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#SP16 Result: Not Massively Entertained

the_fratellinis_albert_francois_paulFirst, unequivocally good things, in no particular order:

1) Andy Wightman.

2) No UKIP.

3) SNP win

After that, everything gets a bit nuanced.

First, the SNP got 150 000 more votes, though fewer seats, losing their overall majority (six Greens means there IS a pro-Independence majority…just barely). This Yes majority could unequivocally have been MUCH bigger. One cannot, of course, blame the SNP for wishing to maximise their vote, and the Greens did okay in getting the idea of the SNP 1 and Green 2 model across – but maybe they could have done better.

RISE didn’t happen at all. Neither did any of the other left parties.

Looking back, the SNP’s absolute majority in 2011 (and the consequent Indyref) is now clearly to be seen historically and arithmetically as a freak result. By that I mean that the SNP did WELL in the constituencies but not TOO well, which meant that, unlike this time, their massive list vote counted for enough to push them just over 65 seats. They then gained votes and lost seats, indicating that it is impossible for them to game the system except in the way they DID game it, which was pretty much at the expense of the Greens (and incidentally, the salvation of Labour, and the triumph of the Tories.)

Like Labour, the SNP’s instincts are territorial. Independence is their baw. And naebiddy else gets to play with it. As an issue, however, and as an immediate prospect, as indicated in their manifesto, another referendum is definitely OFF the table.

The effectiveness of the Tories in opposition will be, I think, a factor in the next few years, as to cementing the No vote in the Tories’ natural constituency – which they are now on their way to recovering, after the anomalies of the Thatcher/Major years. (The Tories having no representation in Scotland was demographically nonsensical…there IS a Scottish Middle Class which now and again dares to speak its name.)

However, I don’t see the Tories improving on this next time around. But I DO expect them to do much better than Labour did in terms of pure parliamentary gamesmanship. They have adjusted much better to devolution than Labour. They have, ironically, achieved much of the local responsiveness that Murdo Fraser asked for last time round.

The factors that might “materially” change the circumstances enough in Scotland to provoke another referendum are all, I think, external. Everything depends on UK politics…which is ironic, because if you look at the Welsh and regional English results, there being any such thing as a United Kingdom any more is at least debatable in terms of the landscape of politics. (For example, what has happened to Labour in Scotland has absolutely NOTHING to do with Jeremy Corbyn or Ken Livingstone).

On the other hand, it will take an acceleration of the Balkanisation clearly under way in the rest of the UK (in London, Wales and the rest of England as at least three distinct polities) – which Brexit and a Tory victory in 2020 would accomplish – to affect the constitutional question

As for Labour, like Britain itself, they have lost an Empire and are yet to find a role. There seems to be a split emerging between those who still dream, after all this time, that the last ten years haven’t really happened and they can wake up one morning and everything will be fine again; those who want to take the party further to the left – which doesn’t seem to have done anything for them this time; and those who want to take the party in a “new” Blairite direction…and eventually displace the SNP in the centre.

One almost doesn’t want to look.

Ironically, a feeling that this “hasn’t really happened and we’ll wake up back in Labourland” also afflicted a lot of SNP activists. Which I think accounts for a lot of the jitteriness over the last week or so…

As for the bigger, historical picture, if the 2011 result was anomalous, and independence really is off the table for the foreseeable future – both of which seem to be true this morning – then this result for me speaks of a wish for stability.

We want to be boring. We’ve made that collective decision. For the SNP – as a safe pair of hands. For the Greens – to prick their conscience once in a while. And for the Tories – to push the SNP further towards competence as an end in itself. I guess I’m not unhappy this morning (though I’m a little disappointed for Zara Kitson.)

I’m not massively entertained, however.

Comments (42)

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  1. Thrawn says:

    The problem now is that with independence off the table for the foreseeable future, the SNP will be begin to be judged more and more on its record. It’s not impossible that that record may become one of inspiring competence but it is also not impossible that the SNP will make mistakes, have scandals or worse just run out of steam, as has happened to every other governing administration.

    Personnally I think history will show that this election followed by a defeat for the Brexiteers marked the beginnning of the end of this phase of the independence movement

    1. twrist says:

      Firstly, I really really hope you are right about the brexiteers being defeated. As things stand, I’m not so sure… but then I don’t have great form on calling referendums.

      I think it may well be true that this could be the ‘beginning of the end’ for this phase of the independence movement, but in many ways that is no bad thing for the future of the country. States in which one party are regarded as ‘the liberators’ often fail further down the line, or succomb to cronyism and corruption. We did our best to build a cross-party yes movement prior to the referendum, and we really really need to do our best to salvage that once again. It’s about talking honestly, fairly, openly, and not flinging stones at each other as we have been doing through the course of this election. As a Green I have had some unpleasant things said to me over the past few weeks, I dread to think what it would be like as a Labour supporter. We need to get over this childishness.

  2. Tommy says:

    You got what you campaigned for

  3. Gordie says:

    Looks like the big pro Indy vote in the GE has turned into a pro union vote in the tight seats in the Scottish election. Poor turnout though, jesus. Was 70% in the GE?

    Willie Fuckin Rennie?

  4. AJM says:

    You were told gamble was indyref2. You didn’t listen. We lost. Now it’s over for a long time.

  5. tartanfever says:

    ‘The effectiveness of the Tories in opposition will be, I think, a factor in the next few years, as to cementing the No vote in the Tories’ natural constituency’

    Not sure about this. The Ruth Davidson Party that effectively disassociated themselves from the Cameron/Osbourne brand and presented Davidson as the ‘Boris Johnson’ of Scottish politics – ‘the popular oaf’ may have been successful in numbers but will now, week in week out, have the SNP at Holyrood ramming down their throats the appalling figures coming out of Westminster.

    Instead of just asking questions of the SNP, they are now going to be accountable for the actions of Osbourne and Co.

    In some ways it’s better for the SNP. A Labour opposition that held no power in the UK had carte blanche to attack the SNP and make life difficult. Now the SNP have an easy Conservative target.

    Overall, I hope the Greens push the SNP for more radical reform. This is a big opportunity for them to garner much more influence than their 6 seats merit but remember, it’s also brings greater scrutiny and the Greens Council Tax reforms actually make poorer people worse off than the SNP proposals.

    It’s certainly going to be interesting.

    1. Thrawn says:

      I think your point has some validity in that obviously the Scottish Tory brand can’t be completely de-coupled with that of the Tory party in rest of UK. But you could argue that after the budget debacle and the ongoing civil war caused by the euro referendum the UK tory brand is a pretty low ebb right now anyway and the Scottish Tories still made some pretty stunning gains.

      I think the point is that firstly the Scottish Tories are benefiting now from what the SNP have benefitted from for a long time…no one cares what they actually stand for as long as they agree with them on independance. Secondly with the increase in devolved powers the SNP cannot keep simply blaming Westminster for everything that goes wrong in Scotland….they will be obliged to take ownership of their administration…something they are not used to. Finally I would argue that in Ruth Davidson the Scottish Tories have a leader who can transcend her party a bit like in England, where Cameron used to and Boris still does and thereby made voting tory more palatable than it would be otherwise

  6. David I says:

    I admit to being disappointed , the SNP should have dealt with the question of Independence far better than they did.
    The mere fact of Davidson’s behavior resulted in a Second place quite frankly disgusts me.
    She utilised a partisan Main Stream Media which was by the result shown to be not representative of the general population, couple that false information fed to people who don’t know and don’t have access to better media sources .
    Many people will not be in the new Scottish Administration who would have benefited the country, instead we got more Tories, mostly in the image of Davidson and Sarwar

    1. Thrawn says:

      I presume your disgust for politicians who talk about nothing but constitutional issues in order to further their electoral aims extends to the SNP…..

      1. David I says:

        Disgust is a reserved matter, reserved for Davidson
        That said One Trick Ponies disappoint me more than anything else, in that they have the potential to at least learn

  7. Alex Buchan says:

    I just read Paul Mason’s take on the election.


    He sees Scotland congealing around the fissure between unionism, which he sees as being in its very nature conservative, and independence which he sees as being in its very nature radical. As he sees it is as though there is an inexorable logic driving Scotland’s politics at a deeper level irrespective of the competence or otherwise of individual politicians.

    This analysis would suggest that the Tories may not have reached their maximum level of support and with tax powers now being devolved it’s possible to imagine the Tories in Scotland metamorphosing into a low tax populist party doing very well on the back of the support of majority of Scotland’s press and the tactic support of the BBC.

    To survive he sees labour as needing to create a niche for themselves in the radical indy side of that fissure by gaining full independent party status within a federal labour party and by espousing a policy of indy lite. But he’s sensible to saw that it’s doubtful whether labour’s current membership are capable of making that leap.

    I think his model is useful in only because it shows how much the indyref has changed the game and so there are now no fixed assumptions about Scottish politics such as the idea that there’s a limit to what Tories can achieve or that there will always be a Labour party. One interesting new item during the election campaign that hasn’t been picked up by anyone is the fact that there was a report that David Cameron sees Ruth Davidson as too useful as asset to waist by leaving her in the Scottish Parliament. A number 10 spokesman stated that this was the last campaign that Davison would have to wage in Scotland and that a safe seat would be found for her to get into Westminster so she can be promoted. The Brit-centric arrogance implied here is amusing, but it begs the question whether the Tories in Scotland would have anyone capable of replacing her. The abrasive Mr Adam Tomkins?

    1. Thrawn says:

      “The Brit-centric arrogance implied here is amusing…”

      I find depressing the Scot-centric arrogance that insists that any Scottish politician who chooses to devote her/his talents to serving the maximum number of people she/he can, is somehow then a traitor to her/his nation.

      I get the impression that if Jesus himself returned as a Scot the SNP would start complaining that his spreading the good news beyond the Tweed was foul treachery….

      1. Alex Buchan says:

        But that wasn’t what was reported. There was nothing about her wishing to do greater things. What was reported was that the Tories themselves saw her talents as wasted in Scotland.

        1. James Coleman says:

          I have to say as an SNP man that she is a talented politician and her talents ARE wasted in Scotland since the Tories are nowhere near power there. They will be no more than another local pressure group like the last lot producing lies and crap to enable the MSM to print the usual SNPBAAD articles. Both of them (they ALL) like that because it doesn’t require any thinking.

        2. Thrawn says:

          The same principle applies…why is it arrogance to want someone to apply their talents to helping as many people as possible….

          1. Alex Buchan says:

            Okay. It definitely came across as an amusing image to me, given Ruth Davidson’s public image. I’ll need to try to convey the impression the article gave which was one of sympathy towards her for having had to toiled so long in this backwater. I was actually surprised by the candour of the No 10 spokesman and the image that it conjured up. The exact phrase used was ‘I can confirmed that this is the last campaign she will have to conduct in Scotland.’ The use of the word ‘have’ in the phrase ‘she will have to campaign’ came across as if to say we’re going to put her out of her misery by rescuing her.

          2. muttley79 says:

            The Tories have no intention of helping the vast majority of people, either in Scotland and the UK. That should be obvious to anyone with a heart and soul. They are for privilege, they are for the upper classes, landowners, hedge fund managers, and anyone who is uber rich. Their actions in the last 30 years have been appalling. They are vandals to any sense of society, compassion, and solidarity. Welcome to your new champions unionist Scotland.

        3. David I says:

          “we’re going to put her out of her misery by rescuing her.”

          I lean towards thinking more like relieving the Scottish people by removing her from Scotland

  8. Garrion says:

    Nice work boys. Now you should chip away by further demanding the SNP engage “radical” policies while we are not independent and the levers of real change are still largely in the hands of an actively hostile Westminster.

    Oh and keep on being dismissive of wings and their readers. Cant forget to create acrimony.

    1. Thrawn says:

      Its hard not to be dismissive of a talentless ex-hack who spent most of his working life criticising everything but costructing nothing…whose level of political commentary is one step up from playground bullying and one step down from the Donald Trumps twitter feed…whose understanding of economics is facile and an exercise in teenage wish fulfillment…and whose response to any criticism of the SNP policies is shrug and say “well yeah but labour did it first”

      God knows i disagree fundamentally with everything RISE and their fellow travellers stand for but at least they don’t just want independance…they want to do something with that independance. Wings’s tribalist unquestioning support of SNP and that of his equally fanatical readers shows him and them as the empty vessels their violent racket would suggest

      1. Bibbit says:


      2. Garrion says:

        Close, but no banana. Excellent that you think trying to insult me, is in some way an answer to the elephantine questions that I think we would all like an answer to. But it must be great to have such certitude.

  9. Voline says:

    We’ll talk about women’s rights after the Revolution. Right now you’re dividing the party with this equality stuff. Now, get back in the kitchen.

    1. Voline says:

      This was meant to be directed at Garrion, above.

      1. Garrion says:

        Would it rock your world to find out if I was a woman? While we’re at it, maybe you could presume that I’m racist and anti-semitic also, just to reinforce the cosiness of the world view.

        Remind me, before the SNP took office, how many women politically represented Scotland?

        Garrion out. Good luck folks.

  10. Alan says:

    RISE didn’t happen at all. Neither did any of the other left parties.

    Please note I hate to say I told you so, but… on the “vote-splitting propaganda from the likes of Bella Caledonia”.

  11. Robin Stevenson says:

    Both Bella and Common space failed miserably to warn of the dangers for those who were serious of EVER achieving an independent Scotland, not to risk both votes. Anyone with half a clue knew that our MSM were leading us up the garden path with the ‘split your vote’ tactic, as a SNP majority government was assured. Promoting RISE, Solidarity or Green, has merely denied the SNP a majority government and set us back 5 more years before we’re back to where we should have been today.

    Wings over Scotland, called the ‘split vote’ scenario spot on, and sadly, proved to be correct.

    1. He really didn’t. Sorry, this is nonsense.

      1. Peter Arnott says:

        Green votes were a far more effective vote for an independence oriented parliament than SNP list votes. Roughly ten times as effective.

        1. Robin Stevenson says:

          Sure Peter, just like the Green vote that let Ruthie in?

      2. Robin Stevenson says:

        I accept your apology, however, can you tell me – hand on heart – that actively promoting splitting your vote has paid off? Mr Campbell did indeed warn us of the dangers of risking your second vote, which part of that is nonsense?

        1. Richie says:

          In my region, not splitting the vote was a massive help to the unionist parties; especially the tories. On the list vote, the unionists took it 7:0 (split between Tories and Labour). 2% of both votes SNP switching to Green would have removed a tory from Holyrood. Had all switched on the list vote, there would have been something like 4 or 5 pro-indy MSPs in place of staunch unionists.

          Look at the 130,000 wasted pro-indy votes. Look at it again, then criticise me for advocating swapping votes where

          1. Richie says:

            Forgot to add link to results:
            And to correct that it was >140,000 wasted pro-indy votes (141,804 pro-indy votes got 0 list seats, 110,705 yoon votes got 7 seats)

          2. Robin Stevenson says:

            Bottom line Ritchie, Had ALL pro indy voters voted SNP X2, [wasted votes or not] what would have been the outcome? You seriously think that you can play a system specifically designed that it can’t be played?

        2. Richie says:

          So, daft question, then non-sequitur? OK, let’s play….

          First question betrays more than a slight lack of understanding of the argument you seek to critique AND the voting system. Still, you can play here and see what happens (no need for conjecture):
          A brief fart about suggests that if EVERY pro-indy vote in Scotland went SNP, then the SNP would have gained about 4 or 5 seats. If we had swung the other way (every pro-indy list vote going green) then the Tories and Labour would have been virtually wiped out. It is, however, way more nuanced than that….
          See the example above where had all Greens gone SNP, nothing would have happened &, had the reverse happened, then 5 or more seats would go pro-indy. In the Borders, this was a completely different game. Surely indyref was about educating and empowering ourselves. #bothvoteswhomever is the opposite of all of the good things that we got out of that, no?

          Can you design an un-game-able system? Oooooh, let’s think now… Oh wait, yes, straight PR! There, that took 5 seconds.
          In the absence of this, if you are out-gamed, you lose. Learn the system and how to take maximum advantage of it. Don’t divide your vote by 7 when the oposition are dividing theirs by 2.
          Pro-indy was massively out-gamed here &, in doing so, has managed to come close to terminal fractures. Win-win for the yoons.

          *cough*Richie*cough* 😉

          1. Robin Stevenson says:

            I’m afraid your arguments don’t stack up Ritchie? [putting your sarcasm and bad cough to one side] we aren’t talking about ‘one’ alternative pro-indy party, we’re talking about splitting your vote between ALL pro-indy AND alternative parties. How many placed their first vote with the SNP but quite liked the idea of voting for their friendly local Lab/Con/Lib/RISE/Green/Solidarity candidate, and decided to give them their ‘expendable’ vote?…What!…You have no idea?…Well of course you don’t, which is the very reason why this ‘game’ cannot be played by your simplistic 5 second PR rules.

            Sure, had everyone come together in a room, I’m pretty certain we could have worked out a strategy of who’s voting for whom, and let’s make it all fair. But in reality, that didn’t happen, and there is simply no way of knowing how people intended to vote?

            What strikes me rather odd, is why Prof John Curtice even bothered to take the time to tell WoS that their analysis and conclusion of the voting system was pretty spot on? However, what the hell does he know? I’m sure you’re absolutely right 🙂

          2. Richie says:

            Right, you’re going to have to help me here, Robin. Last time I checked, Lab, Con and Lib were unionist parties. You have re-framed the argument to state we are talking about pro-indy voters voting against indy. You are right, voting against what you believe in is stupid. I don’t advocate that, nor have I above. I was advocating the pro-indy voters could have returned more pro-indy MSPs. I even stated that explicitly in my first reply to you to make it clear.

            We are in agreement, then, that indy voters voting against indy is daft.

            We would also be in agreement if you are contending that there will always be some “wasted” votes since, as you correctly point out, coordinating every vote is impossible.

            What we still haven’t addressed is whether more people switching to a list vote to an alternate pro-indy party in regions where the SNP are strong would have been a massive gain to the indy cause. I suggest going back to the example I started with of central Scotland and starting there, since it appears that the loss to indy in central Scotland was great than the possible gain from #bothvotesSNP.
            I’m glad you bring John Curtice to the argument. I presume you are referring to the Twitter exchange referred to here:
            Where John Curtice explains that SNP voters “might want to consider” swapping their vote. Which is exactly what I have been arguing. Not a fan of argument from authority, but since you pointed it out, John Curtice and I are making the same point….
            Noone has said, “You must swap your vote”, no one has said, “vote against indy”, the argument you are facing is that had some people taken time to understand the voting system and voted smartly, we would have far more pro-indy MSPs that we currently do. Are we in agreement on that?

  12. MBC says:

    Look Peter, the problem is and was the 44% of the electorate that didn’t even bother to vote. Willie Rennie in NE Fife for God’s sakes – what happened there?

    Politicisation must continue. The work of awakening must continue.

    The middle class are selfish and don’t see the point in change, since they are doing just fine, thank you, under the status quo.

    The poor and dispossessed are also content – content to accept crap as their lot in life.

    1. Hazel says:

      “The poor and dispossessed are also content – content to accept crap as their lot in life.”
      Not sure about the word ‘content’ here. Was discussing recently re lack of engagement in politics by certain demographics and is likely people are simply worn down by holding one or more low paid with long hours jobs then get home to kids and meals etc. Just watch a bit of telly or go down pub to unwind before bed. No time or energy (or even confidence) to get into attending/running meetings persuading/arguing campaigning etc. Could be a factor. Never mind the plot by those who it serves to make politics so boring we will leave it alone. In which case there has to be more thought given as to how everybody can be involved.

  13. Onwards says:

    Everyone promoting a split vote strategy at this election may have lost Scotland the chance to gain another independence referendum for many years.

    Spreading the news that SNP constituency seats were secure, and voters were safe to vote differently on the list was completely misguided in the face of all credible evidence.

    A sense of complacency was promoted with that message.
    Together with a sense of bitterness if SNP voters didn’t want to take a chance trading votes.

    Frustrating now, when we see several seats lost with narrow margins.

    So yes, we will have a more diverse parliament now, but it will be a weak devolved parliament, where little truly radical can be achieved without major economic and legislative powers.

    Green ‘pro-indy’ MSPs won’t be seen as a credible mandate for any second referendum by Cameron.

    “It’s time to get above ourselves” this blog says.

    1. Richie says:

      Last time I checked, the SNP manifesto had specifically ruled out #indyref2 before 2020 without a “material change of circumstances.” Did I miss something? Holyrood has a pro-indy majority, if the SNP were to push for indy, it can get a majority.
      It is also more than a little bit ironic that you miss that there are far more non-SNP pro-indy folk who have lost the possibility of seats by terrible decisions and small margins than SNP folk. Your bitterness is felt and understood. We feel it too. By a massively greater margin.
      Here, for example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/scotland-regions/S17000009
      142,000 wasted pro-Indy votes where we could have had 5 pro indy seats instead of handing list to the unionist parties

      1. Onwards says:

        Richie – The problem is that Green seats won’t be taken as a credible mandate for independence by Cameron. Ultimately, another referendum has to be given permission from Westminster.

        For the SNP it is their foremost reason to exist. Everyone knows that.
        The Greens do have a mention of independence in their manifesto, but it is buried in small print, and not seen as a direct case for another referendum. It is far too weak to be treated as such, and many if not most people do indeed vote Green for environmental/socialist reasons first.

        So if Greens ever want SNP tactical votes on the list, they have to have a far more direct commitment to another referendum and independence. And a million signature from adults is completely unrealistic and looked like a cop-out. The YES campaign apparently got that after 2 years of campaigning with street stalls everywhere during in independence campaign, but it was unverified and probably a bit of a bluff. Even UK wide based petitions struggle to get a million signatures amongst 10 times the population.

        If a genuine commitment to another referendum had existed the SNP tactical vote could have been huge. The SNP leadership couldn’t endorse a second Green vote directly to avoid falling foul of electoral commission rules, but they could have done so indirectly with a nod and a wink approach, and not running a Both Votes SNP campaign.

        It would also help if the Greens watered down their more extreme policy proposals, at least until independence was achieved. 60p tax just wasn’t credible without the powers to stop avoidance.
        It targeted far left voters and naive students only, and made them look like a protest group rather than a credible choice.

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