2007 - 2021

Holyrood, Grey Money and Salvaging the Election

This election campaign has been more of a dirge than an inspiration. The polls are erratic, uncertainty is everywhere, a batch of new parties and murky non-party grouplets having flooded your timeline with ads, electronic billboards and Facebook beaming out red white and blue. If Brexit was won with dark money this is Scotland’s grey money – ‘Young Unionists’ – ‘Vote Union’ and ‘Scotland Matters’ among a rash of front groups that have popped up everywhere.

The campaign feels a bit like the lockdown itself: a mix of tedium and anxiety, the knowledge that something very important and historic is going on but simultaneously the experience of quite dread and the feeling that this will never end. Add to this the bampots and crackpots of new parties and the experience is laced with dark absurdity.

Savanta ComRes tell us the SNP shows the likelihood of a majority slipping away from the SNP, down 3 points to just 42% in the constituency vote (which might mean 59 seats). Survation suggests 66 constituency seats for the SNP adding up to 77 pro indy seats between SNP and Greens.

The parties have wildly different framing and metrics of success. For the Tories and Labour it is a battle for second place. For the Greens our entire future is at stake. For Willie Rennie avoiding oblivion would be an unbridled success. For Abla it is an existential moment, breakthrough or die. For George Galloway the results don’t really matter at all. His entire life is dedicated to self-promotion and he will just hitch himself to whatever convenient political project comes along next that will help him remain in the glow of publicity that he craves.

Only the SNP can win this election but they are also the only party that can truly lose.

Most of the parties have very little positive to say at all, and so we have a policy-free campaign battle waged around some very un-charismatic characters, a truly dispiriting experience. Campaign literature is a Unionist bromide of “Stop Nicola” with Labour attempting a variant message of ‘for a pandemic recovery’: a message which is fair and good but banal in the extreme.

All of this while the pantomime of Downing Street trundles on. According to John Harris: “In some parts of the country, the rate of unemployment runs at 15%. Six million people are now reckoned to be on universal credit.” Yet in this broken country the idea of spending £200 million on a new royal yacht is seriously discussed as Carrie Antoinette orders golden wallpaper.

English voters, it seems, are content with being gaslit by a benign Etonian Oligarch who is dripping in sleaze and corruption as long as he promises ‘everything will be over soon’ every few months. Incredibly after presiding over carnage support for Boris Johnson’s regime is actually up. This malignancy seems to have no impact whatsoever on the Scottish Tories who seem to have rounded up all of the voters who are convinced that the worst thing in the universe would be to govern yourselves, a sort of apogee of self-loathing and in-built deference culture that has become normalised in sections of the over 50s.

Are there any rays of light in this dark picture?

If polls are anywhere near right then this would be a (long overdue) breakthrough result for the Scottish Green Party, a dead start for Abla and possibly enough of a ‘success’ for both Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross to keep their jobs. Ross remaining in post might not be such a bad thing for the independence movement. Alex Salmond would need to decide what to do next and so too would Patrick Harvie.

What would the terms of a SNP/Green coalition be? How would the SNP frame such a result? If the election produces a strong pro-indy majority it may be possible to clutch victory – and demand democracy – from a dispiriting campaign.



Comments (15)

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  1. William Reynolds says:

    The Savanta Comres poll showed 46% for the SNP constituenct vote,not 42% as you state.However,that poll was carried out from April 16 and 20.More recent polls were Opinium which showed 51% for the SNP constuency vote durinf 28th April to 3rd May and Yougov showing 52% for the SNP constituency vote durind 2nd to 3rd May. This does suggest that the SNP constituency vote is firming up as election dat draws closer.

    1. Hi William – this was from ComRes this morn:

      SNP majority in doubt as poll shows further slip – Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman

      Headline Independence Voting Intention: No 54% (-); Yes 46% (-)
      Headline Holyrood Constituency Voting Intention: SNP 42% (-3); CON 25% (+2); LAB 22% (-1); LD 8% (+1); Other 3% (+2)
      Headline Holyrood List Voting Intention: SNP 34% (-2); CON 23% (+1); LAB 19% (-); GRE 9% (-1); LD 6% (+1); Alba 2% (-); Other 6% (-)
      Net favourability: Sturgeon +14 (-2); Sarwar +11 (+2); Rennie -6 (-1); Ross -14 (+1); Starmer -9 (+4); Johnson -35 (-1)
      All reported change from previous week (23-27 Apr)

      The final Savanta ComRes / The Scotsman poll ahead of the Holyrood election shows the likelihood of a majority slipping away from the SNP, down 3pts to just 42% in the constituency vote.

      1. William Reynolds says:

        Then we are probably not talking about the same Com Res poll.In any case the poll that you refer to is so different from all of the recent polls that it does not seem credible,For example:

        YouGov : SNP 52% (constituency) 38% (List) 2nd-4th May
        Survation:SNP 49% (Constituency) 36% (List) %th 5th May
        Ipso Mori SNP 50% (constituency) 39% (List) 5th May
        I have learned never to take anything for granted and know that voter turnout is the key, but it is clear that the SNP is in a very strong position just before election day.

  2. Tom Ultuous says:

    A recent poll I conducted myself suggests Gorgeous George will be the next FM with a clear majority. I have done him in a double with Count Bin Face for London Mayor.

    PS Loved “Carrie Antoinette” and “benign Etonian Oligarch”. I suppose Eva and Adolph were comic figures at one time.

    1. I can’t lay claim to “Carrie Antoinette” – I can’t remember where I heard it!

  3. Correction? says:

    Patrick *and Lorna* will need to decide what to do next. If you are going to personalise the Green decision at least mention both co-conveners. Cheers.

  4. Richard Easson says:

    I think I feel like you sound, Mike. A bit like heading towards Hamden having left the pub in good spirits to realise in that Tractatus moment of reflection of all the possibilities.

  5. Wul says:

    Well, the Scottish way is to always snatch disappointment from any, hitherto promising-looking, set of circumstances. I am uneasy.

    They say that large numbers of voters only decide which way to vote once the pencil is in their hand in the voting both. I am wishful that images of Douglas Ross and Boris Johnston’s sweaty, dishonest faces pass through their minds and they they think “FFS naw! I couldnae vote for that”.

    Maybe not though. Maybe “All is right with the world” (UK) as it is?
    Today we have Royal Navy (hoorah!) gun boats in the Channel, a tasty fight with the froggy French looming. Just like the good old old days. The Queen is getting a new yacht to ease her grief (poor wee wummin) and English-UK money (Scots don’t pay any income tax ) has vaccinated us ungrateful Jocks.

    If there was a credible, powerful socially democratic movement within the UK I wouldn’t really be that fussed about independence for Scotland. But our English cousins seem hell-bent on voting against any party that has the interests of working people at heart.

  6. Robert says:

    Well, if as you say it’s a “dead start” for “Abla” (hilarious, you’ve got us all in stitches over that one) then Bella will have played its wee part, helping to maintain the media omerta, marginalising a new Indy party and ensuring Unionist MSPs hang on to their list seats. Good job.
    What the Unionist media do for money & power, Bella does for… what? Spite? To keep in with the SNP ruling clique? Personal hatred of Wings? True conviction in the Green/SNP version of identity politics?
    To be frank I’m still struggling to understand it, but maybe that’s just my own naivety and blindness.
    On the other hand, maybe you’ve underestimated Alba and the Indy movement as a whole. Maybe a lot of the 1 million voters whose SNP list votes went down the toilet last time, will seize the opportunity that Alba Party offers.
    In which case we’ll see a supermajority of pro-Indy MSPs that includes the range of views across the movement, not just those that are acceptable to the Sturgeonites and their allies.
    Roll on Saturday.

    1. Thanks Robert.

      I’m not sure why anyone would feel obliged to support a party they think is ridiculous but far from an omerta I’ve seen widespread coverage of Abla with your leader doing the rounds of tv and splashed across the papers.

      Perhaps if you dont do well it will not be because of the media, the 77th Brigade or Bella, perhaps it will be because it was – and is – a terrible idea badly executed and led by a man who is more unpopular in Scotland than Boris Johnson? Just a hunch.

      1. WT says:

        … and why is he so unpopular? Could it be because the media keep on vilifying him even after his trial? Article after article have retried the guy and found him ‘guilty-ish’. There really is no room for such an ‘ish’ in a fair society. He may have done the rounds of TV studios but much of these visits have focussed on his tarnished reputation rather than his politics. Insinuation built on opinion and prejudice is, surely, secondary to a judgment based on facts and evidence. Alba’s supermajority idea isn’t new and might not work out for them but perhaps it is a good thing to have more than one independence party on offer particularly when the main one is so slow at advancing the project. Irrespective of where your loyalties lie, I think its time to stop hating Alex Salmond and for us all to get back to persuading NO voters to change to YES. All this anti-Salmond stuff doesn’t reflect well on any of us.

        1. Jim Bennett says:

          Alex Salmond’s tenure as leader of the SNP gave my two older kids free higher education. They each saved £36k as a result, as well as picking up a degree each.

          That alone was good enough for me to give him my vote.

          1. Hi Jim – that’s quite an ‘I’m alright Jack’ approach for a socialist isnt it?

        2. Rich says:

          Gentlemen , please remember that one of you is talking of the acts of an individual and the other of a party .

          For the individual:
          The plea that he is not a criminal has been decided by majority verdicts – on 13 charges…. and during his closing speech, Salmond’s own counsel, the Dean of the Facility of Scottish Advocates, Gordon Jackson QC, told the jury:
          “I’m not here to defend him”.
          Yet he admitted plainly that Salmond’s behaviour towards a succession of young women had been “inappropriate”, but argued that it did not meet the high bar of criminal behaviour.
          Not guilty/not proven , irrelevant to the decidedly-proven fact that this man is not the kind you’d want in a taxi with your mother/sister/daughter/colleague/partner.
          Yet he has started a new party and is promoting it/himself as the great white hope for the impatient . Perhaps if it was somebody else who had started a party with the idea of ‘gaming the system’ (as the two mainstream Albanian parties did a while ago) then we might have had a real chance of the ‘super-majority many might like to have seen .
          It is a clever (even tricky – from Alex – surely not !)) ruse . I’m not surprised that his recent recruits couldn’t tell him he should not be the ‘front man’ , but then…
          Whatever came before , Salmond is now poison . A simple truth . This moves us on to –

          For the Party :
          So – in stark contrast to Engerland – ‘we’ decided not to charge ‘our’ students any uni fees . Great and good social policy decision . But decisions like these are Party decision , perhaps presented as the leader’s dictat , but nothing like this simply comes ‘down from the top’ – it goes ‘up’ before coming ‘down’ again , these are ‘cabinet decisions’ . It is not the man you have to thank for the money it didn’t cost – it is the party and the taxpayers .

          So please , both of you , realise , because he’s taking nobody with him , this guy is going nowhere . We might want a swifter independence but , however warmly you thought of him in the past , he is now much too tainted – by nobody’s actions but his own – for many/any of your fellow citizens to honour with their votes again .
          Alba is ‘his’ party – and is thus as doomed as he is – time to start again . A ‘clean’ slate .Ditch it , ditch him and we might have a real chance of speeding up the inevitable process .

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