How to win the Referendum

IMG_0709_2Sooner or later there will be a second Scottish independence referendum. Before the first referendum campaign began, support for independence was around 30%. Over the course of the two year campaign this figure moved slowly up until on the day it reached 45%.

Since last September, based on an average of 25 opinion polls, support for independence has risen to 48%. This suggests that if a second referendum was held today, the Yes vote could just creep over the winning line. But if it didn’t, if there was a second win for No, the possibility of holding a third independence referendum would be very, very slim.

To be certain of winning a second referendum then, support for independence needs to be built up towards 60% in opinion polls. To be really certain, support of 55 to 60 % will also have to be consistent over several polls.

What this means is that 10 to 15 % of people who either voted No or did not vote in 2014 will have to be persuaded to vote Yes next time. At the same time all of the 45% who voted Yes in 2014 will have to be kept on board.

In other words, to win a second referendum, people who are not 100% committed to independence will have to be won over. Some will have voted Yes in 2014, but with reservations. Others will have voted No, but with reservations.

During the long campaign which led up to last year’s vote, the official Yes campaign struggled to get its message across in the face of the No campaign’s Project Fear. Fortunately, operating under the radar of mainstream media attention a diverse and dynamic unofficial, grassroots, Yes campaign emerged. While SNP members and long term supporters of independence were part of these grassroots groups, many others were not.

What inspired this anarchic upsurge in popular support for independence was the belief, best expressed in the Radical Independence Campaign’s slogan, that ‘Another Scotland is Possible’. In the closing weeks of the referendum campaign, the enthusiasm of the grassroots campaigners seemed likely to push support for a Yes vote over 50%, forcing the No campaign to make their notorious ‘Vow’.

While the shock of the actual result on 18 September has receded, softened by the surge in SNP support in this year’s UK general election, some of the reactions to the No vote threaten to make it harder to achieve success in a second referendum.

The problem is a variation on the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, as in this example.

Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus who is a Scotsman likes sugar with his porridge.”
Person A: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

For people who are 100% committed to independence, the failure of more than 50% of Scots (=people able to vote in the referendum) to vote Yes in 2014 is answered by an assertion/ belief that ‘No true Scot would vote against independence’.

Although rarely expressed in quite such a blunt way, the ‘No true Scot’ argument is becoming a feature of discussions about next year’s Scottish parliament elections. A typical version is that to use the second vote in the election for the Scottish Green party or RISE (the left alliance) rather than the SNP risks splitting or dividing the independence movement.

A related argument is that discussion about what other kind of Scotland might be possible must wait until after independence, since again such discussions risk dividing the independence movement. Questioning SNP policies is another no-go area since this gives comfort to the Unionist parties.

As a defensive reaction to defeat in 2014, it can be argued that preserving the unity of the independence movement is an essential foundation for the next referendum campaign. The danger is that unless a second referendum happens soon, the defensive strategy will have become so firmly embedded in the independence movement that the movement will lose the capacity to engage with voters who are not 100% committed to independence.

To conclude, the biggest obstacle to Scotland becoming independent may yet turn out to be the passionate intensity of those most committed to independence. The very certainty of their conviction that Scotland must become independent makes it difficult or even impossible for the ’true Scots’ to engage with the uncertain and the unsure, let alone former No voters. The strongly nationalist language of the committed also alienates people for whom independence is not an end in itself, but a stepping stone to a greener and/or more socialist Scotland.

On a final point: throughout the first referendum campaign, Project Fear did its best to label Yes campaigners as exclusive ethnic nationalists driven by anti-English resentments. This tactic failed because both the official and grass roots Yes campaigns were committed to inclusive civic nationalism, reflected in the unprecedented diversity of support for independence.

However difficult it may be for the ‘true Scots’ who are 100% committed to independence to accept, for their dream to become a reality, the movement for Scottish independence must remain committed to the path of inclusive, civic, nationalism. If it does not, if siren song of exclusive, ethnic, nationalism is heeded then the Union of 1707 will endure.

Comments (210)

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    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      Enjoyed your blog piece Fiona, thank you; a simple, sensible appeal, we need more of that to keep the conversation civilised and so we all always feel welcome at the party!

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        Unless you’re an SNP member, of course.

        1. Jon Buchanan says:

          No one said anything of the kind Peter, though this thread has turned into a one man party!(please note the word count Bella have given to your opinion, by my reckoning in excess of the article itself!). Did you read Fiona’s blog piece? What you just said was like going up to someone feeling excluded at a party, sitting in the corner alone, en masse as all of the other people at the party, and saying, ‘are you enjoying yourself over there in the corner excluding all of us?’

          1. Peter A Bell says:

            That just makes no sense. The analogy was tortured to death.

          2. Jon Buchanan says:

            Wasn’t a tortuous analogy if you actually read the blog piece Peter, for Fiona the party was partly actual; you seem to enjoy assuming a victim status but flat out deny when you try to victimise others(again, I note, wasn’t that part of the point of the original article lost on you), you have the debating finesse of a blancmange! You appear to be reading any comment from those not concurring with your own standpoint, looking for an in with your own not so witty put downs, your not even a good bully, just a very tiresome one whose ‘keyboard warrior’ polemics and putdowns owe more to the Westminster style of politics, you claim to want to be rid of, than anything I for one would consider progressive, collegiate, inclusive or a ‘broad church’. Your clearly attempting to disrupt the entire thread now, I posted a positive comment regarding Fiona’s blog, nothing partisan involved in it, nor were you, the rest of where narrowness of opinion lies should be obvious to anyone following the comments who doesn’t hold narrow opinions themselves.

          3. jimbennett says:

            Jon Buchanan: in my subjective opinion… are a very sensible guy!

    2. jimbennett says:

      Hi Fiona. Nice blog…keep writing!

  1. JBS says:

    Branding the people who are “100% committed to independence” as “ethnic” nationalists is utterly disgraceful. Who wrote this? How did it ever get published on Bella Caledonia?

    1. Triffid says:

      Well what if by magic the SNP turned out to be nazi’s and then Corbyn’s Labour won in 2020 and all his MPs stayed loyal? Then every rational person would vote No. To be 100% committed means that even if you knew Scotland would be worse off you would still support Yes. And the only justification for that is blood and soil nationalism.

      1. JBS says:

        Oh, I dare say that anything is possible to someone who believes in magic.

        This article is a blatant attack on the SNP and everyone who intends to vote SNP next May. A strange way to try to win support for RISE.

        1. Fiona Morag Grahame says:

          We need to keep the conversations going. We should not be shutting down the voices of those who have a different vision for an independent Scotland. There are many possibilities for the future of our nation and our strength is in the diversity of voices we are prepared to listen to.

          Have you read In Place of Failure?

          1. JBS says:

            No-one is trying to shut down the voices of those who have a different vision for an independent Scotland. What’s clear, though, is that the writer of this article is using the “ethnic nationalists” label to smear the SNP and those who intend to vote SNP next May.

            I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.

            The real opposition in Scotland is Unionism. Anyone who thinks that Unionism has been crushed, and that there is not still considerable support for the Labour Party in Scotland, is a fool.

      2. Cedric Edgar Charles Barnett-Jones says:

        Not really. Even if Scotland were to be vastly poorer I would still vote Yes. Not because of blood and soil nationalism, but out of an entirely warranted dissent to British foreign policy, and for a fairer and more democratic system of government. British colonialism still exists today in how so many British citizens actually believe that the Brits were “good colonialists”, and believe the perpetuated myth that Britain brought democracy and industry and trains etcetera to places like India, where in fact they crushed the thumbs of muslin cloth weavers so that they could create demand for their inferior product. Or that the Brits are stalwart defenders of democracy when the Second World War was the only notable war in all of British history where the Brits were the “good guys”. That’s a war where the opponent was so evil that Apartheid South Africa, America and the Soviet Union were the “good guys” along with Britain! “Breaking up Britain” was a term used by the No campaign because it sounded negative to people. For me it was always a positive thing, because Britain is a negative force in international politics and it’s dissolution would therefore be beneficial to conflict around the world.

        1. John Robertson says:

          My thoughts exactly.

      3. IAB says:

        Worse off in what way? Financially as the country settles maybe but free from the Establishment, the warmongers and Westminster, it’s not possible to be worse off

      4. Peter A Bell says:

        Whence this daft notion that Jeremy Corbyn is some kind of political Messiah able to transform the British state in such a way as to make it irresistible to the people of Scotland?

      5. Jeff says:

        Utter claptrap.

  2. kate says:

    re those who feel british to be cross cultural – is it possible highlighting a scottish citizen as compatible with being a dual citizen with rUK countries-ie. a scottish citizen could also also be citizen of england etc -could help neutralize that concern? this might be of more importance if all rUK countries not in EU

    i think scots don’t have to keep proving they are anti english, as if anything the boot is clearly on the other foot. london based media & many english people feel superior to & entitled to make decisions for scotland’s people and sometimes say so, because the british colonial mindset is predominantly a creation of english educational, business & aristocratic elites. Attempts to appease english sensibilities seem non reciprocated & misplaced. why should not english people in scotland feel their primary duty is to the interests of the culture they are living in, and its indigenous array of values ? to be born into a culture is not everything, not crisply definable or unchangeable or more correct, but it is also not nothing. The english elite make no apologies for their culture or its dominant values. only willfully subordinate classes & nations go there.

  3. Pantone300 says:

    “To conclude, the biggest obstacle to Scotland becoming independent may yet turn out to be the passionate intensity of those most committed to independence.”

    Sorry but what a load of guff actually. Setting aside the fact that the biggest obstacle to independence is the lies and fear spun out by the English owned media and London registered political parties like ‘Scottish’ Labour, this article is nothing more than a Hothersall-esq distortion aimed at trying to con people into giving their second vote to a non SNP party.

    You should do your homework and visit regions like the south of Scotland to realise that it is very unlikely that the SNP will win all the constituency seats. In fact, in a repeat of the general election, Tory David Mundell’s son has a very good chance of beating SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine in the Dumfriesshire constituency. And if Joan doesn’t get the second votes like she did in 2011, she might end up out on her ear, possibly even replaced by a unionist candidate.

    So don’t pretend 2nd votes for the SNP don’t matter, they do, and if the SNP lose their majority at HR it’ll be a major set back for all of us, a victory for the unionist press and a PR disaster that will be used as a stick to beat all the yessers, not just the SNP.

    Shame on you for this non-journalism attempt at stealing SNP votes. But way to go to lose your readership.

    1. Mhari McKinnon says:

      If you vote SNP give the SNP both first and second votes, not to do so risks letting in a unionist party.

      Debate, there have been accusations that in seeking to maximise unity., the SNP are stifling debate.

      Imagine RISE get two MSPs, what if this costs ten SNP MSPs their seats and in turn they loose their majority and some form of unionist coalition takes over, on probability labour and liberals. What will this have achieved, two marginalised MSPs who will have two weeks of headlines and then melt back into obscurity. The real headlines portrayed by the unionist press if the SNP lost their majority is not difficult to imagine, imagine the smiles on Jackie and Sally!

      As a collection of people, those living in Scotland are tantalisingly close to securing our freedom and being able to represent ourselves in the UN and EU, etc. Why put this at risk? Do the most elementary analysis, who has most to gain from RISE and it’s the unionist parties.

      Yes to RISE as a pressure group, policy think tank and external conscious for the SNP, but no to a political party splitting and diminishing the pro independence vote.

      United we stand and win for Scotland, divided we fail and our most vulnerable people are left to the mercy of London rule, trident, austerity, crumbling public services, foreign wars, privatisation, low wages, etc

  4. Peter A Bell says:

    I can readily understand why the author of this article wished to remain anonymous. As misrepresentations of the independence movement go, it’s right up there with the kind of deranged and deluded drivel we regularly read in the likes of the Express and the Telegraph. Although the writer is not identified we know that it is not someone closely associated with the independence campaign. It is someone completely taken in by the caricature of that campaign promulgated by the unionist media.

    The assertion that those who are 100% committed to independence regard themselves as the only “true Scots” is completely unsupported by any evidence. There are no examples of anyone prominent in the independence campaign saying, “No true Scot would vote against independence.” How could there be? No spokesperson for the independence campaign has ever said such a thing. It is a myth. Or, to put it more pointedly, it is a lie.

    Let me state this as clearly as possible for the benefit of the fool who penned this piece. There is no ethnic component to Scotland’s independence campaign. The suggestion of “blood and soil” nationalism is as offensive as it is wrong. Ours is a civic nationalist movement. Anybody even marginally involved with the campaign would be aware of this.

    The ignorance and dishonesty of our unknown mischief-maker is summed up in the following passage,

    “A related argument is that discussion about what other kind of Scotland might be possible must wait until after independence, since again such discussions risk dividing the independence movement. Questioning SNP policies is another no-go area since this gives comfort to the Unionist parties.”

    This is the unionist propaganda line distilled to a couple of sentences. British nationalists love to portray those on the Yes side as obsessive and controlling. They like to make out that we talk about nothing else but “independence at any cost”. They have been lying about us for so long that now genuinely imagine all SNP members to be mindless party loyalists.

    The reality, for those who yet retain the capacity to see it, is incessant discussion of the possibilities that independence offers Scotland. It’s just that, as rational people rather than the impassioned fanatics of unionist propaganda, we are aware of the distinction between being independent and becoming independent. And we recognise that discussion around the former is meaningless without securing the latter.

    The reality, as opposed to the inane notions set out in the article, is that SNP policy is constantly being debated and challenged. There is no problem with questioning SNP policy. There is no issue with reasoned criticism. What sensible people have no patience with is knee-jerk condemnation of absolutely everything the SNP does.

    The article is ill-informed garbage from beginning to end. Standards are slipping at Bella Caledonia.

    1. Oh dear. The inability to read, or to engage with critical debate is going to be the downfall of this movement. The author – Alistair Livingston – as detailed on the title bar above the story and on twitter makes some valid points.

      Some of this is so basic its inconceivable why it causes such offence:

      “.to win a second referendum, people who are not 100% committed to independence will have to be won over. Some will have voted Yes in 2014, but with reservations. Others will have voted No, but with reservations…”

      Who would or could argue with this?

      As for the ‘ethnic’ question, I really don’t think you have the piece properly.

      The internet has been littered with examples of people pointing out that ‘Scottish people’ voted Yes. You will have seen these yourself Paul?

      But the author does conclude:

      “Project Fear did its best to label Yes campaigners as exclusive ethnic nationalists driven by anti-English resentments. This tactic failed because both the official and grass roots Yes campaigns were committed to inclusive civic nationalism, reflected in the unprecedented diversity of support for independence.”

      If this movement can’t engage in debate it will die.

      If this movement can’t tolerate a diversity of opinion it will die.

      Frankly shocked by the levels of intolerance witnessed here.

      Bella will continue to publish opinions from a range of perspectives. If you want uncritical homage to the SNP there’s plenty of sites that will provide endless ‘SNPGood’ – fill your boots – you will remain a sealed group agreeing amongst yourselves for ever. It will feel good until the point your realise that it’s hopeless.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        The by-line was not there when I posted my comment.

        I find no good reason to be tolerant of ignorance an dishonesty.

          1. Peter A Bell says:

            Read my original comment.

          2. JBS says:

            Bella Caledonia Editor:

            The by-line was not there when I posted my comments, either.

            You seem determined to turn Bella Caledonia into a platform for RISE. I hope you know what you’re doing.

          3. Peter A Bell says:

            I have no problem with Bella Caledonia becoming a platform for RISE. I have no problem with RISE. What we don’t need, however, is another echo-chamber for inane “SNP BAD!” propaganda.

            You can be pro-independence and non-SNP. But you can’t be pro-independence and anti-SNP. And before the cretins start, that is not a matter of tribalism, it is a matter of simple political practicality. The SNP is the political agency by which independence will be delivered. No other party or organisation is in a position to fulfil this role. That is just a fact of life.

            Independence has to be the priority because the other stuff that we want to achieve is not possible without independence. Becoming independent requires that we support the SNP. It requires, at the very least, we cut the party some slack on those issues where we are not wholly in agreement with the party line.

            That shouldn’t be a huge problem for those who recognise that independence is crucial. It’s not like people are being asked to sign up to a totally alien political agenda.

            The real threat to the independence movement is not the “passion” of those who recognise that we need the SNP. The real threat is those who seek to undermine the SNP in the hope of some petty political advantage for their own little clique. The notorious factionalism of the left is the cancer that will cripple the independence movement, unless we cut it out.

      2. Peter A Bell says:

        who the hell is talking about “uncritical homage to the SNP”? All I and others have done is point out that the article is based on the caricature of the SNP favoured by British nationalists rather than the reality that is familiar to those of us who engage with the party on a regular basis.

        It seems that Bella Caledonia has morphed into just another “SNP BAD!” trumpet. NOBODY is objecting to reasoned criticism of the SNP or its policies or its methods. But you are arguing that ill-informed anti-SNP ranting is to be treated as just as valid as reasoned criticism. Anybody who objects to lies and ignorant comment about the SNP is immediately branded a sycophantic party loyalist.

        In what possible way is this supposed to aid the independence movement? Or is that now secondary to mindless lashing out at the SNP?

        1. Peter you have accused us of being a) the ‘ deranged and deluded drivel we read in the Express and the Telegraph’


          b) ‘Bella Caledonia becoming a platform for RISE’.

          Which is it? It cant be both.

          1. JBS says:

            Bella Caledonia Editor:

            Yes, it can. Oh yes, it can.

          2. Peter A Bell says:

            It wasn’t I who said that Bella Caledonia was becoming a platform for RISE. I merely said that this needn’t be a problem as far as I am concerned. It only becomes a problem if being a platform for RISE means also being a trumpet for “SNP BAD!” propaganda. For reasons which I have already explained, it is certainly a problem if attacking and undermining the SNP is regarded as a valid way of promoting RISE. And if this is the priority, then adopting the language of the British nationalist media would come quite naturally.

        2. Clive Scott says:

          Completely agree with your posts, particularly the point that the only route to self determination for Scotland is to vote SNP at every opportunity. So, none of this second preference nonsense for minor parties until independence is achieved.

  5. manandboy says:

    This article appears ill conceived. It’s like someone down a hole describing the countryside above. The way things are is much more complex and more optimistic than portrayed in this piece. Too much left-wing I think.

  6. Saor Alba says:

    There is a remarkable inconsistency in paragraph 5:

    “In other words, to win a second referendum, people who are not 100% committed to independence will have to be won over. Some will have voted Yes in 2014, but with reservations. Others will have voted No, but with reservations”.

    This suggests that the 45-48% are 100% committed. So, the author seems to have invented another type of 100% commitment for the purpose of this article, which appears divisive in my opinion. The Yes movement is inclusive and has been from the beginning. I think JBS is correct and has spotted the point of this article. It is clearly anti SNP, which is definitely not inclusive.

    Kate also makes an extremely important point in her reply and I would point out that our Government gave the vote to ALL who live in Scotland of voting age.

    1. Debra storr says:

      Try re-reading the article.
      There are some that are 100% committed – and more who voted Yes who need to be kept on board – as well as converting undecided and No.
      That’s all in the article.

  7. Jon Buchanan says:

    When you you weigh the vitriol of of a lot of the comments now BTL against the article, which seem to be trying to shout it down in places, doesn’t the necessity of the article become self evident even if all of the points in the comments needed to Mede in the conversation too? None of the article seemed like an attack on the SNP to me, just an appeal to allow the spectrum of opinion which was the feature of the Yes movement, characterised not by the official campaign or the SNP but the grassroots, which moved the 30% figure up to the final tally of 45%, to continue to flourish so those who need brought onside for a future vote can be, so the discussion is more open to them. I’ve certainly seen the ‘we have to present a united front and wait until after we get there’ argument presented in threads/actual life where discussion over future votes and policies/ways forward were the topic and have certainly wondered, as I drifted away from/felt excluded from the discussion as a non SNP member but ardent supporter of ‘the cause’, what those discussions would feel like to those whose votes may be softer on either side.

    Isn’t a knee jerk reaction to an article discussing the issue, trying to open up the debate where it is being closed down, calling for the head of its writer, and being apoplectic at it daring to question any part of the movement from within kind of proving the point of the article?

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      wow, don’t know what auto correct did to that first sentence, should just say ,even if all of the points in the comments needed to be made in the conversation too.’ Apologies!

      1. Jason says:

        ‘Isn’t a knee jerk reaction to an article discussing the issue, trying to open up the debate where it is being closed down, calling for the head of its writer, and being apoplectic at it daring to question any part of the movement from within kind of proving the point of the article?’

        ‘Knee jerk’ = considered criticism

        ‘Calling for the head of it’s writer’ = hyperbole by yourself Jon

        ‘apoplectic at it daring to question any part of the movement from within’ = an attempt by yourself Jon, through more (‘apoplectic’) hyperbole, of closing down criticism of an article voluntarily published by it’s author on Bella Caledonia (anonymously).

    2. Peter A Bell says:

      So we’re not supposed to challenge malicious misrepresentation? We’re not supposed to condemn an article which promulgates untruths? By some contorted “logic”, pointing out that the article is wrong makes it right?

      1. Jon Buchanan says:

        I think I did say maybe all of the points, made in the article and the comments BTL, needed to be made as part of the discussion and only descended into hyperbole to highlight how the other reactions seemed on reading to me; there are now far more comments to that end than the article itself, which seems to me to prove the point of the article (the main point I was trying to make); as soon as it was posted it seemed there were those who thought it had no right to say what it was saying, doesn’t seem like mature debate to me, I’d opt out of that everytime, I think that might be the case with a lot of soft votes too and we wouldn’t know which way their votes would fall come indyref2 if they didn’t even feel welcome in the conversation.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          So some clown can write a load of ill-informed drivel about the nature of the independence movement and that’s OK. But pointing out that it’s a load ill-informed drivel is totally unacceptable. Listen to yourself! You falsely accuse me of saying the author of this article has no right to say what he says, but it is you who is telling me that I have no right to say what I am saying. You defend his right to talk a load of crap, while condemning others for criticising that crap.

          You have a very selective notion of freedom of expression.

          1. Jon Buchanan says:

            And, again, I did say maybe all of the points BTL and in the article need to be made as part of the conversation, seems like a freer spectrum of freedom of expression than simply calling someone’s points of view those of ‘some clown’. I completely respect your entitlement to question someone’s judgement or opinion but not their person.

          2. Peter A Bell says:

            What exactly is the role of distortion and disinformation in “the conversation”?

            The central claim of the piece is false. It is untrue. It is a fallacy. How many different ways must it be said? It is claimed that those on the Yes side are going around saying that No voters are not “true Scots”. That is a falsehood. The consensus is that people voted No because they were sold a false prospectus by a massively powerful propaganda machine. It has nothing whatever to do with “Scottishness”. The whole ethnic nationalism thing is part of the unionist caricature of the independence movement. It bears no relation to the reality.

            But your argument is that this fallacious assertion should be treated as if it was just as legitimate as a statement of truth. You would have us afford equal status to all statements regardless of any objective evidence. The fact that everybody has a right to express an opinion does not mean that all opinions are equally valid. Opinions founded in facts and reasoned argument will always trump opinions based on ignorance and prejudice.

      2. Jon Buchanan says:

        Isn’t it a matter of subjective realities and interpretation of them rather than binary truths or untruths? Wasn’t that a part of the point of the article? It was certainly what I read into it, I thought it was quite measured in trying to make that point, beginning by exposing the fallacy of didactic reasoning applied to a complex political and cultural context, and continuing by explaining what the author thinks would be a more nuanced approach. To counter that by simplistic, didactic ‘truth’ or ‘untruth’ reasoning seems to me to be attempting to shut the debate down before its opened up again with all the finesse of a sledgehammer! There are no ‘winners’ in a conversation, it’s not a pissing contest!

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          The only point of the article was to insinuate things that simply aren’t rue. such as that discussion of “what other kind of Scotland might be possible” is being closed down. It is not! And that questioning SNP policies is a “no-go area”. Utter rubbish!

          There is a difference between truth and untruth, however much you may wish to blur that very important distinction.

          1. Jon Buchanan says:

            When it comes to opinion, I don’t think there is Peter; it is a simple scientific and sociological premise that by being involved in the process you distort the outcome, thus there can be no objective reality or ‘meta-truth’. I think the course of the discussion here has shown clearly ‘my truth’, ‘your truth’, ‘the author’s truth’ and ‘Bella Editor’s truth’, none of which are or could/should make any claim to be THE truth, given that they are derived from subjective, lived experience; only one is making any claim to be that and dismissing the others as untruth thus attempting to invalidate, or at least question the validity of holding such an opinion if it can be ‘proven’ untrue (which I hope, in the interest of us not continuing to follow a circular logic, you can at least acknowledge is not empirically possible, when it comes subjective opinion or lived experience, there must be as many truths as there are experiences surely!); by attempting to dismiss the opinion and lived experience of the others, and in the process also dismissing the person of at least one other too, you undermine your own position further as dichotomising when a spectrum is appealed for. That, to me at least, underlines my original comment and the point of the article.

          2. Peter A Bell says:

            You can settle the matter very easily. Just provide a couple of examples of authoritative voices in the independence movement saying that No voters are no “true Scots”. That is the claim in the article. Now back it up with some evidence.

        2. It was measured and the response is both hysterical and myopic.

          The key passage has been misunderstood (entirely). It reads;

          “Or people who are 100% committed to independence, the failure of more than 50% of Scots (=people able to vote in the referendum) to vote Yes in 2014 is answered by an assertion/ belief that ‘No true Scot would vote against independence’.”

          The point is not about ethnicity it’s about about assumptions, lazy thinking and dead certainty- a point that is then made and reinforced brilliantly by Peter Bell and others

          1. Peter A Bell says:

            Who is answering with the assertion that “no true Scot would vote against independence”? Who is accusing No voters of not being “true Scots”. You may not want to dispute this statement. You may be content to accept it uncritically. Others are more thoughtful. Others look at the response to the No vote from Yes voters here in the real world and see, not condemnation for a supposed lack of “Scottishness”, but understanding and even sympathy – albeit often grudging – for people who were taken in by unionist lies and deterred by British nationalist fear mongering.

            You are dead certain that the conclusion n the article is absolutely 100% correct. You have a totally myopic perspective. And you have been ludicrously hysterical in defending your belief in the infallibility of the author. Al I and others have done is point out that the conclusion is wrong. Even if it is a good fit with your prejudices, it is objectively erroneous.

            But I did have a good laugh at your silly insistence that talk of “true Scots” has nothing to do with ethnicity. That’s a gem!

          2. Peter I am bored with this shit.

            You have proved yourself to be preposterous over a long time but here’s two examples today.

            First you say: “The SNP is the political agency by which independence will be delivered. No other party or organisation is in a position to fulfil this role. That is just a fact of life….Becoming independent requires that we support the SNP.”

            The simple weirdness of thought that we’ll become ‘independent’ by cancelling independent thinking and we’ll gain self-determination by being unquestioning is so off the scale odd that if you cant see the contradictions I dont really know what to say other than suffer your endless comments as some commitment to ‘free speech’ over the coming years and months.

            Second you accuse us of being ‘the same as the Telegraph’ and ‘unionist nationalist media’ asserting that the referendum was lost purely and only by media lies and propaganda.

            Both are ridiculous one dimensional and useless positions.

            The relentless unquestioning fealty to the SNP is embarrassing and short-sighted. It is repeated as an act of faith, and those who do so never actually articulate how this single party (for whom I regularly give my vote) can take us from 45% to 65% in a referendum.

            The second assertion that is also repeated like a comforting mantra is another story, little else. By endlessly blaming the media, the Big Bad BBC and other baddies, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility from thinking what we got wrong and how we are going to change to win next time.

          3. Peter A Bell says:

            What idiocy is this? In what way does recognising the need for the SNP equate to “cancelling independent thinking”? This is hysterical hyperbole taken to insane lengths. It is time for you to grow up and realise that to achieve independence we have to work within the British political system. This isn’t a matter of choice. If we are to follow a democratic path to independence that path necessarily involves a political party. And that political party is the SNP.

            It seems that some would like us to reject the SNP as our political agency. But it’s never very clear what they imagine might be the alternative. presumably, they want us to go back to square one and start building electoral support for some other political party. Quite apart from the fact that this would set the independence cause back decades, there is the problem that the people who want us to reject the SNP regard hard-won electoral success as something that disqualifies any party from being the political arm of the independence movement. The cause must be “pure”. It must not be tainted by party politics. But, as already noted, short of magic there is no democratic route to independence which doesn’t involve a political party.

            I did not accuse Bella Caledonia of being “the same as the Telegraph”. I pointed out that the depiction of the independence movement in the article under discussion is barely distinguishable from that favoured by the British nationalist media.

            Nor did i at any time say that “the referendum was lost purely and only by media lies and propaganda”. (You have a nasty habit of misrepresenting things. I suggest you address that issue.) I pointed out that this is an explanation which is vastly more widely accepted within the independence movement than the inane idea that No voters are not “true Scots”. At which point it is worth noting that nether you nor the author of the article have been able to point to a single instance of an authoritative figure in the Yes campaign accusing No voters of not being “true Scots”.

            Time for another lesson in realpolitik. There are only ever two reason why any political campaign is lost. Either the message isn’t good enough. Or the message isn’t communicated effectively enough. In more than half a century of involvement in politics I have rarely, if ever, encountered a message that was stronger – in both absolute and relative terms – than that of the Yes campaign. In all that time I have NEVER witnessed a bigger effort to prevent a message being conveyed and/or to kill that message with lies and smears and scaremongering and false promises.

            To pretend that the British state’s propaganda war was not the single most significant factor in the outcome of the referendum is blinkered nonsense. To assert that people on the Yes side think that outcome might be better explained by the “Scottishness deficiency” of No voters is both nonsensical and insulting.

            The remark about “relentless unquestioning fealty to the SNP” says more about you than it does about me. It speaks volumes about your blind anti-SNP prejudice. Because, in reality, all I have done is point out the inescapable fact that the SNP is crucial to the fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. What threatens that effort is not a pragmatic acknowledgement of the political realities, but the dumb factionalism of those on the left who would destroy the inclusiveness of the Yes movement for the sake of tribalistic factionalism.

          4. Ha ha ha ‘real politik’.

            No Peter you stated that the SNP are the only and sole route to independence not that ‘its crucial’ but that ‘SNP is the political agency by which independence will be delivered’. Also while you reject the idea of fealty you also say, really precisely: ‘Becoming independent requires that we support the SNP’. You cant escape the logic of that sort of language.

            To think that Bella doesn’t have a critique of the media and British propaganda means you haven’t been paying attention to our output over the last eight years. It’s insulting nonsense.

            Here’s the bit that’s really upset you:

            “the biggest obstacle to Scotland becoming independent may yet turn out to be the passionate intensity of those most committed to independence. The very certainty of their conviction that Scotland must become independent makes it difficult or even impossible for the ’true Scots’ to engage with the uncertain and the unsure, let alone former No voters. The strongly nationalist language of the committed also alienates people for whom independence is not an end in itself, but a stepping stone to a greener and/or more socialist Scotland.”

            All the stuff about ethnicity is just either willful misreading or an inability to read beyond a primary school level of literal thinking.

            The reality is if you want a website that simply churns out ‘SNPGood’ and creates an echo chamber for everybody to agree, you know where to go, there’s lots of them, some of them are quite popular. It will be great.

          5. Andy Ellis says:

            the response is neither hysterical nor myopic. The piece makes sweeping, generalised claims about elements of the Yes movement for which there is precisely zero evidence.

            The only lazy thinking and dead certainties here are on the part of the contributor and your windmill tilting defence of a woefully substandard contribution and the number of readers you’ll turn off as a result of giving it the oxygen of publicity in the first place, and even worse trying to defend it afterwards.

            There’s a lot of wrong headedness going on here, but it isn’t coming from those attacking the false premise in the article or your doomed defence of it.

          6. JBS says:

            Bella Caledonia Editor:

            What a ridiculous response. What, have you blocked Peter A Bell?

            Have fun with RISE. I reckon, though, that the majority of Scottish independence supporters will see through RISE because they know that independence does indeed come first. You can wish for a greener and more socialist Scotland as much as you like but without independence you’ll never have a chance of getting it.

            You have lost focus.

          7. No I haven’t blocked Peter.

            I’ll repeat and keep repeating, Bella is a platform for all radical and progressive pro-indy voices, parties and projects. We favour no one single party. Im pretty certain that over time we have published more articles by SNP members and MSPs / MPs than any other party. We just like a proper discussion

          8. Peter A Bell says:

            It sure as hell doesn’t look like you want a “proper discussion” when people point out that the SNP is crucial to the independence campaign. You reaction to statement of this mundane reality has been nothing short of hysterical.

  8. Jason says:

    An obviously partisan piece complaining (through the medium of fake concern and advice) of the partisanship of their perceived opponents. Classic piece of projection. An all too familiar subconscious tactical hangover from project fear. Very poor Bella.

    This article should be read as a warning, not of it’s crap about ‘blood and soil’, but rather as a reminder of the potential divisive and historically self destructive idiocy at the heart of some of those that view themselves as the ‘true’ internationals of the left.

    The referendum’s true glory and power was its re framing, incredible re awakening and rehabilitation of ‘Scotland’s left’, through the opportunity it gave the left to prove their true collegiate spirit, campaigning across party political barriers for the shared goal of a better Scotland. (The very same process in reverse is what destroyed SLab.)

    That miraculous rehabilitation was of course only needed after years of bitter infighting and marginalisation of their cause (‘Scottish left’) by the ‘passionate intensity of those [supposedly] most committed to’ it!

    This article has been written by someone who has learnt nothing and is consciously, or otherwise, singing their own ‘siren song’ of exclusivity. Ignore it.

    1. JBS says:

      I agree. The vast majority of Scottish independence supporters are now being trolled above the line by Bella Caledonia.

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          Not nearly as nonsensical as your patently ridiculous claim that attacking the false logic behind this travesty (or otherwise disagreeing with you it seems) is an example of unquestioning fealty to the SNP, or a short-sighted desire to close down debate or impose a one-party solution. What other movement are you suggesting will carry us over the line? To all intents and purposes the SNP is “Junts Pel Si”. You don’t have to be a member (unquestioning or otherwise) to see that without the SNP, independence isn’t going anywhere. Even if RISE or other organisations make any electoral impact (which has to be open to considerable doubt) they will only have any point if the SNP remains as a broad church able to accommodate pro-indy people from the political left, centre and right or those who don’t identify with any party but support (or can be persuaded to support) independence.

          Of course the MSM weren’t the only reason we lost last year; but they WERE a factor. Even our opponents recognise it, just as they now (after a safe period and bearing in mind events since) admit their campaign was negative and counter productive.

          Slavish devotion and absolute unity aren’t desirable, nor are they being requested. This isn’t the No campaign. Not giving credence to second rate agitprop which gives comfort to the “enemy” (and yes, I AM using the word advisedly – it doesn’t mean I’m an ethnic nationalist advocating the opposition be exterminated, it’s just a rhetorical device FFS!) IS a requirement however.

          1. “Of course the MSM weren’t the only reason we lost last year; but they WERE a factor.”

            Er, no shit Sherlock. Read anything Ive written over an eight year period?

          2. Andy Ellis says:

            “Er, no shit Sherlock. Read anything Ive written over an eight year period?”

            Yes, I did. Thankfully it was generally of a better standard than this half baked apology for analysis. My comments were in relation to you petulant response to Peter beginning ” Peter I’m bored with this shit…..” because it wasn’t possible to respond directly underneath. You don’t address those. Stun us with another. Obviously it’s a lot easier just being condescending. Well done you.

          3. JBS says:

            My word. Scottish independence supporters now being trolled above and below the line by Bella Caledonia. Who’da thunk?

          4. Andy Ellis says:

            Indeed. I see Bella is taking a bit of a break. Given the faintly hysterical response to any criticism, perhaps that’s a good thing? 😉

          5. That was last week. We’re back.

          6. Andy Ellis says:

            Hmmnn…so even that isn’t available to excuse it. C’est la vie.

  9. john young says:

    We have an uphill battle and that is obvious to all,we will not shift the views of the unionist/orange affiliates and that makes up circa 40% of a solid block,it doesn,t leave much of a window for us,like the Chinese best sit and wait striking only when everything is in our favour,good or bad there is another financial crisis on the horizon.

  10. Andy Ellis says:

    This is a deeply flawed piece; so bad in fact it’s difficult to know where to start. Just when you think Bella Caledonia can’t sink much lower, you guys just limbo right under that bar don’t you?

    1) There is nothing automatic about losing a second indyref making a 3rd impossible. It’s a total fallacy. Even if it were true however, flawed logic like this would go a long way to explaining why we might lose next time.

    2) As Peter Bell point out, nobody but the lunatic fringe of the Yes movement makes the “no true Scotsman” claim. It’s a total fiction. All those who are giving credence to this false assertion are doing is handing ammunition to our ideological opponents. It is of a piece with the ultras who continue to insist that “we wuz robbed” and the result was actually Yes. Just stop it!

    3) The language of “don’t be too extreme or you’ll scare the undecideds” was one of the reasons we lost last year. There is room for a multi-faceted approach, which speaks to different audiences, in different ways, at different times. Pulling our punches in the face of a nasty, regressive, negative Better Together campaign likely lost us as many votes and being more combative would have lost us. Happy-clappy “let’s all have a hug” inclusivity has it’s place, but so does a robust response to lies and scaremongering. Obama’s first Presidential campaign used both approaches, and so must we.

    4) The ethnic nationalism canard needs to be nipped in the bud now. Ill considered “analysis” like this doesn’t help. It wasn’t an issue in last year’s indyref, and it won’t be in indyref2. there is simply no link, or even remote possibility of committed pro-independence supporters de-railing the train of civic nationalism and driving it up the spur of ethnically exclusive anti English bigotry. The fact anyone can even think such a trajectory is even possible given the experience of the last few years suggests they’ve either not been paying attention, or they are simply floating some ridiculous trial balloon trying to provoke a negative response.

    We expect better of Bella. we deserve better.

    Get a grip for God’s sake!

    1. Hey Andy ‘Just when you think Bella Caledonia can’t sink much lower, you guys just limbo right under that bar don’t you?’

      If we’re so shit you know what to do don’t you?

      1. Andy Ellis says:

        Great response bud! Up there with the level of self awareness of the Blairites whingeing about why they lost and wondering why voters just keep getting it wrong. That MUST be it, all false consciousness on our part….nothing to do with you at all. Good grief.

        1. Hey – you have open contempt for Bella, what do you want me to say?

          1. Andy Ellis says:

            From the evidence of this thread, little better can be expected of you. I expected little. I wasn’t disappointed.

  11. Gordie says:

    When I read the title of this article I thought that contain information or at least opinion ‘How to win a referendum’. True Scots? I’ve supported Scottish Independence all my adult life, 30 years and I’ve never heard that phrase used in a conversation and most of my mates and acquaintances are Indy supporters. It’s a corny, plastic phrase but I have read it and listened to it from time to time from media outlets usually from people who want to belittle the arguments of those who support Independence. I don’t know whether this article is some muppet attempt to start a debate but I know it’s a fucking embarrassment to whoever wrote it.

    Fuck off and do something else with your time will you?

  12. arthur thomson says:

    I am one hundred percent committed to the goal of Scottish independence. It is the only way I know of achieving a form of government which is unashamedly dedicated to prioritising the needs of Scotland and its citizens before all else.

    This is not about ‘blood’ and to suggest otherwise is way beyond disgraceful. A pox on those who think that it is ok to insult me in this way.

    The ‘soil’ bit, however, has some resonance with me. Scotland is as entitled as any other piece of soil on the planet to be cared for and cherished. That will never happen until it has a government dedicated to that end. It has been treated as an irrelevant backwater for 300 years and that won’t be changed by any means other than independence.

    Only independence ensures that Scotland has a government that does not subordinate its needs to the needs of others. The Greens, Socialists etc can form part of such a dedicated government but they do not, in their own right, offer a meaningful alternative to it. When they adopt the view that independence is a secondary issue they only offer more wasted years of Scotland being dismissed as a secondary issue and a largely irrelevant backwater.

    I honestly believe that the person who wrote the post is recommending that I and others to get back in the box. I will be charitable and say that maybe he doesn’t even realise that is what he is saying. My answer doesn’t need to be spelled out.

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      Can we take it that you also recognise how crucial the SNP is to the process of becoming independent? Some here do not.

  13. Peter A Bell says:

    “Although rarely expressed in quite such a blunt way, the ‘No true Scot’ argument is becoming a feature of discussions about next year’s Scottish parliament elections.”

    No it isn’t.

  14. Jim Bennett says:

    I’m ambivalent about the article but fairly shocked by some of the responses to it and the abuse heaped upon Bella in particular.

    Where the article fails for me is in nuance:
    “For people who are 100% committed to independence, the failure of more than 50% of Scots (=people able to vote in the referendum) to vote Yes in 2014 is answered by an assertion/ belief that ‘No true Scot would vote against independence’.”

    I’m 100% committed to independence but I think that the “true Scot” argument is bollocks and I’ve never used it nor would consider doing so. I accept that I have seen plenty of this type of argument by YES supporters (and those who deny its existence are being wilfully blind). However, to say that because some (a minority) take this view, then all (including me!) must take it is unfortunately just plain wrong.

    The author made a sweeping assertion that is false. However, if he’d have taken a more nuanced approach, suggesting that there does exist a TENDENCY for SOME independence supporters to take the “true Scot” line, then I think the article might have been partially closer to the mark.

    So, I’m ambivalent about the article but would encourage the author to think more carefully about how his argument is presented in the future. I would also like to thank Bella for continuing to stimulate critical debate within the movement.

    Lastly, thank you to Jon Buchanan for his thoughtful contribution arguing that there can be no objective reality or ‘meta-truth’…never a truer word spoken, Jon! Excellent stuff.

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      Thank ya kindly Jim, just something I consider a given in debate/discussion and get slightly perturbed when others don’t, may just be the first faltering steps of a ‘totalitarian tiptoe’ taken to its logical conclusion. I read the nuance into the piece which you mention but in retrospect, given the nature of the conversations had, it may have been better made more explicit, as you say. Still, as you also note, they are conversations we have to have and thanks to Bella for promulgating them!

      1. Jim Bennett says:

        Jon, I think we’re in the minority. Unfortunately, most people believe that “truth” objectively exists.

        As my buddy Marcus Aurelius said to me in the pub:
        “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
        Niels Bohr chipped this in over a pint:
        “Two sorts of truth: profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.”
        Then Albert Einstein leaned over:
        “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
        ..and then Paul Feyerabend put in his tippence worth:
        “The semblance of absolute truth is nothing but absolute conformism.”

        Unfortunately for me, saying that there is no such thing as truth leads to a paradox. First of all, if I say that there is no truth, then there’s at least one thing that’s true: that there is no truth. If it’s true, it’s false, and if it’s false, it’s false. But even if it’s true that there is no truth, then it’s also false, because that becomes a true statement.

        So then, there is no truth…..except when there is.

        1. Jon Buchanan says:

          Nicely put Jim! I had been going to note the implicit irony in you acknowledging the ‘meta-truth’ argument earlier by saying ‘never a truer word spoken’, realising it was likely intentional!

        2. Steve Arnott says:

          Last time I looked it was unquestionably true that Paris is the capital of France; that 2 +2 = 4, and that the Seattle Seahawks threw away the last Superbowl.

          Let me offer up the ever pragmatic Wittgenstein as a potential solution to your paradox, Jim:

          “The total reality is the world

          We make to ourselves pictures of facts

          …The picture is a model of reality.

          …It is like a scale applied to reality.

          …In order to discover whether the picture is true or false we must compare it to reality.”

          1. Jim Bennett says:

            Hey Steve,
            Bruce Wallace would blast you with some 1980s style invective for such an undialectical set of bollocks!
            – Paris capital etc: capitals are social constructs bearing no relation to reality. Everyone knows that “F” is the capital of France!
            – 2+2=4: err…what school did you go to?! It all depends whether you use the nominal, ordinal, ratio or interval scale. You’re obviously to wrapped up in ratio scales.
            – American Football: isn’t real football anyway.

            I liked the Wittgenstein though!

  15. tom forbes says:

    first can i say that i am NOT anti english or any other ethnic group. i have many english friends and relations all decent people as are the vast majority of english people. however according to prof tom devine the vast majority of the 477000 english people living in scotland as well as the majority of eastern europeans living here are against scottish independence.i may be standing on some toes here but surely only scots should be allowed to vote for scottish independence,even though i know many non scots voted yes and even actively campaigned for it. d cameron i am told intends to allow only british people to vote in the eu referendum.

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      You won’t (thankfully!) find many takers for that line. It totally flies in the face of the whole concept of civic nationalism. I’d oppose any vote carried out on such a basis. the only people who should get a say are those registered to vote in Scotland. There is no case for excluding “non-native” Scots, any more than there is a case for extending the vote to Scottish born expats like me who don’t currently reside in Scotland.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        Well said! There is no ethnic component to Scotland’s independence movement. Nor should there be.

        Besides, it would be hugely impractical. How does one define a “true Scot”?

  16. Paul Diamond says:

    To win the second referendum you need to make the case more strongly. That’s what failed last time, laying aside all the blame games against the BBC / “Project Fear” /etc.

    Man on the street wasn’t buying into it. It looked to many a bit thrown-together and a bit cock-eyed.

    The article is correct to assume a failed second referendum would make a third highly unlikely.

    Another factor: Yes voters (like me) who since the referendum find themselves not giving so much of a damn about the whole thing. I might even be persuaded to vote No next time.

    I think committed nationalists have, since the vote, always made the assumption that everyone in the 45% who voted Yes will automatically vote Yes again. This is not necessarily true.

    With love,

    Dr Paul

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      I think committed Yes supporters are probably a little more nuanced than you give them credit for. Of course it’s possible that *some* former Yes voters might switch and vote No next time. In truth however, the Yes vote has according to most polls, continued to grow since September 2014. That suggests any such movement is probably small, and certainly more than made up for by undecideds and former No voters deciding they’d vote Yes if given another chance?

      For Yes to win they need to convince some undecided/non-voters to vote Yes, turn some “soft” No voters and hope enough over 65’s fall off the register (harsh as that may sound).

      I honestly can’t see many being persuaded to go from Yes to No, any more than during the indyref campaign last year.

    2. Peter A Bell says:

      You miss the critical point that how it looked to many was a function of how the independence case was presented by the media. It is not at all contentious to state that the media presented a skewed and often dishonest perspective on the Yes campaign. Books have been written on the subject. There is academic analysis and evidence in abundance.

      It was only towards the end of the campaign that alternative media started to become a factor. How much of a factor can be judged from the hysterical response of the anti-independence campaign. Sites such as Bella Caledonia and, to an even greater extent, Wings Over Scotland came under sustained attack. And the whole contrived “cybernat abuse” thing was intended to discredit all online communication.

      Perhaps the most significant difference with the next referendum will be people’s attitude to the media. Trust in traditional media is declining rapidly, while increasing numbers of people are turning to blogs and news websites for information and analysis.

      We see a lot of obsessing about figuring what the Yes campaign did wrong last time. But the truth may well be that we did nothing wrong. Or nothing very significant. It may well be that we pretty much did everything right, but the No campaign was just too powerful. Power that came from the media. Our message was fine. We just couldn’t get it to the people because we were drowned out by the clamour of Project Fear.

      It may well be that what will win it for us next time is, not the Yes campaign doing anything markedly different, but the fact that the No campaign will not be able to pull the same trick twice. Unionists will be forced to fight a very different campaign. A repeat of Project Fear simply isn’t going to be effective. People have heard all the lies and the scare stories and the empty promises. They won’t get fooled again.

      1. Paul Diamond says:

        Yeah – the mainstream media bias was heavy and undeniable and books may well have been written about it but your mainstream punter doesn’t care about that.

        Genuinely unbiased man-in-the-street thinks EVERYONE is lying to him so he doesn’t see why one side is worse than the other.

        People who don’t spend all day thinking about politics (i.e. nearly everyone) don’t read blogs. They read/watch “the news”. I don’t think that’s going to change much by 2020 (or whenever ref2 comes… if it comes).

        Inside the Bubble, it’s all go… but I work around a lot of what you would call “ordinary” people and I know that they stopped talking about independence roughly one month after the ref and haven’t started again since. I don’t buy the “engagement” theory that everyone is fired up for indy. The people have returned to talking about telly and football. Yes there are MORE people doing politics than before. But not that many more.

        Saying the No campaign wouldn’t be able to pull the same trick again is complacent.

        The people who ran the No campaign and won the vote aren’t going to be sitting there now scratching their arses. They got a scare with Yes at 45% (higher than they anticipated) and they know they are going to need to be smarter next time. The funding will still be in place but the tactics will evolve.

        The best tactic of all will be getting the proposition right, specifically some bombproof currency plan, in plain-English.

        And if you really want this you need to sell people good, solid reasons to go indy. To seasoned campaigners like the people on here I’m sure you’ll throw your arms up and say “we gave them all the reasons – what else can we do?” but the answer is you need to do more. Far too many people just simply didn’t see the point of independence. That’s what you need to hammer.

        One more note: waiting for people to die is not a winning electoral tactic. I remember people in the 80s saying we’d soon be rid of the Tories because old people were always shuffling off the electoral register. True, but the thing is, they are always replaced with NEW old people!

        With love,
        Dr Paul

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          There was a “bombproof currency plan”. You chose to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.

          But many thanks, anyway, for your profound insight into the mind of… well… everybody. That’s quite a talent you imagine you have.

          1. Peter is it your position that there is / was no problem with perception of the currency plan and therefore there is no problem?

          2. Peter A Bell says:

            Had you troubled to read my comments you would be aware that I am persuaded that the problem lay in the representation of the Scottish Government’s currency position. It should not be necessary to point out that perception follows from portrayal.

            Whilst the myth continues to exert its baleful influence on many, the fact remains that the Scottish Government’s currency plan was, not only perfectly feasible, but profoundly sensible. That is because, unlike the position taken by the British parties, the UK Government and some on the the absolutist wing of the independence movement, the Scottish Government’s position was founded on a reasoned assessment of the situation. Where others were looking merely for sticks with which to beat Alex Salmond, the SNP was, as ever, adhering to its policy of principled pragmatism.

            Ask the awkward questions! At the very least, ask the obvious questions. Why was the British establishment’s policy of abolishing the currency union never scrutinised? Why did the British media obsess about a so-called “Plan B”, rather than essay a rational analysis of “Plan A”? Why the incessant mantra about “unanswered questions” no matter how often or how comprehensively all questions were answered?

            With all that we now know, it is hard to comprehend how some people can continue to be so naive about the role of the media in the referendum campaign.

          3. Ah, okay, good. Media’s fault, no need for us to think about tis any more. Very good.

          4. Peter A Bell says:

            A rather infantile response. Just as infantile as denying the critical role of the media. But not quite as puerile as the assumption, on the basis of no evidence whatever, that my conclusions are not based on long and careful thought.

            You might have preserved some scrap of credibility – if not dignity – had you been able to point to some ACTUAL catastrophic errors by the Scottish Government, the SNP and/or the wider Yes campaign. But you have nothing.

            And please don’t resort to the standard nonsense about currency. That has been very thoroughy dealt with already.

          5. I don’t deny the critical role of the media Peter, in fact I’ve been writing about it for a decade.

            I’m quite sure your conclusions are based on a long thought pocess, that doesn’t make them true though does it? (!)

            I’m not sure you can come on here denying that I have any dignity. How rude do you think you can be?

            You’re like someone shouting louder because someone doesn’t understand your English.

            You are a caricature of everything that is wrong with the indy movement, someone who is incapable of change, innovation or self-reflection.

            If you are representative at all we are doomed.

          6. Peter A Bell says:

            So, you resort to the tactic of bludgeoning those who don’t echo your idiocy with the accusation that they are damaging the independence campaign. It’s not like we haven’t seen that moronic strategy deployed before.

            But all you childish burbling does serve one useful purpose, from your perspective. It diverts attention from your abject failure to catalogue the catastrophic errors made by the Yes campaign which contributed more to the outcome than the British state’s propaganda onslaught through the mainstream media.

            And you still haven’t described what might be the alternative route to independence should your anti-SNP campaign succeed. But I doubt that you ever will. I see no evidence that you have thought things through that far. Or even that you are capable of doing so.

            Cue another infantile outburst.

          7. Did we win and I missed that?

          8. Peter A Bell says:

            That was the very infantile retort that I expected on the basis of your “contributions” to date.

            Others may be disappointed that you haven’t even attempted to address the points that I put to you. I never anticipated that you would. You have done yourself no favours in the course of this exchange. And brought no credit to Bella Caledonia.

          9. No, indeed. I have no dignity left.

            I’ve responded to your ‘points’ endlessly Peter. You exist in a vacuum of narrow self-deception.

            I’m immensely proud of the Yes movement and what we achieved, I’m also acutely aware of the media shortcomings and deception – as anyone with an iota of brainpower would be aware of. The reality is we need to do much more and to change. You refuse to countenance any criticism or reflection and in doing so render yourself useless. Your refusal to accept that there was ANY problem with, for example, the currency proposition, is frankly hilarious. Your assertion that the position was ‘correct’ is telling. Being ‘correct’ doesn’t translate into being politically meaningful or useful and just shouting at people that “they are wrong!” endlessly, won’t, funnily enough, win your argument.

            Before you go remember these two facts:

            1) Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

            2) Two things can both be true at the same time. So accepting that there was media distortion does not mean that we are not required to reflect on our own campaign.

            Goodbye Peter.

          10. Mr T says:

            Currency union was unsaleable to the rUK electorate. That’s my opinion and the opinion of all of my rUK based colleagues that I spoke to.

            Maybe – just maybe – a case could have been made for it had Yes attempted to do so instead of insisting that Scotland had some sort of right to it, but the relative size of our economies and the fact that Scotland’s trade with the rUK is a much bigger % than vice versa means that it was always a very hard sell, as it simply had very little upside for the rUK.

          11. Andy Ellis says:

            “Currency union was unsaleable to the rUK electorate. That’s my opinion and the opinion of all of my rUK based colleagues that I spoke to.”

            I think you’re considerably over-selling that. Most folk in rUK took their cue on this from the MSM; to be honest they know little and care a good deal less about Scotland. there’s a good deal of fairly blatant border line anti-Scottish rhetoric (“I wish we got a vote, and we’d vote to chuck you out” etc.). Much of this is presented as tongue in cheek, but trust me as a long term resident here there is a definite under-current of pretty nasty xenophobia to it as well. Large swathes of England voted in bulk for UKIP at the last GE, and even more at local elections. I’m often shocked by the casual anti-immigrant comments I hear in public, at work places and out socially.

            Many of the people pouring cold water on an agreed currency plan have the same level of understanding of economics as they do of quantum physics.

            “Maybe – just maybe – a case could have been made for it had Yes attempted to do so instead of insisting that Scotland had some sort of right to it, but the relative size of our economies and the fact that Scotland’s trade with the rUK is a much bigger % than vice versa means that it was always a very hard sell, as it simply had very little upside for the rUK.”

            The upside for the UK in the long term is the continuation of the union. Their negativity and refusal to engage (whether on the currency question or issues more generally like e.g. fulfilling the Vow) blew up spectacularly in their faces at GE15. The britnats may have won the battle, but they’re in the process of losing the war. Seems their Spanish counterparts are in the process of doing the same, which just goes to show wrong-headedness has no borders, and that you can’t kill a bad idea.

          12. Peter A Bell says:

            Professor Anton Muscatelli and others happily contradict you.

            That Scotland has a right to use the pound is beyond question. This was even accepted by serial liar, Alistair Darling.

            It was not the Scottish Government’s position on currency that was “unsaleable”. It was the distorted version of that position that you and others were naive enough to accept when it was fed to you by the media.

            If the people of rUK had been told the truth about the implications FOR THEM of abolishing the currency union, they would have been calling for the heads of all those proposed such economic vandalism. But Osborne and his accomplices were never even questioned on the matter. And people like you weren’t clever enough to wonder why. You were too busy joining in the idiot-chant about “Plan B”.

  17. Peter A Bell says:

    Bella Caledonia Editor

    I’m not sure why there was no reply button on your last comment. Perhaps because you didn’t want me pointing out the various inanities that it contains. I will do so anyway, anticipating that my comments will be censored.

    You object hysterically to me pointing out that the SNP is necessary to the process of achieving independence. But you fail miserably when it comes to describing what the alternative might be. It is a challenge I have put to others who bleat tediously about the SNP. I invite them to explain how we get from here to independence on any reasonable time-scale without using the SNP as our political agency. Without exception, the loud mouths fall silent at this point.

    You then go on to TELL me what upset me me about the article. It might be a good idea if you tried asking people what they think rather than arrogantly assuming that you know their mind better than they do. Besides, I have already explained my objections to the article. You should know this as you’ve put a lot of effort into telling me I’ve no right to raise such objections.

    A more reflective individual would have been given pause for thought by the fact that others have expressed similar concerns with the “inaccuracies” in the article.

    And you finish up with another example of the dumb tribalism that divides people into two camps. Everybody is either in the “SNP BAD!” camp that you inhabit, or they are pigeon-holed as unthinking party loyalists. In your wee cartoon world it can’t possibly be that someone is just an ordinary party member and supporter who is bradly supportive of the party’s policies and recognises that the SNP is essential to the campaign for independence. Either they sing your song of hate against the SNP or they are labelled with a facile stereotype which, by pure coincidence, I’m sure, happens to be the same facile stereotype that appears regularly in British nationalist propaganda.

    Because I am not the same person as the silly caricature you have created in your head to feed your prejudices, I actually have no problem at all with REASONED criticism of SNP policy and action. When you come up with something along those lines, let me know. I will happily discuss the issue without telling you what you think.

    1. Peter – you flatter both of us to think that I re-coded the site to stop you replying. I never stop you commenting so your anticipation of cemsorship is as ridiculous as everything else you have written.

      I really dont have a ‘song of hate’ (as dozens if not hundreds of my SNP friends would tell you).

      We want the same thing. I just dont see the route via the people and party you outline, on their own. And I have never seen anyone since last year articulate how that works. Can you do that?

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        Do you ever read what others have written without adding such crap as is dictated by you prejudices. Nobody suggested that the SNP would achieve independence “on their own”. You stuck that last bit in there yourself. The concerning thing is that you don’t even seem to be aware that you’re doing it.

        It is a fact that the SNP is crucial to the process of achieving independence. This is true no matter how many other parties and organisations are involved. Readers may note that you get a serious dose of squirmy evasiveness when challenged to explain what the alternative to the SNP is.

        I wait with interest to see how you manage to distort what any sane and sober person would see as no more than a statement of the blindingly obvious,

        1. “Nobody suggested that the SNP would achieve independence “on their own”.

          You did. I quoted your very words. Own them.

          1. Peter A Bell says:

            At no time did I say that the SNP would win independence “on their own”. As ever, you are guilty of creative reading. It’s a rather immature approach to debate.

    2. Jim Bennett says:

      “A more reflective individual would have been given pause for thought”.
      Indeed, Peter. A point that perhaps you might well consider.

      1. Andy Ellis says:

        I’d hardly say Bella’s responses to any of the criticism above represent the views of a reflective individual either.

        A point that perhaps you might well consider.

        1. Jim Bennett says:

          Pretty much playground stuff here.
          “I might have been bad but he was bad too…”

          I think the people attacking Bella might like to bear in mind that time and effort put into this site is by and large given for free. Bella has played a significant role on the YES side and that any articles put up by them do not, and should not, necessarily reflect all views within the YES camp. Even if you disagree with the tenor of an article, as I do on this one, debate might be more constructively engaged in.

          The way the debate has been broadly conducted on this thread would not win a single person to the YES side.

          1. Andy Ellis says:

            @Jim Bennett. It’s a total unknowable whether this article and the responses to it will win more people to the Yes side than it puts off. You can assert that this debate has a net negative impact, but I’d disagree. It’s better to have these debates now than later. It’s better for people who think the analysis is flawed to call this out, rather than suck it up and watch this line of argument go unchallenged, since in our view it helps the opposition and weakens the chances of gaining independence.

            Much like the debate had at the time of the indyref whether Yes Scotland was being so relentlessly positive that it was missing a trick. I happen to think, and argued at the time much to the chagrin of the happy-clappy brigade, that the approach to Project Fear needed to be far more robust. That didn’t mean getting down into the gutter with them, but neither did it mean giving them a bye, or lending credence to their ridiculous arguments and scaremongering by not engaging with it for fear of being seen negative.

            Just as the SNP or Yes movement generally is not without fault, Bella is capable of making mistakes. Giving this article space amounts to such a mistake in the view of many of us. All I see is petulant and rather unpleasant responses along the lines of “if you don’t like it f*** off then”. That doesn’t do the site of it’s editors any favours, but that’s their look out; there’s obviously an appetite for this line of argument, so have at it. We can all do without the passive aggressive posturing; we’re allowed to think it’s wrong, and we’re allowed to say so. If Bella honestly thinks inviting us all to go elsewhere represents an inclusive approach and helps foster the joint aim of those in support of independence, I look forward to seeing the next readership/website hit numbers.

          2. jimbennett says:

            @ Andy Ellis
            Nothing at all wrong with debate, Andy. It’s the way it’s been conducted here, the process. It’s been significantly marked by macho posturing.
            Debate is good. It sharpens the mind, clarifies positions. Chest beating keybord aggression is just a way of turning people off.

      2. Peter A Bell says:

        That probably sounded very sage when it was in your head.

  18. Dougie Blackwood says:

    There is a great deal of truth in the original article. We must not stifle debate or blame anyone other than those scaremongers that ran the No campaign. Many that voted No were genuinely frightened of the consequences. The fear of losing their job or their pension, regardless of how improbable it might seem to us was what drove many away from independence.

    There are many angry and frustrated Yessers but their actions and what they say can turn off those we want to convince for next time. The greatest thing about Indy1 was the diversity of those taking part. The SNP led the charge but the grassroots were the ones that made it work.

    In Holyrood there is no effective opposition and Labour MSPs are quaking in their boots for 2016; this creates negativity and electioneering rather than constructive debate. We, the electors, need to engage with anybody and everybody to drive a positive campaign for change now and in the future. We must also debate and come up with a better strategy for Indy2 before we stumble into it without a coherent message for those that are against or doubtful.

  19. Fordie says:

    It’s self evident that the only way Indy supporters who are non-SNP will ever have any opportunity for political influence is if we are actually Independent. Could they then stop trying to undermine the vehicle for Indy ie the SNP, in pursuit of their own personal goals. That includes trying to suggest that a majority for the SNP in 2016 isn’t essential.

    I don’t know anyone who thinks Independence is an ‘end in itself’ – it represents a beginning.

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      Hear, hear! I was all for a Yes Alliance kinda thing post indyref on the (mistaken) assumption that the safest or even only way to maximise the pro-Yes vote was to have a sort of Catalan style “Junts pel Si” thing going on. The SNP membership surge, GE15, prospects for HR16, the fact that the Greens with a few notable exceptions are infested by unelectable zoomers, and the continued irrelevance of the “outer left” as anything other than ginger groups, makes it unnecessary.

      Plenty of the 75000 additional SNP members who joined post indyref (including me) see it as a vehicle to achieve indy. I don’t much care what happens to it post Yes. If it reflects my views I might stay, or I might join a “new” party, or not be in a party at all.

      Eyes on the prize doesn’t mean slavish obedience to the SNP; it does mean seeing people from the People’s Front of Judea for what they are.

      1. Fordie says:

        Me too. The SNP is a broad church for a reason. The Left also ‘forget’ that there are right wing Indy supporters out there. Don’t see them concerning themselves with bringing them into the Indy family. Let’s get our Independence and then sort out our rainbow Parliament.

  20. Sheena Jardine says:

    This is just one bella article with one man’s opinion. I don’t agree with many aspects of the article, but some of the attacks above (from the editor and others) are really uncalled for and hysterical. Take a step back and remember the qualities that gave the yes campaign its strength and its power of expansion from the grassroots – positivity and inclusiveness. If we are to succeed in winning Scottish Independence, the movement must keep these as its founding principles.

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      I would ask you to bear in mind that it is myself and those objecting to the article who are urging inclusiveness. What we are seeing from others, particularly on the left, is an attempt to jump on the independence bandwagon for narrow, partisan purposes. That would be fine. It is a big bandwagon and being truly inclusive means welcoming even those whose motives may be somewhat questionable.

      What I take issue with is, not people jumping on the independence bandwagon, but people trying to unseat the driver while the bandwagon is moving at speed.

      Such behaviour is just as recklessly insane as it sounds when expressed in this way. That the independence campaign needs the SNP is an inescapable fact. Anybody who is not prepared to accept this fact and make at least a grudging and temporary accommodation with the SNP risks overturning the independence bandwagon.

      I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. You can be pro-independence and non-SNP. But you can’t be pro-independence and anti-SNP.

      1. Alistair Livingston says:

        In one of your comments above you say “I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. You can be pro-independence and non-SNP. But you can’t be pro-independence and anti-SNP.”

        Have you read ‘Yes -the Radical Case for Independence’ by James Foley and Pete Ramand (published by Pluto Press, 2014) ? It is both pro-independence and strongly critical enough of the SNP to be considered as an ‘anti-SNP’ book. So therefore it is possible to be pro-independence and anti-SNP.

        The book was positively reviewed by Robert McAlpine, Jean Urquhart MSP, Gerry Hassan, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and Alan Bissett among many others. It also provided the basis for the Radical Independence Campaign’s approach to indepdence during last year’s referendum campaign.

        1. JBS says:

          Alistair Livingston:

          You must realise that the majority of Scottish independence supporters are going to give their constituency votes to the SNP next May. You wish those very same people to consider giving their list votes to another party – Greens, RISE, etc – and you think that the best way to persuade them to do so is to insult them.

          Do you think that’s going to work?

        2. Peter A Bell says:

          You have a serious problem with simple logic. The existence of a book which CLAIMS to be pro-independence; or is CLAIMED by you to be pro-independence, whilst being merely critical enough of the SNP to be considered – again BY YOU – anti-SNP cannot possibly constitute the proof that you assert.

          Being pro-independence entails an unconditional commitment to popular sovereignty and to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status as a matter of constitutional justice and fundamental democratic principle.

          Being anti-SNP means, for the purposes of this discussion at least, actively seeking the elimination of the party as a significant force in Scottish/UK politics.

          Outside your entirely subjective and entirely self-serving analysis, the book may well NOT be pro-independence and, given its provenance, is highly unlikely to be anti-SNP in any meaningful sense. I’m confident people like Robert McAlpine and Alan Bissett are perfectly well aware of the SNP’s place in the scheme of things no matter how much you and a handful of others may be in denial about the political reality.

          If you presume to challenge the obvious truth that the SNP is the necessary political arm of the independence movement without whose agency there is no foreseeable prospect of success, then the way to make your case is to describe the process by which independence is achieved other than by the electorate channelling its will through the SNP.

          If, like the petulant absolutist wing of the party, you want to dismiss all the progress that has been made and insist that the SNP is doing it all wrong, then instead of citing book reviews try setting out in detail what you suppose to be the alternative, sans-SNP, path to independence. Preferably without resort to wishful thinking or magic.

          1. Alistair Livingston says:

            Here you go Peter.

            Scotland as a Civil Society
            For what its worth, this talk I gave last January to a Radical Independence meeting in Castle Douglas Community Centre sets out my approach to what independence might mean. My theme was Scotland as a Civil Society and my hope then was the grassroots Yes campaign would ‘actualise the ethical idea’ in the Constitution of a new Scottish state.
            This is a summary of my talk.
            When Margaret Thatcher declared that ‘there is no such thing’ as society in 1987, she was unwittingly rejecting a very powerful Scottish idea. It can be glimpsed in the Declaration of Arbroath and burst forth again in the Scottish Reformation. Called civil society it was refined by the Scottish Enlightenment, only to be stifled by conservative reaction to the French Revolution. Inspired by the Scottish Enlightenment and the French Revolution, Georg Hegel translated it into German as bürgerliche Gesellschaft in 1821. But by 1843, the reality of conservative reaction in Germany led Karl Marx to attack Hegel’s theory that a rational state would emerge out of civil society as ’the actuality of the ethical idea’. In Scotland, democratic reaction against conservative reaction -a negation of negation- has revived civil society since 1987. This new civil society has its expression in the grassroots Yes campaign. If this campaign -our campaign- moves beyond the September Revolution to ‘actualise the ethical idea’ in the Constitution of a new Scottish state, then Hegel may yet have the last word at the end of one history of Scotland and the beginning of another.

            The full text is here.

  21. Alistair Livingston says:

    Two points.

    Firstly: the ‘No true Scotsman would…’ argument is an example of a common logical fallacy first identified in 1975 by philosopher Antony Flew. Flew’s Scotsman was imaginary. If Flew had used a Canadian in his example, it would be called the ‘No true Canadian’ fallacy. See . I then used the ‘Not rue Scotsman’ fallacy in my article to illustrate the danger that Political life might be in danger of imitating philosophy.

    However, I was careful to note that the argument ’’No true Scot would vote against independence’ is rarely put so bluntly but that it is

    “becoming a feature of discussions about next year’s Scottish parliament elections. A typical version is that to use the second vote in the election for the Scottish Green party or RISE (the left alliance) rather than the SNP risks splitting or dividing the independence movement.”

    As a member of the Scottish Green party I find this a worrying development.

    Secondly: In the light of the above, I have been thinking about how a second referendum campaign would work. I joined Radical Independence Dumfries and Galloway in March 2013. We had SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialists and Labour for Independence members in our group as well as quite a few ‘non-aligned’ folk.

    Would it be possible to assemble a similarly diverse group to campaign for a Yes vote in a second referendum?

    It might, but if the narrowing of the independence movement continues, it will be much harder. The 2013/4 grassroots Yes campaign was a very broad kirk, reflecting a very wide diversity of views and opinions on Scotland’s future. Equally, the many people involved had many different motives for supporting independence.

    Perhaps with the growth of SNP membership and support, a second referendum campaign, will not need such diverse grassroots support.

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      It gets worse! Not content with accusing the Yes campaign of saying that No voters are not “true Scots”, you now claim that this same “true Scot” nonsense is being deployed to encourage people to vote for the SNP in the 2016 Holyrood election. What utter shite!

      The ONLY reason independence campaigners are urging people to vote SNP next year is a genuine belief that this is the most effective way to secure a second referendum and independence – while, not entirely incidentally, ensuring that Scotland is in the meantime governed as competently as the constraints of devolution permit.

      I would say this to Greens, RISE and other progressive parties looking to contest the Scottish Parliamentary elections; do so by all means. Diversity in our parliament would be a very welcome development. But if you seek political power by undermining the SNP then you are no friend of the campaign to bring Scotland’s government home. If you seek partisan advantage by tarring the independence movement with the brush of ethnic nationalism, or any of the other defamations favoured by British nationalists, then you are setting yourself against the cause of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

      The strength of the Yes campaign was (and is) its inclusiveness. That inclusiveness involves, not only welcoming all aboard, but eschewing the urge to push others out that is pretty much the defining characteristic of the British political system. The very system that we are supposed to be seeking to free ourselves from. The one thing that there is no room for in our Yes movement is the petty jealousies of party politics.

      There are two trains. There is the train that is taking us to independence. Let’s call it the BECOMING INDEPENDENT train. The SNP is driving this train. No other driver is available. Other potential drivers are either not yet fully qualified or too far away to get to the controls in time.

      Then there’s the train that takes independent Scotland forward. Let’s call it the BEING INDEPENDENT train. The job of driving that train is open to all applicants. The best qualified will be those who have assisted the driver of the BECOMING INDEPENDENT train.


  22. Peter Piper says:

    I make the same suggestion here as I would make in the Herald, or any other media for any other article.

    As well as a name for an article, it should have a very short description of the standpoint of the author, who will be unkown to many reading it (like me). It wasn’t until reading the last comment I found the author was a member of the Scottish Green Party.

    I agree with other comments that the “true Scot” argument is nonsense.

  23. Gordon Smith says:

    A spirited debate but I agree with Peter Bell and Andy Ellis to a large extent. The electoral arithmetic we face makes it necessary for all independence supporters to focus their electoral stregth through the SNP. That I suspect was the realpolitick Peter was referring to. We have to achieve the goal of independence using the electoral tools the British State gives us. The best mechanism to deliver that is the SNP for reasons which are self evident to anyone with a basic intellect.

    Some independence supporters may not like the SNP because it does not reflect the ideas they wish to see an independent Scotland based upon, so may be tempted to vote for other YES parties. But in doing so they may fail to enable us to become independent in the first place and so not be in a position to achieve the post independence goals they so cherish. This is the key point. Fragmentation is death for our cause and is the cheapest victory Unionists could ever have.

    Secondly the “true Scot” argument. The author is guilty of reading a good many Facebook pages and confusing the odd idiotic remark by a crazy contributor and generalising that this represents a majority view in the YES movement. That is nonsense and such attitudes form no part of the outlook of the SNP or the wider YES movement. To suggest otherwise is mischevious at best but more probably dangerous because it adds credence to a very well worn Project Fear / London MSM lie.

    Finally criticism of the SNP has to be done carefully. Not because the Party is ever beyond reproach but let me put it like this. Imagine we, Scotland were on a journey to place of safety, driving in a 4×4 through dangerous, rock strewn terrain. Some of the passengers want to make that journey in their own hand built Ferrari but others say best to jump in the 4×4, it will get you there, not break down and handle the dangers. Might not be comfortable all the time but when we arrive all together, you can drive as many Ferraris as you want, safely.

    1. Thanks Gordon.

      “The electoral arithmetic we face makes it necessary for all independence supporters to focus their electoral stregth through the SNP”

      – its a point that’s highly contested – wuld love you to ‘prove’ this.

      “The best mechanism to deliver that is the SNP for reasons which are self evident to anyone with a basic intellect.”

      – I’m not sure why an electoral pact of other pro-indy parties wouldn’t be in fact more impactful. Can you explain?

      “Fragmentation is death for our cause”

      – many of us believe a false and stultifying unity is the death

      The True Scot argument has been completely misunderstood in a wave of defensive hysteria.

      I don’t accept the unity of the 4×4 analogy, nor the notion of a safe place, nor the multitudes of Ferraris, sorry.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        If you are claiming that there is an alternative to the SNP taking the lead role in Scotland becoming independent then it is for you to “prove” your contention.

        I rather suspect that most people’s first reaction will be to ask why. Why change drivers when the driver we have has proved so remarkably successful? They will certainly be wondering why we should take advice from somebody who regards the unity of the Yes campaign as “false and stultifying”.

    2. Peter Piper says:

      I agree with that Gordon, but would add that unfortunately a majority Government is needed from one single party, to give that Government a clear mandate to seek a second referendum if appropriate.

      Cameron has made it clear that that mandate has to be unambiguous, but implicit in that is that a consortium of parties supporting a demand for another referendum may not fulfil the requirement of clarity, sorry, Clarity with a capital “C”.

      I’m generally against majority Government, preferring a confidence and supply arrangement so that the excesses of one party can be moderated by the others. But until we get that second referendum, and at that with a high chance of a YES vote, I think we need one clear majority party in Government at Holyrood. Personally even as a member of the SNP since last September, I wouldn’t care if that party was Green, SSP or RISE, but there’s no chance of them getting an overall majority so we’re stuck with the SNP – for better or worse.

      Which means, for me, the Greens, SSP, RISE, Solidarity, shouldn’t be targetting SNP voters, they should be targetting the other parties’ voters, even including the UKIP remnants.

  24. Gordon Smith says:

    I think we have all to realise the basic realities of operating within the AMS voting system. Surely we can all agree that faragmention of the YES vote reduces the effectiveness of the YES within Holyrood. Can we agree on that?

    Next comes the debate about maximising that voice and the choices open on the List vote. If it were the case that by voting for a Party other other than the SNP on the List, it would maximise YES representation, then I would listen to that carefully. My understanding of the arithmetic of AMS suggests otherwise. You perhaps differ but if you are wrong and the SNP lose their majority then the inquest on the YES side will be bitter. We are playing for high stakes and need to get it right.

    My anology about the 4×4 sought to communicate the need for some to lay ideological purity to one side in order to achieve the overarching goal of independence. This involves no betrayal or dilution of principal but a tactical decision to best achieve the context, an independent Scotland, for radical ideas to then be campaigned for in a free and unfettered way. Surely this must be clear. Hence the need to forgo the Ferrari and tolerate what some will believe to ge the lumpen 4×4 to get to the desired destination.
    Having arrived does this mean the SNP will rule the roost, dominate political discourse? I cannot imagine how you may think this because we would be in an entirely new situation. Ferraris could be driven at will. Who knows, the trusty old 4×4 may be headed for scrap. No-one can say.
    The key thing is we have to get there, one then can other things be possible.

  25. Kimberley Cadden says:

    I think the author makes a mistake in conflating some fringe views with views and concerns people might have regarding the best way to ensure we reach our goal of independence.

    There may be some people out there who believe that ‘no true Scot would vote no’ – personally I don’t know as I haven’t come across any – but even if they exist they by no means exemplify the views of those who are campaigning for independence or indeed the movement itself – this is very clear and well evidenced. I think we should note too that such views aren’t inherently ethnically nationalist, and that what very likely underlies them is the idea that people who vote no don’t really care about Scotland because they think independence is so obviously the right thing for our country that the idea people could vote no as any kind of good, socially responsible act is deemed outright impossible. This idea is something I have come across occasionally and people who think like this grossly misunderstand the reasons people voted no and I would argue they also misunderstand the nature of both choice and truth. It certainly seems clear that any kind of ‘true Scot’ sentiment in the context of our civic movement will very likely be rooted in this kind of idea, only taken to an extreme both in terms of thought and expression, and as the tiny minority they surely must be when people like myself have never even come across them, this surely tells us that there is no real threat from this or the ‘nationalist language’ the author refers to – fringe elements are just that and should always be presented as just that…

    That there are those who feel that new parties or alliances like RISE, where it’s been clear there is an attempt to get list votes and support from SNP voters, pose a threat to our overall goal of independence, is a much nuanced issue. For example some believe everyone should only vote SNP regardless of personal party political views until we get indy, and whilst I disagree with this view (and find it wholly unrealistic anyway) the idea is that this is the most reliable way to reach our goal – it’s not an indictment of other parties in any way. I understand the sentiment but I think that people who hold this view have too much of a one dimensional way of understanding our movement, what we are trying to achieve and indeed how we can achieve it.

    Where it gets nuanced is with regards to notions of tactical voting; many Greens and RISE members have encouraged voters to think of the list vote at Holyrood as a wasted vote for the SNP and this simply isn’t true – the SNP can and have won list seats where they won constituency seats and it may well be that these list seats make the difference when it comes to a majority. Considering the SNP currently don’t have an actual majority it would be foolish to argue with this. Furthermore AMS is impossible to vote tactically within, at best we can have some informed guesses with a hope and a prayer. So there are many who rightly take issue on this; personally I say if you want SNP vote for them where you can, if you want another party then vote for that party where you can. But the point is that the encouragement from some sections of our movement to literally split your vote so that their political parties can win some seats, even if it does prevent an SNP majority, should hopefully understandably demonstrate why some feel that there is a danger here. Bottom line is there are people who don’t have any issues at all with the existence of other parties – I would certainly say most SNPers celebrate that there are other pro-indy parties (both old and new) – and who think that an SNP Holyrood majority is paramount for our indy prospects and will thus argue that SNP voters shouldn’t split their vote unless they want to vote for another party – i.e. that splitting your vote shouldn’t be a ‘tactic’. Then there are others who think an SNP minority government or coalition is perfectly fine, especially when it might be as a result of having a larger group of pro-indy MSP’s (although it could just as easily come at the cost of more unionist MSP’s) and they will argue that people should split their vote, whether it’s actually to support another indy party or simply as a pro-indy tactic (and of course some can vote Green for constituency too).

    So it’s clear to me that the disagreement between these sections of our movement is a disagreement about what we need to happen at Holyrood to help us reach our overall goal and how we can best go about it. It’s not a disagreement about commitment to the goal in the first place. Yes some discussions may end up with people questioning each other’s motivations; I personally have been disappointed at the tendency among some to try to vilify the SNP with unionist-style rhetoric and just as little substance in order to try to win support for their chosen party/alliance, and whilst I question the tactic and take issue with the argument, I don’t question their commitment to independence – and this is what I see mirrored all around me. In other words we are not seeing a rejection of those who have a different view re Holyrood etc, the debate isn’t about any form of exclusion, but rather there is simply an inclusive and robust debate about the merits of different positions.

    That takes me to my last point, I think the author is mistaking robust debate from all sides as a kind of wish for one side to completely dominate and I wholeheartedly disagree. In addition to what I have said on this above I will add that of course SNP members hit back at accusations against the party, the ones I have personally come across have largely been deliberately misrepresentative; so we mustn’t confuse ability to debate and criticise policy – which is very important – with regressive tribalism, and we must remember to expect retorts when we criticise; open debate includes both. There may be some who think no-one should even validly criticise the SNP, but just like the ‘no real Scot’ folks (if they exist) and those who think we shouldn’t discuss the Scotland we want to be just yet – this is very clearly a tiny minority; most people active in the movement, including the SNP, quite obviously don’t fit any of these categories.

    Taking all of this into account I completely disagree with the author’s conclusion; there is nothing happening in the even remotely mainstream sections of our movement where no voters will be necessarily excluded through some form of defensive, dominant, insularism (and I have to say there is nothing in the author’s own argument to back up the view that those who aren’t 100% pro indy may be excluded – I really do find that view utterly baffling).The only questions being debated in our mainstream relevant to the areas he mentions are the ones outlined above with reference to tactical voting and how we create our strongest hand moving forward, as the next five years after 2016 will likely be where we will make our most important political decisions regarding indyref2. To my mind the fact there is such robust debate going on is a great way to encourage no voters to take part for the very reasons that opinion is so diverse, and that we all respect our overall goal and commitment to it and understand that there is such passion as a better Scotland is important to us all; and I would just ask fellow yessers not to diminish our movement by failing to put fringe views within the overall context of the movement…

  26. Steve Arnott says:

    Is it really necessary for Peter Bell and Bella (both of whose contributions I value immensely) to go ‘to the mattresses’ on this like the Corleone’s in The Godfather?

    A deep breath and a re-read should show the article makes some decent points, a few bad ones, and a has few good points made badly.

    Alistair Livingstone is indeed writing from a RISE perspective (the giveaway is the Fawltyesque ‘don’t mention Solidarity’ moment). But what’s wrong with that? A good indy mag will source articles from a wide range of opinions. At The Point we carry material from RISE, Solidarity, the SNP, Greens and many independent political thinkers on the pro-indy progressive left. We don’t expect everybody to agree with one another and readers are free to critique…but for goodness sake let’s remember we’re all basically on the same side.

    I do think RISE does have a problem in that their wiser heads would very much like to do as Solidarity have done and call for a vote for the SNP in the constituencies next May, but they contain significant elements who won’t countenance such a thing. In this sense, I agree with Peter Bell – we need a Scottish Government that can trigger a referendum and that means being prepared to vote SNP when necessary at the present time.

    I believe the SNP will win a majority in Holyrood in the constituencies alone next year, and as someone who is a committed YESSER but not a member of any political party I’ll be continuing to call for a vote for the SNP in every constituency, and a vote for Solidarity, Greens or RISE on the regional list.

    I hope I can do so and remain on good terms both with those YESSER’s who mistakenly reject the SNP on the dubious political grounds that it is ‘a bourgeois party’, and those SNP members who through understandable – but mistaken – party loyalty vote SNP with both votes and let unionist candidates in on the list rather than smaller party pro-indy candidates.

    1. Kimberley Cadden says:

      People like myself Steve are voting SNP on both constituency and list because we want an SNP majority. The SNP can and do win list seats where they have won all constituency seats and every seat counts – so it is a mistake to think that people vote SNP on the list simply out of loyalty. It’s also not true that a list vote for another pro-indy party will definitely lead to more pro-indy MSP’s – indeed it may lead to the opposite – it all depends on many unpredictable factors.

    2. Peter Piper says:

      Steve, if you want to campaign for the other parties on the list then that’s good, but your line “party loyalty vote SNP with both votes and let unionist candidates in on the list” is totally false. In 2011 the SNP won 16 list seats as well as their constituency ones. There’s an article debunking this called ” AMS for lazy people” on the 23rd August. The SNP have and will win seats on the lists, even if they wn every single constituency seat.

      Being mathematical and statistical I not only checked the figures in the article which were illustrative, but ran it through on poll results, and even on an even spread over 32 regional constituencies, the SNP would win seats on the list, and not let a unionist MSP in because of that. The SNP clearly can not guarantee winning every constituency seat, so would almost certainly require list seats to get their overall majority.

      By all means vote for your favourite party, but please, don’t try to fool SNP voters that a vote on the list is a wasted vote. It ain’t.

      1. “There’s an article debunking this called ” AMS for lazy people” on the 23rd August” – yes, although its highly contested and cited as some sort of definitive authority. Its really not.

        1. Peter Piper says:

          That’s fair enough BCE. It might have been better if it hadn’t been some strange constituency “Brigadoon” with strange voting patterns, but on the other hand, the maths in it were completely correct. It was a very useful article to give the AMS mechanism which turns out to be very easy, and one or two set up their own simple spreadsheets to check it out. You divide the total list vote a party has by the number of seats so far, constituency + list, plus 1, to get the number of votes to compare with the other parties (nett) votes.

          I checked it out longhand with sample poll results from a full Scottish poll some way back, but spread uniformly (yes, I know it’s not actually uniform), over 8 lists (not the 32 I implied in my reply), and it works. I even did a quick check against 2011 to make sure the formula was correct.

          Basically if a party has around a resulting 5% of that list vote, up to around 10% they’ll get 1 seat. Even if the SNP had 9 constituency seats but 50% or more of the list vote, they’d have 5% once that 50% is divided by the 9 seats + 1, so would probably get one list seat as well. If the Greens / RISE had 10% or more of the list vote, they’d probably get 2 list seats, but between 5% and 9% presuming no constituency seat, they’d get 1 seat, no more.

          But if they (SNP) got 60% of list, divided by 9+1 they’d get 6% nett so get one list seat, then it’d be 60% divide by 10+1 = 5.5% so get another list seat, then it’d be 60% divided by 11+1 = 5% so could quite likely get a third list seat.

          So it’s not as simple as saying that “a list vote for the SNP is wasted”, nor is it as simple as saying “a list vote for the Green / RISE etc. is wasted”. It depends on the actual results, which are, of course, fairly unpredictable.

    3. Mungo says:

      Posted this last night but dissapeard ! In answer to editors request for evidence that splitting holyrood vote is dangerous .

  27. Gordon Adam says:

    This site’s support for RISE and the downright insulting implication that there is a ‘blood and soil nationalism’ element in people’s support of the SNP will be the downfall of the independence movement. We need one voice to get Indy. We certainly don’t need Bella pot-sitting the YES supporters to try to build their own agenda.
    I’ve always enjoyed Bella but if this is your direction of travel, count me out, I’ll not be back.

    1. Peter Piper says:

      We should all be able to support Indy and our own political flavour, without attacking each other’s own particular brand of politics.

      And that includes the Conservative, only 4% of whom supported Indy, probably all of them readers of Wealthy Nation.

      Next time I’d like voters of all persuasions to vote YES. The point of Indy is to get our own politics, from left to centre to right, but our own left centre and right, not the UK’s.

    2. Conor Cheyne says:

      Sorry, I never realised Pro-Independence media outlets could only support the SNP? News to me.

      The article is from an individual, not Bella. I wholeheartedly agree with everything said in the article and the hysteria that has followed on here just proves the points made.

      1. Conor Cheyne says:

        And “One Voice” is what we do need. We had that through Yes Scotland. However, one party is not enough and never will be enough to win Independence. If you think it is, then you are terribly mistaken.

        1. Mhari McKinnon says:

          One party will not be enough.

          BUT, that one party needs to be in charge of Holyrood. To enable that to happen those supporting need to give that one party, The SNP, both first and second preference votes.

          If second preference votes are given to other parties, this dilutes the message and unity required to send a message to the London elite in the british establishment that they will sit up an pay notice to.

          What would delight the opponents of independence, division in our movement, especially the Holyrood elections. Divide and rule, surely after 300 years both implementing this policy in foreign lands and having the same policy implemented on us, we would have leaned our lesson.

          Back to one party not being enough, the YES coalition was more than one party, it helped secure 45% against the entire might of the brtitish state. At the core of YES was the democratic mandate secured by the SNP.

          If the SNP are damaged by giving second votes to other parties, the core of that YES movement is fatally wounded, why take that risk?

  28. Gordon Adam says:

    *pot-shotting (sorry)

  29. Conor Cheyne says:

    The replies from some sum up exactly how far the Independence movement has fallen. I remember the week before the referendum in Inverness. So many different groups out in the streets. We celebrated our diversity.

    Now however, it seems that some would like that diversity to end. They only see ‘The Party’ as the way forward. It is harming the movement.

    Peter Bell, you constantly come onto articles and band accusations around. Dismissing anything that centers around anything else except the SNP. I’m glad people like yourself are just Zoomers behind a keyboard. If you had any real influence within the SNP we would never get another referendum again, let alone winning a Yes vote.

  30. Mungo Armstrong says:

    To the editor ,

    That might help answer your question about why voting for anyone other than the SNP isn’t too clever ?

  31. Ian.c says:

    This article falls ino the same mistake that all the others do. It talks almost exclusively about “the left”. It is as if the left and being left is the default position of Scotland. Wrong. The realisty is that a large number, I would argue a majority, of No voters are right of centre. There is a myth that Scotland killed off the Tories and with it any right of centre views. Wrong. If you want to win tye referendum, and to be frank I am jot sure we even have to have one, but if we want to win one, then an acknowledgement of the right of centre and the dismissive middle-classes and NO’s is as important, if not more important. This self flagellation over words used is just that. Self obsession.

  32. Steve Arnott says:

    As I said – I’m not going to fall out with anybody who votes SNP twice, but I do think it is legitimate to point out that, if the polls stay the same, it is likely to lead to unionist parties winning list seats at the expense of pro-independence parties IF everyone just votes SNP twice.

    Your example, Peter Piper, actually makes my point! There is no way on this good Earth that the SNP will win 60% on the list vote to make your highly unlikely scenario work. And in 2011 of course, when the SNP won list seats it was nowhere near as high in the constituencies in polling terms or on the ground. The SNP looks set to win many more constituency seats this time around.

    Polling has indicated that the SNP could win between 66 seats and 70 seats in the constituencies alone – enough to form a Government. Solidarity’s call for all YESSER’s to use their 1st vote for the SNP to ensure an SNP Government – and therefore the possibility of a second referendum – is designed to help make that a reality, and I would have thought should be welcomed by SNP supporters. The SNP will also probably win a tiny handful of list seats. But most polls have shown about a 5% or 6% difference between the SNP’s constituency polling and its list polling, which has averaged around the 48/49% mark.

    Now, that MIGHT change – the SNP constituency vote might recede in the polls before next May. In which case, I AGREE that the priority would be ensure an SNP Government. I would continue to campaign for 1st vote SNP, and 2nd vote Solidarity, RISE or Greens, but I would no longer try and make a case for SNP voters to switch.

    However, all the indications are that that is NOT what is going to occur, and the SNP vote will remain robust. The SNP could cross the finishing line – 66 seats – in the constituencies alone, but will also pick up a handful of list seats to push them over that line, if necessary.

    Setting aside Peter Piper’s fantasy prediction of the SNP getting 60% on the list, but being generous and assuming the SNP can win one list seat in every region, that leaves 48 other places on the list to be filled. They can either be filled by the unionist parties or by the smaller pro-indy parties who won’t be standing in the constituencies. These parties will have their own vote, and, yes, of course, they’ll try to win votes from Labour etc. But if even 3 or 4 out of 10 SNP voters lend their vote to the smaller pro indy party of their choice on the list on this occasion, then we could see a majority of list seats go to pro-indy parties e.g. 8 SNP, 8 Green, 8 Solidarity, 8 RISE – leaving the unionist parties scrabbling for 20-34 list seats between them and severely weakening the position of unionism even further in Scotland.

    Such an outcome would also have the huge political advantage of not just having a YES party in Government (the SNP) but YES parties forming a significant or even the major part of the opposition.

    Some people may say that’s a ‘sweet spot’. I say damn right it is, and it’s well worth aiming for!

    1st vote SNP, 2nd vote Solidarity, RISE or Greens.

    1. Cath says:

      I’d love to believe this and see this outcoke, but am still smarting from the EU elections, I’m afraid. I “lent my vote” to the Greens, slightly against my better judgement, because I believed what was put out about the Greens having the best chance of taking the final seat and keeping out UKIP. I’d also have loved to have seen a Green take the place, even though I’m SNP. But that information turned out to be wrong, and the split vote meant UKIP took the seat. Sadly, I think enough people who would otherwise have voted SNP fell for it to have made that the reality. If something similar happens in 2016 and lets a unionists coalition slip in (and make no mistake, it will be a unionist coalition if the SNP don’t take an absolute majority – Labour, Tory and Lib Dem) it would be the worst possible result for Scotland.

    2. Peter Piper says:

      Steve, I said 50% or above, not 60%, so my example makes my point and disproves yours. Don’t try that tactic with me, too many unionists tried to twist what I said over 3 years and failed miserably, time after time after time.

      The 60% was to show that the SNP could get as many as 3 seats on that list vote. The TNS poll on 9th Sept put SNP at 51% on the list vote so even if that was spread absolutely evenly over the 8 lists, the SNP would get at least 1 list seat in each region. For comparison, the SNP won 16 list seats in 2011, with 44% of the vote on the lists.

      1. Peter Piper says:

        “The 60% was to show that the SNP could get as many as 3 seats on that list vote.”

        That should read “The 60% was to show that the SNP could get as many as 3 seats on that list vote in any of the 8 regions.”

      2. Steve Arnott says:

        I’m not ‘trying’ anything with you Peter, simply pointing out that it is very unlikely that the SNP will win 60% on the list vote.

        Whether you use you preferred figure of 51% on the list (from one poll or my roughly averaged figure of 48/49%) that means at most 1 list seat for the SNP.

        I’ve always conceded that the SNP could win up to one list seat in each region making my argument and I do so above.

        The point then is, how do we ensure that the maximum number of remaining list seats go to pro-YES parties rather than unionist parties?

        On current polling that can only happen if people like me persuade a proportion of SNP voters to cast their second vote for Solidarity, RISE or the Greens on this occasion.

        I’m not a member of any party but I’m certainly not anti-SNP having campaigned for an SNP vote at the general election, and locally for SNP Drew Hendry.

        I hope that what I and people like me are arguing will be seen – not as an attempt to split the SNP vote – but as an honest attempt to strategically maximise the YES vote for Holyrood.

        Of course, I expect some SNP people to disagree with me, and we can have that debate, but let’s remember we’re all on the same side and motivated by the same desire: an independent and socially just Scotland

        1. Peter Piper says:

          I don’t have a problem with trying to get SNP voters to use their list vote for a smaller party, as long as it’s done honestly. Saying, as some have been “a vote for the SNP on the list is wasted” is not honest, nor is it honest saying “voting SNP on the list lets unionist parties in”. Every one of the 8 regions is different, and depends on actual voting, which can be predicted a bit, but not that accurately. Even the constituencies can’t be guaranteed.

          A couple of positive reasons for activists which might work:

          “During the General Election some Green / SSP / Solidarity activists encouraged people to vote SNP rather than their own party, and in most cases are doing so for the constituency vote. Please consider giving one of these parties your list vote to return the favour!”

          “In our particular region, breaking the recent polls down a week before the Holyrood elections, it looks like the SNP will get 1 seat on the list with their 50%, but would need to get over 60% (for example) on the list vote to get a second seat, whereas if some of you vote X, then that party can get the 7th regional seat instead of party Y. It’s not definite, but please keep it mind when you vote.”

          or even (hey, a policy)

          “Vote SSP (whoever) because we’re the only ones wanting to do Z”.

          All honestly, if appropriate, no spin. And none of this smearing of SNP supporters (I don’t mean you) 🙁

          For what it’s worth, I’d love to see a rainbow Holyrood with at least one MSP from all the parties, I cheered loudest when Sheridan was elected. Even at the expense of 1 or 2 extra SNP MSPs (that’s the SNP cancelling my membership!). But the overriding priority is to get a one-party overall majority to make a demand for Indy Ref 2 totally legitimate in the jaundiced eyes of Westminster, and that for me, is the most vital.

  33. Cath says:

    It’s depressing to see people who broadly share an aim falling out. I don’t disagree with a lot of what the article is trying to say, but also share the irritation of some commenters about the language mirroring the unionist media far too much.

    However, if the author of the article is correct, there is surely a serious mis-judgement and contradiction in the article? Of course there are people out there who voted no but may be persuadable to yes and there is a job to be done persuading them across (as well as stopping people going in the other direction). The SNP and wider yes campaign did a pretty good job – as the author acknowledges, bringing support up to 45%, and that support is still growing. Now maybe there are people who voted no because they hate the SNP, or they think the SNP aren’t left wing enough, or didn’t trust the independence movement. And maybe those currently in the SNP are not the best people to bring them over. In which case, surely that’s the role RISE should be taking?

    If you think there are people out there who may be put off by the only mainstream pro-independence party there is – the one that’s in government right now in Scotland – and that those people need a different message, then go out and find them and take that message to them, and help convert them in the way you think will work for them.

    But if that’s your case, then you must understand none of those people you’re looking for will be SNP members or voters – they’ll be people who’re currently voting Labour, most likely, or for other far left parties like the SSP, solidarity etc. Or they’ll maybe still be unengaged non-voters. The SNP and Yes movement as a whole did a good job, and many of those who did it are now part of RISE and have a huge amount to offer in putting a pro-independence, left wing case that may help bring over people who have reservations, as well as helping to shape a vision of a post independence Scotland.

    But in order to bring about independence, which in turn can bring about that vision, we still need to work together, and that work is primarily bringing over no voters or non-voters to yes. Targetting SNP voters doesn’t do that – it just splits the already yes vote, and risks the party which has so far been successfully delivering losing seats. It also puts the backs up of people who should be allies – as can be seen from the division on this comments thread. It seems like a peculiar direction for RISE (and indeed Bella) to be taking. It reads like carping from the sidelines about how a successful movement isn’t doing things right to bring even more people over, rather than just getting out there and going to find those people and bringing them over in the better way y0u think will work.

    1. Jason says:

      Brilliant comment Cath. Thankyou.

    2. Angry Weegie says:

      Spot on Cath. To get a Yes vote, we need to encourage some of those who voted no to change their minds. Tactical voting on the list is a mug’s game, so a strategy of persuading SNP voters to switch to another party is just as likely to result in the loss of SNP seats as it is the gain of other party seats. If you support Greens, RISE, Solidarity, etc. then vote for them, but if you support the SNP, switching your list vote to another party is very likely to be counter productive.

    3. Steve Arnott says:

      It’s not about targetting the SNP vote, Cath, but understanding that the YES vote and the SNP vote are not the same thing.

      Of course, the SNP are the biggest pro-indy party and the only one that come form a Government in May. That’s why non-SNP people like myself and Solidarity are calling for all YESSER’s to vote SNP with their first vote.

      But the bottom line is that if the SNP do as well again in the constituencies as they did at the General Election they will form the next Government. On the list they are likely to win a seat in each region at most. If as a YES movement, we want those seats to go to pro-indy candidates rather than the unionist parties, then how do we achieve that?

      It can only happen if – on this one occasion – a proportion of SNP voters can be persuaded to lend their list vote to the smaller pro-indy parties.

      And that is what I am arguing for (I hope) in a cogent, polite and comradely way.

      1. JBS says:

        Steve Arnott:

        And I reckon that SNP voters are too canny to be so persuaded. I think they want independence for Scotland; they don’t want to play left-wing politics.

        Speaking for myself, it’s going to be SNP constituency and list.

        Oh, and I don’t take kindly to being insulted. Being labelled an “ethnic nationalist” is something I would expect from unionists, not Bella Caledonia.

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          Exactly JBS. Also worth noting that the Greens and other minor parties HAVE specifically been targeting the SNP vote. If you want to see the outcome of such tactics, look no further than Catalonia where despite winning a majority of seats in the Generalitat, the Yes movement failed to gain an outright majority of votes, weakening their case for UDI.

          Many of us were in favour of a Yes Alliance post indyref1 along the lines of the Catalan “Junts pel Si” (although even that didn’t manage to persuade the far left party to come on board), and were disappointed that it didn’t happen. It seems the main reason for that was a lack of willingness on the part of e.g. the Scottish Greens. For them, party and their principles come before achieving independence, or at least are as important.

          Cath is spot on with her comment. The best way to achieve a balance of SNP and non-SNP forces would have been via a formal Yes Alliance for Holyrood 2016. Since that didn’t happen the best way for Greens, SSP & Solidarity members to advance their aims is to ensure the maximum number of SNP MSP’s, because (as the fairly byzantine analysis of trying to vote tactically in an AMS system has shown) it’s just too risky and may do more harm than good. I’d actually like to see more MSP’s from the Greens, RISE or any other progressive movement that could gain a foothold, but not at the risk of handing seats to unionists.

  34. GreatBigHoo says:

    On the ethnic nationalism / ‘True Scots’ / ‘Proud Scots’ (as “wearethe45%’ would have it) point.

    Peter A Bell (“Freelance Writer”) states “there is NO ethnic component to Scotland’s independence campaign”. What, none at all? Zero?

    Others assert it is a ‘fringe’ / ‘lunatic’ fringe’ element. But what size is that fringe, if it is one?

    I’ll say only this. My brother (grievance driven Nationalist / Separatist – all the problems in his personal and professional life are all entirely the fault of “Westminster”) is a teacher (formerly worked in a construction industry profession). He will tell anyone who cares to listen how well read and clever he is, and how many pretty certificates he has with his name. So this isn’t someone who has the excuse of their bitterness and anger coming from supposed “ignorance” or having a hard life.

    I’m Scottish, live in England, and have an English wife. My brother has ‘friends’ and colleagues who are English or other nationalities e.g a local Polish dentist.

    However, my brother openly states that he wishes that ‘non-scots born’ people had not had a vote in the referendum, and if he had his way they wouldn’t have one in the next referendum. Because in fairness it seems there is some evidence that most non-scots born voted No in the referendum.

    He has openly stated that ‘if it wasn’t for them (English and Foreigners) “we would have won”.

    I’d love to see Ashcroft or someone put some cash into a proper study into understanding just how much of a ‘fringe’ this kind of sentiment is, and more importantly, how much it has grown since the Yes Campaign and the SNP lost the refererendum.

    Which they lost simply because the case they put forward simply didn’t convince enough people.

    (The notion that the ‘MSM’ ‘right wing media’ etc. resulted in a No vote is laughable. One because there is no evidence of this, and two, people who suggest this clearly give their fellow voters no credit for being able to consider a range of views and sources and make up their own minds i.e. they hold them in contempt).

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      Your brother does not speak for Scotland’s independence movement.

      There is abundant evidence of the pernicious influence on the referendum campaign of the almost exclusively unionist mainstream media (MSM). It makes no difference how capable people are of considering a range of views if a full range of views is not readily available. The MSM distorted the debate in a number of ways. Firstly, by trumpeting unionist propaganda whilst burying the counter-arguments of the Yes campaign. Also, by utterly failing to challenge any of the claims made by Better Together, the British parties and the UK Government whilst subjecting the Yes campaign’s claims to a hyper-intense scrutiny whose sole purpose was to convey the impression of doubt. Typically, they would keep on repeating the same “questions” regardless of how often or how comprehensively they were answered.

      The MSM campaign was very far from subtle. Latterly, they abandoned any attempt to conceal their bias in favour of the ruling elites of the British state. It is difficult to understand how anybody could have missed the blatant bias. Unless they were really determined not to see it.

  35. Jim Bennett says:

    This debate has been instructive for a number of things:
    – keyboard warriors are alive and well. You know, the type of people who quite happily spew spite and bile onto a computer screen but cringe away from confrontation in the non-virtual world.
    – Not a single no voter, or non-voter, would be won across by the way the debate here has, by and large, been conducted.
    – The author’s use of the “true Scot” argument by YES supporters is broadly false. However, the style of argument used in the conduct of the debate here is actually illustrative of what I think the author’s point was/is. What I mean is the strident, dismissive and often abuse invective used. That approach is probably going to firm up a no vote – just what I think that the author was trying to say (badly!).
    – Many people have accused the author of being an apologist for RISE. He’s not, he’s a Green. But that’s not stopped any accusations flying.

    Lastly, I think the key differentiation between some of the camps is whether independence per se is what is wanted or use of independence as a vehicle for social change. The SNP believe in independence – no shit Sherlock! However, RISE, the Greens, Solidarity, TUSC etc. believe that independence is important for the purpose of social change. If anyone is really interested in how this stuff has worked historically, they should look at the Popular Front v. the Untied Front argument in civil war Spain. It’s instructive.

    The key point is would you be happy with Fergus Ewing as First Minister? Frankly, I’d be happier if he wasn’t even an MSP – I don’t vote for Tories.

    1. Broadbield says:

      I agree with most of what you say, but the snide remark about Fergus Ewing is unhelpful. (would a Labour supporter happily vote for a party that contained Brown and Blair as well as Benn and Corbyn?) The SNP is a broad coalition – after Independence we’ll see what they are really about. Let’s get Independence first.

    2. Andy Ellis says:

      “keyboard warriors are alive and well. You know, the type of people who quite happily spew spite and bile onto a computer screen but cringe away from confrontation in the non-virtual world.”

      Yes. Yes they are. they exist on both sides of most debates. the debate here has been heated perhaps…but abusive? Perhaps more heat than light has been generated, but when people feel passionately about a subject it happens. Disagreement and trenchant argument doesn’t ipso fact equate to abuse; that’s a tactic more in keeping with the less pleasant extremes of the MSM and the britnat establishment. Many of us think this article was factually wrong headed, and that Bella was unwise to publish it without considerable editing. We are allowed to say so, it’s a perfectly reasonable stance, and yet it’s been met with a level of hysterical over-reaction that wouldn’t be out of place in the Daily Heil.

      “– Not a single no voter, or non-voter, would be won across by the way the debate here has, by and large, been conducted.”

      Evidence free assertion. You have no way of knowing this, and no way of measuring it. One might equally assert the opposite with confidence. Given the weight of comments on here, I’d say the odds are rather again you in fact.

      “– The author’s use of the “true Scot” argument by YES supporters is broadly false. However, the style of argument used in the conduct of the debate here is actually illustrative of what I think the author’s point was/is. What I mean is the strident, dismissive and often abuse invective used. That approach is probably going to firm up a no vote – just what I think that the author was trying to say (badly!).”

      Yes it is fake. He is of course free to believe it an make it. Whether such an ill-judged and badly argued piece deserves to be given space here or elsewhere is arguable. Equally, you are entitled to keep banging on that the negative reaction to this piece, and the fact you equate it to “dismissive and abusive invective” supports the author’s argument and makes a No vote more likely, but that doesn’t make it true. It’s just your opinion. It is just as easy to argue, and probably more likely in realpolitik terms, that pandering of this type costs us more votes than it gains.

      “-Many people have accused the author of being an apologist for RISE. He’s not, he’s a Green. But that’s not stopped any accusations flying.”

      Who cares? It doesn’t matter which fringe group he’s affiliated to, if he’s making an argument which makes a No vote more likely, his views need to be addressed, argued with and shown to be erroneous. the correct interim response is not invariably to have a group hug, agree he has a point, and go down to a principled defeat because we were scared of hurting his feelings.

      “If anyone is really interested in how this stuff has worked historically, they should look at the Popular Front v. the Untied Front argument in civil war Spain. It’s instructive.”

      This isn’t Spain. It isn’t the 1930’s. We all know that the Greens are full of people that would ditch independence in a New York minute if it suited their purposes to do so. Interestingly the Greens in Catalonia are aligned with the No camp. That’s instructive too.

      1. Steve Arnott says:

        Is it really helpful to describe allies in YES – whether Greens, RISE or Solidarity – as fringe?

        Apart from the pejorative language issue what about policies:

        * a complete ban – not a moratorium on fracking
        * an independence referendum in the next Parliament
        * a compulsory National Living wage
        * taking the railways and energy utilities into Scottish public ownership

        These are not SNP policies but policies held by some of those smaller parties. Yet these are by means fringe policies. They have a wide degree of support amongst the YES movement and the wider population at large.

        1. Steve Arnott says:

          ‘by no means fringe policies’ – Sorry.

        2. Andy Ellis says:

          “Is it really helpful to describe allies in YES – whether Greens, RISE or Solidarity – as fringe?”

          I’ll stop describing them as fringe parties when they achieve more than fringe levels of support. When that happens, get back to us.

          “Apart from the pejorative language issue what about policies:….”

          Laudable. But the fact that they have some good policies, doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the fringe until and unless they are in a position to actually achieve % support & more importantly seats which make them decisive in the delivery of independence.

          “These are not SNP policies but policies held by some of those smaller parties. Yet these are by means fringe policies. They have a wide degree of support amongst the YES movement and the wider population at large.”

          I agree, but it’s still irrelevant.

      2. jimbennett says:

        Hi Andy. Just on the abuse and invectiveness…

        Fuck off, crap, shit, clown…they’re all liberally sprinkled here. But more importantly is tone. There’s been a consistent lack of respect for contributors to the thread. A sneering antagonism marks Peter A Bell’s contributions particularly.

        It’s not the way that I think wins people over.

        And you’re correct to point out that my points are simply mine and mine alone. I thought that my exchange above on the nature of meta-truth with Jon Buchanan might have emphasised that.d

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          Hi Jim.

          “Fuck off, crap, shit, clown…they’re all liberally sprinkled here. But more importantly is tone. There’s been a consistent lack of respect for contributors to the thread. A sneering antagonism marks Peter A Bell’s contributions particularly.”

          I think it’s possible to be too precious about these things to be frank. Perhaps some of the invective has been too much, but I’d hardly say it was that bad. Perhaps you’re just more of a delicate flower, but as posited above in a few places the fact that some people object to it doesn’t translate into a slam dunk proof that such trenchant debate turns more people off than it energises, or that it cost more votes than it gained in the indyref. You are of course quite entitled to believe your view, but in the end you have no more proof that it is true than the opposite.

          Perhaps Peter’s comments do appear like that to you, and maybe that are a bit “over done” at times. However given the tone of some of the responses, and the central flawed argument in the piece about the dangers of ethnic nationalism, and whether “some” on the Yes side were feeding that danger, it’s hardly surprising people who disagree bristle at the description, particularly given the fact it looks dangerously like it is, even unintentionally, lending comfort and support to the odious britnat narrative “othering” Yes supporters as blood and soil nationalist extremists. The author and those supporting him here may deny that was the intent, or say it was badly expressed and unintentional, but that (and I might add the totally over the top negativity demonstrated by Bella in response to criticism) is a far greater danger to the cause than the “passionate intensity” of the Yes campaign, without which we’d still be languishing on support around 30%.

          “It’s not the way that I think wins people over.”

          Again, there is more than one way to win people over. A one dimensional approach didn’t (and won’t) win us the indyref. Some people may be turned off by this kind of debate, or Peter Bell’s style of argument, or mine. Others may feel it is appropriate, or be more engaged by it. Most probably won’t care, and few if any are going to decide on the basis of it. Yes, the tenor of the debate generally may play some part in their final decision, but I’ve seen zero evidence of what those effects might be or which direction it would make people vote or how many it would influence.

          “And you’re correct to point out that my points are simply mine and mine alone. I thought that my exchange above on the nature of meta-truth with Jon Buchanan might have emphasised that.”

          Diverting as intellectualising about meta-truth might be, it probably isn’t going to win you many votes. I’m a bit more concerned about the poor quality of the central argument in the piece, the poor judgement exhibited by Bella giving it house room, and the even poorer judgement evident in the petulant defence of something not worth defending.

          1. Jon Buchanan says:

            Hi Andy/hi again Jim

            I wasn’t intellectualising when I joined the fray to discuss meta-truth at the weekend Andy; my initial point to Peter was, however he may feel about someone else’s opinion he couldn’t simply dismiss their lived experience as ‘untrue’ or dismiss their person. These are simple, basic human rights, whether denied in a forum or actual life. I used the rhetorical device of philosophical meta-truth in trying to explain the hypocrisy of Peter’s position in claiming to be marginalised by a post about marginalisation of other points of view by a prevailing or dominant one, which he appeared to be subscribing to and was marginalising others in the conversation with attempted brute force of argument.

            I personally found a lot to agree with in the original article, though not all, but found a lot to disagree with in the initial flood of comments BTL, which appeared to mirror the very point the article was trying make, in my opinion, as well as quite a few conversations I have been party to, so I said so. I found myself hectored and badgered a little, mainly by one man, trying to put words into other people’s mouths and apparently unable to read other people’s words which do not appear to ascribe to what appeared to me to be his own narrow interpretations of what it will take to make a future, independent Scotland. I’m no shrinking violet but do believe in there being a neutral, civic space, (much like the one we all inhabited during the Indyref campaign) where everyone feels able to express their opinion without fear of that kind of behaviour/treatment; I think our new media forms part of that space, it’s not a football terrace. When I found myself biting back a little, I opted out of the conversation disappointed, mainly in myself for not simply holding a positive line. I had not expressed any partisan opinion, other than to say I was not an SNP member, but it was assumed, by that person, SNP members were not welcome here, nothing could be further from the truth. I simply believe a broad, inclusive approach, with a multitude of Yes supporting voices will be the way to win a Yes vote in a future referendum. I also don’t think referenda are won during referenda and the work should keep being done now…

            …in the interests of keeping things positive (and Peter, I apologise for likening your debating finesse to both a sledgehammer and a blancmange, though that is a fair spectrum to work between, your intensity and passion is to be admired!), I’m a great admirer of Robin McAlpine’s take on how we get there next time; it’s not about winning votes in the next referendum, it’s about building confidence before we get there, so all the questions are already answered, the vote happens, we just say Yes and make the transition; for those who didn’t see his talk at Leith Said Aye yet, here’s the IndependenceLive link:


            The open forum at the end should be an ongoing conversation we’re having all the time, imho.

            Still trying to keep it sensible Jim!

          2. Peter A Bell says:

            If somebody says a thing happened, when it didn’t; or didn’t happen, when it did, then the statement is untrue. Calling it “lived experience” doesn’t alter that.

          3. Jon Buchanan says:

            Morning Peter; just because something didn’t happen to you, or fall within your realm of experience, doesn’t mean it didn’t or doesn’t happen and you can therefore claim someone who has seen or lived through it does not have the right to claim it did happen, that would be their lived experience which you’d be trying to deny, surely. Its not a slippery term conjured up to make truth slip away, it makes everyone’s experience equally relevant, equally valid and no truth have more validity than any other, regardless of the force or relentlessness of argument.

          4. Peter A Bell says:

            The gratifying thing is that the real world remains blithely unaffected by the fog of relativism that oozes from woolly minds. A newspaper article exists whether or not it has been seen and read by a particular individual. The fact that it is not part of their “lived experience” has not the slightest bearing on the existence of that article.

            The opinion on the existence of the article of the individual whose “lived experience” does excludes the newspaper article cannot have “equal validity” with that of the person who has seen and read the article because the former is founded in ignorance whist the latter is based on concrete knowledge.

            Shallow thinkers commonly suppose that the equal right to hold and express an opinion means that all opinions must have equal value. Rather self-evidently, this is not and cannot be the case. An opinion based on factual knowledge and reasoned argument must always have greater value than an opinion derived from ignorance and prejudice.

          5. Jon Buchanan says:

            Peter, I note you do not do the same service to others as they do to you and try to reason the actual argument and begin with a personal slight, that is not very reasoned debate; my mind is very acute, you don’t get through two degrees and post grad work as a mature student/single, working parent campaigning for direct, practical, community based issues for over 20 years without remaining agile in your mind. I live in the real world, I effect change in the real world where I can and work with others to do the same.

            I refer to the aspects of philosophical debate I do because they widen the scope of inclusivity, allow as many voices into the conversation as can be allowed, as you mention in your post below, everyone should have a voice. You also appear to have a very limited grasp of the spectrum of debating logic, in a basic syllogistic fashion and assume this makes for deep thinking and also infer this makes others more shallow than you, what hubristic arrogance, the paucity of some of your arguments and the frustration others who have clear depths have shown with them should perhaps disabuse you of that conceit, though of course you are welcome to it. My only issue with any of those things has been your use of them to bludgeon other points of view from the discussion so that yours remains the dominant one, which you continue to do. You also appear to use the classic projection techniques here where you have certain prejudices, even on display in your post here, but want others to believe it is indeed those you are arguing against who are prejudiced. I have formed no opinions about you other than those you have given me cause to form through your pursuit of your arguments, I think you misunderstand the notion of prejudice, certainly in the context of our discussions.

          6. Jon Buchanan says:

            Whilst sitting back in amidst your gratification and supposition you may like to cast your eye back over your own logic and realise you actually argue for a relativistic position; the position of another exists whether it is denied or not, looking beyond the words you use in your last post, you make exactly the same argument as I did, for points of view existing as separate experiences whet here one experiences the other or not. Beyond that, you may like to consider it is not just wooly minded philosophers who live in a relativistic universe but quantum scientists, mathematicians, machine coders, many of those who form the basis of the networked world we are all moving through daily, it is an extremely outmoded model of the universe to believe it is founded on provable empirical facts, updating your software might be an idea!

  36. Broadbield says:

    This article highlights a problem with the alternative media: a glaring disparity in the quality of the articles. There are some very fine, incisive, well-researched and argued pieces (e.g. those by John S Warren) and then there is this. I don’t know how much actual “editing” goes on but this article needed a lot of tightening up and centring on the title, rather than meandering onto ill-considered assertions devoid of evidence.

    A tight article on how to win the next referendum is needed, but the main thrust needs to take it as axiomatic that the SNP are central to that political project. Those on the far left need to produce evidence that they can win over the conservative (not C party) members of the electorate (many of whom are incomers) and not just a few in the Labour party. And we must be able to keep those who already voted Yes and not let some of them drift away to No or not voting.

  37. ian Stewart says:

    “Er, no shit Sherlock. Read anything Ive written over an eight year period?”

    This to me seem’s the central problem with Bella its not what you were its what you’ve become, Things have significantly changed at Bella and I’m not the only one to notice this,

  38. Iain More says:

    To quote from article

    “To conclude, the biggest obstacle to Scotland becoming independent may yet turn out to be the passionate intensity of those most committed to independence. ”

    Utter garbage. It was passionate intensity that kept most of us going through a long campaign and the daily torrent of lies and abuse we got from British Nationalist Press and Media otherwise known as the Naw campaign. A Naw campaign that appears to have migrated to Catalonia for the moment.

    1. Iain More says:

      I forgot to add, if we don’t believe in Indy then nobody else will.

  39. Angry Weegie says:

    For interest, I did a calculation using the TNS poll on 9th September.

    Constituency numbers were: SNP 58%, Lab 23, Tory 12, Lib 5
    List number were: SNP 51%, Lab 23, Tory 11, Green 7, Lib 6
    I have made a small adjustment to remove dead heats by taking 1 off Labour and giving it to Greens.

    Using the list numbers and assuming all 9 constituency seats won by SNP, we get a list result of Lab 4, Tory 1, Lib 1, Green 1 and SNP 0

    Using the constituency numbers, so assuming no change in votes between constituency and list, and again assuming SNP win all constituency seats, we get a result of Lab 4, Tory 2, Lib 0, Green 0 and SNP 1.

    So net result of voting Green on the list is that Greens take one seat from SNP and Tories take one from LibDems, reducing the SNP majority by one while having no positive impact on the pro-indy vote.

    Is that a good outcome? Perhaps yes if you’re a Green voter, but probably not if you just want to see independence.

    1. Steve Arnott says:

      Try doing the math assuming a base vote for Solidarity and RISE as well, and then run through a scenario where 3 out of 10 SNP constituency votes switch equally to Greens, Solidarity and RISE on the list.

      Look better now? Unless you actually prefer seeing list Labour, Lib-Dem and Tory MSPs rather than non-SNP YESSER’s sitting in the Parliament, it ought to look considerably better.

      Which is why I am arguing for it.

    2. Peter Piper says:

      Yes, though using the actual (weighted) numbers from the poll for the list rather than the rounded percentages gives SNP 310, LAB 146, CON 69, LIB 39, GRN 34. Which results in Lab 4, CON 2, LIB 1, GRN 0 list seats. Whereas if SNP voters had “given” Greens just 2 of theirs, the Greens would have got the 7th seat, rather than the Conservatives.

      But before anyone jumps in and says “well, that proves it then”, no it doesn’t, not at all. What it does prove is that you’d have to know the results in precise detail before deciding how to vote which, errr, you can’t do unless you’re Ruth Davidson of course.

      The reason for that particular small set of votes resulting in no SNP and no Green MSP (multiply by 100 if you like to make it look good) is that Labour went over the “magic” 20% (24.0% divided by 4 = 6.0%) to get 4 seats on the list, and the Tories went over the magic 10% (11.3% divided by 2 – 5.55%) to get 2 rather than 1, to beat Greens on 5.6% and SNP on 5.1%.

      Had the Conservatives been 10% and Labour 20% then both would have lost a seat to the SNP and Greens, whereas if SNP voters had “given” Greens just an extra 12 votes i.e. 2% in that case, Greens would still have had just 1 seat, the SNP seat would have been lost to the Conservatives / Labour in the last round, for a LOSS of 1 pro-indy MSP.

      And if this maths is far too much of a pain for people, then that fully demonstrates the danger of “tactical” voting in the list – it’s a mug’s game. Not like 39-16 though, yay!

    3. Angry Weegie says:

      As both Peter and I have said, tactical voting on the list is a mug’s game and you’re just as likely to get the opposite result to the one you’re trying to create.

      The real life example of the EU election mentioned earlier by Cath shows it perfectly. Being persuaded to “lend her vote to the Greens” as the best way to stop UKIP getting the 6th seat produced exactly the opposite result. Because a substantial number of SNP voters switched to the Greens, UKIP got a seat that they wouldn’t have if the SNP voters had simply stuck with the SNP. And look how that played out in the media. Look how pleased it made the unionists. Imagine the reaction if a similar scenario meant the SNP lost their overall majority, even if there were some other pro-indy MSPs from the smaller parties.

  40. leavergirl says:

    How not to win the referendum: fight with every Scot who disagrees with you on how to win the referendum. Bonus points for ad hominems and sundry putdowns.

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      The author, and the few that agree with his deeply flawed analysis, don’t represent a significant constituency. do you think the referendum will be won by having group hugs and agreeing with with every Scot who disagrees with us? We saw what happy-clappy, don’t scare the horses relentless positivity did in 2014. How’d that work out again…..?

      1. Steve Arnott says:

        Shifted the vote from 30% for independence to 45% for independence, Andy.

        And saw a mass shift of working class Labour voters in the towns and cities to independence and then some onto the SNP for the first time.

        Do you really believe that was all achieved by the SNP alone? That the left of the YES movement – whether it was the SSP, the Greens, RIC or Tommy Sheridan – played only a negligible role and can now be safely dismissed and forgotten?

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          “Do you really believe that was all achieved by the SNP alone?”

          No Steve, I don’t believe it and never said it. This debate would be generating a lot more light if people like you interacted with what people actually said, rather than what you wish they had said. Of course it wasn’t achieved by the SNP alone. Like many others, I didn’t join the SNP until after the indyref.

          “That the left of the YES movement – whether it was the SSP, the Greens, RIC or Tommy Sheridan – played only a negligible role and can now be safely dismissed and forgotten?”

          Again, not what I said or believe. Your comments show that you are just as much part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, as the original ill-judged evidence free piece of agitprop which caused the debate in the first place. Sometimes people believe and assert things which others believe are just wrong. You’re free to think otherwise. You’re free to misinterpret my remarks as attack on the wider Yes movement, or as evidence of slavish loyalty to the SNP or somehow demonstrating that I believe the SNP are above criticism. Your misrepresentation says a lot more about you than your passion for the cause.

  41. GreatBigHoo says:

    There is a very easy way to win the next Referendum; answer the currency question.

    There is a very simple (though not easy) way to answer this question; have your own currency.

    There is a very clear answer to this question; £30 – £35bn in reserves or somewhere around 20 – 25% of your GDP (about double what it is now).

    Or about two grand for every adult.

    What’s stopping you?

    1. Peter Piper says:

      Here’s two answers, not sure if these links are allowed here:

      As for reserves, here’s another answer:

      “(Carney) should add the foreign exchange reserves of the commercial banks to the Government’s official foreign exchange. Ireland operated an informal currency union with the UK, continuing to use the pound sterling as its currency from independence in 1922 until 1979.

      The Irish Government’s Currency Commission (the fore-runner of its central bank) did not envisage official lending to illiquid banks, but the Irish banks themselves recognised this and held substantial liquid assets in London. For example, in the year 1935, while the Currency Commission’s foreign exchange holdings “backing” the currency issue were only about 6 per cent of GNP, the net foreign assets of the private banks were about 45% of GNP. Thus the total liquid foreign assets of the banking system were well above Mr Carney’s 25% rule of thumb.”

      Wouldn’t you like Scotland to have responsible banks? I would. Pity the UK didn’t.

      1. GreatBigHoo says:

        I think we’re talking about different things.

        You’re talking about who’s view on these matters is intellectually / economically ‘correct’.

        I’m talking about the answer that will convince sufficient numbers of people who voted No or who didn’t vote last time to vote Yes.

        The proportion of people who take an interest in / can comprehend the content of the links you posted is a substantial minority – that will not change. Most people of Possilpark, Muirhouse, the Raploch etc. are not going to take a sudden interest in economics.

        They will just want to know in quite simple terms what the notes and coins in their pocket will look like, what their pay will be paid in, what they will be paying their mortgage in, etc.

        The inverse of this is seen today. Even when the predicament an iScotland would now find itself in had the Referendum gone the other way is set out in fairly simple terms, it just doesn’t register with people. (It’s all UNIONIST LIES from CORRUPT TRAITOR QUISLING UNIONIST SHILLS who HATE OUR FREEDOM etc. etc.)

        For a great many people it’s enough for ‘Nicola’ to simply state that once the SNP have control of all the “levers” (rubber levers) then a seamless transition to an economic miracle the likes of which the world has never seen before will take place.

        (And all and every one of the dreams of our children will wither and die, pestilence will sweep the land etc. unless we have our ‘independence’) .

        Anyway, you get my point, maybe.

    2. Peter A Bell says:

      As you would know if you had been listening more to the Scottish Government and the SNP and less to Project Fear and the BBC, the “currency question” was repeatedly and comprehensively answered. The idea that it wasn’t has become one of the more persistent myths of the referendum campaign.

  42. Lawrie says:

    Difficult to understand the bad tempered responses to this article, he has a point of view, some people think it is wrong. I liked the Indy ref attitude of “keep it positive” i think it was a very valuable and impressive response to the negative NO campaigning. Maybe something that could be kept in mind for this kind of discussion? The SNP has a lot of work to do to persuade people to a YES vote, and it needs to do by example. It should be a source of worry that areas like, Lewis, Shetland, North East, Borders voted NO. Work needs to be done on the economy, (e.g. working with local government, local taxation, land use/tax and ownership). I don’t see a lot of progress in these areas. Instead of complaining about things you don’t like maybe a more positive and productive discussion would be on how to turn the finances of the country around, which might actually persuade more people to vote YES? hint: proposing a copy of Westminster at Holyrood will not encourage people outside the central belt to change from No to Yes.

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      I don’t think it’s so difficult to understand. Nobody has denied his right to a point of view. The reasons some people reacted so negatively aren’t hard to discern:

      1) We think the central premise of the article is false. We disagree that reaction of some parts of the Yes campaign risk helping No, and with the clumsy and evidence free attempt to link this with the “no true Scotsman” meme and the conjuring of ethnic nationalism.

      2) Further, some objected to the petulant defence mounted by Bella of what we regard as a sub standard article. that’s what debate is all about. Again, the slightly hysterical tone used about trenchant debate simply plays into the hands of the No campaign.

      3) You’re entitled to your view (which seems a tad rose tinted to me, but there you go) that everything would be great and history will come through yet more relentless positivity. You might be right….but then again you might be wrong. It’s impossible to quantify/prove whether a Yes campaign that pulled it’s punches could have improved the result last year by using a combination of more confrontational/refutation based arguments to counter Project Fear. It is at least arguable however.

      4) Nobody is proposing a copy of Westminster. Anyone with any knowledge of both can see they are nothing alike. Given developments in the past year, there is no guarantee the areas that voted heavily No last year would necessarily do so again, or at least by the same margin, by the time of indyref2. The SNP & everyone else has a role in persuading more people to Yes, and of course, you are right there are multiple ways of doing it, and lots of different policies that might play a role. Bear in mind that negative campaigning might not be “nice” but on this occasion it won the day. A nuanced approach is necessary, not pious “de haut en bas” refusal to get down and dirty sometimes when it’s called for; the first Obama campaign is a great lesson – in the face of a poisonous and relentlessly negative campaign they abandoned their initial approach to stay positive and avoid confrontation. They won not just because of “Yes We Can” but also because they weren’t afraid to bite back.

      1. Lawrie says:

        The kind of debate above will put people off, it is boring and pointless. You seem focussed on what works in a debate to win points rather than what will improve peoples lives. Some practical improvements have to be made to get the Scottish economy in a better condition so that people can see a process and progress – and a way to engage people into democracy as well. e.g. I would be in favour of expansion of local democracy through pilot projects in municipal government (devolving power and tax raising to a local level) and strengthening of regional government (internal federalism for Scotland). If you want to discuss this idea with SNP supporters you get “no! we would lose control, there would be chaos” argumentation – without any awareness that what is true for Scotland -needing more local power over the economy- is even more true for regional and local areas inside Scotland. With some actions – there are any number of examples from how things work better in mainland Europe – you might be able to prove that you have an interest in improving the lives of Scottish people and improving the country instead of feeding the suspicion that you are in fact interested in indy only for the sake of indy. Many people converted to the YES cause like myself are interested in indy because of the possibility for better governance and improved economic, environmental and social conditions for people. If you are not willing or able to make improvements and changes then it is only a matter of time before support for the SNP and indy will wane, and you cannot rely on Unionist parties being so completely useless for ever, eventually they might come up with an alternative plan on improving democracy and the economy that satisfies the needs for change.

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          You and those who agree with you keep asserting that this debate will put people off, but it’s a line that becomes no more convincing for constant repetition. It might put some people off, and it might enthuse others. The amount is likely to be relatively small directly. Indirectly it may feed into the general tenor of debate; again you have only your faith based position that this is right. You caricature SNP responses (based on what I’m not sure) as if we were all some hive mind. Plenty of people within and outside the SNP will agree with lots of the areas you outline. Your rather lame attempt to paint the party as one thing makes you come across like the less pleasant fringes of britnat zoomerism.

          There is no evidence that I’ve seen that SNP members, let alone me personally are “not willing to make improvements or changes”, that’s simply more tendentious assertion on your part. If you think SNP support will wane fair enough; time will tell. I suspect your prediction will be about as accurate as Murphy’s that Labour wouldn’t lose a single seat….but if it makes you feel better….have at it!

          If the unionists had anything like a coherent plan I reckon we’d have seen some evidence of it by now. A week is a long time in politics it’s true, but if you feel there is going to be some melt down in SNP support in the short to medium term, or that the britnats will suddenly pull a coherent home rule plan out of the hat leading to a resurgence of their electoral fortunes, I think you’re delusional.

        2. Alistair Livingston says:

          One of my inspirations since the 1970s has been the Lucas Aerospace Alternative Corporate Plan

        3. Jon Buchanan says:

          Lawrie, I opted out of the discussion over the weekend, as outlined in a post I just popped up earlier this eve, for much the same reasons you state at the start of your post here. Underlying most of my heartfelt commitment to the Indy cause is a deeper commitment to social justice and bridging the democratic deficit, which I feel is what is widened further with every little trick of ideological austerity. I agree with so much of the tenor and content of your post, and following on from my earlier post where I suggested we all should maybe continue Robin McAlpine’s notion of an open forum where we pitch in with our ideas for what we want a future Scotland to look like, I feel like nailing my colours a little more to the mast than I am usually wont to do.

          I recently founded a social enterprise to provide not only cheaper digital branding and marketing for SMEs, social enterprises, small charities and community groups but do it through providing training and employment for people with disabilities and freelance work for design students struggling to find work straight out of college. I also did this to fund research into new approaches to treating epilepsy and have just begun a PhD to that effect myself. I was diagnosed with a particularly debilitating form of Frontal Lobe Epilepsy 3 years ago, which has me having between 30-120 simple, complex and secondary generalised seizures a day, depending on my seizure thresholds. I have so far proven resistant to all medication and can only reduce risk of seizure by managing my seizure thresholds. The NHS, centrally, classes my type of epilepsy as benign and does not automatically recommend surgery, even though it is not classed as such in other countries, nor does my neurologist, a leader in his field, think it should be. Shouldn’t the 96 people (even though Frontal Lobe is the second most common epilepsy it accounts for only 2% of sufferers) in Scotland suffering from Frontal Lobe Epilepsy and the neurologists treating them have more control over the grading of treatment than a central NHS committee?

          I’ve been a community based activist for over twenty years, since I was a Community Development Officer for CISWO (Coal Industry Social and Welfare Organisation) and campaigned for the village I grew up in and returned to after travelling for a few years, to discover the local, Labour run, council refused to adopt the roads or water and sewage system, with all the local pipes still being lead, having been installed by the mine whose workers the village was built to house. This despite the clear incidence of poor physical and mental ill health in the village occurring as a result of the lead pipes.

          I was returning to uni and changed the degree I was studying so I could complete a community development plan for the village as part of my studies and work with CISWO, who were the only organisation willing to work with the village. It took us 3 years to raise the funding through grassroots work, which was then matched by European funding, to upgrade the village infrastructure. By this time we had entered the New Labour ascendancy and locally we had their placepeople too, who duly stepped in and claimed credit for the grassroots work done by the villagers and for the plan, which I still have. After adoption of the infrastructure by the Council no decisions were taken locally, people became disempowered, very few people who were involved in that campaign live there now. That’s a tragedy in my eyes and one of many which will go completely unnoticed without decentralising the decision making processes of how all our lives are governed.

          I submit this anecdotal evidence only to back up the kind of case I’ve made elsewhere on some threads on Bella for Land Value Tax and for a local taxation generally and my long standing disappointment at it having been in the power of the Scottish Government for some time to have acted more decisively on it long before now.

          I think the global issues around moving away from carbon based economies toward renewables are particularly poignant in Scotland, where we lament the lack of investment in an oil fund, know the science tells us the rest of the oil should stay where it is but now find the abundant promise of our renewables industry under threat through withdrawal of subsidies by Westminster. So are Fergus Ewing’s recent pronouncements a promise of policies to come? These things concern me greatly and I think will impact on all our lives directly very shortly. Are we allowed to discuss this? Does that make us splitters? If the moratorium on fracking was lifted but a regional council found opinion locally was strongly against a proposal made for a site and voted against it in chambers, would they be overruled by a central SG? Or can we get an outright ban on fracking and UCG since there is an overwhelming case against both scientifically? Or are the economic benefits what stays their hand?

          Personally, I don’t think there has been a better time to adopt the motto of the Transition Town movement, ‘Act Local, Think Global’. I would like to see as much decision making devolved as far as it can go. I’m not even sure representative democracy has much life left in it and am surprised Democracy OS doesn’t get more coverage than it does, particularly with its relevance to the Postcapitalist trajectory.

          It’s rare a post (but there are a few) chimes with what I’m thinking on so many points (not that my points mirror yours exactly, that would make this an echo chamber of a post, what would be the point in that!)Lawrie, thank you for your plea for sanity and open debate/discussion! I apologise if anyone feels I have repeated myself from other posts on other threads but these are my drums to bang, goodness knows there have been some drums banged incessantly here!

        4. Peter A Bell says:

          A constant source of irritation during the referendum campaign were the self-appointed moderators who put all their efforts into futile bleating about how everybody else was talking about the wrong things, to the wrong people, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and in the wrong way. It was as if they genuinely believed that there was a single, form of words, like a magical incantation, which would win over doubters.

          The reality, of course, is that the doubters were as diverse a group as any within the population. It was never going to be the case that one voice was going to be sufficient to address all of them. What was needed, and what the Yes campaign succeeded in providing, was myriad voices, but with a common message.

          Declaring that “the kind of debate above will put people off” is, to put it as graciously as we might, simplistic and mistaken. The only “kind of debate” that fails is debate that is confined and constrained by unasked referees. There is no right and wrong way to debate. Nobody gets to appoint themselves arbiter of what is and is not permissible. Everybody gets a voice.

          1. Lawrie says:

            It was my experience talking to some in the NO camp that when they ran out of arguments they resorted to personal abuse, sometimes in the early days of the campaign I gave back as I got, but i soon regretted it, a waste of time and entirely self defeating. I think the only way to indy is by being positive, and by proposing and following through with action to improve the lives of Scottish people. Is it the case that substantial policy ideas are on the agenda for discussion at the SNP conference? Grand so, I look forward to hearing about them, though I did note some concerns by Robin McAlpine and Lesley Riddoch recently on this subject. I would also again urge a look at how our neighbours in other Northern European economies run their local government, tax and services. I see in a German newspaper today that the city of Freiburg is able to fine (up to 50,000 euros) owners of unoccupied flats, or flats that have been converted to use as holiday accommodation. Is it the case that our regions or municipalities (?!) can have this sort of power to address housing shortages? why not?


  43. Alistair Livingston says:

    Scotland as a Civil Society

    For what its worth, this talk I gave last January to a Radical Independence meeting in Castle Douglas Community Centre sets out my approach to what independence might mean. My theme was Scotland as a Civil Society and my hope then was the grassroots Yes campaign would ‘actualise the ethical idea’ in the Constitution of a new Scottish state.

    This is a summary of my talk.

    When Margaret Thatcher declared that ‘there is no such thing’ as society in 1987, she was unwittingly rejecting a very powerful Scottish idea. It can be glimpsed in the Declaration of Arbroath and burst forth again in the Scottish Reformation. Called civil society it was refined by the Scottish Enlightenment, only to be stifled by conservative reaction to the French Revolution. Inspired by the Scottish Enlightenment and the French Revolution, Georg Hegel translated it into German as bürgerliche Gesellschaft in 1821. But by 1843, the reality of conservative reaction in Germany led Karl Marx to attack Hegel’s theory that a rational state would emerge out of civil society as ’the actuality of the ethical idea’. In Scotland, democratic reaction against conservative reaction -a negation of negation- has revived civil society since 1987. This new civil society has its expression in the grassroots Yes campaign. If this campaign -our campaign- moves beyond the September Revolution to ‘actualise the ethical idea’ in the Constitution of a new Scottish state, then Hegel may yet have the last word at the end of one history of Scotland and the beginning of another.

    The full text is here.

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      A thorough article Alastair, most enjoyable; I’ve mentioned on Bella before that Scotland was uniquely placed to engage with Habermas’ idea of reconnecting with Enlightenment notions of civil society but wasn’t aware of this article, thank you for bringing it to our attention and, at the risk of the opprobrium of some posters, thank you for the original article here, which I certainly engaged with; for those defending the type of ‘robust’ debate which has followed around it they may like to note that it wouldn’t have occurred without the article itself, so in that sense it was a resounding success, I don’t think I’ve seen as many comments on article for quite some time, nice work sir!

      1. Jon Buchanan says:

        Sorry, Alistair, my bad! Coming from a guy who is forever sighing and saying no, without the ‘h’, sorry!

        1. Alistair Livingston says:

          Thank you for comment Jon and don’t worry about the ‘h’. I have two books by Habermas ‘The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity’ and ‘The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere’. I think I will re-read the ‘Public Sphere’…

          I am also looking forward to Peter A Bell’s demolition of ‘Scotland as a Civil Society’.

    2. John S Warren says:

      With great respect, I do not think I have seen such an unexpected or improbable attempt to bolt Hegel on to the intellectual tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment since reading Edward Caird’s ‘The Evolution of Religion’ (1880). It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now.

      A much better case could be made by suggesting a link (circuitous, indirect and overlooked) to a contemporary German philosopher to Hegel who was famously ‘lecturing to the walls’ in Berlin when, some way along the noisy corridors from this still, forgotten corner, another kind of scene was to be found; the ambitious students of this prestigious university were obliged to ‘perch on the rafters’ in Hegel’s fashionable and overcrowded lecture hall to listen to the ‘Great Man’, GWF Hegel.

      The forgotten philosopher sans acolytes and alone in Berlin was Schopenhauer; but this takes us to quite different, albeit more lastingly illuminating territory than anything we will find in Hegel; or Habermas for that matter (Horkheimer said of Schopenhauer “his work makes no promises”; but I do not think that Habermas has quite fulfilled that promise).

      1. Alistair Livingston says:

        John- have you read Norbert Waszek “The Scottish Enlightenment and Hegel’s Account of ‘Civil Society'” ? It sets out in detail the connections between Hegel and the Scottish Enlightenment.

        This Google books link gives partial access to the book.

        1. John S Warren says:

          Thank you. I have not read Waszek, but the name of Duncan Forbes, who probably first focused attention on the ‘Scottish Enlightenment’ in the extraordinary, ground-breaking period of early ‘intellectual history’ in the 1960s, and was a distinguished Hegelian, must command respect. Forbesit seems was Waszek ’s supervisor in Cambridge. Nevertheless, and for all that, as Forbes states in his Foreword “]Woszek’s] is a partial study of Hegel’s political thought, it is NOT the main line”.

          More critically, Forbes is absolutely (I trust this suitably Hegelian word is appropriate here) right when he writes this: “And one has to be thoroughly at home in the Hegelian dialectic and it would be rather far fetched to look for a Scottish pedigree for that”. I am sure illumination of Hegel is to be found in some aspects of the Scottish Enlightenment, for reasons both Forbes and Waszek can provide much better than I; but I doubt if the converse is true – I doubt if Hegel illuminates, explains or informs the Scottish Enlightenment, and I do not think we can conflate their methods, rules or exploratory techniques.

          Forbes also points out that the link with Ferguson (or others – the same may be said of Stueart etc.,) is very easily made, but Forbes handles all this with typical candour: “on the whole this sort of exercise is probably not much than a kind of erudite play-time” (and I suspect the same exercise may be carried out about Marx, perhaps even more persuasively).

          Forbes is also critical of the tendency in Britain “to stress ‘community’ at the expense of ‘state’ in Hegel’s political philosophy”. In our current intellectual climate this carries real dangers of creating some wretched developments in intellectual history, just when Scottish Enlightenment studies should be looking toward a much more fruitful period.

          I would point to two other defects in this conflation. First is Hegel’s rationalism; the Scottish Enlightenment is not philosophically, essentially ‘rationalist’ and even has strong threads of ‘anti-rationalism’ within it; the most compelling claim to a ‘rationalist’ Scottish Enlightenment would perhaps be the formidably erudite Hamilton’s attempted reconciliation of the thought of Kant with Reid, but the point of that was its very uniqueness; Hamilton, probably the first important British Kant scholar, later began to see more illuminating avenues for the development of future thought.

          Second, and more important, I would be happy to explore the close relationship between Scottish Enlightenment methodology and evolutionary theory because they are interwoven (but not here and now, perhaps for the sake of readers who wish to stay awake), but Hegelianism is quite profoundly different; and, as Caird inadvertently exposes, once evolutionary theory is fully explained in Hegelian terms, then it empties Hegelianism of all intellectual significance (for example, it opens itself to a similar attack as Popper’s critique of Marxism).

  44. Douglas says:

    What a great rammy….hee hee hee…hilarious, freends…well done to you all…

  45. Jeff says:

    You want another referendum? Vote SNP. “Simples”.

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