign, with its decision to drive a No vote on fear and not on a positive vision of the Union draw on the established New Labour election techniques.

When I joined the SNP in 2002 as a Millbank Centre trained hood, I was asked to review the SNP’s electoral computing stuff and drew up the Electoral Systems Review for Peter Murrell.

Several hundred pages of a minutely detailed Standard Operating Model for a political party and the associated computing and research infrastructure required to run it

The ambition was to put in place a 5 year plan to make the SNP the most successful campaigning political party in the English speaking world. (English speaking because the voter-contact led campaigning model is only really used in countries that haven’t been under the fascist or communist jackboot.) 3 inches thick in many volumes, it made hundreds of recommendations.

Needless to say it was heavily influenced by Labour’s ’97 campaigning approach and the work I did on the replacement of the venerable PCElpack with Labour.Contact— although I did a full literature review and extensively examined the Howard Dean primary campiagn for the Democratic nomination — a well that Obama later drew on for his ’08 election.

Looking back on the fantastic job that Peter Murrell and the unsung team at SNP HQ have done on building the modern party, it is intresting to see where they junked some of the key recommendations, techniques and approaches that are still in use by the Labour Party and the No campaign.

Much as I would like to, I am not about to flash the SNP’s petticoats in a public forum. Rather than going into the nitty-gritty, let me just say that the fact that the No campaign ran on pretty straight New Labour lines is one of the reasons it failed to get the victory boost and renewal that it expected to get from the IndyRef. Take my word for it.

Verdict: Guilty under common purpose

The Saviour?

So is Gentelman Jim to be the Saviour of Scottish Labour?

The man for the job

Murphy’s main claim to be the man for the job is that he stepped up to the oche.

When the No campaign was trying to avoid the maelstrom of Indyref he took the fight to the enemy. Gordon Brown relied on the tried and trust TV management techniques of speaking in front of curated made-for-telly audiences but Murphy went out and spoke to voters, come one, come all.

Sidelined by London for being David Milliband’s campaign manager and by Holyrood for being Jim Murphy he made the No campaign his own.

When the facts change, I change my opinions, what do you do?

Everyone agrees that IndyRef has changed the facts of Scottish politics utterly, the SNP is now demanding stronger devolution, how can Labour not change?

The creation of a Scottish Parliament created the imperative for the transformation of the Scottish Labour Party.

The pressure to change has been building within the Holyrood wing since the early days of the Parliament. Whatever the wrongs and rights of Murphy’s role in the Holyrood Vs Westminster sniping that has been endemic in Scottish Labour — he clearly has grasped the necessity of change now and is making it happen in a way that Wendy Alexander or Johan Lamont didn’t or couldn’t.

Cathal Goulding of the old ‘Official’ IRA had a famous quip about the Provisional’s Gerry Adams and the Real IRA’s Ruiarí Ó Brádaigh:

“We were right too soon, Gerry Adams was right too late and Ruiarí Ó Brádaigh will never be fuckin right”

Poor Murdo Fraser takes the rôle of Cathal Goulding in Scottish Politics. If his plan to create a separate Scottish Bavarian-style CSU from the ashes of the Conservatives had come about he would have made merry hay during the IndyRef. (I personally would stick Ian Davidson down as the Ó Brádaigh figure but that’s just me). The question remains is Jim Murphy right too late?

Murphy has to appeal to Yes voters to come home to avoid a total wipeout in May— and his new team are hastily repositioning themselves to do that. But had Labour been a bit wiser during the referendum and learnt from Harold Wilson things could be very different.

Wilson allowed the Labour Party to campaign on both sides of the EEC Referendum and avoided a damaging split. If Labour had embraced the IndyRef debates positively and recognised that its voters straddled the question — they would have not only gained more members and renewal from the No side of the debate — but would also be in a position to embrace and bring in Yes activists of a Labourist and anti-SNP bent — thousands of whom are now in RIC and the SSP (even reluctantly in the SNP).

It is easy to dismiss them as crackpot Trotskyists, but that is a mistake. They did turn out 1,000 people to do a mass canvas at a time and have considerably political maturity and skills. Once upon a time the Labour Party was good at taming and maturing the mad but promising Trot, as former RCPer Jim Murphy and ex-IMG Alisdair Darling both well know: youthful moon-howlers the pair.

Some of the criticism of Murphy’s about-face are a not so subtle call for unconditional surrender, which might be emotionally satisfying but bears no relation to politics.

Where Stands Scottish Labour Now?

Murphy’s biggest problem remains time.

The SNP organisational renewal began the weekend after the SNP conference in ‘02 — with fieldwork and interviews running up to the election in May, literature review thereafter and the final report being delivered in the autumn. The practice run began in the autumn of ‘04 in Linlithgow where I was the SNP candidate for the ’05 Westminsters. The main implementation began with the Cathcart and Livingston by-elections that summer, coming to full fruit in ‘07. Even then it took another 4 years to hit the sweet spot properly.

By contrast, Scottish Labour has to fight a 50+ seat election — when it hasn’t fought more than a dozen seats at a time for nearly 20 years or longer — in 4 months time. But luckily for Jim one of those 12 seats was always Eastwood, so he actually knows what a fighting constituency looks like, unlike many of his colleagues.

Labour’s back office and training function remains weak and underpowered.

As a party it has a propensity for tin-eared shows of strength that actually project weakness — think Gordon Brown continuing to seek nominations for the Leadership contest after there were no longer enough free MPs to nominate a challenger, or the ludicrous Imperial March in Glasgow where a Procession Of The Payroll was supposed to counter the (admittedly somewhat insane) exuberant mass politics of the IndyRef and duly ended up a YouTube sensation with 468,550 views.

Wee Dougie Alexander’s trumpeting of his Obama-guru is another such. Labour fights elections every year, it should be able to grow its own expertise — depending on buying in talent is pitiful, especially when they are not very good. The point about American politics is that there are a lot of Americans.

So Obama had 300,000 volunteers in his campaign? Rescaled to the UK that’s 50,000, to Scotland its less than 5,000. RIC turned out 1,000 people at a single place at a time. And I’m sure the allocation of gurudom to the now peculiarly Scottish Westminster election is a distinctly low priority — it would appear that Team Murphy is going it alone.

Murphy’s campaign shows all the signs of improvising under pressure — the pledge of 1,000 more nurses than the SNP clearly signals we have reached peak pledge.

The re-rewrite of Clause 4 was brilliantly inspired — basically its a cover-version where everyone already knows the words — but it brings its own problems.

The last Clause 4 debate came after half a decade of slog — with this sudden one the SNP will be banging on him U-turning — a charge that will resonate with many of his new target voters — Yesser’s. And quite rightly too (if any one in the broadcast media needs a rent-a-quote on the subject you have my contact details. Synthetic outrage a speciality).

Secretly of course, the wise nationalists know that the ‘Jocking’ of the other Scottish parties is a key ratchet on the road to independence.

Its also clear that the election campaign will be made with what is to hand — telephone canvass returns from the IndyRef cut with Mosaic classifications of social class and a traditional Labour Media grid. Scottish Labour will struggle with money and manpower but a small team can run a good grid if they know what they’re about (and they do).

SNPer’s whinging on Twitter about how “he’s never off the telly” better get used to it. His team already have a full grid to May, with announcements, schemes and plans to get him in the Sunday papers and on the politics shows. The SNP really needs to raise its game and go toe-to-toe on it.

Never forget that the telly and the papers have space to fill under a hard deadline, and if you can reliably give them something of interest they will use it. The answer is a crisp and strategic media team not droning about MSM on your blog.

But his problems won’t end in May. Off the back of that it goes straight into the Holyrood election campaign, and he has to break the stranglehold his duff Holyrood team have on the list seats, but that is another story altogether.

Comments (66)

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  1. jacquescoleman says:

    “The SNP really needs to raise its game and go toe-to-toe on it.”

    That says all that needs to be said about the above piece. The SNP were afraid to go toe to toe with the NO Indy campaign for fear of being labelled anti-English. Well let’s hope it has learned a lesson from that. We need a full blooded no holds barred campaign from the SNP for GE 2015. If it has to be anti-English so be it. They are anti-Scots.

    1. Gordon Guthrie says:

      Mince. Toe-to-toe does not mean going anti-English it. That is not what I meant in the article at all.

      1. I don’t think many of us thought you did!

      2. jacquescoleman says:

        Mince returned. I didn’t say your article meant going anti-English. I said it. And perhaps I should heve been more careful in my phrasing. My intended meaning was…if the SNP is accused of being anti-English so be it. They will accuse us of being so anyway.

        Whatever, we need a vigorous no holds barred campaign from the SNP against Westminster and all it stands for.

  2. bowanarrow says:

    the SNP or the Scottish people are not, and never will be, “anti english”, the Scottish people are anti-austerity and anti-westminster.

    1. Darien says:

      In contrast, English people appear to be pro-austerity and pro-Westminster – and what they want, Scotland gets. That includes the half million English folk in Scotland who voted No in order to thwart Scotland’s nationhood. How do you square that circle?

      1. Jim says:

        A significant chunk of rUK voted Yes. It was particularly strong in Irish communities, I really hope that does not mean we will have a 19th century anti-Irish pogrom. There’s no advantage in alienating a large number of people that support Scottish independence in the English community in Scotland. It’s about convincing more people regardless of their ethnic background and with those who will engage!

      2. Please provide your source for this statistic as, as far as I am aware, a very significant proportion of the 400,000 English-born voters backed independence.

      3. Calzo says:

        English born folk living in Scotland are residents of this country and have every bit as much a say in how it should be governed. This is the sort of damaging, narrow mind-set that put so many in the middle ground off the Yes campaign. You sound exactly like the ‘Kippers.

        Most polls I saw had the English born vote on 30-35% and given that these folks I would guess disproportionately fall into the older categories who also voted no overwhelmingly then to blame the English for defeat is not only absurd but an affront to the modern, inclusive democracy most of us were advocating.

      4. Crubagan says:

        @HanR – the 2011 Census has residents born elsewhere in the UK at 10% of the Scottish population (9% England, 0.7% NI, 0.3% Wales). Assuming (!) that the same proprtion were eligible to vote and actually did – then that would give 361,991 votes.

        Assuming (!) that the YouGov figures are robust, that would give 267,873 votes for No coming from this group. But the gap between Yes and No was 383,937 votes. I think if that 10% had voted 50:50 for Yes:No, rather than 26:74 then the final count would have been 1,798,954 for Yes, 1,820,931 for No. So closer but the same result.

      5. jacquescoleman says:

        To Calzo. The first para of your comment is absolute nonsense. And the second part is wrong. Only around 23% of English in Scotland voted YES (and very welcome they are too). But 73% of them voted NO.

      6. jacquescoleman says:

        My post to Calzo. 73% should be 77%. And figures are from Ashcroft’s post indy poll.

    2. Crubagan says:

      @HanR – the YouGov polling (where they contacted respondents both before and after they had voted) had:
      born in Scotland respondents – 49% Yes, 51% No and born elsewhere in the UK respondents as 26% Yes 74% No.

      (Non-UK birthplace respondents were 41% Yes, 59% No)

      1. OK, even if we take the YouGov poll as correct, that still only makes 290,000, not “half a million”. Secondly, I understand that poll contacted around 2000 people in total, so what are the chances that the English-born subsection of that total was sufficiently large to provide an accurate snapshot?

        Now, I’m prepared to accept that it may well be accurate, but this is the second time this week I have seen this kind of sweeping generalisation that it was the No-voting English that lost the referendum and as an English Yes-voter with many other English and non-Scots Yes-voting friends who has spent a great deal of time defending the Indpendence movement against accusations of “narrow nationalism” and anti-Englishness, these kinds of comments are really quite soul-destroying.

      2. Darien says:

        Your 400,000 figure is 5+ years out of date. Today the figure is easily above half million which is after all still just 10% of the total pop. You also ignore the sizeable increase in voter registrations pre-ref which gave an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of new voters to register, incl. holiday/second home owners, students and workers etc. I would say half a million is actually a conservative estimate. Pre-ref voting intentions suggested at least 80% of this group were No voters. In specific local authority areas in Scotland with sizeable English population the tendency was for a high No vote. Agree however this group was not solely responsible for thwarting Scotland’s nationhood, but it easily made up 25% of the total No vote. Dramatic rise in voter registrations was not only due to poorer Yes voters in the cities! Better Together strategy doubtless included a focus on getting people with second/holiday homes here, students etc to register and vote No.

  3. David Agnew says:

    I suspect he was sent here to die with it. He faces a daunting prospect of re-winning his MP seat on a ticket that he will resign and become an MSP. He then has to find a safe MSP seat and frankly, that looks unlikely until after the holyrood elections in 2016. This would make him “leader” of the Scottish Labour party in absentia, relying on Kezia Dugdale to stay on message until the appointed day.

    As for the clause 4 being a brilliant wheeze – He has no power to offer any such thing unless he gets the ok from Miliband. Miliband is pushing One nation labour – pooling sharing and all that. Murphy increasingly looks like a man whose mouth is writing cheques his party can’t cash. Oh, he’ll be on the telly, but once the general election gets under gear, his “I am my own man” shtick is going to cause problems for Miliband. Cameron will see the Scottish branch of the party as the means to undermine Miliband. Murphy will still be an MP and that means he answers to Miliband. I predict a shortening of Murphy’s leash at some point this year.

    The tory press which as also been treating Scottish labour with kid gloves will go on the attack. Labour have been getting fat and lazy in the last 4 years, they are ripe for savage mauling. It will start with the telegraph and go on from there.

    Interesting times.

    1. JBS says:

      As far as the savage mauling of Labour is concerned, the Telegraph has already begun. I usually think that Alan Cochrane is an idiot, but I quite like this:

  4. Let’s take these charges to the English legal system and look at the result, there is no “not proven” verdict that I am aware of therefore ?

  5. lavenderlaneguesthouse says:

    Now let’s try Mr. Murphy under the English legal system where there is no “not proven” verdict, therefore? Seriously though, Mr. Murphy is still tied to Millebands apron strings and will be reigned in no matter how much he denies his Unionist affiliation. Mr. Murphy doth protest too much, methinks. His credibility is lower than street level.

  6. Jim_Morrison says:

    “Its also clear that the election campaign will be made with what is to hand — telephone canvass returns from the IndyRef cut with Mosaic classifications of social class and a traditional Labour Media grid. Scottish Labour will struggle with money and manpower but a small team can run a good grid if they know what they’re about (and they do).”

    I do not get that impression at all. Okay, they want to keep Murphy in the media spotlight but it is far from clear what Labour are about. I am not sure they know. They seem to want power. I hear some soundbites and it is obvious who their target voter is. I get no clear message from Labour. “Patriotic Scottish Party”, “I’m not a Unionist, I’m a trade unionist” (the SNP have more Trade Union members in Scotland, the major unions hated Murphy), “1,000 extra nurses”, “Don’t send mothers to jail”. These are just the thoughts of Murphy, he’s been around for five weeks.

    You say that the bloggers can’t decry MSM in their blogs. Fine, but really what sort of counter do you propose? I think that type of activism is essential, the question is not just about Scotland, but the UK. There is a control of the press by power and vested interests (which clearly back people like Murphy over true anti-establishment people (like those in the SNP, Greens, SSP and even Findlay)). Okay the SNP might be able to counter it a bit, but this problem plagues Scotland, Britain and America.

    Finally, don’t underestimate the wealth standing behind Murphy. But, for god’s sake, don’t overestimate Murphy. Foundation Hospitals, Iraq, Tuition fees. Even if he manages to confuse the public and Catholic voters in the west of Scotland, he will be an unmitigated disaster as First Minister.

    1. gordonguthrie says:

      You say it is not clear what they are about. Let me explain again.

      1/3 of Labour voters voted Yes. Jim Murphy is seeking to give them permission to vote Labour. That’s it.

      Moaning about the MSM isn’t the answer. Murphy gets superior coverage in the press because he has a better, more focussed press team than the other parties. The way to deal with that is for the SNP (and other parties) to raise their game.

      They can think though what Murphy is likely to do, reap counter quotations from his public political history and try and nail the charge of hypocrisy on him. Straight forward, normal politics. Bloggers can do it as well. But going “wah, wah mainstream media” just makes you look like a whinny loser.

    2. Brian Fleming says:

      would be…….not will be, please.

  7. bellacaledonia says:

    ‘RIC turned out 1,000 people at a single place at a time’ – actually it was 3000

    1. That makes the point even stronger, then.

  8. aranciaca says:

    Very interesting article; rare for so much of the ‘dark arts’ of politics to be revealed.

    My impression of the message: under Mr Murphy’s leadership, the Labour Party can probably salvage many Scottish seats in the 2015 (UK) general election – simply by virtue of an effective communication strategy. Implicitly, it puts Labour in Scotland in a very similar position to Labour in Britain in 1987.

    Then Jim Murphy is in much the same position as Neil Kinnock. Capable of turning the party towards power, but lacking the machinery – or the wide trust – necessary to achieve it. John McTernan as Peter Mandelson? He lacks the subtlety, surely.

    This suggests that the 2016 (Scottish) election could almost be won by the SNP by the early autumn. The First Minister’s vision and her Deputy’s competence will ensure that the party is able to place a very attractive proposition before the electorate. Were the Labour Party were to lose perhaps half of its seats, then there will be months of recrimination: imagine Ian Davidson relieved of the need to retain a veneer of civility … and that is time that Mr Murphy, still tied to some extent to his preferred habitat in Westminster, cannot afford if he is to do more than fight a Potemkin campaign in 2016.

  9. Brian Powell says:

    So, why is Gordon Guthrie pointing out to Labour what they need to do to win?

    1. Calzo says:

      He’s pointing out despite the fact they look a shambles from the outside, they are still a political force that already know how they are going to fight the next 2 years. He is warning people of this so that they are prepared to combat it.

  10. jivetoaster says:

    On Charge 2, you have ignored the obvious reason why Murphy didn’t strike sooner: he was still a ‘contender’ at Westminster. His demotion from Defence to DfID didn’t come until October 2013.

    1. Frank M says:

      I agree. Murthy isn’t interested in Scotland. He is a careerist.
      Labour are trying to fool their traditional voters again.
      “If you fool me once, shame on you. If you fool me twice, then shame on me”.

  11. Crubagan says:

    “Given that the Labour Party has now ‘lent’ the SNP a big chunk of its voters 7 times (Holyrood ’07 and ’11, local elections ’07 and ‘12, European elections ’09 and ’12 and the IndyRef) and got them back once (Westminster ‘10) — it might be argued that Labour’s Westminster vote used to consist of its core vote plus a 1/3 of the SNP’s voters on loan. Oops.”

    You’ve left out the most recent election results – the 2014 Euro elections – where Labour and UKIP both increased their share of the vote by 5%. Labour to 26% of the vote, still behind the SNP holding steady at 29%.

    (UKIP did well with 10% of the vote and got a seat, but the Tories are still ahead of them at 17%).

    I’d say, that apart from party members, people have their own minds and will vote for the parties as they think best at that time – no-one owns them.

  12. Big Jock says:

    So we are agreeing it was other UK residents that lost the vote for yes. We are also agreeing that the majority of other UK residents are from England. This is a group which dispraportionately voted no by 70%!. These are the facts. The group is a real problem for us going forward. It doesn’t mean they are the reason we got a no vote. But they are part of it. Had 57% of Scots voted yes we wouldn’t be having the discussion. However if in a tight vote of 50/50 that group could decide the fate of a nation. It’s important not to be afraid to point out facts and then look to target that group as one that needs the groundwork.

    In any case they did make a difference as they would have given a wider gap on opinion polls going into the vote. As we are aware perception of victory can alter peoples confidence and thinking. If it became the norm to be a yes voter at say 54/46 then that might have changed the actual vote on the day.

    1. Darien says:

      I agree with this. I would also say that, had I moved to work or study or live in another country and was invited to vote on that nation’s independence, I would automatically vote yes or abstain. However I would never vote to actually prevent any other nation’s right to self determination, which seems at best extremely disrespectful of the host nation and indigenous people. Yet this is what the vast majority of said group did to Scotland. Scots need to understand this issue as it does appear to have been a decisive factor in the referendum outcome, and may become more significant in future. Scope for significant increases in said specific voter group registrations also suggests the ref outcome could be influenced, perhaps by as much as 5%, or more – certainly that would have been decisive in this case.

      1. Doon the A701 says:

        You are conveniently forgetting that many Scots also feel British. Equally many British non-Scots living here do not believe they are living in a foreign country – just another part of the UK, enjoying equal rights wherever they live. Of course we are the traitors and fearties that you like to call us. Not every Scot puts their Scottish identity before everything else. Beats me why some do and some don’t – maybe some of us are just not pure Celts. Possible theory: the second half of the 19th century saw Scotland’s population almost doubling from 2.8M to 4.5M. Certainly not organic Scots growth. I know in my own family in the 1850’s that one of my Perth forebears ventured south and returned with an Anglo-Saxon bride. So maybe it was in my genes to be a NO voter who did consider the alternative but didn’t think the case was strong enough? Maybe it is in your genes to vote YES regardless?

      2. Shaun says:

        We have the right to self determination. If we did not, the referendum would not have happened. You are confusing the right to self-determination with independence.

      3. Darien says:


        ‘The right of nations to self-determination …is a cardinal principle in modern international law, binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms.It states that nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference.’


        ‘National self-determination is opposed to colonialism and imperialism.’

  13. liz says:

    I agree completely that the SNP ‘needs to up it’s game’.
    Hopefully once all the new candidates are chosen we will come out of the blocks.

    The anti-English thing which ‘held them back’ – I didn’t know that – was because BT set the agenda and we spent too much time refuting what they were saying but this time that will be irrelevant as England has it’s own battle so Murphy will not be able to rely on paid activists coming up from ‘down south’.

    Milliband has probably realised he can win without the Scottish vote.

    1. Darien says:

      This debate should not be construed as ‘anti-English’; it is not. It is simply important to understand that the majority of English people living in Scotland tend to have limited interest or passion for Scotland’s independence and nationhood. However, for said group, voting to prevent Scotland’s nationhood could perhaps be considered ‘anti-Scots’.

  14. Big Jock says:

    It’s a strange thing in Scotland Liz. If I meet someone and I don’t know their background and hear an Irish , Welsh or French accent. I will comfortably ask them where they originally come from. With an English person the subject would not be approached as there is an uncomfortable feeling attached. Why is that? Are the English uncomfortable with being English. Are we as Scots afraid of upsetting their sensibilities. We should be bolder and just speak to them as if any other nationality and not worry so much about it. This is a media driven agenda which creates the idea that the English are scared of who they are or where they come from.

    1. Bernicia says:

      Right, so now the English are to blame for sensing Scottish hostility towards them? The very fact you state that the English are reluctant to mention their background suggests there is a problem (quite a deep rooted one) with anti English prejudice in Scotland, where the indivudual and culture is conflated with everything that’s bad.

      1. Bernicia says:

        Incidently, a lot of secular Jews/ Muslims also play down their background. Some people are sophisticated enough to realise that what you are born into does not necessarily define you absolutely. Others are less sophistcated so need the mythologised external narrative to boost either their weak sense self or to service their pathalogical egoism which finds greatest expressin in demonising others.

    2. I cannot speak for all English residents of Scotland, but for myself, this is how I feel:

      My (French, now) husband and I were living in Paris and wanted to move to the UK. Having experienced the downsides of living in a capital city, we ruled out London as an option and as my sister had been living in Glasgow for over 10 years and we had enjoyed visiting her we decided to move here and try it for a year. 10 years and 3 kids later, we are still here, love the country and (most of) the people and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

      Most of the time, I just don’t particularly consider “English” as part of my identity, partly because I am of mixed heritage and partly because I strongly feel a part of this place and as though I belong to it. Whether or not I feel awkward with my “Englishness” being brought up depends entirely on the context, but any discomfort (on my part) arises because I identify so much with Scots and Scotland that it jars to be cast (whether intentionally or not) in the role of “other”.

      Just as Scots are not a homogeneous people, neither are the English. I just wish that the minority of Scots who do express anti-English sentiments would consider that “outsiders” have actively chosen to make Scotland their home and done so for positive reasons and are not here solely through an accident of birth. Incidentally, I do have Scottish blood through my grandfather’s side of the family (indeed my mother was born in Perth and only moved to England in her teens), however, I rarely mention it as I identify with Scotland much more through my experience and relationship with the place, people and shared values than through blood and heritage.

      Anyway, this was possibly just a load of waffle, but I felt the need to express my viewpoint and I would hazard it is also how many other “English Scots” feel. For the record, out of the many English, EU and Commonwealth residents I know, not one supported a No vote whereas I’d say half of my Scottish friends and acquaintances did. I feel if we are ever to achieve a yes vote in the future, we need to be concentrating on the real practicalities and issues involved in going it alone and less hung up on identity.

      1. Darien says:

        The 80% propensity to vote No figure for said group fits fairly well with my own personal ‘network’. But I agree that Scots voting against their own nationhood is an oddity, as recently discussed on this site from a psychological perspective. The matter is also historically far wider for many Scots in terms of the propensity for said group to have disproportionately penetrated Scotland’s meritocracy and management/professional classes.

      2. Bernicia says:

        HanR, Not waffle at all but very considered.

        I’ve got a foot on both sides of the border, but have spent most of my life this side/ but have other close family who didn’t – divorced parents. What angers me is the exceptionalism of it. Had this identification of voting patterns been written about the % of black people/ Catholics/ Pakistani/ Italian/ Polish it would have been deemed racist. But where the English are concerned there’s an element of fair game (lets remind ourselves that the founder of this site openly called for a ‘social audit’ on English born in prominent areas of Scottish life – still hasn’t apologised, just nodded and agreed it was a tad fascistic). Also your point about not recognising the diversity of the English and the multiple different identites that constitute the English – many of whom understand the Scottish sentiment better than they do other types of English sentiment (especially class). And I feel the same way about Scotland incidentally. The central West of Scotland/ Glasgow ‘cultural/ political elite establishment’ dominate the entire country’s sense of self and assume they have a right too – I think it was Billy Collony who said ‘The thing I can’t stand about nationalists is that they think they own the fucking place’. a) It’s automatically left wing – even if I happen to agree with it b) Gaelic/ Celtic(often artificially) in order to create distance from England – with a dissmissing of the considerable Anglo culture and history in the East. Endless ‘othering’ as aparently langague and culture stops at the Tweed and there is no overlap. (I’ve always though the east west divide was more important than North South one incidently.) c) Predicated on the Scotland was ‘colonised’ poor wee us myth.

        You may have moved here in later life but I have freinds who grew up English in Scotland and although it can be great in some regards, it can also be horrible when you are always the enemy, or the tolerated or patronised (and you are often treated differently to visitors and late comers whoare smiled at as it is implicit that they are different and their identity is solidly English – But for others (who for all intents are Scots) it gets tiring after a while and pragmatism and understanding becomes jaded. Especially when this is equally your home and you have nowhere else to go and you have the same memories, influences and conditioning and same love of the landscape, people (possibly more) smells, the sounds as any other Scot – like all sons and daughters of immigrants, there is always a sense of dislocation. A school friend of mine pure ‘English’ once said he understood why young Muslims get radicalised when all they hear is negativity towards their culture and background and are blamed for things they have no control over but at the same time love the country they call home (even if it isn’t in their blood). It’s a massive rejection and it hurts and causes anger.

        And he wasn’t simply talking about football and obvious outlets of patriotism which is actually fine, but the endless quiet abuse, the job you didn’t get, the chippy bus driver or barman, the teacher who marks you down because she/ he has nationalist sympathies and has never been outside of Kirkaldy sitting in history class yet again learning about William Wallace or the Bruce and how evil the English are, the change/ thickening in accents to make you feel like an outsider in the palyground, the pubs where you feel threatened, the nonsense assumptions that you are English and posh and own a holiday home, the sheer ignorance of the depth and diversity of English culture (I remember in the indyref, that gobby novelist bloke who seemed to be everywhere? bleating on about how English culture was pretty much ‘Four weddings and a funeral’ and this was alien to Scottish culture which was working class ‘trainspotting’ etc ‘some people hate the English…yaaaaawwwwnnn. Absolute confirmation bias for prejudice – unless he thinks Alexander Macall Smith is English and Jimmy Macgovern is Scottish. The feeling that you can’t openly speak your mind unless it accords with the ‘collective thinking’ If you do then you get paraded around like a captured prisoner denoucing your complicated identity as the enemy! Look we aren’t anti English, we have one here. (I reference the opening chapters of Indy darling Riddoch Blossom as an example)

        And what really pisses me off is that after decades of Scottish nationalism being fundamentally predicated on Anti-English sentiment and conflating anything bad with ‘the establishment’ as English, all of a sudden it has dissapeared, just like that – 80 years of unjustified animosity no longer exists – pat the English among us on the head and wave it all away? Really? Now of course it’s civic nationalism – why? Is it because this nationalism is so inclusive and cuddly and welcoming, or is it because it is expedient for the ends of independence in a critical world. The only reason the malign aspects of Scottish nationalism have been surpressed is because it suits to the malign aspects to surpress it. The main reason being the 800 000 Scots born voters in rUK who would have voted No had they been included + the look at us aren’t we nice (lets not forget the really dodgy associations with Ultra nationalists from Belgium and elsewhere in Europe who were at most of the Yes rallies. And do not think for a second that the nationalists would not have changed the rules to ‘only those born here’ if they had thought it was too there advantage, just as the rhetoric began to slip as the economic case for indy collapsed and they leant back on the ‘nasty’ old school stuff. Just as the mask now slips and it is about plain nationalism, not social justice as any question relating to the reality of an indy scotland being more socially just is completely avoided (SNP aren’t neo liberal, despite all the evidence, yayaya).

        And think on this. Imagine Scotland had voted Yes and things turned nasty with England, currency problems, debt burden share, the collapse in oil price, the potential of Northern Irish tension, the refusal to allow dual citizenship, the vetoing of Scottish accession to the EU, the lowering of corp tax to banjax Scottish low corp tax ( a gift to the Torries) the moving of businesses, growing unemployment, public expenditure cuts, increasedimmigration due to demographics….How confident are you that this ‘civic nationalism’ would remain well ‘civic’?

        Incidently I feel the same about English (anti Scot) feeling.

      3. JBS says:

        ‘Billy Collony’, Bernicia? That would be a good professional name for you to use when Mike Smalls finally gets round to offering you the job as Bella Caledonia court jester.

      4. Frank M says:

        Thank you for that HanR. It is not waffle at all and I, for one, am glad you wrote it.

      5. Frank M says:

        On the other hand Bernicia, your comments are a rant. Who is Billy Collony as a matter of interest? Or is this a Freudian slip?

  15. Dan Huil says:

    I don’t mind Murphy filling the TV screens. I believe the majority of people hold negative views about him because of his aggressive behaviour during the referendum. More coverage will only exacerbate those feelings. For the same reason I hope John McTernan gets TV coverage too.

  16. florian albert says:

    It is difficult to understand why Gordon Guthrie describes Jim Murphy as the ‘fluke winner of a safe Tory seat.’ After all, the Tories were wiped out in Scotland in the 1997 general election.
    The significance of Murphy’s victory, like Sam Galbraith’s in a similar constituency to the north of Glasgow was that it demonstrated SLAB’s success at winning in prosperous areas as much as deprived areas.
    We now know that this led to complacency, over-confidence and nemesis in 2011 but, in 1997, such a humiliation appeared unthinkable.

  17. Clootie says:

    A well written thought provoking article – thank you.

  18. jeansjacques says:

    The electoral mechanics are all very well, but SLAB is what it is, a centre right reactionary party that
    appeals to 20-25% of the Scottish Electorate. It now finds itself with the Conservatives and LibDems
    in competing for an ever diminishing reactionay middle class vote.

    To sell itself to the centre-left in Scotland it needs more than repackaging, ultimately it would need to
    become independent of London Labour (irony intended).

  19. Political Tourist says:

    I believe certain Americans would call my neighbours and me “white trash”.
    Living in theory a safe Labour i had received a Christmas card from my MP and have had three leaflets from SLAB since September, they also phoned me this week.
    I voted away from Labour more than a decade ago firstly to the SSP then the SNP when the SSP ate each other.
    Btw, i haven’t received one leaflet, crimbo card or phone call from the SNP since the Euro elections.
    Is the SNP skint after the referendum?

  20. big jock says:

    Bernicia I think the problem is that as soon as anything is mentioned about the English your PC red mist comes down. Who is blaming anyone? I am stating some facts about the sensitive nature of being English in Scotland. I don’t give two hoots where people are from. I just wish the English and people like yourself could talk about things without you throwing accusations around. Whether you like it or not there is an uncommfortableness with English and Scots. Not so with other nationalities. I am simply bringing up something that we all feel from time to time. The uncomfortable nature stems from knee jerk base reactions from the likes of yourself. Your over zealous haste to stigmitise and berate anyone who mentions the English in Scotland is what causes the problem. How can we have any sort of discussion if your immediate reaction is to call foul and play the man and not the subject.

    We witnessed this time and again from the media. Any chance to berate and monster the yes side was used. You have innadvertantly allowed them to dictate what you can and can’t talk about. I have mentioned there is an uncomforble relationship between the English and the Scots. This is borne out in the media down south on a daily basis. They spend their time referring to us as spongers,racists,bigots etc. Yet we cannot even talk about our relationship without being told to wheesht by the likes of yourself and then bullied by the media.

    You cannot make tings better by running away and crying foul. I don’t need to give you my background to prove I am not a bigot or anti English. However I am anti establishment,left wing ,republican, Irish descent, Catholic…if that gives you a wee clue.

    1. Darien says:

      The ‘anti-English’ accusations are a red herring. The real issue for Scots is the ongoing ‘anti-Scottish’ agenda, for instance:

      – Scotland’s media is English controlled and driven, promoting Anglicisation and ‘Brit-think’
      – Scotland’s meritocracy/professional class is disproportionately English (e.g. senior management throughout public services, universities, larger corporates etc) in effect squeezing out Scots
      – England’s treatment of Scotland as a UK province/colony, not as an equal partner nation as per the 1707 union (e.g. Scotland being ‘granted’ a devolved ‘wee pretendy’ parliament, England not)
      – Scotland constantly having a Tory government thrust upon us against our will by an English electorate

  21. Bernicia says:

    As far as the GE is concerned and the MSM, one of the main problems for the SNP is that they are no longer of any use to the major media players who seek to influence policy. In the lead up to Indy ref, Alex Salmond and Murdoch were best buds, especially after Leverson, the failure News Corp to take over BskyB, and Murdoch’s anger at Cameron. Alex, seeing his chance laid out the red carpet in the hope that News International BskyB – would move north of the border, promising Corp tax cuts and reduced regulation/ special treatment like exclusive dibs on major events (The home comming in 2009 was offered.) Salmond also lobbied Jeremy Hunt on the BskyB takeover and promised to do all that he could for Murdoch…esentially the First Minister of Scotland became a servile lobbyist for a global media tycoon – after Gordon Brown had told Murdoch to piss off when he asked him to rein in Labour MP’s sitting on the committee into the inquiry (this all came out in the Leverson enquiry itself into phone hacking) Salmond claimed he acted on Murdoch’s behalf to secure jobs in Scotland, (despite there being zero evidence for this in civil service communications)…rather than it being to help the SNP – or as a thank you for the Sun switching to SNP in the 2007 election and helping them win.

    The problem the SNP have is that there is little Murdoch can gain from them anymore, as Scotland is no longer on its way to low tax/ low reg state where News Corp could get its feet under the table and run the evil empire (fox news et al) – makes you wonder how independent a SBC would have been in reality had the BBC been split in Scotland.

    (Conspiracy theory/ utter speculation alert!) This partly explains the high level of the support for better together in certain quarters. Those pissed off Slamond had been cosying up to Murdoch while Leverson was going on (JK Rowling, Andrew Neil, certain people at the BBC – other news orgs and individuals involved) – it was payback time.

    Slamond backed the wrong horse.

    1. Jim_Morrison says:

      He had no option. Trinity Mirror is Labour (Record, etc), the Guardian is Labour, and the right-wing (Mail, Telegraph)… well, they might support UKIP one of these days…

      The press is one of the most depressing things about Britain.

  22. Kenny says:

    Really interesting stuff, Gordon. Thanks a lot.

    On the English/anti-English issue – I think it’s a thorny topic in lot of ways. There is a lot of casual anti-English sentiment thrown around in Scotland, but I’ve never detected any real malice. I also know several English people (and numerous other nationalities including Americans, Canadians, Australians and Spaniards) who all voted Yes, so we certainly shouldn’t think of “them” as a homogenous group. Indeed, one friend in Liverpool remarked to “mate, I don’t even care if you’re anti-English. I’m a Scouser so I hate them too!” Having said all that, the portrayal of the Yes campaign as racist, insular and bigoted was a deliberate ploy by the No campaign (and has been a constant theme whenever the SNP has looked like it was on the rise) so we have to either find a way to refute it (almost impossible given how embedded the idea is in the English-British media) or cut through it. There’s a way in which some of it can actually be used in our favour though. We really need to hammer home, for example, how much Scotland contributes to “national” infrastructure which has no Barnett consequentials despite virtually all being spent in England, while the SG has to find money out of its own budget to pay for dualling the A9 or building the new Forth bridge. I was astonished that stuff never came up more during the campaign. Similarly, we pay for thousands of civil servants in London on London salaries. As soon as we’re independent, those functions THAT WE ALREADY PAY FOR move north and earn us not only income tax revenue and probably a housing market boost, but also put a load of money into our retail economy, kicking off a virtuous circle of economic growth at no additional cost to Scottish taxpayers and with reduced carbon too! I figure between those and getting rid of Trident, we end up £10bn+ better off each year. That more than covers our “black gold black hole.” HIt those issues whenever the English-British media can’t help but cover it – on Question Time or Newsnight, for example – and let them call us anti-English and quote the facts we tell them as proof.

    I’m interested in the comments about the Labour grid. I do find it infuriating that Murphy hasn’t been out of the media since his elevation, but busy journalists facing tight time and budgetary pressures need things to fill space and can’t always do the thorough investigative job they ought to do. The BBC has different questions to answer, as we know, but the SNP machine needs to work very hard and building better relationships with the press and dictating the agenda much more clearly. It was a problem throughout the referendum campaign and it remains a problem now. Setting aside the editorial line of the newspapers, there must still be a better way to feed them. Is there some problem with how the SNP media operation works?

    I think the party also needs to look very hard at how it uses it’s massively increased membership. It can’t be too short of cash right now and it has more manpower per capita than any other party in the UK (and probably most parties in the world). I’m not sure how manageable those people are going to be within the machine the SNP is set up to be. Even allowing for a lot of them not being very active, we can still reach literally every single voter in the country multiple times between now and polling day. I have some theories about how to run such a massive canvassing operation, but I’m not a political professional (nor even a party member!) so I’ll leave it there for now.

  23. arthur thomson says:

    Only time will actually tell who the Scottish electorate vote for in the GE. No thinking person is going to be deceived by Murphy and SLAB. Those who choose to be ‘deceived’ by them and the other tory parties will be the unscrupulous and the gullible. The existence and performance of an SNP Government at Holyrood is a constant source of good publicity for the SNP. We need to ‘keep the heid’ and show a combination of maturity and integrity in putting our case to the electorate and inviting them to join with us.

  24. G. P. Walrus says:

    We need to hope then that thinking persons are in a strong majority.

    1. Darien says:

      “We need to hope then that thinking persons are in a strong majority.”

      They/we are in a majority, for the 2015 Westminster election via FPTP. 45% of votes is enough to deliver a 30+ seat SNP Scots majority – and who knows, it might be over 50% by May. The SNP should therefore campaign for independence at the GE, not for home rule. Or at least, campaign for home rule, with the caveat that if/when home rule is not delivered quickly, then independence would be declared. A timeframe of say 18 months should be given for home rule to be delivered, or independence would be taken, as per the GE2015 mandate from the Scottish people. Or is the SNP satisfied with ‘home rule or nothing’?

  25. Kenny says:

    I think independence at this election is a very iffy strategy. It might make 45% of people happy to have the campaign, but it’s a turn off to a lot of the remainder and will lead to an absolutely savage campaign against us. What’s more, it will encourage anti-SNP tactical voting and probably boost the Unionist vote. Far better to push for Home Rule, Trident abolition, Lords abolition, voting reform etc., i.e. things that Westminster CAN deliver but almost certainly won’t. Those are wedge issues. When No-voting Scots see that Westminster simply won’t deliver what Scots have voted for, it increases the pro-indy vote for Holyrood.

    Hopefully then, for Holyrood 2016, the broken promises can form the basis of another pro-indy push. My feeling is that the SNP won’t get a majority this time, but will have some sort of agreement with the Greens and maybe even the SSP. That should build strength for another referendum campaign.

  26. Johnny come lately says:


    Another Indyref anywhere in the near future will not even be on the pro independence parties’ radar at this point in time, and why should it be?

    All powers (though matter how many or few) delivered to Holyrood will only serve to destabilize the political system even further. Add to this English constitutional reform, and we are talking about a very potent mix which can only lead to further demands for more devolution. This will be a never ending cycle on a downwards spiral until the current system eventually breaks under the strain.

    The pro independence parties need only bide their time and allow the unionist parties elbow room to dismantle the UK. It’s desperate times indeed for the Westminster parties.

    The pro independence parties need only to push for home rule (devo Max) which is a great place to begin post referendum. After all, they will be beginning their push for these powers with the backing of two thirds of the electorate, which is not a bad starting position.

    1. Darien says:

      Who says you need a referendum to secure independence? All it needs is a majority of Scots MP’s to end the union, i.e. the same way it was enacted. If 30+ Scots MP’s walk out of the House of Commons en-bloc and declare independence, that is independence. Remember Westminster is the only sovereign parliament in the UK, Holyrood is nothing – Westminster is what matters. SNP candidates should honestly stand for what they believe in (which is not home rule), and let the electorate decide. The SNP have always stood for independence at UK General Elections so why should this one be any different from previous GE’s? What does this tell the electorate. “Oh, we dinnae want tae scare a’body, so we’re only lookin fir a wee bit hame rule this time, och we’ll see whit happens eh!” No, it is far better to be honest and consistent with the electorate – you might be surprised at the outcome.

  27. Big Jock says:

    Darien I tend to agree with you but it’s a big gamble that might backfire. Do they risk only getting 15 Mp’s on an independence ticket. Or play the long game and get 35 mp’s who can eventually make independence happen. Either way I think you are right it won’t come with a referendum. It will happen once the electorate and the MP’s decide Westminster is no longer relevent or worthwhile.

    Cameron will be pushing us out the exit door by then!

  28. Jean Urquhart says:

    Great read Gordon, and I agree with you that the SNP need to have their own cunning plan; or at least a daily challenge for SLP and Murph. And we all, as evidenced above, need to work as though in the early days of a better nation – with everyone who lives here (however they voted on the 18th) -continuing political activity as never before.

  29. Ismael Nash says:

    I really like all the points you have made here.

  30. Joseph Rennaker says:

    I agree with you

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