2007 - 2022

The Real Alternative

_45740668_kennedy_pa_766It’s over. Almost time to go in and bayonet the wounded.

Of all the harsh news cascading around Murphy, Dalgety and McTernan’s ears as they hunker down with a bottle of hooch must be the news that the youth vote is gone. Look at this for a stark, generational shift:

18-24 year olds Lab 19% SNP 31%
65+ Lab 32% SNP 19%

No amount of bevvy at our non-existent, downgraded football will coax those kids back. All the evidence is that once people change voting patterns they are them free to make their own, non-habitual choices in the future. People haven’t ‘leant the SNP their vote’ for one election, they’ve abandoned the Labour Party because it’s become a joke.

Charles Kennedy looks like going. 

Kennedy is predicted to lose to the SNP in Ross, Skye and Lochaber, where he has been the MP since 1983 and is defending a majority of 13,000. That’s the price for doing nothing badly over a sustained period.

Even Kirkcaldy where the entire town and surrounding press and all aspects of civil society operate as a sort of venerable shrine to Gordon Brown, The God. Now even this minor deity’s 23,000 majority looks shakey. The Fife Free Press will have to close, itt will have nothing to report any more.

Right across the political spectrum pundits and political commentators are suddenly playing wakey-wakey. Nostrils filled with caffeine aroma are fuelling desperate thoughts across this isle.

The New Statesman’s George Eaton writes with newly found hysteria: “The SNP surge is arguably most significant development in British party politics in post-45 era.” While poor Alex Massie adds: “this year’s election looks like being an unmitigated disaster for Unionism.”

The Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith (who had a bad time of it in the referendum) cautions us that:

“Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election campaign chief and shadow foreign secretary, will both no longer be MPs come May 8 according to the polls.”

The concept of a coherent British political entity is peeling apart before our eyes and is resulting in more panic than you’ve seen since Charlie left Derby.

Thankfully Jenny Hjul though has some great ideas for a sort of pan-party SNP resistance, think Better Together, only stupider (‘Embracing a United from to defeat the SNP):

“The vote on September 18 should have been final but was treated as a dummy run by the Nationalists. Their assault on the British parliament they seek to destroy may be cynical in the extreme, but they have become the party to beat in Scotland. If that takes a united front, let’s unite.”


This ‘assault’ seems to include actually running for parliament? It’s almost as if these people were part of the democracy?

This form of delusion in the face of relentless and overwhelming evidence must have a name? Whatever’s its called, Jennifer has form.

Last summer she unleashed some spectacular nonsense sparking this response from the learned Peat Worrier:

“It is remarkable, even down to the level of language, how far folk like Hjul are prepared to go, to hang onto the idea that self-government is a pathological enthusiasm, limited to a tiny band of vaguely disreputable Scottish eccentrics. If you can’t find your preferred opponent in the real world? Use your imagination. Project them into existence. Conjure them, in language, from the ether. Like demon toys.”

But really the notion of a new unionist front as a tactical voting response is such a hilariously bad plan it has to be encouraged at all costs, in all constituencies, everywhere.

The level of self-denial and confusion about the wider public’s thoughts and feeling expressed by the politicians and their brethren in the press is remarkable. Or it would be if it wasn’t the routine pattern of behaviour of a political class that’s proved itself remote and ow increasingly redundant.

Crumbs of comfort?

Jim Murphy, if Ashcroft is right, will hang on in East Renfrewshire. But only as a sort of David Mundell in the East in charge of a discredited rump party. That’s not a tenable position to lead from. He’d have to go.

What’s not been talked about yet is who will replace Murphy if, as looks increasingly likely, he oversees a disaster in 9 weeks time.

In terms of real political shifts in British politics, it’s clear we are still living through historical change. Alex Massie writes: “We’ve not seen anything like this, you know, since Sinn Fein won a landslide in the Irish portion of the 1918 election. And you will remember what happened after that.”

Paradox and ambiguity are everywhere. This morning Scottish Labour MPs are said to have tried to rule out any pact with the SNP. Anything like this result could end with a healthier livelier Labour Party at a UK level. Irvine Welsh notes that: “Having 50 MP’s not obligated to Westminster establishment will be paradoxically better for people in rUK than 50 ScoLab test crash dummies.”

The real challenge for the SNP, if these results are borne out, is delivering a political strategy as bold and brave as the 100,000 and the country that’s backing them.

It’s the Scottish Labour conference this weekend in the capital. We may hear the famous claim that “We won’t lose a single seat to the SNP” re-worded as “We will retain a single seat tom the SNP”.

Read Lord Ashcroft’s poll results and blog here. 



Comments (81)

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  1. Darien says:

    “Sinn Fein won a landslide in the Irish portion of the 1918 election”

    And did not take their seats at Westminster. There was no point.

    1. Still cannot underestimate the Berkshire Cameronian hoodies dislike of ” smaller parties” hijacking their control of Westminster.Cameron and Gideon must love this.

      1. jacquescoleman says:

        Berks…in Berkshire?

  2. Monty says:

    Times up for the Labour Party in Scotland not least because Milliband is less than inspiring but what is going to fill the gap? The SNP are increasingly looking like a centrist and increasingly authoritarian government who’s worst tendencies as shown in the Scotland wide police force, the neglect of schools and further education and slightly wild polices on personal data have not been kept in check because of weak opposition and a too gentle and weak press. Ironically the opening up of democracy during the referendum has been accompanied by a weakening of democracy with a Scottish government facing less opposition than any UK government since the heyday of Thatcherism and too many areas of Scottish life neglected because the binary question of independence still dominates. Whenever independence is brought up you can see the jaws of both sides slacken, the eyes glaze over as autopilot takes over so it is not even a debate just a glassy eyed repetition of entrenched positions. How long can this state of affairs go on before our country and our institutions and finally our democracy are damaged in some cases mortally?

    1. Jay says:

      Complete and utter nonsense post.

      1. Monty must be a relative of Montgomery of the Desert Rats.Saviour of the Empire.I don’t think

      2. Brian Fleming says:

        Quite right, Jay.

        A “too gentle and weak press”? Democracy damaged by a popular government implementing its manifesto pledges? What planet does Monty live on? Or is he just wandering around the site of past glories at El Alamein?

      3. Robert Graham says:

        agree delusional and by the looks of it a plant by Mcerminv & suguphy

    2. AP says:

      I’m all for free speech. And all that. Keep up that drivel and nonsense, and who knows, you might land a job as chief propagandist in one of the daily fictions.

    3. Lawrie says:

      I agree. Scotland is overcentralised and there is little point in replicating a dysfunctional overcentralised Westminster with a Holyrood copy. There are things that could be done now by Holyrood for example in local government. Out of interest I was checking the functions of local government here in Switzerland, most of my taxes are paid to Cantun (region) and Gemeinde (local government), a smaller amount to central. In my Cantun about a 3rd of the amount of staatssteuer (local council and region is collected as one amount then split) is paid to the local council, 2/3rds to the Cantun. This is seen by some here as “overcentralised”. Other cantons have 50% paid to local council and 50% to Cantun. The discussion I have had with people is how much a Cantun is overcentralised, not the country – and the country has about 8 million residents.. As for the range of things taken care of by the local council it is quite impressive (there is a local council police force by the way..). Also in the local council accounts is the amount that is paid to the Cantun by the Gemeinde for support for poorer Gemeinde, all clear and transparent who is supporting who and by how much. I think this level of local control and tax is perfectly affordable, actually I suspect that the relative economic success of Switzerland is due to the decentralized government and the encouragement of competition and innovation that this brings. Any party advocating an internal Federalisation for Scotland? The problem as I see it is that Scottish gov is reacting to things like requests for more power from e.g. Island councils in a piecemeal fashion, a bit like how Westminister reacts to demands for more autonomy from Scotland, instead of thinking, what is the best system for local government?

      1. Robert Graham says:

        well lets just sort out the guff & cuts recently from westminster & smith commission possible changes first ,all recent changes to local government are nothing to be proud of its possibly because of resistance by the north British branch of labour

      2. topherdawson says:

        Actually there is a party which is offering much more local democracy: the Scottish Greens. Next year’s Holyrood elections may be the moment when the Greens become a medium sized party able to do the proper job of opposition. Labour’s visceral and negative attitude to the SNP in Holyrood has blunted its proper function as opposition and the same can be said of the LibDems.

        The SNP has done a very competent job of government and is rightly trusted by more and more voters, but needs a competent opposition to keep it honest and stop it centralising everything. And to agree with it when it comes up with good policy. The Unionist parties are so thrawn they oppose good ideas like minimum pricing for alcohol just because the idea came from the SNP, to everyone’s disadvantage.

      3. Ann says:

        Thanks Lawrie, (and for your post below – no reply button there) it’s good hearing how Switzerland does it all. 12 000 people sorting all of that out themselves. those practical details helps me imagine things different here.

        We’re always told we can’t have “more democracy” because doing things locally is inherently inefficient, but all these small countries with strong, properly local democracy don’t seem to be having that problem.



        “in the last local elections in Scotland almost half of everyone who stood got elected, almost as if we’d just tossed a coin.
        We also have by far the least ‘local’ politics in the developed world. The average population of a local authority area in Europe is 5,620. In Scotland it is 163,000 – our local authorities are nearly 30 times bigger than average. The average physical size of a European local authority is 49 square kilometres; the average size of a Scottish local authority is 2,461 square kilometres, more than 50 times bigger. Even a country like Denmark which has a lot of sparsely populated areas like Scotland manages an average local authority size of 440 square kilometres. In fact, Scotland has one local authority which has a land area bigger than Belgium. How is that local? How is any of this local?
        Scotland’s local democracy is certainly not local and in many ways it is barely democratic. There is hardly a community in Scotland which is allowed to make a single significant decision for itself – at best they can send one councillor to a giant local authority which is possibly dozens of miles away and then keep their fingers crossed. More often than not the local authority will just let unelected ‘experts’ make the decision. Compare this with a close neighbour; in Norway a level of government we would call community council holds the budget and policy responsibility for their local hospital. Local communities control their local healthcare and can shape it to their local needs. In Scotland it is much more likely that a consultant’s report written by a global firm of accountants will decide what level of local healthcare you are permitted.”

        Lesley Riddoch’s Blossom has more figures on this, but I’m between copies, it’s one of them books I buy and pass on

    4. hatfinch says:

      The SNP can be relied upon to fight Scotland’s corner at Westminster, because for geographical reasons there’s no chance of them ever getting a majority and settling comfortably in there. And “fighting our corner” means “fighting for more powers at Holyrood”, a parliament with a considerably more proportional electoral system than Westminster. So even if the SNP start off in a wholly dominant position in Holyrood, they can *much* more easily be held to account.

      1. Andy Mills says:

        hats off to you, Hatfinch. You nailed it succinctly. The fight for a radical opposition in Scotland is next year’s fight. This year it’s all out to storm Westminster, and the SNP are the party to do that; they’ve already got the British Establishment seriously rattled.

    5. “…too gentle and weak press..” Yes, let’s all read the Daily Record on the subject of the SNP and Independence. And to widen the discussion, what about the openly biased BBC Scotland?

    6. tom donald says:

      Labour’s destruction in Scotland is because Miliband? A politician you know so much about you can’t even spell his name?? And our SNP government has no opposition? What about the entire labour/tory/libdem establishment, almost all of the press, and of course liars-for-unionism the BBC?
      A very weak post “Monty”, do try harder.

    7. Smokeball says:

      I also don’t agree with most of the SNP’s policies and will not vote for them in 2016 for Holyrood. However, I will vote for them in May simply because I think a shock to the Westminster establishment is just what it needs, and Scotland will be paid attention to. When the SNP does well, Scotland get treated better, when it does badly, we are quietly forgotten.

    8. jacquescoleman says:

      “increasingly authoritarian government”

      Go away SLAB troll!

    9. Ann says:

      Not agreeing with Monty on everything, but there is a problem of centralisation and a democratic deficit within Scotland.

      I’d have campaigned for a Yes alliance, and I’d still have campaigned for the SNP this spring, but I heard about the proposed NHS ID database. I can’t persuade others to support a party that can think of doing this. It’s not only the ID database, it’s knowing there’s enough people in the the SNP capable of believing this is a good thing to do, and believing they have the right to do this. And knowing no one else in the party stopped them. It gives me the gnerks. This problem isn’t about the SNP, I think it shows how centralised power warps politician’s thinking. Independence is only one step on the way to dealing with that wider problem.

      Lots of Yes voters say it’s the inequality and the antidemocratic nature of the UK state that we’re leaving, that all they want for Scotland is what’s normal in European countries, and Independence is the means to that end. But we’ve got another democratic deficit within Scotland. Maybe we have to start to do something about it now, if we’re to reach independence.

      We ask unionists to justify why keeping power at westminster, and keeping that democratic deficit is good for us all. In Scotland (and all the UK), it looks like each layer of governance tries to disempower the ones below it.

      Compared to the rest of Europe, Scotland’s councils are massive and unresponsive. So most of us don’t bother to vote in local elections – whoever we vote for, the council wins. Community councils have no powers – they can write a letter to the council explaining local feelings on speed limits and planning proposals. That’s about it. They’re a last wee scrap of a pretence of local community democracy.

      In other countries in europe, people turn out and vote for every level of council because the electorate is smaller, the area covered is smaller, and each level of democracy has real powers to change the conditions in which we make our lives. As with the referendum, people vote because it might change something that matters. I’m not saying european countries have it sorted, but some are quite a bit less bad at doing democracy.

      Holyrood and big, clumsy, distant local councils need to give up hogging resources and the “right” to make all decisions for us. They need get out of our way enough so we can sort more things for ourselves.

      It’s the centralisation not just to Westminster, but also to Holyrood and these huge unworkable councils and no community level democracy, that keeps Scottish people feeling it’s normal for others to be in charge and to have no say over the basics of our own lives – that we almost don’t belong to ourselves. This keeps us vulnerable to the same old MSM headbattering, telling us that people like us, Scottish people, aren’t up to running our own country. The centralisation of power we have within Scotland could keep lots of people voting No.

      And it keeps us vulnerable to accepting govt ID databases passing on our medical records and where we caught the bus to last tuesday afternoon, to all public bodies across Scotland.

      We ask unionists to explain why we should live with this democratic deficit and why decision making powers should be reserved to “higher” levels without a good reason. For our sense of self, our sense of what democracy is and what scotland could become, it’d be useful to look at power within Scotland in the same way.

      1. Monty says:

        An eloquent and clear account of some of the problems I was clumsily trying to highlight/

      2. Mr T says:

        There is a high correlation between the amount of revenue that a level of Government has to raise directly & the voter turnout for that level. Trouble is that every politician says that they will try to devolve power………..until they get in and then they turn into (central) control freaks.

      3. Lawrie says:

        Just for information to give an idea of what things are provided by a local council in Switzerland (in a local council area of 12,000 people, but as far as i know this can vary from council to council with smaller councils pooling resources and services) the services that are covered are: Fire and civil protection, local police, planning, voting, education (kindergarten, primary school and music school), parking, animal control and licensing, social work, cultural activities, sports, swimming pool, some limited health (home visits, health protection), youth and elderly services, creche and child care, care and help for asylum seekers, gardening in public spaces, local transport (subsidised taxi for evening hours), water and waste water treatment, internet and tv, waste collection, graveyards, financial services, vandalism repair and lastly a payment to the Cantun for subsidy of poorer community councils. The main sources of income are from income taxes, business taxes, returns on investments and charges (e.g. antenna -tv and internet equipment- tax, pet taxes, taxes for waste collection, water charges). It seems reasonable and efficient to me that taxes should be raised and spent at the level where they are spent. The idea to send most money to the centre for re-distribution as is in UK is a recipe for inefficiency and corruption. Plus as Ann says there is the idea that somehow if people are not trusted to have their own local control how are they expected to have the confidence to vote for independence? I had some discussions with people at home in Scotland about the lack of local government before the referendum, the answer was yes but we need to win the referendum first then we deal with this later…

    10. flit2013 says:

      The SNP were pretty unhappy at Stephen House’s policy re searches so that’s wrong. School budgets have suffered but the funding is from WM, and didstributed via local authorities. Indirectly the freeze on council tax – a regressive tax the SNP dislike – has caused the education cuts. Again blame austerity – another policy the SNP have spoken out against. That’s the two main points insubstantial – the rest is polemic and pretty vacuous stuff. I’m no SNP supporter but SLab hatred knows no bounds – they have certainly done better than the previous administrations. Yes there is still too much orthodox economic thought, but they are shifting quicker than the mainstream parties.

    11. flit2013 says:

      The SNP were pretty unhappy at Stephen House’s policy re searches so that’s wrong. School budgets have suffered but the funding is from WM, and didstributed via local authorities. Indirectly the freeze on council tax – a regressive tax the SNP dislike – has caused the education cuts. Again blame austerity – another policy the SNP have spoken out against. That’s the two main points insubstantial – the rest is polemic and pretty vacuous stuff. I’m no SNP supporter but SLab hatred knows no bounds – they have certainly done better than the previous administrations. Yes there is still too much orthodox economic thought, but they are shifting quicker than the mainstream parties.

      1. George the Best! says:

        Great Post Ann!

        The whole ID cards buy the back door worries me also. Also, I have worked in the EU in Brussels and we tend to think about things in a regional, rather than national way. Based on economic factors when addressing policy. The UK is not ‘normal’ in how centralized it is, neither is Scotland. If the SNP do get a sizable majority in Westminster then I sincerely hope they support greater devolution elsewhere in the UK, especially for city regions. They are clearly the future social/ economic units as nations decline in importance. Think the old Hansiatic league or the city states, Venice, Turin, Florence and the Medic in renaissance Italy, or even America/ Germany today.

        The Dane and the Swedes are having a barney at the moment over what to call the Skane/ greater Copenhagen area that is cross border. They realize they need to re-brand, re think public democratic structures. s the area to compete with Hamburg and London and Amsterdam/ Rotterdam regions etc. Scandi Bay Area sounds good to me, but the Dane want greater Copenhagen haha.

        It’s kind of ironic, while the UK is pulling apart, most other places they are creating union. Think the penny has dropped that the Chinese and Brazilians are coming big time, and petty differences need to be put aside!

        As for the West of Scotland it is imperative that they cooperate and join in with the City Regions devolution! This could really reinvigorate all of Scotland and be beneficial to all!

        The times they are a changing!

    12. Ali says:

      Our ‘democracy’ is already fatally flawed, which is the problem. Scotland gets what England wants, almost without fail. For this reason the SNP, whatever imperfections they have, is the only vehicle through which this can be addressed. If Westminster wants the SNP to go away they must make this happen through rendering them irrelevant. One option is through Scottish Independence. The other option .. well, I don’t care since I choose option one.

  3. bringiton says:

    Labour just don’t seem to understand that one of the main reasons their support has deserted them is because they acted in concert with the Tories during the referendum.
    Resurrecting the Westminster party again will only drive what’s left into the arms of the SNP.
    Not a smart move but maybe all that’s left to them.

  4. Will McEwan says:

    The post from Monty above tells a truth. They just don’t get it.
    Inventing a Scottish Government that doesn’t actually exist in anything like the form invented is just an exaggerated form of denial.
    In particular the half wit description of the effect of a single police force of which the public have no worries whatsoever represents the scraping of the barrel and an inability to understand that the people of Scotland have moved forward and left Labour and the other unionists behind.
    The single police force as a matter of information has of course strong divisional management , has cut away expensive duplication,has made the various technical facilities (like the forensic teams) available across the country on a constant basis and kept more police on the beat.
    Time we gave Scotland a single Health Board.

    1. Hen Broon says:

      A single health board called Scottish Health Service, with Social Services amalgamated properly. Get rid of the army of executives sucking the life out of it and buy out PFI contracts. Doctors and consultants should be obliged to work on 24/7 cycles, and not diluting their time on private health care as now. The new service should be client focussed, not target tick box, objective, bonus focussed.

      1. Flower of Scotland says:

        Well said Hen Broon! These are my thoughts exactly. It was Labour that negotiated such a great deal with the GP,s (NOT)bringing in NHS 24.

        That turned out well didn’t it!

        My worry is that Ashcroft is a Tory donor. I hope this isn’t a ruse to make us all relax and not get out and do the leafleting and canvassing that,s needed. Wouldn’t put it past him!

  5. David Agnew says:

    How utterly bizarre it is. They find themselves so terrified at the thought of a Scottish party with no UK counterpart, working for Scotland within the union – that they have decided to to put in place measures that will bring about the end of the union and the UK.

    They are only dimly aware that there is a lack of emotional attachment to the union. Largely because they chose to present the union as nothing more than a giro cheque to a subsidy junkie culture. The symbolism of Britishness has been hollowed out. In some places hi-jacked by backwards looking unionists, who use their Britishness as a form of insult against those who voted yes.

    Now they think tactical voting will save them? Labour have dined out on anti Tory sentiment since Thatcher. They really think they can ask labour voters to vote Tory to get a Tory, while they campaign on the tired old lie that only a labour vote keeps the Tories out? Labours vote now looks to have collapsed to the level the Tories were at in 1987.

    The unionist parties have made the same fatal error that the conservatives made back in 1978. They mistook a narrow win for a much more decisive victory and felt they could marginalise and ignore Scotland. This is exactly what the Unionists have done imho. They have taken a narrow win built on a lot qualm pedaling as a decisive win for the status quo. They tricked themselves into thinking they could hamstring the intervention of the Vow and get on with the business of ignoring Scotland once more.

    The culprit here is the No campaign. I feel that it did a lot of damage to the credibility of Scottish labour. The party was already on the back foot and was looking increasingly rudderless. Being the bad cop for the union with the Tories paying for the privilege was always going to damage labour. I think people who believed in the union, will come to realise what a damn bad idea it was to paint Scotland into the corner of dependency and then let labour be the one to preach that message.

    Better together. Maybe they should have thought long and hard about how they could sell that as a positive force for good. Instead of opting for a polished turd on a stick.

  6. habibbarri says:

    “That’s not a tenable position to lead a party.” Murphy does not lead a party. There is no Scottish Labour Party. Murphy leads the Scottich branch of the British Labour Party. “Scottish Labour” is actually the British Labour Party in Scotland. Let’s stop purveying the deception that here is a Scottish Labour Party. Murphy is the local vicar of Ed Milliband. He only leads within the limits set by London. Let’s always call the Scottish branch of the British Labour Party what it is, the British Labobur Party in Scotland.

    1. hatfinch says:

      I’d go further and drop the term “branch” in favour of “accounting unit”.

  7. Clootie says:

    Should not ALL members recognise and respect the democratic will of the people?

    Labour(Scottish Branch) are behaving like the shop owner in the Monty Python dead parrot sketch.

  8. Gordie says:

    Aye, the Republic won its independence

  9. manandboy says:

    Came the Referendum, and the electorate were presented with a Labour Party in Scotland,
    which was on the side of the Unionists,
    and not, as had been believed for decades,
    on the side of the working man.
    Labour had joined the bosses on the quiet, and now, with IndyRef, we all knew.

    Many Labour voters still don’t get it, while others refuse to believe it’s true,
    so they still vote Labour, like throwing darts in the dark.

    But many more have seen it for what it is –
    a betrayal of the working class by the party of the working class.
    Otherwise known as political suicide.

    The amazing thing is that even God almighty, Gordon Brown,
    had become so Unionised, so like the Tories,
    that he could no longer think like a Labour man,
    and with that failing, Labour were bound to fail in due course.

    For dying Labour in Scotland, May 7th, will be the day of their funeral.
    It will coincide with the General Election, but won’t be part of it.

    Dust to dust and ashes to ashes.

    Few will mourn their passing – Ken McQuarrie and John Boothroyd at the the BBC
    and Murray Foote at the Record, maybe McTernan, and one or two others.

    But, like the leaving of a plague, they won’t be missed by Scotland.

    Then, in ’16 and ’17, any outstanding matters and whatever else remains, will be wound up.

    The electorate will see to that.

  10. Crabbit says:

    The Labour movement and the other Westminster political trends are the architects of their own misfortunes – they really need autonomous parties in Scotland, like CDU/CSU in Germany.

    But I’m not sure this is good for an independence vote in the near future – it could effectively be a vote for a one-party state. And that party would be responsible for designing the framework for the new state.

    The solution might be for the SNP to commit to breaking into component parts post-referendum (a Fergus Ewing wing? But SNP now much more centrist and controlled than in the past).

    Otherwise we might have to wait for a pluralistic, credible range of parties to emerge before we vote for independence.

    1. bringiton says:

      A lot of nonsense being spoken about the SNP being a “centrist” party.
      The SG have been forced into making savings in public service provision by cuts to our income from Westminster.
      If front line services were to be protected then savings had to be found in back office and administration functions which has resulted in e.g a single tier management structure for the police service.
      From a democracy stand point,this is not the best outcome but,unlike Westminster,we have to live within our means.

  11. If the polls are proved correct in May (I’m not convinced they will be yet, but for the sake of argument, let’s say they are) the unionist parties will be in a real bind. It’s all very well the Scottish Labour MPs demanding no pact is made with the SNP, but virtually all of them would no longer be MPs in that case, and we would have a situation where neither London run, establishment, unionist party has any mandate in Scotland whatsoever, and hardly any representatives here. In that case, were they to chose to take the same line as they did in 2010 and refuse to even talk to the SNP, they’d essentially be refusing to recognise Scotland’s democratic vote for the UK parliament and shutting Scotland out of UK politics.

    If the do that, the UK will be dead politically. What would the point be, even for no voters, of remaining in the UK union if the UK dismisses a Scottish vote they don’t like and instead basically gangs up against us to silence our voice?

    Either the Westminster parities will have to grow up and work with the SNP, as the voice of Scotland (the Scotland they were so desperate to keep as part of the UK, sending MPs to Westminster) or in their childishness and spite, they’ll break the union themselves.

    1. John Page says:

      This is very astute…….the media will of of course portray the Scottish results in May as undemocratic and things will get ugly and very dirty……..but the direction of travel will be to change the minds of the slice of No voters who were convinced that a more extensive devolution settlement was genuinely on offer. Like all converts (like those of us who were instinctive Labour supporters) they won’t take any more crap. The question will be …….. How big is this slice?

      1. Darien says:

        A majority of SNP MP’s elected in May is de facto independence.

  12. Clootie says:

    I wish people would stop claiming that a large vote for the SNP indicates UDI or de facto independence.

    We have 3 groups
    a) Supporters of full independence
    b) Supporters of the union
    c) Supporters of a federal UK / More powers etc.

    A Referendum forces the c) group to face a black and white choice and the group will split depending on the information / disinformation they have been given.

    A Westminster election enables the c) group to move easily towards pro-independence parties such as Greens / SSP / SNP.

    We have to convince people in group c) of the merits of independence and not insult them by taking their vote for granted.

    A vote for the SNP in May means nothing more than support for the policies of a political party at Westminster.

    Misrepresenting these facts means that you are either a blind supporter of independence or a troll trying to scare people off from voting SNP by implying it will lead to Independence.

    I work hard for the achievement of living in an Independent Scotland but it will be by a Referendum in which my fellow countrymen know fully what they are voting for and NOT by trying to misrepresent a vote for a political party in a Westminster election.

    1. Darien says:

      “trying to scare people off from voting SNP by implying it will lead to Independence”

      Jings, and here’s me thinking the SNP advocate independence! I assume you know what ‘de facto’ means.

  13. Iain says:

    Interesting that Jenny Hjul says she votes Labour because they have the best chance of beating the SNP.

    If true, I wonder what Alan thinks of that. He was chairing a session at the Scottish Tory conference where the audience were advised against tactical voting, and were told that they should vote for what they believe in. But Alan and Jenny will know that the Tories certainly have no chance in Edinburgh North and Leith, where Labour only beat the SNP by 585 votes in the Scottish Election of 2011.

    So, does Alan vote Labour too? Or is there some domestic strife on this matter? Should the Conservative Party have a word with them, or is this the covert tactic for all (except in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale)?

    1. jacquescoleman says:

      I think today the question is more likely to be what does Hjul think of Cochrane and his conservatism. Mind you they are both idiots and well suited together.

  14. emilytom67 says:

    We have to remember that whatever party/government elected they have to be tasked with policies that will be beneficial to all of our society whether for or against,they have to be completely honest with the people and not driven by strict party affiliations/agendas,Ithink we need to be far more open in our approach to governance,I hope that the SNP will take on board the thoughts and views of all of our society and implement them for the best,we have a fantasic opportunity to create something new something visionary something that others might follow.I read an interesting article on the break up of Czechoslovakia,the prime minister at the time was Vaclav Havel don,t know if I got that right,when it was first muted he asked the Slovaks if they wanted independence to which they said YES they then got around the table and drew up a 25 point plan agreed on by both sides,this was implemented and both sides wished each other well,now wasn,t that democracy and this coming from a not long since communist state. Here in what some would like to term the home of democracy what do we find,malice/lies/bribes/prevarications and downright extortion yet lots of people up here still subscribe to it?? Amazing.

    1. Crabbit says:

      The Czechoslovakian history is an interesting example of a peaceful breakup.

      Havel was actually opposed to the split and resigned (he was president) rather than oversee it. The breakup arguably came because the states were just too different – and a lesson for the UK parties, the political parties had increasingly become Czech or Slovak.

      It was decided by the political parties, according to the polling the public didn’t want to separate but were resigned to it:

      “In a poll taken for the Government last month, only 37 percent of Slovaks and 36 percent of Czechs said they would vote for a split in a referendum, but more than 80 percent said they considered a break inevitable.”


      1. Dean Richardson says:

        “…a lesson for the UK parties…” Since when have the Westminster classes ever tried to learn such lessons? We all know what happens to those who don’t learn from history.

  15. The media supported the Labour party in Scotland,backed them for election after election.They sided with the no campaign because Labour was for no,maybe,but no,the media is run by the Tories,and the one with the money pulls the strings and the Labour party follow what they are told.In my mind there has always ben one big party in Westminster because Labour took title and privilege,along with the Tory shilling.The Tories have always backed the Labour party in Scotland because that allowed them to control us,if the Labour party had kept to its first manifesto and fought for Home Rule for Scotland they would be an independent party with no overlord or lords or barons,strange socialists these titles folk,Tony Benn gave up a peerage and privilege because (I think) believed in socialism,or equality for each and everyone.Paradox of Labour.

  16. Weegiewarbler says:

    Seems to me Labour (All UK – not just North Britain Branch) abandoned its voters and members … not the other way round. It’s been at least a generation since Labour really stopped representing the working people. They did nothing to undo the Thatcherite emasculation of the unions.
    What goes round comes round. I truly hope the polls are accurate.

  17. Jim Bennett says:

    I’m concerned about two things in relation to the article and the electoral position at the moment:
    – Counting chickens…
    – Feeble 50…

    Firstly, the polls are consistent but Mike’s assertion regarding bayoneting the wounded, whilst entertaining, can easily lead to a position of over-confidence. If you look closely at Ashcrofts’ previous Scottish constituency poll, the SNP beating Labour in Glasgow, whilst consistent, is actually based on a knife-edge and within a margin of error. Ashcroft points out that if Labour achieved 35% in Scotland, then they’d lose virtually no seats. There is a reasonable possibility of the “Tory Embarrassment” phenomenon repeating itself – people too shy to admit to pollsters that they were going to vote for Tory. The polls have consistently underestimated Tory support in Scotland and it may well be that a similar phenomenon is taking place re Labour.

    If YES people are proud and vociferous, then their statements to pollsters will be clear and unequivocal. It is a possibility that the SNP vote is marginally overstated because of this and the Labour vote marginally understated. A 40% verses 35% vote, SNP to Labour isn’t impossible. Thus Murphy’s prediction of losing no seats is actually possible, even if they are soundly beaten in the numbers of votes. Don’t count your chickens, there’s more artillery needed before the infantry go in!!!

    Let’s look at a more positive position. Let’s say that the SNP win 40 – 50 – 56 seats. What actually might happen?
    – Would it be unthinkable for the SNP to support (openly or tacitly) a Cameron Government?
    – What if Labour simply ignored the SNP and formed a minority government?
    – If the extent of Labour operating alongside the Tories in the referendum didn’t take us by surprise, why would it be surprising if it happened again?

    So, Cameron leads the largest party and offers the SNP real Devo Max in exchange for a diminution of Scottish votes in the UK. What happens? The SNP put the Tories into power in the UK for perfectly good reasons but what would be the electoral consequences in Scotland? 1979 revisited?

    Or, Miliband leads the largest party and offers the SNP zilch-nada-nyet!. What do the SNP MPs do? Vote against Miliband’s prime ministership and let the Tories in? Potentially, they could abstain and Miliband gets in but how useful is that? 50 SNP MPs sitting on their hands?

    And, in terms of a Miliband government, there’s nothing to halt:
    – continued support of Trident with Labour and the Tories cooperating
    – continued austerity, with Labour and the Tories accommodating each other
    – a Smith commission settlement simply reflecting a Labour/Tory agreement.
    – Labour and the Tories conspiring against immigrants and asylum seekers.
    – you can repeat this ad infintum.

    There will be some adept political manoeuvring required by the SNP if they win. However, let’s not underestimate the ability to Labour and the Tories to actively work with each other to ensure that even 56 SNP MPs are literally side-lined. Scotland regularly elected 50 or so Labour MPs who could do nothing against the backdrop of a Tory Government. It’s quite possible that 50 or so SNP MPs could be entirely ineffectual in a Westminster context.

    Whilst we might all enjoy strangling the last Scottish Labour MP with the last copy of the Daily Record, let’s not get ahead or ourselves.

    1. John Page says:

      Agreed about fighting for every last vote and taking nothing for granted

      I wouldn’t mind if a large cohort of SNP MPs were sidelined by whatever pro Trident pro austerity Lab/Tory emerged. The SNP/Green/SSP resultant landslide in 2016 would advance the cause of independence
      Under no circumstances should the SNP agree to an accommodation with the Tories……..

      1. John Page says:

        Indeed I can’t see a Labour minority govt delivering on the scrapping of Trident so an SNP accommodation wouldn’t be stable……..Balls et al would conspire to bring down Miliband
        The SNP brief should be to stick to its principles, wait for a landslide in Holyrood in 2016, oust Labour from Glasgow in 2017 and await a second GE or an EU Referendum…………in terms of the old phrase…….England’s difficulty will be Scotland’s opportunity

    2. Mr T says:

      Good analysis here.

      Couple of points jump out at me from the current situation: Firstly it makes no sense for the SNP to have completely ruled out working with the Conservatives. There are many aspects of independence or devolution that should appeal to forward thinking Conservatives – self reliance, smaller state etc. And it’s also easy to argue that the Conservatives have less to lose than Labour.

      Secondly – where do the SNP go if & when Labour say ‘Thanks but no thanks, we don’t feel that we can offer any concessions to you in return for you supporting us, in a formal coalition or a confidence & supply arrangement. Our two organisations are diametrically opposed about the future of the UK and this difference is so big that it cannot be bridged.’

      SNP have already said that they won’t work with the Tories.
      Do they abstain – and maybe deliver a working majority to the Conservatives plus smaller parties, or perhaps initiate a further election?
      Do they vote with Labour, and deliver the benefits to Labour without gaining any concessions?

      As some of you may know, I voted No last time but I’m not necessarily a ‘No Never’. I visit this site occasionally as I’m interested in the process and I would like to see a better debate next time – and I do think there will be a next time – rather than both sides shouting at each other. When we look at the forthcoming Westminster elections I believe that the SNP will be very successful, but they have boxed themselves into a corner by stating who they would & wouldn’t work with, rather than outlining their interests that they seek to further.

      1. John Page says:

        The 70000 new members of the SNP simply would not accept a deal with the Tories. This is not an option.
        If Miliband delivers a progressive anti Trident partnership with genuine devo max, the SNP can participate
        If that does not work a majority of Scots will realise independence is the only realistic option…….and with Labour gubbed the Record and Pacific Quay will have no one to play echo chambers with. At some point in the medium future there will be another referendum
        As an added bonus McTernan will probably head off to the USA with Murphy for jobs arranged by their pals in the Henry Jackson Society.
        I am wondering why commentators here are reflecting on a large no of SNP MPs as a problem….,,

        1. Jim Bennett says:

          “I am wondering why commentators here are reflecting on a large no of SNP MPs as a problem….,,”

          Hi John, I’m just concerned about unrealistic expectations of what could be achieved by them. I remember when a union I was in elected a revolutionary Marxist as President. When I suggested to a full time official that it would lead to a new dawn in the union, he replied to me that the President would be the highest paid janitor in the union’s history. He was right – the bureaucracy neutered him and he achieved very little.

          Having 50+ MPs would be a fantastic problem to have but be under no illusions about how far Labour and the Tories will cooperate to make them entirely ineffective. I see Mike’s point above re the two year project and I think its sensible.

    3. bellacaledonia says:

      Yes Jim the bayonets comment was just a bit of fun, and the situation is more complex than ‘just getting elected’.

      As for your questions:
      ‘Would it be unthinkable for the SNP to support (openly or tacitly) a Cameron Government?’
      Yes it would because they have publicly said that’s not a strategy they approve of and they would lose any political capital they hold.
      ‘What if Labour simply ignored the SNP and formed a minority government?’
      This is possible but problematic for Labour.

      I think that the SNP – and the wider Yes movement – should see the General Election as part of a two year project, linked to the Holyrood elections, this is part of my ‘undertaker and midwife’ strategy outlined previously.

      1. Jim Bennett says:

        So, if the Tories offered everything except defence and foreign affairs to Scotland in return for even sitting on our hands to allow Cameron to become Prime Minister, we wouldn’t support it?

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          I wouldn’t / couldn’t. This is why I explored the idea of not taking up seats a few weeks ago. Not because I was sure that was the right thing to do but we need to have a such more critical debate about purpose, strategy, red lines, and aims and objectives. Otherwise we become like the anti-Tory vote of old. ‘Get the Tories out’ was the mantra, and we got New labour to replace them.

  18. Frederick Robinson says:

    Of 4.1 million adults in Scotland, 611,000 are aged 18-24. Of these, the figures given cite 19% to Labour, 31% to the SNP. There are, of course, 50% unaccounted for. But ignoring these potentially overpowering ‘extras’ and the 3.5 million who are NOT 18-24, less than 1/3 (33.3 recurring %) are for the SNP, so less than, say, 200,000. Not so much bayonets as penknives. I’ll have to investigate the 32% Labour and 19% SNP among the over-65s.

    1. Frederick Robinson says:

      The ONS gives 14% of the (entire 5.1 million) Scottish population aged 65+ for year 2010. Of which Labour’s 32% would represent about 4%, about 204,000; and the SNP’s 19% (let’s be generous and simpler,and say 20% of 14% = again, generously, 3%) would count for about 150,000.
      Totals (including my previous post)
      SNP 200,000 + 150,000 = 350,000
      Labour (whoops! forgot to include their 1st figures! = (generously) 20% of 611,00 18-24 year olds = 122,000 + 204,000 = 326,000.
      A majority for the SNP, but not a landslide, and with half the adult population, including the newly-enfranchised 16-18 year olds unaccounted for.
      I think those bayonets need retractable blades for the time being.

  19. macart763 says:

    Yeah, it does look rather grim for the three establishment parties.

    Popcorn at the ready. 🙂

  20. Audit norse says:

    Clootie makes some very rational and valid points. Makes a change on this site!

    Most folk are in the (c) category, and are more interested in de-centralisation and reform rather than outright nationalism. Scotland simply isn’t oppressed (some not liking the current political set up does not count) unlike the vast majority of other secessionist movements. We are not Estonia under Moscow rule, nor Tibet under Beijing, nor Bangladesh under Pakistan, nor South Sudan, nor Ireland under the British etc. cue the howls of outrage from those who have never left Auchtermuchty and have watched Braveheart once to often (and I’m a Yes voter! But a realistic one.)

    So there is a very ironic scenario that has traction. Simply put, the more successful the SNP are in the GE, the less likely people will continue or change their support to full independence.

    Having a chin wag with a No voter mate in the pub the other night (gets heated sometimes.) When I asked who he was voting for he said the SNP? Wow, I said intrigued. He replied that quite a few No voters were going to do so, the reason was as follows:

    Every political movement has an arc/ trajectory – ‘Yes included’. The conditions for the good support ‘Yes’ had/ has is/was conditional. 1) Worst austerity since the war 2) Tory govt and perceptions of UK as anti democratic 3) Seismic change int he global balance of power reflected in the domestic – banking crisis, manufacturing to lower wage econs, the might and financial muscle of the BRICS and so on. 4) A welfare system that can no longer be sustained under the present structure. 5) a global dissatisfaction with neolib policies and a growing resistance/ questioning at the bottom and top level, among others.

    These circumstances are static and people are fickle – Think the landslide of New Labour! So the more SNP at Westminster, the greater the responsibility during the ‘shitstorm’. To counter the inevitable dissolussionment, SNP will be forced to compromise. They will be under constant pressure to get the best deal for Scotland….legally, until another ref, this will manifest itself as a steady shift towards a new federal structure for the UK. – this is already happening (city regions / Manchester getting NHS budget and soon tax raising powers.)

    And in doing so they will gradually undercut the very rationale/ reasons for ‘Yes’ support. The circumstances will change. A perception of distance and corruption in a far off unaccountable government run by the privately educated will come under increasing pressure.

    So if you want to kill off the ‘Yes’ movement and are a (c) as I am, then hand as much responsibility to the SNP so that they can no longer hide. Especially if they are in a unpopular coalition (think Lib dems).

    RIP Yes movement!

  21. Audit norse says:

    So….if things get worse: greater austerity, more financial crisis, euro breakdown, a stand off with Putin…. the more SNP MP s there are, the more they will be associated with it and greater the focus of responsibility. They have to vote / not vote on issues! either way they will held to account.

    But if things get better….the opposite of the above…econ growth, decreased unemployment, a shift away from neolib policies, a shift to renewable energy, a reinvigorated EU and debt write off/ improvement for Greece (PIGS), successful devolved and de-centralised government with new social and economic spheres of interest. e.g) Glasgow and the Northern ‘Powerhouse’ etc… the lesser the impetus there will be for independence.

    May as well pack the Saltires away now!

    1. Audit norse says:

      The Yes movement really need to box clever to avoid this!

  22. Richard Less says:

    Interesting point about Charles Kennedy. Really surprising. Who would have predicted that one a few years ago?

  23. Richard Less says:

    Yeah, is a conundrum. Vote SNP and get a UK opposition/ Scot-centric government and tacit acceptance of UK WM system. Vote against/ tactically and lose power?

    Before the ball was in WM court, they’ve returned and now it’s our turn. But it’s a very tricky pressure shot. A hefty powerful baseline return will leave WM with an easy drop ball over the net.

    1. John Page says:

      This piece started off with (for me) good news that polls still showing SNP in a strong position
      After reading this set of posts (a bit of an unusual flurry? including a few new names ) one had the impression that the Yes Movement is truly doomed.
      Only time I have seen this before is on climate change discussions. After the overt deniers are are trounced on the scientific evidence the Heartland Institute doom mongers take over to agree the facts about anthropogenic global warming but say that human nature is such that we can do nothing about it and that we should just accept the status quo.
      What we have been treated to by a succession of changing names in recent days in response to Bella’s brilliant articles on just how broken the Union is…….is a succession of posts agreeing how bad it all is but then burying the discussion either in quibbles about detail or grammar(!) and now about how no matter how well the SNP do in May it won’t make any difference.
      Initially I was ignoring this crap but now I would really like to know what is going on and who is behind this?
      It is almost as if someone is using Bella as a practice ground for their arguments against the tide of bad news for Labour.
      No doubt some fresh named contributor will point out they are only concerned with accuracy and that I am paranoid………but something is not right here

      1. Mr T says:

        Hi John. Dunno about the rest but I’m just an occasional visitor, attracted by some debate which I find interesting but that most of the time I don’t agree with. Last time I checked I wasn’t a member of any political party, let alone Labour.

        My wife’s not coming home tonight ’cause her plane’s been cancelled so I guess you’re stuck with me for a few hours yet!

      2. Audit norse says:

        I see your point. I was simply adding to what Mike had already said about the long term 2 year project, rather than eggs in one basket and the problem of tacit agreement. ‘getting elected is the easy part. What we need is a legal mandate for another referendum (this is the only legal and fair way Scotland will gain independence.) The question is how best to do this?

        But I see your point about being doom and gloom and being on guard! We just need to be careful and not hand over any ammunition by being too close to the SNP. In my op!!

        For example, it is public knowledge that Mike and the Fife Diet was in receipt of over 1 million pounds of public funding over the last few years – has been reported in the courier and the Herald and is on the govt site – most from the govt climate change fund. We all know it was perfectly reasonable and a great project, but you can see how others could make political hay in times of austerity and food banks! Middle class people in leafy Fife indulging themselves with organic veg, while working class people in Drumchapel or Granton haven’t been able to feed themselves over the same time period!
        (I know it’s much more complicated than that and is a genuinely good project about air miles, public health, carbon footprints and so on.)

        At least until the final report on the project is completed and out there for scrutiny for the so called ‘tax payers’. Also Mike does an awful lot of overtly political journalism/ activism for someone who is supposed to be running a full time publicly funded scheme. Given the debacle with WM, Straw and Rifkind and second jobs and public opinion on the subject, be careful of chucking too many stones and glass houses etc!

      3. Hi John,

        Yes, it’s fascinating.

        The give away is that their posts are always based on contempt for people (the public), and arguing that those in power will always be in power, that we’re stuffed whatever happens, so we might as well give up.

        This is the No campaign distilled.

        The really funny thing is that they’ve been taught the box they think in is the whole world, and can’t see beyond it. They don’t know, or don’t dare acknowledge, there’s a world out here. And it’s not a world made by people who are slaves to any party, or any nationalism, but by people who care, and who have woken up (I certainly was) by the Yes movement to realising that there are so many of us here in Scotland who are insisting in thinking for ourselves, that Yes we can change the world, and that’s a relief, because we really really really need to.

        Accusations against the SNP are irrelevant compared to the fact that Holyrood has a proportional system that means we can vote for who we want to, and remove the SNP, or whoever, without having to wait decades as we have with Labour.

        Maybe there is a strong connection between the hope of the Yes movement and a fair voting system for Holyrood, and a strong connection between the hopelessness of Westminster and a voting system designed to enable major parties to frighten you (with the prospect of the other party) into voting for them and not for what you want.

  24. arthur thomson says:

    I find it fascinating that the UK is in such a state when we have people visiting this site who are able to foretell the future. Truth is that they can foretell bugger all – thankfully. Any SNP MP’s elected will do the best they can to engineer the best possible results for Scotland and the rest of the UK. The collective Tory parties will do their worst as per normal so it will be an uphill task but some good will be achieved. A more politically aware Scottish electorate will observe the outcome and be better pleased. The one and only cardinal rule the SNP MP’s must abide by is to stick to their principles and so win the long game. I get the distinct impression that all the trolls above share Murphy’s cognitive and verbal incontinence.

  25. Johnny come lately says:

    @arthur thomson
    “I find it fascinating that the UK is in such a state when we have people visiting this site who are able to foretell the future. Truth is that they can foretell bugger all”.

    Totally agree with above and the rest of your post. The SNP will have to be on their toes and box clever the entire time, but they are disciplined, have a strategy, and will have high caliber leaders both at Westminster and Holyrood.
    The Westminster parties do not have any strategy and have not had any strategy to combat the decline for many years now (both political and economic decline). Tactics replaced strategy a long time ago, and when tactics replace strategy all is lost. Imo the Westminster parties are in a proper fix with little or no wriggle room.

    1. Jim Bennett says:

      Hello John, Johnny Come Lately and Arthur and Justin,
      I don’t know if I’m one of the people referred to by you both and others but since I’m a default neurotic, I’ll assume that I am!

      Just for the record, I’ll do the pissing contest bit re credentials…I first campaigned for the SNP in the second 1974 election and have campaigned in every high and low of Scottish politics since, from the YES campaign in the 1st referendum to the last, with the Miners’ Strike, Poll tax, Afghanistan, Iraq and god knows what else in between. Unlike Justin, my awakening didn’t happen through the YES campaign over the last couple of years – I still had hair and all my teeth when my awakening began!

      So, let’s take an overview about this conversation:

      – Unfamiliar people have been involved ergo there’s a plot…Well, if there has been one, I’ve not been part of it. Couldn’t it just be that a good article has promoted good discussion? Isn’t it ok to be challenged? Wouldn’t debate (even if it’s with opponents) sharpen your position? To be honest, I would doubt whether the unionists have the capacity for the organised trollery that they’re accused of. And that brings me to…

      – Trolls and Trollery: I think that the elements raised in the discussion have been worthwhile e.g. international comparisons with local decentralisation, ID databases, the role and accountability of Police, opinion polling and complacency. I’m a bit long in the tooth (or at least the ones I have left) but even I enjoyed learning some new stuff in this discussion.

      – The role of SNP MPs: actually, this is fairly important and not trollery at all. l have been in so many campaigns (and just look at SYRIZA in Greece at the moment) not to sound a caution at the severe limits that will be on any YES elected rep in the UK parliament. Lesley Riddoch has made the same sensible level of caution that the day to day politics is frankly dull and not being champion of the people at every turn. The unionists will attempt to side-line elected SNP MPs a every turn and they may well achieve nothing in parliamentary terms. Mike’s two year campaign points regarding this are excellent but I doubt whether there’s much of a public understanding of this.

      So, I’d urge people who complain about:
      – new contributors
      – posts they don’t agree with, and
      – alleged Trollery
      to understand that an individual contributor may be looking to learn through debate, may be testing their own ideas and perspectives and might actually have the benefit of their own deep experience to draw from.

  26. Lochside says:

    Jim Hunter: good points. I worry also about polls being produced by Tories predicting anything positive for the SNP. Maybe because I’m paranoid, or maybe it’s because of what happened in the lead up to the Referendum. Manipulation of polls and constant lies by the media makes me uneasy about this predicted whitewash.

    The other thing is that the ‘NO’ segments of old, wealthy, loyalist, etc. have no reason to support the SNP’s stated aim of more powers. The Labour ‘Yes’ vote should remain steady, but how certain is this? And is the ‘NO’ Labour element so disillusioned by Murphy?

    I am an SNP member and campaigned for the ‘YES’ campaign. My experience during the REF was of ‘No’ voters as intractable or evasive. Those characteristics make me cynical about ‘polls’ and more determined to continue to canvass as if we were the minority. I suggest the rest of us do likewise!

  27. JWil says:

    It’s far too soon to be giving more power to the councils as soon as it’s transferred from Westminster. This is Murphy’s game plan so it should be nipped in the bud.

    With the rats in control it would just be disastrous for Scotland. The SNP need to retain the powers to control the situation until we have another referendum in the bag.

    1. Lawrie says:

      I don’t think Labour has any plans, its true they say something occasionally about regional government i suppose for political advantage but I don’t think you should confuse that with a plan. Even if they did come up with some ideas on devolving power to regions and community councils would that automatically make it a bad thing? “Control the situation” I think the point that I feel strongly about is that centralized countries cannot make good decisions for communities. Its something I am very aware of when I work in humanitarian aid in Africa, actually I think the ex colonial centralized government systems inherited by independent African countries are partly responsible for the chaos in countries where I work. People in the center cannot make good decisions from the center for people who live in very varied situations and facing very different problems, that power needs to be in communities, its true of countries, its true of over centralized regions and it would surely be true of “city regions”. Some powers belong at community level, some at regional level and some at national level. Obviously I am on the yes side and would like to see international, overseas aid, defense etc at Holyrood, but there is no good reason why Holyrood should not get on with the business of setting up a proper local government system before independence. Actually there will be so much to do after independence it is surely prudent and sensible to get local government sorted before independence. If I was in Scottish government I would devolve some power to regional government but at the same time proceed with pilot projects for interested communities who want to set up community councils with real power including control of (a portion of) income tax, land value tax, crown estate taxes etc, maybe 3 rural and 3 urban. See what can work and assess. It will be a long and involved process. As an example there is the Swiss system outlined above which I think is good, but others are available. I actually think that devolving government down to regions and communities actually improves the economy as well, which will be important for giving people economic and political confidence to vote YES next time. There was an article in a Swiss newspaper last year comparing two different areas, one that is a Cantun and another similar geographically situated area which is part of a bigger Cantun. The area that is a Cantun does better economically than the area that is a sub part of a bigger Cantun. If anyone is interested the article is at (is in German..) http://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/stolzer-kanton-obwalden–arme-region-entlebuch-1.18423089

      1. Ann says:

        Re the need for centralisation and the SNP needing to “control the situation” until they have the “referendum in the bag”.

        Labour are comfy with massive councils and aren’t into strong local community democracy. Strong local community democracy means breaking up the big councils into smaller units and removing most powers from them to community level.

        We have the SNP to vote for for Westminster till we get another referendum, but the independence campaign nearly won the referendum because it was wider than any party. To get to another referendum

        1) new SNP members and others who’d have supported a Yes alliance, need trust with the SNP. We nearly won in september because people started to believe they’d got a say in how they live their own lives. To get us to another referendum we need to see changes in scotland, made by holyrood, that keep faith with what we went through in the referendum and since, and say that a democratic scotland is possible, is coming.

        And 2) the independence campaign needs to find ways to build trust in people that voted No, that people in scotland, people like us, (and people who don’t seem so much like us), can run our own lives and our own country better than westminster has done.

        Pilots in community democracy like Lawrie wrote about helps with both of these. It shows we already can trust ourselves to run our own lives and our own country, another scotland is possible, and independence won’t replicate westminster in holyrood. For me, it’s not only that doing this helps us get to the next referendum and independence, but that independence is only a part of the road to a democratic scotland. I agree with Lawrie that it’s a long job and we can start it.

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