Stands Scotland Where She Did? (Part 1)

Gordon Guthrie on the cocaine politics of First Past the Post. Follow him at @gordonguthrie

Time to take stock and understand where now we, the SNP, stand.

Bad news first.

Both the roads to Indyref are blocked off. Whoever the UK PM is can, and will, refuse Section 30 consent. Any attempt to hold a unilateral advisory referendum does not have the degree of backing it would require to force it through — paradoxically independence is closer than ever, whilst the route is blocked.

The Scottish Tories are resurgent and are as well placed to ‘win’ the Scottish General Election in 4 years time as we were in 2003. Ruthie could be FM, mebbies in some rainbow coalition, or as a minority – or she could force us to support Kezia. (This doesn’t mean they will, but they could).

Everyone was wrong about Corbyn. When the politics of two contending parties don’t meet it means that one of the parties is not fishing for voters in the right place. We all assumed that the Tories were fishing for Brexit-Labour votes (she was) and Corbyn was off-piste and therefore she would win. Theresa May got her vote up to her campaign target levels. Turns out the real fishing grounds, or at least another fishing ground, was young people with their historic low turnouts. Corbyn’s Momentum had cast their hooks there.

The SNP took a kicking. First Past The Post is a cocaine system, on the way up you get a big boost, and on the way down you get a big crash. It should have been apparent that we were going to, or at least could, lose a lot of seats. Why couldn’t we see that? Well, that’s cocaine for you, making people overconfident since the dawn of the Incas. Look at the numbers and our small majorities – if there is another election this year, we will get another kicking. How big? Dunno, a dozen, mebbies more?

Political parties, like people, tend to shy away from their own mortality, but it remains a fact that the SNP will lose power at some stage, either 2021, or 2026 or whenever, but it will happen.

There are two theories of political parties. In one view, that of the old left-wing parties and the SNP pre-2002, your voters are made elsewhere, in factories as workers, or heather-strewn hills and glens as Scots. Your job is to mobilise them.

In the other view, politics is a coalition, and your job is to work out who doesn’t vote for you and why, and then seek to build a coalition that is broad enough to support your party into government.

I, like many others, fell into the trap of thinking that our voters were being ‘made’ by the unfolding of Brexit – we in the SNP need to have a politics of building a coalition again – of understanding why some of our voters stopped voting for us.

Well, thank you Gloomy Glenda for coming the big bummer on us all, eh?

Things are not all bad and I will get on with the good, better or just indifferent aspects in the next post.

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  1. Brian MacLeod says:

    We’ll never get independence until we can motivate people of all political flavours that independence is in Scotland’s interests.

    We need a Scottish Labour Party and a Scottish Conservative Party up there contending for votes and taking them from the English controlled Labour and Conservative parties.

    The SNP cannot be all things to all people.

  2. A Truly Concerned Troll says:

    “I, like many others, fell into the trap of thinking that our voters were being ‘made’ by the unfolding of Brexit – we in the SNP need to have a politics of building a coalition again – of understanding why some of our voters stopped voting for us.”

    The quote above is the only part of the article worth looking at and it’s all wrong.

    I don’t know where to start with stuff as basic as this. The SNP lost seats and people stopped voting for the SNP because the SNP stopped being the SNP. It’s that simple.

    We are talking about core principles and goals. The SNP should stop trying to be New Labour and remember what it owes its success to. Its essence is to press for independence, that’s what it stands for, and yet somehow it goes into an election arguing that the election had nothing to do with independence. That’s why it suffered.

    There’s a word in politics for those who fall for the propaganda of their opponents; idiots.

    “Stronger for Scotland” means absolutely eff all. 56 SNP MPs in the Commons for two years proved that. Try “Scotland for Scotland” and you might get somewhere.

    Another thing; I’d rather lose every election fighting for Independence than win them all fighting for anything else.

    If we wanted lukewarm social-democratic-centrist left-leaning urine, we’d vote lib-dem.

    1. Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) says:

      Definitely true about the Lib/Dem.

    2. Alf Baird says:

      Well said. By giving up campaigning for independence at national elections this makes the SNP just like any other unionist party, i.e. no differentiation. A national party that will not march or carry its flag? Nae wunner fowk didnae turn up tae vote – whits tae vote fer? Even today with their (diminishing) Scottish majorities for independence at both Holyrood and Westminster the SNP should be at the UN’s door alongside the few remaining UK colonies still seeking self-determination and to bring an end to, as the UN itself states, “the scourge of colonization”. By their inaction the SNP are in danger of making Scotland’s status even less than that of a colony, and simply a part of north Britain region.

    3. e.j. churchill says:

      Actually, SNP’s inability to focus on anything BUT secession was PRECISELY what both recent elections were about.

      Think about it.

      1. Crubag says:

        I can remember when the SNP did campaign on the basis that a majority of MPs would be the trigger for independence.

        That was in a different political age, but even then it only brought a handful of seats.

        Using a referendum instead was a good idea, it allowed unionists who liked centrist policies to vote SNP. But they don’t want another referendum at the moment, so those votes have slipped away.

      2. A Truly Concerned Troll says:

        Churchill, according to the media and unionist parties, and you too it seems, that’s the case. If you look st the facts though, the SNP were eager to avoid the issue in the recent general election and it has more or less been on the back burner since 2014.

        The manifesto commitment to another referendum was well towards the end of that list of priorities and nobody in their right mind back then when it was drafted considered for a second that the circumstances outlined — with the UK voting for Brexit — was likely to transpire.

        All of the above is straightforwardly true, not opinion. My opinion is that the SNP need to unashamedly get back to being a party that stands for independence. I’m sick of playing politics and if someone like you suggested to me in real life that I was a cessationist, well, let me assure you that we would have absolutely nothing to argue about on that particular score.

        1. e.j. churchill says:

          We agree: the SNP did not fight the battle forced on them. I suspect they didn’t because they thought they’d lose even more seats; I suspect that fear was accurate, also.

          They seemed unprepared for the local elections, too, which was surprising. They were clueless on the GE and were running from the secession narrative.

          For now, SNP is a protest party, filled with mouth-breathers and useful-idiots, and *EYE* don’t see that changing much unless/until SNP ‘wise-men’ come up with a PLAUSIBLE answer to: ‘How will this iScotland idea work?’

          We agree, I think.

          1. A Truly Concerned Troll says:

            We probably agree on a lot, churchill, but I’d put more emphasis on Sturgeon’s lack of preparedness.

            I simply can’t believe, yet somehow must, that the SNP put that referendum proposal through Holyrood without having any sort of response ready in the event of May and the Tories saying ‘no”.

            That for me is the sub-plot in all this. I also think it was probably a major factor in May deciding to call the election although we are needlessly getting into the realms of guesswork there.

            The hand the SNP have is a winner, if they’d only play it properly. And the truth is on their side. Our economy is shit because of the union, our poverty levels are shit because of the economy (union), our health is shit because of the poverty (in the union), etc., etc. Now we are to be ripped from the EU and life is going to get harder for most of us.

            You don’t argue for change on the basis that everything is great. That’s considered a basic truism in political campaigning, just as you don’t argue for continuity on the basis that everything is a mess.

          2. e.j. churchill says:

            Troll, if you are possibly suggesting that ‘planning’ for any form/any time of secession is lacking, we agree again. I seriously believe the last SNP thinker/planner was Donaldson, and he was no good at picking horses.

            For indyref1, I was absolutely stunned how weak and childlike was SNP’s incoherent “presentation.”

            If you’d like a bon mot to stick in your collection, you were on the right track: ‘you can’t beat something with nothing.’

            Or another: It was like NS was trapped in a West Texas hailstorm: she can’t run, there’s no place to hide and she can’t make it stop.

            ejc

  3. john young says:

    Alf we are led by weak people,Sturgeon has been a major dis-appointment just another run of the mill middle of the road politician sitting on the fence waiting waitng instead of taking the bull by the horns a la Roothie who had fcuk all in the way of policies she didn,t need any as the SNP hand none themselves,Robin McAlpine got it bang on you can,t hope that someone elses mis-fortune would win the day for you.The SNP had a basketful of of policies that they could have brought to the electorate but they had nothing offered nothing got nothing,just look wahat Corbyn achieved with the few morsels he offered,he at least offered hope/dreams,the SNP were just a wet clout.

  4. Malcolm Pate says:

    I would like to see some enthusiasm from our SNP members in the Scottish Parliament. I am sick of seeing the Tory and Labour members banging on the desks and making noises and our members look like they are not interested. Lets start banging on the desks and forget the clapping. Come on Nicola waken them up.

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