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How Soon is Now is Not the Time

c9sawxvxyaart1cTheresa May has spent months telling everyone that she would not hold a snap election. It would be wrong. “I mean what I say and I say what I mean” she said. She was lying.

This is just naked opportunism, but it does give an opportunity to have a Unionist-Free Scotland with these three MPs sitting uncomfortably on slender majorities:

David Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, majority – 798
Alistair Carmichael (liar), Orkney and Shetland, majority – 817
Ian Murray, Edinburgh South, majority 2,637

All these seats are there for the taking. Mundell has had a torrid time as Scottish Secretary. Carmichael is a liar. Murray got in the last time by the SNP candidates own stupidity.

Shy Labour

But whilst a Tory-Free Scotland would be a grand thing but the SNP may lose elsewhere depending on the nature of the Labour collapse and the quantity of Unionist Labour voters ‘holding their noses’ and voting Tory to ‘stop the ‘Nats’. It’s going to be very difficult with limited (or no) polling to anticipate that, both because we simply don’t have access to the numbers but also because of a new phenomena, Labour voters who’s motivation is primarily the Union, but who would never admit to such a thing. But there are other forces at play. What of Liberal and Labour pro-European voters? Will they really vote for a hard-Brexit PM to embolden the English Conservatives? Is their tribal hatred of the SNP so visceral they’d do that? I’m not sure it is in any significant numbers.

Other critical constituencies and questions are in the air.

Can the SNP hold Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross taken from the Liberal Democrats in 2015?

Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Na h-Eileanan an Iar – held by Angus MacNeil will also be key.

Will Mhairi Black stand again in Paisley?

But there’s another aspect to this for those of us caught in the vortex of tribal constitutionalism to think about.

c9scngewaaeyxhlA lot of people are just scunnered with politics.

It’s not so much ‘voter fatigue’ as ‘electoral enervation’. Lots of people are just disgusted with politicians of all sorts. The Brexit campaign was such a Festival of Lies and the changing faces of politicians who campaigned one-way then about-turned for obvious self-interest was shocking to many people. And, while the SNP has a cohort of dedicated fans, many people are bone-tired with this level of political frenzy married to this level of political inertia. It’s like a very angry logjam.

This election will be about Brexit, about Scotland and about Ireland. It will also almost inevitably lead to the split of the Labour Party. Although some people are talking-up Tim Farron’s Liberal Party, it’s difficult to see what they will be voting for? An anti-Brexit vote may rally like Custer at the Bighorn but they are likely to revert to type as a protest vote for nice people in sandals. After their disastrous PR referendum and time-served propping-up Cameron, the Liberal’s have been electoral toast. But whilst the election presents threats for the Liberals and Labour, and even the SNP – it’s the Conservatives who are most at risk. As Alex Massie has noted:

“The case for independence itself remains unproven, of course, but that is a matter of secondary importance right now. Right now the argument is over whether or not there is a case for a second referendum. Until now, Unionists had on the whole the better of that argument, not least because a referendum inspired by Brexit could not sensibly take place until such time as the impact of Brexit is felt and understood. Theresa May burnt that argument this morning. She did so as a Conservative, not as a Unionist. That is her choice, her prerogative. But it remains something she did not have to do.”

In seeking a mandate May is also creating an opportunity for Sturgeon and Harvie to capture one too.

There’s other factors too. The Crown Prosecution Service will deliver their judgement on Tory Election Fraud in the coming days. Tory support for the Rape Clause will be fresh in peoples minds and has halted Ruth Davidson’s (perceived) advances.

To what extent will Scottish voters vote above party interest and vote anti-Tory is the key question.

You could say that in a very real sense, people are coming together and uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead.


Comments (37)

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  1. TheStrach says:

    In my view this is not about a second independence referendum for which we already have a massive mandate. May will never agree to that.

    All the pro-independence parties should get behind the SNP as our vehicle to independence and campaign on a policy of declaring independence if a majority of MPs supporting this position is returned. Only the SNP can win seats at a General Election due to the unfair voting system.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      I agree, the SNP and all of ‘Yes’ must campaign primarily for independence on 8th June, and declare it on 9th June. Negotiations can then take place. The Scots will never forgive the SNP if they settle into Westminster a second time.

      1. scrandoonyeah says:

        I wish everyone would calm down and refrain from knee-jerk reactions. It will not advance the cause of self-determination one iota. We are all passionate about the need for Scotland to be an Independent country but its’s like May has put us in panic mode.

        Time for a clear head and clear thinking and to work out the best strategy to fulfil our aspirations for Scotland

  2. Monty says:

    All three of the unionists will get back and other now SNP seats will switch back such as Edinburgh West.

    1. Voline says:

      You forgot to put “What I would like to see happen is … ” in front of your thin opinion piece.

  3. John O'Dowd says:

    The Scottish Election provided a mandate for IndyRef2. It was rejected by our imperial mistress.

    This unnecessary general election is therefore superfluous in respect of a referendum – which will simply invite another rejection.

    The SNP must make it clear that a simple majority of SNP MPs provides a mandate for independence – a return to its traditional opinion – and the only logical way to obtain such a mandate in a Union of Parliaments where one of those parliamentary jurisdictions has provided a majority for dissolution of that Union.

    Now’s the day and now’s the hour.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      You are right John in that indeed “Now’s the day and now’s the hour”.There is little point in (again) voting in a majority of SNP MP’s if they refuse to use that Scottish majority as a democratic mandate from the Scottish people for independence. You would almost think these folk simply want to be career politicians, rather than national heroes reclaiming Scotland’s nationhood. The fact that most of the 56 are former unionists is possibly relevant here; the Cause of independence is no longer worn on their sleeve. They seem content to play by Britannia’s rules and diktat, meanwhile Britannia waves its rules in its own interest, frequently, and will surely dissolve Scotland for good if we let them. It is time for the SNP to really stand up for Scotland and never again take the unionist paycheck, like some backroom 15th century Lord of the Isle ‘Treaty of Westminster’ deal. We do not need a referendum, that is assuming we are ‘allowed’ one, far less a referendum that if won then has to be ratified by 60o+ hostile MP’s from other countries, and leaving them and the HoL to determine the ‘shape’ of a future Scotland set out in a Westminster Act. We need the SNP to return to its raison d’etre, to stand up and fight for Scotland; let us take our nation back on 8th June.

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        Agreed Alf. This is not a game. The ‘incorporation’ rhetoric is clear for all to hear.

        If we do not claim our right, they will dissolve Scotland, and return to ‘direct rule’ of a ‘unitary state’. The code of ‘unifying’ and ‘harmonising’ barely disguises their intentions. Any full can see what they are up to.

        Westminster has a habit of capturing soft dissent and turning heads. All the signs of assimilation in a comfortable billet are all there. Independence 8th of June!

        1. John O'Dowd says:

          “Any full can see what they are up to.” should have read: ” fool .”

          Autocorrected I think!

        2. Duncan Ferguson says:

          Put plainly and articulately

          How long before national service is muted to return or rationing of public services, not on need but perceived entitlement down to lifestyle or other criteria laid down by right wing tories?

          A future under Mrs May terrifies me!

        3. Alf Baird says:

          John, I see former ambassador Craig Murray agrees with us, that a majority of Scottish MP’s is all that is required to dissolve the Union of Parliaments, in the same way it began, and that Scotland’s democratic right to nationhood would thereafter be rapidly acknowledged by the UN General Assembly (irrespective of Westminster’s undoubted moans and groans) – https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

          Let’s hope the SNP do not let Scotland down!

          1. Willie says:

            That the SNP is the only choice for electors in Scotland who a) do not want continuing rule by a right wing Brit Nat Westminster and b) wish to remain in a relationship with Europe, the SNP must post the GE take decisive action with any new mandate that they achieve.

            Settling into a well paid Westminster job, accepting the Tory onslaught of the destruction of all that we hold dear is not an option. Rape clause, social security destruction, employment protection legislation removal, privatisation of the NHS and ever increasing state surveillance is not what Scotland wants and or votes for.

            We are in a grave democratic deficit in Scotland that cannot be allowed to continue.

            The time is now and I’m sure that if re-mandated on June 8th the SNP will deliver.

          2. John O'Dowd says:

            Aye Alf, I saw that too. Craig has been of this opinion consistently for a long time. Given that he is an expert on such matters, who would gainsay him?

            I know fine that the whole referendum idea came about as part of the drive to make the SNP less ‘scary’ for non-nationalists and soft Devomaxers. But that bird has flown.

            Who would doubt that the SNP would win a majority of seats if they returned to their traditional 50% + 1 seats is enough?

            The problem with that for those for whom politics is a career, is that there would undoubtedly be lost seats. But all this proves is that the aim of the National Party of Scotland has shifted away from national liberation?

            There has NEVER been a better chance to gain our independence. If we do not take it, we can expect to be resorbed into Britannia’s toxic body.

        4. Fiona Sinclair says:

          John – agree with your point about assimilation. However, I’m not so sure that the SNP would get the necessary 51% of the vote, even if it won more than half the seats. I may be wrong – I have been so before. I think there is another option, which I’ve outlined in my reply to GreatClunkingFist. What think you of this as an option?

    2. Richard MacKinnon says:

      I agree with you. The SNP have right on their side. TM has rejected a second referendum after Scotland voted Remain. The SNP have to use this GE as a referendum. Put one clear statement on the manifesto; ‘a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence’. Talk of nothing else.
      Not only is this the right strategy for the SNP it is their duty to make this a do or die constitutional decision.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        It has taken Angus Robertson less than 24 hours to reveal the big SNP GE strategy as he says:

        (the vote) “will be an opportunity for us in Scotland to at least get some insurance against the worst excesses of a hard-right Brexit”. (aye Angus, whatever that means son).

        “He also confirmed that the SNP winning a majority of seats in Scotland would not be enough for the country to become independent – with a referendum needed to decide the issue. ”

        Where does this ‘referendum only’ view come from? Is it what Westminster tells Angus he needs? Does he know nothing about how the Union of Parliaments came into being, through a majority of Scots MP’s? There really does seem to be very little point in voting for SNP MP’s if all they do is again take the unionist oath and salary and settle back down to being a loyal opposition in Westminster. The point of voting for SNP MP’s was always to secure independence, nothing else. The ‘possibility’ of another referendum is a pig in a poke, and as a ‘strategy’ is always going to be dependent ultimately on the ‘goodwill’ of oor unionist Tory maisters to agree any decision. To my recollection no such goodwill has ever existed.

        1. Richard MacKinnon says:

          Totally agree Alf. It looks like the SNP are ducking out of this golden chance already.
          There is nothing I can see to stop the SNP from putting one statement on their manifesto ‘ vote SNP and you vote for independence’. 7 weeks to talk of nothing else; Brexit forced on Scotland, promises made in 2014 to ensure EU membership, all this gives the SNP the justification to make this GE indyref2.
          I will go further, if the SNP turn down this opportunity they will be seen as betraying Scotland. It is their duty to make this a do or die plebiscite. This is what they were elected for.

        2. Wul says:

          I have a lot of sympathy with this view, and indeed I would welcome a move like this from the SNP.

          I am heartily sick of being in a country which is viewed with such disdain by those who rule over us. (Particularly when there are examples of countries similar to Scotland who are doing so well. I have no doubt Scotland has the potential to become a very successful country)

          Forgive my naivety, I am not as politically astute or informed as others on here, but how would a move like this play with the 55% of the population who did not want independence?

          If the SNP declared independence on 9th June, how would these people react, and what would be the political & societal fall out?

          I’m up for a period of hard work and less prosperity to build a new Scotland but I would worry about 2 million angry unionists doing their level best to “prove” their belief that Scotland is a shit wee place which can’t govern itself.

          1. Richard MacKinnon says:

            If the SNP did fight this GE on one issue ‘independence’ and if they got a majority of MPs then that is a mandate to negotiate the terms of independence with the next Westminster government. That is the rules of The First Past the Post System.
            However there are two ‘ifs’ with this scenario. The first is, will the SNP use this GE as a referendum? and the second is, if they do could they win a majority 30 MPs. The first is the big one. The second I would argue is irrelevant.
            I will argue the SNP have to take this golden opportunity. It is their duty, the reason they exist. The consequences should be secondary in their absolute commitment to this.
            The question is, will they? My natural cynicism and suspicion of politicians and political parties makes me think they wont. I think there are other ‘considerations’ never to be discussed. The SNP is a major political machine. Lots of good jobs depend upon their continued success. I would bet money now that they will not risk all on a general election. If Im right they will betray Scotland and they will betray all SNP members and independence supporters alive and dead.

          2. Alf Baird says:

            “..2 million angry unionists doing their level best to “prove” their belief that Scotland is a shit wee place which can’t govern itself”

            Arguably this has been the case for the past century and more. The reality is Scotland is looking at a form of ‘hard-indy’ irrespective of how it is achieved, i.e. through a general election or via a referendum. There will still be those who find it difficult to accept either way. So we may as well do it now. Independence would be absolutely conclusive in my view if over 50% of those voting in a GE supported a party advocating independence (as was the case in 2015!). I would think that now, after what has happened over the past two years, and what is expected to come, that the SNP advocating independence on 9th June would receive more than 50%, as well as a majority of seats. Constitutionally, however, a majority of Scottish MP’s are entitled to end the union in precisely the same way it began.

        3. Willie says:

          Alf, I think it would be fair to say that Angus Robertson is a sound and erudite individual committed to independence. What however is also true is that he, and indeed many more SNP are lackeys within the Westminster system. Once elected they become part of that system, well intentioned and capable as they are,

          Their failure to fully support the cause will inevitably, be their, and our undoing. The British system will see to that, and indeed for some, even Knighthoods will become a reality.

          Post this election, and with a new mandate, they must not let us down.

          1. Richard MacKinnon says:

            Its not the point, that some SNP MPs are committed to independence and some are part of the Westminster system, the reality is The Party is now a part of the Westminster system.

  4. Frank says:

    Both the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party stood in 2015 ensuring that the independence vote was split. Hopefully they don’t field candidates this time around; GE17 is simple – SNP versus Unionist.

    1. Colin Mackay says:

      The greens are pro independence. If you don’t realise this by now you are either not paying the slightest bit of attention to politics or just acting very silly.

      1. Frank says:

        I don’t get that comment at all – I normally vote Green and know full well that they support independence. Perhaps you should think before clicking the send button in future?

        Yet the fact is this – they along with the SSP split the indy vote in 2015 and it pains me to say this but if it wasn’t for the Greens then the Tories only MP David Mundell would not have been elected. Their decision to stand in Edinburgh Central also helped Ruth Davidson win a seat.

        1. Willie says:

          And yes, I recall a certain promotion of Rise in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and now, save for the Greens, the SNP are a minority in Hollywood.

          Independence is the prize and how we get there is the key.

          GE 17 offers that key in the shape of voting SNP. Let’s give them that mandate – loud and clear – and then let them deliver

          1. Oh god, this obsession with RISE is incredible. A party that got 0.3% of the vote. The idea that Bella influenced the outcome by giving coverage to this tiny party is incredible.

            Holyrood PR elections are a completely different matter to Westminster elections under FPTP and I imagine there being a widespread de facto electoral alliance to maximise the anti-Tory vote. In fact the Scottish Greens have just announced just such an move.

      2. 3Rensho says:

        “The greens are pro independence. If you don’t realise this by now you are either not paying the slightest bit of attention to politics or just acting very silly.”

        Those who pay attention to politics generally understand that under FPTP a majority of the votes split between 2 indy parties can result in a victory for a unionist party with a minority of the votes larger than either single share of the indy parties. I mean seriously, this isn’t difficult. I harangued the Greens about arranging a pact pre-2015 and was rounded on by partisan Greens for it. Now their own leadership magically come to the same conclusion. RISE were contesting on the list under AV. Scottish elections are a completely different proposition! This should be obvious!

  5. Fiona Robertson says:

    Mhairi has said she is standing again in Paisley

  6. Mike Lothian says:

    Remember thanks to the boundary changes brought in by the Tories, Ian Murray has already lost his seat

    1. Tony Little says:

      The election will be on the old constituencies, not the new ones. Get the vote out if you want to depose Mr Murray.

  7. GreatClunkingFist says:

    I share the frustration here but independence comes closer every day through honourable and reasonable action in the face of constitutional oppression. Patience, still. A Tory landslide in England will win ever more hearts and minds.

    1. Fiona Sinclair says:

      How many more years do we have to wait to `win ever more hearts and minds`? There won’t be anything the SNP can do at Westminster to stop the Tories – even Corbyn looked like he knew the Tories are going to greatly increase their number of seats in this election. The SNP can continue to highlight stinkers like the rape clause, but pretty soon they will be seen as impotent, and the Scottish Government will be stuck with ever decreasing budgets. They can only do so much, and the `constitutional question` will begin to pall as the answer to every political problem, particularly where the SNP refuses to use powers it already has to make improvements and fails to inspire people with a vision of what independence could actually mean for people in Scotland.

      I think it is either time for the SNP to say that this election will be fought on the basis of Holyrood being given the right to hold a referendum, or to hold one themselves, if that permission is withheld. That is entirely reasonable, and will give more time to put together a better case for independence. Otherwise, I would agree with Alf and John O’Dowd, that they should just go for a majority vote in this election – more than 50% of the vote, and more than half the seats.

      All of this most definitely does not exclude the necessity of negative campaigning on the Tories’ record in government and the likely consequences of Brexit, given the political propensities revealed by that record.

      As John O’Dowd has clearly pointed out, the British state knows how to play the long game, and there is great danger in giving them more time in which to undermine the SNP government.

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        That’s an interesting suggestion, Fiona. But it still looks like seeking permission to hold an election. We do not need Westminster’s permission.
        In Scotland, unlike in Westminster where sovereignty resides in Parliament (or strictly speaking The Crown in Parliament – the English Parliament is forever lickspittle to aristocracy) – the doctrine of sovereignty here is that the people of Scotland are sovereign. The Declaration of Arbroath threatened to depose The Bruce, should he not respect that sovereignty.

        And given that this sovereignty is expressed through a Scottish parliament (currently in Union with England’s) – then logically a simple majority of MPs (not 50+% of the electorate) is sufficient to the task.

        The situation has moved on since 2015. As Derek Bateman has so eloquently put it:

        “I am changing my emphasis away from a cri de cour for someone else to deliver my civil rights to a statement that I and others want an SNP or Yes majority to be taken as a mandate – one that no democrat can ignore. How many elections can we win hands down and still be angling for another referendum – like dookin’ for apples?”

        We must seize the day.

  8. Alf Baird says:

    One does get the distinct impression that there is perhaps a secret (e.g. privy council?) deal between the SNP leadership and the British state to the effect that the SNP will no longer campaign for Scottish independence through the ballot box of a general election, and that they will only seek independence via a referendum ratified by Westminster. If this is the case, and I can think of no other reason for the SNP having ceased campaigning for independence at UK GE’s, this then becomes a matter of trust, not least with SNP members, most of whom will be unaware of such an arrangement, assuming it exists. This ‘theory’ also fits well in terms of Scotland’s dubious history where different interest groups frequently conspired with England’s rulers, behind the backs of Scotland’s people. Further, it would help explain why the SNP walked away from having secured de facto independence in 2015 after winning an unprecedented 56 MP’s (i.e. 95% of Scottish seats). (What the anti-union Scottish MP’s in 1707 would have given for that thumping majority, and with which there would have been no union in the first place).

    1. Ann Rayner says:

      I would like to see the SNP seize the opportunity of either over 50% of votes or a majority of seats. as I am concerned about the amount of potential damage to the Scottish economy and the power-grabbing intentions of Westminster over the next two years if we wait for a referendum. Also, they could change the rules, eg not allow EU citizens a vote or insist on 40% of electors.

      While concerned about the reaction of those who do not support independence, I think we should emphasise that post independence, we could well have properly Scottish Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem parties (and possibly new ones) who would put Scotland first, unlike the current branch offices who do what London tells them

      I would like to see this election fought not so much on an explicitly independence agenda, but about what kind of country we want to live in.

      1. Wul says:

        I agree with this approach Ann.

        How long do we have to wait for Scotland to become a normal, modern country?

        The fact that a UK Prime Minister feels comfortable making a televised announcement about “silencing” a group of democratically elected members of parliament (SNP) is truly terrifying.

        Westminster has gone way off the rails and no longer represents the best interests of the UK’s citizens. Instead it represents the interests of money, greed and consolidated power. Scotland needs to get away from this black hole of inhumanity as soon as possible.

        As an independent country Scotland could offer our English cousins both a life-raft and working example of how to run a country as if your citizen’s matter.

        With an economically disastrous Brexit looming, a clearly callous Tory party entrenching itself for decades of unaccountable rule, the dismantling of the NHS and other hard-won mechanisms of human care, an increased alignment with a USA ruled by a mad reality TV star, a PM redolent of Thatcher, huge global demand for Scotland’s produce & resources: what better time could there be?

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