Can The SNP renew itself in government?

logoIf you’re a party member, pounding the pavements in the last few days, we at Bella Caledonia salute you. It ain’t over till the D’Hondt ratios calculate… And no matter your particular reading of the electoral math, nothing happens if voters aren’t pulled out over their doorsteps. So all hail youze.

But there are those of us – like your humble guest co-editor of Bella this week – who have explicitly stepped out of party-political membership (I left the Scottish Greens a few months ago, having joined the day after the indyref), in order to try and survey the wider picture of Scottish power and politics.

So over the next few days, let me indulge in some general indy-movement speculations about the big challenges of the next term of the Scottish Parliament. (Some of them are of course contingent on the exact electoral outcome on Thursday.) All responses welcome.

1: Can The SNP renew itself in government? I know casting aspersions on the SNP political machine sounds slightly mad, given their thunderous progress towards a third term of office. But third terms are tricky in recent UK political history.

Thatcher was deposed in hers (and though John Major as her successor won the next election, he was defeated on a familiar Tory roll of Euroscepticism and sleaze). Blair signalled that he wouldn’t run for a fourth, handed over to the famous Kirkcaldy volcano – and we all know how that went.

Sturgeon’s set-up is so much better as a leader than either of these. Crowned after her silverback mentor ran out of steam in the indyref, burnishing her lustre as a political icon in the “progressive alliance” of the 2015 UK General Election, and now sure to get her “presidential” mandate (and SNP majority) in 2016. Could a leader ever want fairer conditions to set the agenda?

Yet it’s still a “third term”. The first term was about figuring out what national governance felt like; the second term about how to deploy the civil service to substantiate an independence referendum. The third term (barring unpredictable weather like Brexit, Trident cancellation or Western economic meltdown) should ideally be about laying down a legacy of serious reform, under the enhanced devolved structures that came out of a No vote – itself made because most Scots were convinced that progress within the Union was possible.

Yet however valuable particular objects in the policy basket are – things like closing the educational attainment gap, mitigation of welfare cuts with new powers, or tweaking tax and training regimes to help enterprise – the SNP’s devolved agenda toward 2020 seems to be less about inspiration, but consolidation. Jack McConnell’s “doing less, better” lurks around the whole manifesto.

The London Labour soft-left have a word they love to invoke, near religiously, when questions of their party’s strategy comes to the fore: renewal. The sense is that there is nothing in the party’s traditions that cannot be a resource for new challenges (eg, the postwar welfare state instituted in 1945, “new” Labour as the necessary accommodation with neoliberalism, etc. Though I think they’re struggling with Corbyn…). There’s even an excellent journal devoted to the process.

What is a third-term SNP’s version of “renewal” – given that, if the electoral numbers fall as generally predicted, they’ll be in a clear and secure governing majority? Do they even need it?

The comparison with New Labour is directly interesting. No matter what you think of its quality, they came to power on a tsunami of big ideas and big gurus – The Third Way, Cool Britannia, the Demos think-tank, names like Geoff Mulgan, Martin Jacques, Anthony Giddens… Before war, hubris and the psychodrama of Granita consumed them, you could attribute the vote-winning “modernity” of NuLab as equally to their stuffed chest of policy experiments as to the charisma of Tony Blair.

Does an effective government, with a thumping endorsement, think it needs to renew anything about itself? Maybe not. But history would caution against complacency.

Has the SNP ever had any policy ambitions of this kind – any kind of belief that Scottish conditions could generate brand new, world-leading solutions to enduring government challenges? That a “Scottish Model” for a good society could be put together, and presented as a plan or philosophy to the wider world? (We did it once before, I seem to remember…)

There have been, and are, some genuinely visionary heads floating around Scottish public life, and who sometimes also get in the Holyrood building. The ex-Business Minister Jim Mather says that his long-term job is “reading for Scotland”. Certainly there’s no-one of equivalent seniority who understands as much about how a national economy depends on psychology and networks, as much as natural resources.

Harry Burns, currently serving on the Council of Economic Advisers, is as esteemed a voice on the links between wellbeing, happiness, equality and health as more reputed figures like Pickett and Wilkinson (of The Spirit Level fame) or Richard Layard. The late and much lamented feminist economist Ailsa McKay – whose next frontier after winning the argument for childcare expansion was the introduction of basic citizens’ income – was another such figure.

But it seems the SNPGov is content to set up a series of commissions around clearly-defined topics – fair work, poverty, land, local taxation, early years, innovation, etc – whose recommendations are then rather gingerly picked through, and eventually arranged like small pearls before the next electoral beauty contest. Who’s to say, at least within the devo context, that this won’t be exactly the way it works at the next election in 2020?

I would love – though I won’t be breaking my heart on it – to see something like Mission For Finland 2030  – which aimed to re-brand the country as the solver of “the world’s most wicked problems”. Short of independence, what’s the great contribution that Scotland can make to global questions like energy generation, good governance, cultural flourishing, conflict mediation?

In a private communication recently, the great essayist Neal Ascherson said to me that acting “as if” Scotland was already independent was the likeliest way to actually get there. If we DON’T end up scrambling for ReEntry after a certain Eurodecision in June – which would require a whole other set of demands and skills, and another blog – then maybe some element of the next SNPGov term could be devoted to “global best practice”, using the reforming powers we have.

Does an effective government, with a thumping endorsement, think it needs to renew anything about itself? Maybe not. But history would caution against complacency.

Speculation number two tomorrow.

Comments (43)

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  1. Bill Ramsay says:

    Let’s start with whisky, it’s ownership, it’s marketing, it’s non generation of significant job numbers and crucially it’s revenue potential.

    1. Donald Blair says:

      It was Sheik Yamani, the Saudi Oil Minister, who said in 1973 – when Saudi oil was selling for $3 per barrel – “everybody’s getting rich from our oil – except us”. And so it is with Scotch whisky in 2016.

      If Scotland could simply capture, say 20% (£15 billion), of the £76 billion global sales revenues of Scotch whisky this would be 25 times the anticipated future total UK revenues of North Sea oil (£0.6 billion in 2016-2017 – Office for Budget Responsibility projections).

      £15 billion would: build 500 new high schools EVERY YEAR in Scotland (£30m/school) or
      pay the salaries of 375,000 teachers (£40k/teacher) or
      build 15 Super-Hospitals like South Glasgow Hospital (£1bn) annually or
      pay the salaries of 750,000 care assistants (£20k/assistant) or
      (heaven forbid) build 30 tram lines in Edinburgh every year

      In short, £15 billion is equivalent to every citizen of Scotland benefitting to the extent of almost £3,000 per year. Every year. In near-perpetuity.

      So why does the SNP hierarchy continue to ignore the legitimate and democratic Resolutions of its Branches in recent years to simply investigate this renewable and stable source of income to the benefit of the Scottish people? Worse, why is the Scottish Government forcing drastic budget cuts on civic society?

  2. John Page says:

    Thank you for that stimulating piece.

  3. JohnEdgar says:

    There is no such thing as “history”. It is not out there like some deus ex machina. History is written by historians.
    There is therefore no verdict of history or going against the tide of history or even a manifest secular destiny in history. History does not teach or repeat itself.
    So drawing analogues re third terms in UK politics is invalid. The past is no guide to the future.
    The SNP is not a UK party! It might be in the territory of the UK, but it is not from the UK Westminster set up. It draws its being from outwith the norms, practices, assumptions and “idiotics” of the Westminster set up.
    Its very strength and numbers is contrary to what exists in UK parties relative to the size of the population. And it is “opposed” to the Westminster settlement of 1707.
    So while one may speculate about renewal, that usually comes after defeat. A better term is evolve.
    Slab and ScotTory have been renewing themselves, or trying to renew themselves since the SNP came to power in Holyrood. They have not succeeded because in the Scottish context as it becomes more dominant north of the Tweed, these unionist parties are thirled to the UK with its ancien inconsistences in a modern 21st century world. Hence, Lab and Tory dahn sath are fissuring and are at war within their respective parties.
    These parties look back to the right times gone by, to a golden age of unreality.
    The key question now is ” Can the UK parties renew themselves?
    Brexit/Engxit and EVEL are symptoms of this crisis dahn sath.”
    Post imperial UK is in a flummoxed state.

    1. John Edgar says:

      one does not usually reply to oneself! But after I posted the above I was on Yahoo uk. There was an item entitled: “How long can the SNP own Scottish politics?”
      First that is an open admission that the SNP is a current powerful force in Scotland, but no party “owns” the politics of another. (The above talks about renewal, it is the usual sub-conscious wishful “want to happen” couched in warning hints. )
      The bit about owning is misplaced. That is an assumption often used by the old UK parties who have had a sense of entitlement for a long time. Gordon Brown used to be linked with his “Scottish fiefdom” as his own within the Labour party.
      The SNP do not claim to own Scottish politics, it is the people who own their politics and express it at the ballot box. Not the msm, or the BBC, or the ranters like the recent Neil Oliver and people of that ilk.
      No party has a right to universal existence if it does not draw its sustenance from the electorate. That was what happened to the Eastern European Communists. They relied ultimately on the Red Army and when Gorbachev uttered glasnost and perestroika, the East European Communists were finished. They had become detached from the very people they supposedly stood up for.
      So, the next five years will be more interested than the last. As the ranters in the msmmeeja who have ranted against the BAAAD SNP see that the populace still vote the SNP into power and prominence in Scotland as in 2015, where do they go from there?
      Parties cease to exist or go down when they loose sight of the electorate. The unionists are pulled in two directions at once, Westminster and Holyrood, Main office and the “branch”, as Johann Lamont said referring to her own “parties” SLab/Lab. The ScotTories likewise are more focussed on dahn sath than Slab or LibDems.
      So, I was amused at the Yahoo article and headline. The underlying assumption about “owning” is a term more linked to the unionists than to the SNP .

    2. Richard MacKinnon says:

      “The SNP is not a UK party!” It looks like it to me every time I turn the telly on around 1200 on a thursday.

  4. muttley79 says:

    There is not a Scottish Model because the nation has never had enough political power invested in a national parliament, and that is still the case. The best the Scottish Government can do is mitigate the worst that comes from Westminster, and introduce policies such as the baby box from Finland. I hope the next administration takes land reform in particular a lot more seriously that Holyrood generally has since 1999. It needs to be much bolder than previously ones.

  5. Gary Elliot says:

    I enjoyed this article and agree that the SNP need ambition. IMO they also need to communicate strategy better. Some long term goals need ducks in a row planning & legislation ( e.g. would they be able to commit to 35k houses for Social Rent if they hadn’t abolished Right to Buy? I suggest not). In areas where they are still arranging those ducks they need to articulate and communicate that.

  6. Coul Porter says:

    Good one Pat. Let’s hope that Stewart Hosie’s imminent re-evaluation involves some of your ‘big gurus’ and, dare I say it, maybe even the odd streetfighter.

    Perhaps a strategy of ‘getting your retaliation in first’ would serve them better next time – media permitting, of course.

    1. Coul Porter says:

      In case anyone thinks that I am advocating violence, ‘streetfighter’ should have been in quotes.

  7. Onwards says:

    Good to see Mr Kane as guest editor here.

    History would indeed caution against complacency.
    Yet aside from a few disclaimers, the article speculates about a majority third term just before an election. Remember the shock last year when the BBC exit poll revealed a Tory majority against all the pollsters predictions ?

    Think how depressing it would be to see a similar shock in Scotland with the SNP falling short on the day, perhaps due to people taking it for granted, or tactical voting backfiring.

    The latest polls are showing the SNP dipping under 50% for the first time in months.
    48.7% in the latest one.

    If they get 45% on the day, like last time, that could mean 16 list seats will be needed like before.. What if the indy support is divided ?

    There will be another couple of polls tomorrow. What if the unbalanced audience in the last BBC debate has had an effect? What if all the in-fighting over the last couple of weeks has put some people off even voting at all.

    IMO, It’s getting a bit too close for comfort to think about taking any chances.
    Maybe we should all focus on getting that pro-indy majority in the next 2 days, then take a break for a few days, then start thinking about the best path forward.

  8. Alf Baird says:

    In line with the great international maritime trading successes of many small nations, which by and large explains their economic growth (e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong, Oman, Dubai, Flanders, and yes even Panama), in order to similarly grow the Scottish economy I proposed a Scottish Maritime (and trade) Policy:

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03088830500300404?journalCode=tmpm20
    http://stsg.org/scottish-transport-review-52

    The Scottish Government have ignored my suggestions. I believe we will not see much growth and economic ‘renewal’ in Scotland until we sort out our ports: http://reidfoundation.org/2016/01/sort-out-our-ports/

    Following Neal Ascherson’s perspective, I also suggested the SNP’s 56 “roaring lions” might be better occupied by establishing ‘shadow’ Scottish Ministries for reserved powers, thereby “acting “as if” Scotland was already independent”. So far nae interest (or bottle)!

  9. s tattersall says:

    What about the professional bodies? Surely its within the SNPs gift to ensure that the professional bodies of Scottish engineers, doctors, nurses etc are based in Scotland rather London. And, dont get me started re Scottish armed forces personnel being subject to a Courts Martial system based on English law and the MOD refusing to pay Scots lawyers to represent Scots soldiers due to the referendum. And, finally, obtaining copyright over the OS maps.

  10. Alex Buchan says:

    The most pertinent point for me in terms of the future was Neal Ascherson’s point about acting as if Scotland was already an independent county. If you look back on the history of devolution the turning point turns on exactly that very principle. Ultimately the Labour party was kicked out of office because its main concern was to keep Scotland within the mental space of Labour managerialism, which was designed specifically to stop Scotland acting as if it were an independent country. The SNP’s success was primarily based on it’s assertion of the Scottish right to decide what happens in Scotland. Westminster had little choice but to accept this change and so the penny dropped for the Scottish public. They could see that Labour could have been a lot bolder, but in fact chose not to. That in essence is the reason why labour has been in decline even before it’s disastrous alliance with the Tories in Better Together. The biggest mistake the SNP could make is to lose that boldness and start playing within the rules set down by Westminster. The question that remains unclear to me is whether that winning strategy of behaving as if Scotland was already independent was due to Salmond’s leadership or whether Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP leadership share this understanding.

  11. Alex Buchan says:

    The most pertinent point in terms of the future for me was Neal Ascherson’s point about acting as if Scotland was already an independent county. If you look back on the history of devolution the turning point turns on that very principle. Ultimately the Labour party was kicked out of office because its main concern was to keep Scotland within the mental space of Labour managerialism, which was designed specifically to stop Scotland acting as if it were an independent country. The SNP’s success was primarily based on it’s assertion of the Scottish right to decide what happens in Scotland. Westminster had little choice but to accept this change and the penny dropped for the Scottish public. They could see that Labour could have been a lot bolder, but chose not to. That, in essence, is the reason why labour has been in decline even before it’s disastrous alliance with the Tories in Better Together. The biggest mistake the SNP could make is to lose that boldness and start playing within the rules set down by Westminster. The question that remains unclear is whether that winning strategy of behaving as if Scotland was already independent was due to Salmond’s leadership or whether Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP leadership share this understanding.

  12. Susan Macdiarmid says:

    Neal Ascherson also made that point in his excellent book ‘Stone Voices’

  13. Thomas William Dunlop says:

    I think the SNP will have a better chance of riding out the 3rd term, as they changed leaders, at a time of their own choosing and replaced one popular one with an even more popular one (One can speculate that independence might have been wrought if Nicola had been in charge at the time).

    Still there are dangers of complacency but one hopes the diversity of new folk in the party will sustain it to. It will be interesting to see who rises from this intake and what political policies they will champion.

    I would see a main goal would be to continue to build facts on the ground which demonstrate 1) we can govern ourselves better 2) we have the capacity to think originally toc ome up with equitable solutions to societies most demanding problems

    I am not an SNP member and very unlikely to be so. I have personal distrust of party machines, which grew out of engagement with student politics back in day (GUSNA member and SRC councillor at Glasgow for 2 years in the late 80s). I find it better to free to speak my mind on anything without restriction of party line, and be a friendly critic on the outside give objective viewpoints that could be harder to express inside.

    On a final note. Be careful about Finland. Yes there are good people and ideas up hear, but we have a Thatcherite pro-austerity government currently that seems to be hell bent in undoing the best of Finnish civic culture. So there is a warning in it for left leaning persuasions in getting it right and persuading the folk to follow you. Otherwise you might hand an open goal to the greedy in human society

  14. Redgauntlet says:

    Of course the best strategy would be to act as if Scotland were already independent, but the SNP are not doing that. Why not?

    We have the same top rate band for income tax, we have the same local council tax, we have the same culture policy – we mirror England in most of our cultural institutions, even down to the name: Creative Scotland / Creative England, The English Booktrust / The Scottish Booktrust….it’s pathetically unimaginative, and in fact almost certainly another manifestation of the Cringe.

    Renewal for the SNP I would say is unlikely. Nicola has had a terrible few weeks in my opinion, making the wrong call on big decisions like the Council Tax and the top rate band of income tax. And the SNP and some of their fanatical supporters on-line are enough to drive people away in droves.

    There is a totalitarian mindset afoot among a minority which is that if you don’t support SNPx2 you are a Unionist. Or are even voting for the Tories. The logic behind that kind of thinking is totalitarian. BTL on Bella the last few weeks has seen a display of “pensamiento único” like I can never recall…

    So, Pat, my prediction is that we are the zenith of SNP support, and that those of the Left in the Party will break off and coalesce around other indie groups. Or maybe just leave the party and do something else with their time. And that we will move to a plurality of parties of roughly equal weight, more like the case of Catalonia. As a laboratory of ideas, and to bring in new faces, that is much more interesting by the way.

    That is the thing about big parties. They become cumbersome and unresponsive and they lose their verve. And their die-hard supporters, as we are seeing, start succumbing to the psychology of masses, which is a worrying trend…

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Oh yes, still today “we have the same” UK Home civil service and more, much more. It matters little who sits at Holyrood if the very same unionist elites that have always run Scotland’s hundreds of public and semi-public institutions are left in situ. We might liken this to a colony that has elected an ‘independence’ government to ostensibly ‘run’ the nation but has unfortunately left all the colonial overlords in place (and hence ‘in power’). India, Kenya, Singapore, Malta etc sent their overlord administrators packing on the empire steamer back to London; we continue to employ them to ‘manage Scotland competently’. Scotland is effectively ‘stuffed’ until we really decide to ‘manage’ ourselves.

      1. David Allan says:

        Can you imagine the pre devolution SNP outrage were a Westminster about to sign a TTiP style deal with all it’s potential consequencies for the future of the SNHS.

        I have no doubt that such a situation would have prompted independence calls from the SNP Leadership. Only Freedom/Independence from Westminster can protect the SNHS

        Yet here we are post devolution with the undemocratic EU about to create that scenario and the SNP wish remain in the EU . Campaigning to remain in . When on 23 June they could get out .

        The stance of the SNP on this issue and EU membership is hard to comprehend. It suggests that a vein of caution / feebleness runs through the party which impedes any possibility of radical thought and prompt action.

        Gradualism has become the pace of the tortoise when all indicators suggest that the pace of the hare should be adopted. After Friday what will the EU Campaign bring? It’s this nagging doubt that makes me hope that the Greens and other Indy voices will be in Holyrood for this third session of SNP Governance.

        I will then wait for Derek Mackay (if he remains in post) to announce the CAL MAC , EU required tender outcome!

    2. Onwards says:

      “There is a totalitarian mindset afoot among a minority which is that if you don’t support SNPx2 you are a Unionist. ”

      No. The problem is with so-called indy supporters who are unwilling to even give the SNP their first vote in a voting system where we have FPTP voting.

      Because the SNP is the only party that can realistically beat the unionist candidates there, abstaining is effectively the same as endorsing the union.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Onwards you say: “No. The problem is with so-called indy supporters who are unwilling to even give the SNP their first vote in a voting system where we have FPTP voting.
        Because the SNP is the only party that can realistically beat the unionist candidates there, abstaining is effectively the same as endorsing the union.”

        So, you make my point perfectly for me. To vote GREEN / GREEN or RISE / RISE is not endorsing the Union, either “effectively” or otherwise. Try thinking instead of just typing?

        If I cast two votes for pro indie parties, of whatever political hue, then no rational observer could possibly take that to be “endorsing the Union”.

        Only a fanatical, blinkered zealot who has suspended his rational faculties could make such an outlandish assertion….and there are thousands of you out there…

        I am for the foundation of a think-tank of pro indie, critically minded Scots – not a political party mind – to shadow the SNP and offer a minimum of critique to their nakedly opportunist and incoherent and populist policies…

        Like education or audience development in the film sector…when there is no basic infrastructure in the Scottish film sector. What is the point of churning out film professionals unless you invest in basic infrastructure…??? But it is a great soundbite from our Nicola, “it’s all about education”

        SNP stands these days for Scottish National Populists….

        1. Onwards says:

          @RedGauntlet

          You can’t vote Green/Green or Rise/Rise.

          They aren’t standing for the constituency vote.
          (With one exception – Patrick Harvie for the Greens in Kelvin, who risks splitting the vote there)

          That’s why Tommy Sheridan and most Rise/Green candidates are urging SNP for the first vote.
          It’s the only realistic way to get a second referendum.

          So with the choice we have tomorrow – my point stands.
          Abstaining in the constituency vote, where SNP is the only indy supporting party, is effectively the same as endorsing the union.

          1. Frank says:

            Logically that doesn’t make sense. Surely from a strictly phenomenological position – if people in their own minds do not endorse the union then they are not endorsing the union?

  15. Redgauntlet says:

    And if the SNP manifesto is anything to go by, renewal would sound highly unlikely as Kenneth Roy – in some cases pedantic, but in this case absolutely right – so ably points out with his scrutiny of the badly written, vague and imprecise prose whoever drafted it used….

    http://www.scottishreview.net/KennethRoy47a.html

    …but this is the government whose national arts body has the following as its mission statement:

    ” Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.

    We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life…”

    The first sentence of which is hyperbolic nonsense, and the second, just plain gibberish…

    I see Hugh Kerr resigned from the SNP today, and well done to him for taking a stand.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      An excellent article by Kenneth Roy that reflects the fact political manifestos (and far too many public sector documents/policies) are “plain gibberish”.

  16. David Sangster says:

    Redgauntlet’s assertion that the SNP’s “diehard supporters” are manifesting a “totalitarian mindset” in urging the SNPx2 vote is a little harsh. As I see it, the drive to maximise the pro-SNP vote is directed towards establishing an unchallengeable mandate to do exactly what posters here want them to do : to be bold, inventive, and to begin making the changes to the “public and semi-public institutions” Mr Baird refers to – in short establishing the structures of an independent Scotland in advance of independence itself. Mr Dunlop is not alone in his concern that forthcoming SNP government may be too inclined merely to “ride out a third term” with a programme of minor piecemeal tweaks to reinforce their reputation for competence.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      David Sangster, the SNP already have an “unchallengeable mandate” to be, in your words….”bold, inventive etc etc…”

      …now, pray, tell me the last time, or in fact any time, the SNP have been “bold and inventive”. Don’t tell me…”the baby box…”

      It’s gimmicky headline making politics which no joined up strategy for an indie Scotland behind it…

      …it reeks of populism and New Labourism…

      1. Onwards says:

        The most bold and inventive vision on Scottish politics is independence.
        Realistically, the SNP is the only practical way we will get a second referendum.

        They might not be bold enough at this time, but that is because they have to convince most of the country to vote for them to achieve that dream. Not just those on the ‘radical’ left.

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Onwards, have you read Pat’s article? Did you read what he told us about his exchange with no less than Neal Ascherson, who correctly identifies the swiftest route to indie as that of being to run Scotland as if it were already independent?

          Let’s say another way of putting that same idea – and these are not my words, they are David Sangster’s words – would be to be “bold and inventive” with the devolved powers?

          As I say, can you point me to one such single instance in two SNP administrations and one botched and bungled referendum where the SNP have been “bold and inventive” or opted for a policy which suggests they agree with Neal Ascherson’s diagnosis – which he has made before in public, in writing as I recall – about the swiftest route to indie?

          So, do you agree with Neil Ascherson’s point or do you not?

          If you agree with Neal, you could only describe the SNP’s election manifesto as, at the least, highly disappointing.

          1. Onwards says:

            “Onwards, have you read Pat’s article? Did you read what he told us about his exchange with no less than Neal Ascherson, who correctly identifies the swiftest route to indie as that of being to run Scotland as if it were already independent?”

            I did read it and thought it was a good article, but I would have preferred to see it after an election victory instead of assuming it is in the bag.

            The snag with that theory, is that whilst cultivating a positive and optimistic mindset.. how does it actually get us independence ? No matter how much we act as if we are independent, in practicality we are not independent and we are severely restricted in economic powers.
            If we raise income taxes right now for example, companies can divert income to UK taxes instead, and George Osborne is laughing up his sleeve at the Scots who fell into his trap.

            To get independence we have to vote for it in a referendum, and to get a referendum we have to elect a party that can actually deliver one.

            For what its worth, I think preserving free education is a radical and bold move, considering kids are paying £9000 a year in England.

            I think preserving free personal care for the elderly is hard going – because the costs have doubled.

            £750 into closing the attainment gap ?
            That’s a good call. Plenty of people would rather see that spent on motorways, seeing it as having limited chance of success. But Nicola is committed to that challenge.

            FWIW, I would love to see some of Jim Sillars thinking come true after independence.
            Nationalisations of north sea companies and the like. A national energy company.
            But I also think he was foolish for saying anything like that before we are independent.
            It scares off too many people.

      2. John Page says:

        Redgauntlet
        Every Bella article in the last couple of weeks has been trolled by Onwards and Mike as well as others repeating the same SNP*2 stuff. Their inarticulate tribalism reeks of the entitlement culture of old Scottish Labour topped off by liberal doses of bampottery fuelled by Wings.
        I think Pat Kane has sensitively sidestepped this controversy by genuinely paying tribute to all party members who have been out leafleting and canvassing. He promises a set of articles looking to how Indy supporters can in the future formulate policies which will take Scotland forward to be a better country.
        I bitterly regret engaging with these people over the last couple of weeks and have been impressed by Pat’s piece and the positive suggestions made in response to it. My suggestion is that we ignore this SNP*2 trolling……rather pointless at this stage anyway since many of us have sent off our postal votes and the rest of us are clear what we intend to do……..

        It would be interesting to follow these excellent policy ideas and see what could be done outwith formal parties to take them forward.
        The one idea I was really taken with during the IndyRef was a public engagement process to build on the good work already done in drafting a Written Constitution for a free Scotland.
        Thanks to Pat and Bella for kicking this off.
        John Page

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Agree wholeheartedly John Page.

          It wouldn’t surprise me if they were writing from SNP HQ…

          1. John says:

            Absolute garbage !

          2. Frank says:

            I presume they are paid SNP strategists using pseudonyms? The SNP run a tight propaganda ship and it wouldn’t surprise me to find paid spin doctors posting on here.

          3. Onwards says:

            Lol, Sign me up. Just a regular guy here. I’m a member but that’s about it.

            Sorry if I pissed you off.
            I just get frustrated about the thought of throwing away the chance of another referendum.
            I want to see independence, and I want to see big changes.

            Just don’t understand why there are so-called indy supporters thinking of not even voting SNP on the constituency and taking a chance of letting Labour back in.
            Especially when the SNP is the only YES party standing for constituency seats.

            The SNP might not be radical enough at this time, but surely the prospect of another referendum and self-government for Scotland is better than continued Tory rule from Westminster by the likes of Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson ??

  17. Sonny Crocket says:

    It will be Nicolas first full term as first minister if voted in. The other terms clearly belonged to big alex. Man, i miss him 🙂

  18. john young says:

    Red Gaunlet they are just another excuse of a political party,nothing innovative nothing new nothing to get people really thinking,just the same old same old,I had hoped that after the independance debate that we would try and break the mould,no chance.

    1. Onwards says:

      What more would you have them do with the limited devolved powers Holyrood has ?

      1. Alf Baird says:

        “What more ..”?

        – remove charitable status for private schools
        – put yer actual Scots in charge of unionist/elite-controlled institutions (universities, NGO’s etc)
        – enact real land reform/land tax
        – maritime and trade policy – http://reidfoundation.org/2016/01/sort-out-our-ports/
        – Scots Language (Scotland) Act
        – etc etc etc etc etc etc

        – and get the useless 56 to create and operate ‘shadow’ Ministries for reserved powers

        So “”What more ..”? Plenty! But they need tae move their airses as our patience is running oot.

        SNP1/Greens2 (now voted)

  19. tartanfever says:

    Pat, the SNP may never have had Blair and New Labour’s Cool Britannia or any of the other ambitions listed in your article.

    But then again, they didn’t make the cover of the NME only a year after being elected (1998) with a picture of their glorious leader with the headline ‘ Ever feel like you’ve been cheated’ for their complete u-turn on so many promises, especially for the young.

    Funny how the reality of UK debt and austerity doesn’t seem to reach the pages Bella. Lets make it clear. There’s no f**king money. So keep your housing quotas, your this and that and great ideas for spending cash we don’t have. How about just making sure people in Scotland get three square meals a day and a roof over their head at night cause from what I see we don’t even have enough money to do that.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Holyrood could tax the wealthy offshore corporates who own and seriously exploit our key strategic utilities (energy, airports, ports etc) and other assets (whisky, aggregates, estates etc) using land reform, AGR etc. This might adversely impact certain MSP’s investments in ‘funds’, which could be why they have not done it yet. There is plenty of long-term derelict land at major cityports (offshore owned) which could be compulsory taken for mega social housing projects. When one has no money one just has to think. Scotland has plenty, but its all being intercepted by our unionist corporate elites, and Holyrood stands idly by.

  20. Charlie says:

    Good analysis, as ever! I came across it today, May 7 – and it makes weird reading!
    As an SNP suppoter & activist in Moray I’m feeling a little bruised & still wondering how there are no SNP MPs in neighbouring Aberdeenshire where Dennis Robertson lost his seat… (Still a bit tired, so brain maybe not working right….) Pleased about Green vote and I do believe government needs a boot up the rear, warning shots were already fired at the last two conferences, though as we saw on Thursday (I was a polling agent), a combination of slightly radical policies and good weather brings grey voters creeping out in droves…. In the excitement of new Scottish politics we should never forget the deadweight of reaction which exists amongst those who like things as they’ve always been and still don’t get that the known world is actually dissolving around us.
    What am I saying? I’m pretty depressed that’s all. A minority government may be inclined to go either too radical or too timid, it all depends (I don’t think anyone quite expected the largest opposition party to be in quite such a strong tactical position!) But maybe we can keep going, maybe it’ll be good for us – leaner, meaner, a bit less starry-eyed….

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