Rise! Rise!

Scotland doesn’t need another party of the Left – it needs a real party of the Right. The left-of-centre field is getting mighty cluttered with those claiming they can out radical each other but we don’t even have a single ambitious party of the right worthy of the name. The Scottish Conservatives aren’t so much a branch office as a regional depot for despatching London policy.

The Scottish Tories have been the embarrassing relative everybody avoids since the Scots, finally realising what Margaret Thatcher meant by bringing harmony and peace, took their revenge by obliterating them at the ballot box. What was left by ‘97 was a rump of Dad’s Army Telegraph readers with interest-bearing accounts and share dividends. They think Labour equates to Communism, the Nats are anarchists and we can save the health service by reintroducing Matron (see 1999 manifesto).

Once a Tory could be a West of Scotland working class Protestant, a Borders mill worker suspicious of socialist change or a professional who respected social structures that had endured. But the stigma of Thatcher poisoned the name so that Scots canvassed on their voting intentions would demur and claim they were Don’t Knows instead of Tories.

Some of this is illogical since there are policy positions many voters could approve of and indeed candidates sufficiently credible to deserve a vote. But things ain’t wot they used to be…attitudes and culture change so that what was once mainstream becomes unimaginable – think bell-bottoms or frizzy hair.

Have the Scottish Tories binned the flares and stopped listening to Slade and the Sweet? Well, the leader is certainly a change – new generation, plain-speaking and non-posh. Ruth Davidson is able to mix it with the mainstream of mainly Left-orientated politicians without sounding like Margo in the Good Life. There are able and effective individuals in elected positions – Jackson Carlaw, Murdo Fraser, Liz Smith. But…what are they for? They cannot claim to be instigators of a Scottish renaissance of ideas since it’s hard to know when they last had one. There is a sense in which they read between the lines of popular sentiment and hedge their bets. It’s interesting to look back to 1999 when they were still in shock from the Extinction of the Dinosaurs two years previously. All pretence at fading popularity was washed away with all 11 MPs, led to oblivion by the Thatcherite zealot Michael Forsyth, blindly denying the demand for devolution and democratic change.

The manifesto for the first Holyrood includes abolition of university tuition fees(!?) and free childcare for all four-year-olds and making the parliament work for Scotland within the UK, all which could be lifted from any progressive party document. In fact the sense of realism and contrition pointing to new and bolder future is palpable. Here is part of the leader’s statement (the late David McLetchie).

 

On May 1st 1997 the people of Scotland told us what they thought – we got it wrong.

They said we were out of touch. We didn’t listen; that our decisions and policies had London stamped all over them, with little relevance, or sympathy, for the needs of the Scottish people.

As a result, our history is indelibly marked with the 1997 election defeat.
The defeat, however, was a turning point. It made us look at ourselves. It was time to face the criticisms and address them head on. It was now or never.
One of our immediate tasks was to find out what Scotland really thought of us. And, more importantly, what Scotland expected of us.

Since July 1998 we have held over five hundred ‘listening’ meetings to hear the views of over 15,000 people from all walks of life, from all over Scotland. The result? The manifesto you see before you.

It gives me great pride to say that no other manifesto has ever been put together this way. It truly was created for you, by you.
Please feel free to read on. Whether you read it all, or whether you just dip in and out, you’ll see that, while our core values and principles remain intact, this is a new party.

A party that is listening.
A party that has got back to grass roots. A party that has risen to the challenge of devolution.
A party that is committed to putting Scotland First.

 

Is that what has happened? Does this describe the Tories you know? Do today’s policies sound as if they are crafted in Scotland with unique properties of their own? Can you name a single big idea that emanated from or is uniquely identified with the Scottish Tories? Is there any single way in which you understand the Tories to put Scotland first? Do they reflect the needs of the Scottish people?

When it came to the defining issue of the age – independence – did they have copyright on any aspect of the campaign although their party was in legal control of the referendum process? Surely the opposite was true – they cowered behind Labour’s larger support and greater credibility in speaking to the Scottish people (pause for retrospective irony). They surrendered the ground to Labour although it was in truth the most fertile territory any Scottish Tory could wish for. They merged into the execrable Better Together because they had no distinctive voice on Scotland’s place in the world and no character big enough to match even the semi-retired Alistair Darling, twice Britain’s Most Boring Politician.

Indeed if you scan the 2015 Tory election manifesto, it has ‘Scotland’ on top of every page but the content is 95 per cent the UK manifesto. This is partly understandable for a UK election, it’s true, but on the key area of the economy alone, there is but one single paragraph on Scotland which, after giving us the employment rate, merely states that growth will help ‘every part of Britain.’

Immigration, another key area and the policy bedrock for virtually every Right-wing European party, has literally no mention of Scotland at all despite a different tone to the debate here and different economic and social needs. Education, perhaps the area where Scotland is most distinct and where the Tories have the widest remit for unique ideas, is a pale version of London policy – allowing individuals and charities to set up their own schools and allowing schools to be run independently from local councils. This is England’s Academy policy with a kilt.

How much real independence does either the party of the leadership actually have? Before the May election Davidson was asked if the Tories would block a second referendum and was unable to say more than it had been discussed with Cameron but she could not foresee the circumstances in which that would happen. She later said it would be a mistake to block indyref2. Cameron has now decisively ruled out support for another referendum. I suppose she can argue she is putting Scotland first. The truth would appear to be that in Scotland Tories can be as independent as they like – nobody in London takes a blind bit of notice.

There is a heavy Tory focus on benefits for the aged which directly reflects the people who vote Conservative and as long as SNP policy lures the aspirational with a vision of a prosperous and equitable independent Scotland, the profile of Tories will fail to deliver the stream of younger voters and talent needed for success. The GE showing was the worst since the creation of the modern party in the mid-Sixties.

I’m not a Conservative – they remain the only party I have never voted for in nearly 50 years of voting. But I deprecate the Left’s neglect of business development and understanding of economic activity which opens it to the accusation of myopia. Business, from barter onwards, has been a bedrock of society not only for the revenues in taxes its profits generate but for the welfare benefits that work and earning bring to millions. Work is – or should be – a purpose for life, a place to interact, a centre for our self-expression and achievement. (I know it’s not like that at Amazon).

There is a wide field here for policy generation which embraces work as a key driver of a happy society, the creator of revenue for both individual and state and the means by which we create a more balanced society capable of eradicating poverty. It could be hypothecating certain taxes for anti-poverty programmes, championing oil industry decommissioning as a Scottish economic flag-bearer instead of braying about the oil price fall as if it were a super idea. Is there a Scottish entrepreneur culture to be rekindled among the working class kids they complain can’t get into college any more? Why aren’t Tories in Scotland the natural home of business sentiment? An organisation which constantly produced new ways of thinking about business and showcased them online and in public presentations would be the first political destination for innovators. Business is changing so fast – even the definition of what business is – yet the Tory model still seems to be silver-haired men in suits and ties linked to the financial sector.

Davidson’s success as a party spokesman may be masking a decline more profound than we realise. She is merely shoring up the façade of a listed institution with nothing behind it. The analysis of Murdo Fraser’s bold plan that it was just a rebranding need not have been true, although he makes that case himself with his jeering noises about Scottish economic dependency because of the oil price. That plan should have opened the way to a new party of business embracing the digital sector, one where anyone below 60 would feel comfortable. Ending the clammy embrace of London Central Office would free up policy – and allow the influx of those with the talent to create it – and even release the bird of real right-wing thinking, independence. The Right is about freedom, responsibility, the role of the individual and nothing encapsulates that better than national independence. It is after all favoured by half the population and you’d expect Tories to spot a market.

Opening up a sensible internal debate on what that might mean would centre the Tories in the Scottish mainstream instead of casting them as absolutists. That would at least display what McLetchie talked about 16 years ago – a party that’s listening and a party that puts Scotland first. But I’m wasting my time just as the Tories are. The intelligent Right is dead in Scotland. (Good luck to Rise, by the way).

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Over to you, Nick

I do not share doubts about the journalistic integrity of a former student Conservative who became political editor of the BBC. You’re unlikely to get any job in journalism unless you have strong views and ideas and it is inevitable that opinion leads to preference, Tory or otherwise.

(I got my own first job at least in part by arguing furiously against Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood immigration speech in an assessment interview and then branding MPs puppets for taking the whip when their priority was to represent the constituents who voted them in. End the party whip, I fulminated.)

The trick with opinions is to check and moderate them when in broadcast mode. I like Nick Robinson’s presentation and suspect it chimes very well with the overwhelming majority of viewers and voters. When I met him in the BBC Edinburgh office maybe five years ago, he was not the nose-in-the-air metropolitan Hooray some Broadcasting types are. He was genuinely interested in someone else’s interpretation of events and readily agreed to an interview – an event strangely missing from his new book!

I depart from him though on the over-egged histrionics he is injecting into the campaign to sell his book. His remarks at the Book Festival sound petulant and self-serving and reveal a lack of awareness typical of the upper reaches of the BBC. I’ve been scanning Roger Mosey’s book mainly about his time as editor of the Today programme – the new destination for Nick – and his self-congratulatory tone radiates from the pages.

Nick has decided that nationalists have no right to protest against what he says on air. That is, I’m sure he’s perfectly at ease with social media questions of his emphasis in a report for example, but how dare 4000 Nats descend on Pacific Quay with banners and chant their disapproval…anyone would think the buggers paid for the BBC.

He has effectively admitted making an arse of his report of Salmond’s news conference and regretting his use of the words ‘didn’t answer my question’ while correctly pointing out that Salmond was playing politics with his answer.

I didn’t think my offence was sufficient to justify 4,000 people marching on the BBC’s headquarters. Young men and women who are new to journalism had – like they do in Putin’s Russia – to fight their way through crowds of protesters, frightened as to how they do their jobs.

This is just silly. How many would it justify? Or does he mean this was an effective demo because it got to him? He couldn’t just patronise a handful of placard-waving nutters with a smile – he really felt their wrath. And that’s something he couldn’t understand. But why not? We were by that time heading for the end of a two-year campaign and a head of anger had been building over the BBC’s coverage much of which was lamentable if not outright biased (as documented in academic study). Was he unaware of the seething discontent with the national broadcaster?

The reference to Putin is another indication of his propensity for petulance and suggests his understanding of politics is not matched with knowledge of international affairs. Try actually demonstrating in Russia, Nick, then tell us it’s the same as standing outside Pacific Quay. And, frankly if young journalists are intimidated by a non-violent, if hostile mob, they’re in the wrong job.

And how about this section…The broadcaster also slammed the ‘coded’ language used to attack English journalists during the independence campaign by Nationalists, arguing that phrases like ‘metropolitan’ were a reference to their nationality.

This isn’t just silly. It’s offensive. The political editor of the national broadcaster deprecates normal and accurate use of language and ascribes to it racial undertones.

Nick and his colleagues – some of whom are Scots by the way – are correctly described as metropolitan because they come from London. Duh! It doesn’t matter where you were born, it matters what attitude you bring. And one very specific complaint, backed up the BBC’s own Audience Council, was the failure of reporters from London to get to grips with the nuance of an emotional debate.

In the corporation’s annual review, the Audience Council Scotland said some network programmes had appeared to adopt what was described as an Anglified perspective during the independence debate and focused too much on the official campaigns at the expense of the wider civic and community engagement.

This is a very English journalist betraying the constant theme of those unable to grasp what Scottish autonomy is really about. Nick, like JK Rowling, can’t see beyond Anglophobia, so restricted is his worldview and incipient contempt for Scots. If it’s pro-Scotland, it must be anti-England.

Remember Scot Gavin Esler scurrying north for an on-the-spot report on a pro Union ‘grassroots campaign by ordinary Scots’? Vote No Borders was a sham set up by a millionaire in England and exposed on social media within hours but in the London newsroom (that’s metropolitan, Nick) it was a huge Get-Up-There-Fast story. http://wingsoverscotland.com/watch-closely-students/

Nick is cynical about the social media which dominated the political debate because he found it not to have been balanced enough for him and was an echo chamber for the already converted. Well there’s truth in there but he avoids the clear question – why did a vibrant social media start up at all? It was of course in protest at the failure of the BBC to capture anything of the sentiments and engagement of the people it is paid to serve. It was also to counteract the disgraceful anti Scottish outpourings of what is still laughably called the media. We in turn regard the BBC as an echo chamber, endlessly relaying Establishment messages mostly uncritically. What do you imagine Nick himself does standing outside Number 10? He is telling you what the Prime Minister’s spokesman has just told him. He is their mouthpiece. He echoes their message. Only a delusional zoomer would imagine that day-to-day BBC political broadcasting is anything other than a conduit for institutional propaganda. Look how outraged the media/political establishment is at the prospect of Corbyn winning and overturning their cosy assumptions.

Flogging a book makes certain demands and public meetings can catch anyone off-guard. I have the odd slip of the tongue myself. But Nick Robinson, entertained by the First Minister this week, has displayed what many Nationalists suspected – an inherent bias struggling to be contained. Maybe try harder on Today, Nick.

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Nurse! Nurse!

I’ve got Corbynitis from the bug that’s been sweeping the country and I’m getting inoculated with a Sturgeon serum. It doesn’t eradicate it but it confuses the genes so they don’t know which parts of the immune system to attack.

I find it gratifying that an old campaigner from the 80’s can still be relevant today – something I like to think he and I share! And how old Jeremy in his Dave Spart jackets is tearing up the self-serving middle class agenda of the Labour careerists who are suddenly reminded of why they were supposed to have joined up in the first place – left-wing politics like diverting funds to the poor, ending the arms race and international solidarity. You imagine them swiping through their ipads looking up Disarmament…

But the ageing Leftie has even moved that monolithic Labour establishment loudhailer the Daily Record to support him which, in its own way, is a genuine triumph. It is another sign of the re-alignment of political culture in which the configuration of the planets is changing. Where once there was certainty, now there is flux and every commitment is a gamble with unknown consequences. If Labour members do elect Corbyn, what then? And will the shockwaves hit the SNP’s previously predictable orbit?

Well, they’re bound to, aren’t they? Like a comet shooting over the night sky (a metaphor Jeremy would surely never have expected) Corbynmania has everyone looking up and gasping. What a sign of hope for those beleaguered Labour folk crying out for a real Left revival and who have stayed loyal as friends defected to the SNP. Even just having a new language to use about ending Trident, truly opposing the Tories and standing up for the unemployed would be a relief. Embarrassment at what their party has become would be over. They could look Nats in the eye again.

And among the 70,000 who signed up after the referendum there must be a measurable proportion who would contrive a tipping point in SNP policy to justify a return to a real people’s party, especially if a believable plan for Holyrood powers was a Labour priority. The suspicion is many of them aren’t Scotland-first Nationalists anyway and have simply despaired, as I have, of any meaningful reform in constitutional or social affairs under Westminster.

Contrary to the story being told in hushed tones of horror down south, I think Jeremy can detoxify the Labour brand here and return some pride to the stalled movement. How much more credibility did he earn just by suffering a Tony Blair attack?

That’s a long way from damaging the SNP of course. I still believe the only way that can happen in the short to medium term is through self-harm. If discipline falters or some senior figures go rogue – unlikely even in a dogfight for seats – fissures could be exposed and public faith lost. Remember just how quickly both the SNP success and now Corbyn have changed events.

But Corbyn does offer for the first time a credible alternative voice to Sturgeon’s which could recalibrate the level of adoration the FM receives, much to the relief of me and others. It could also produce what the current feeble Labour crop daren’t and that’s a united anti-Tory front at Westminster but only if Jeremy can command the PLP. And this seems unlikely to me given the nature of the beast. Labour long ago gave up oppositionist politics in favour of ameliorating Tory excesses and having scoffed at Islington Trots for decades, they are unlikely to accept him as rightful leader now. Jeremy’s main opponents will be his own party.

Any influence he has over Scottish opinion of course must surmount another obstacle – a Scottish leadership of doubtful talent and questionable allegiance to his radical ethos. I still have no idea what Kezia stands for – ‘except not the past’. I can guess however, since her influences include the NUS and George Foulkes. I do want to give her time to work her way into the job rather than write her off peremptorily but I see no sign that she will be capable of assuming the role of cipher to Corbyn. She will not have the reputation or respect needed to interpret him for a Scottish audience. There will be little patience for speeches declaring: I know what Jeremy said but what he really meant for Scotland is this…

So there may be some fall-out for the SNP from the Corbyn bug but the real victims are more likely among his own party – disaffected MPs and an out-of-kilter Scottish leadership.

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The Public Eye

I’ve taken an antsi view of two issues today – it’s not like me at all…

You probably get a queasy feeling about cronyism and corruption and how people in the know get the ear of ministers. It’s an insidious business and yet it doesn’t need to be, so long as all the information is freely available and the rules obeyed.

This week ex SNP staffer and Salmond adviser Jennifer Dempsie was named in some outlets as having secured £150,000 for TinthePark from Fiona Hyslop. Old pal’s act! She only got it because they’re mates. All Nats together emptying the public purse, etc

Now, of course the papers involved didn’t actually say that but they wrote the story in such a way that you would. Former Salmond aide set up meeting with SNP government to win funds – enough said. Not only that but she’s a candidate, said some – an active politician. Former leader Gordon Wilson went volcanic saying she had sullied her credibility and the rules would have to be tightened to stop this kind of thing. One paper called it ‘secret taxpayers funding.’

But hold on. Dempsie no longer works for the SNP. She was at the time employed by the company that runs TinthePark. They had warned it might be scrapped because of problems associated its move to Strathallan. Her role was to set up a meeting to bid for government support. The fact that she is known to the government and presumably trusted must be a help, as it is to anyone in the networking business – which is why Tom Harris and Kevin Pringle are in the same game. It’s hardly illegitimate. The question is: Is it wrong? As director of Sense, the disabled charity, would it be wrong of Andy Kerr to ask for meetings with a Labour minister?

So Dempsie got the meeting. She did not attend it. She did not secure the grant. The money was awarded, not as a bung from Hyslop, but as an appropriately signed-off support for an cultural event which generates £15m a year. There are rules about how money is allocated and criteria have to be met.

Was it opaque? Hardly. There is nothing secret or dodgy in the story but the implication of the coverage is clear – SNP corruption. In one source, this is even tied to previous innuendo of ‘links between Alex Salmond and media baron Rupert Murdoch, as well as businesspeople like Donald Trump and Ineos chief executive Jim Ratcliffe.’ This is tabloid conflation to construct an argument. Doubt the morals of Salmond if you like but what is the pattern behind those names? They are seriously important businessmen with big investments in Scotland (Murdoch probably the biggest private employer) and Salmond was First Minister charged with improving the economy and creating a positive impression of the country. Holyrood investigations failed to nail a single nefarious act by Salmond over Trump and with Ineos, wasn’t it Salmond who stepped in to help save the Grangemouth plant?

A miasma of implication and smear is created over a non-event. (If there is corruption or maladministration, why haven’t the journalists called it?).

Here’s another perspective. Is the argument that no former SNP person can take up such a role? Or is that any approach from a former SNP person must be turned down even if means a major event goes to the wall?

Jennifer Dempsie hasn’t been selected as candidate in Highland and Islands yet. My own view is that at the point where that happens, if it does, she activates a political career and direct approaches for commercial reasons to ministers become inapprorpriate. The meeting she organized was back in May before selection processes began and she was officially a civilian. It would be a shame if a talented young woman was prevented from standing by the effects of ill-directed innuendo. Still, the price of public life, eh?

The other issue that got me was whether Ally MacLeod should be entered in the football hall of fame. The problem here surely is with the idea of a hall of fame at all and what it really is. It has become an elastic definition as they search for more and more characters to fill it. The reality is that if you have to ask the question of a sportsman then the answer is almost certainly No. It implies greatness and you either have that or you don’t. MacLeod was a damned good manager and a motivator as he proved at two clubs and in winning the British Championship. That alone wouldn’t be enough in my view to enter anything called a Hall of Fame. But when you add it the failure in Argentina it eclipses all of those accomplishments and must rule him out.

There is little evidence that he did any proper research on Scotland’s opponents and allowed overconfidence to cloud his judgement. His descent from admirable cockiness at Hampden to powerless ineptitude in Argentina was the mark of a man lacking any patina of greatness.

I liked Ally and respect him and I understand his family’s frustration at the abuse of his memory. He didn’t lose us a referendum. But if we’re judging on any criteria of fame meaning more than celebrity which he undoubtedly had, then I’m afraid Ally fails the test. As in the previous rant, fame is a fickle mistress.

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Heid the Ba’

Celtic had lost a big match they were expected to win and Jock Stein was in volcanic mood. The disgraced players turned up next day for training to hear Stein was still brooding in his office. They nominated the great McNeill, the captain, to confront him. He knocked quietly, peered fearfully round the door and said: ‘Is it OK for me and the boys to get out the table tennis, boss?’

I imagine something similarly timid goes through the mind of Yes folk beginning to have doubts about the SNP. This is challenging the orthodoxy, questioning the mighty. The voting arithmetic may not say so, but one aspect of politics is ‘returning to normal’ and that’s open criticism and doubts about the Nats. There is no sign that any bubbles have been burst, far from it, but a questioning tone is emerging from a wider front than the usual Unionist suspects and that has to be right, isn’t it?

It’s a bit tentative and doesn’t amount to full-on hostility but life has to go on, as McNeill said. And peering round the door are some who belong to the Yes side and have its best interests at heart – this week, notably, Robin McAlpine and Cat Boyd – the first on a conservative conference agenda and the second on caution over indyref2.

Even as we glimpse a possibility of 78 Nationalist MSPs at Holyrood and an approval rating three times Labour’s, there is rebellion in the air and it smells good. Nothing like a whiff of cordite to clear the mind.

At one level I shouldn’t wonder that inside Sturgeon’s Kremlin planners are quietly pleased that the first movements can be detected in the Yes undergrowth with guerrilla activity stirring in the fringes. Internal debate strengthens, not weakens and is the lifeblood of ideas…so long as it can be managed. It also contradicts the silly One Party State nonsense. Determined resistance leads to splits (like the 79 Group) but this is far from insurgency. Indeed Robin has a point because he is calling for open debate on questions no party should be afraid of discussing.

So why the SNP caution? First, a debate on the referendum allows the public to remember an SNP defeat, one that democracy demands they accept (more later). A sceptical public sees people obsessed with an issue settled by clear majority only 12 months ago after years of bloody acrimony. The SNP is moving on, determined to claim the powers its mandate demands within the Union, leaving indyref2 a dot on the horizon on which the sun has yet to rise. Replaying currency and EU is an invitation to argument and blame. That does not stop behind-the-scenes assessment of those positions and a future membership consultation when the indyref temperature rises.

TTIP is included on the agenda with the SNP taking a robust no-public sector inclusion stance that has been the immediate threat. As far as I can see the SNP has also criticised the aspects that might allow corporations to sue governments in disputes. Common Weal may well want total abolition of TTIP but any national government-in-waiting taking that position will find it harder to locate allies when independence beckons. God knows, the unequivocal anti-nuclear stance (which I support) is brazen enough for some would-be allies whose support we’ll need. I firmly believe that while indyref2 may be just a blip on the radar today, the SNP has to operate as if it were imminent as it is now being judged by a world community acutely aware that a new nation is a real possibility. To many of them with their own internal concerns, radical is interchangeable with dangerous.

The dilemma of course is the timetable of all this. There is another election looming and the trick is to be ready with your record, some interesting ideas and a persuasive line in argument to harvest as many votes as you can. What you don’t do is whip up dissent, strike uncompromising positions – and never unsettle the core. That means for example trying to stay in the European mainstream while feeling deep unease over the plight of Greece. The treatment of the Syriza government offended many of us pro-EU folk who have had to bite back resentment at the institutions and at Germany in particular. But how is that aided by condemnatory motions at a conference in a country hoping to become a Member State?

There is an idea around that the SNP is some version of socialism. In fact I saw a headline the other day saying that Corbyn would show them up on the socialist front. I laughed. When did the SNP become socialist? Who made the claim?

The SNP is radical – a new separate state, anti-nuclear, free education, progressive tax, renewable energy – and social democratic in the European model but when some tried to make it socialist, Alex Salmond and his lot were expelled. There are socialists in the SNP and some policies are associated with socialism but the success of the party is rooted in a left-to-right manifesto which marries economic activity with welfare to create better living conditions. Over above that is the simple idea that they always stand up for Scotland (whatever that means) and that’s the formula that works.

Tony Blair did something similar for the whole UK and without that breadth of support, you simply don’t win consistently.

What’s happened, I think, is that the wider Yes movement has turned into the SNP which is great for membership numbers and income and generates energy and ideas but brings with it a large number of those whose instincts are different from the traditional members. I’ve spoken to them (well, a few) and been told that they are more radical and impatient and what they want the party will have to deliver because they are now the membership. That neatly sidesteps the fact that it is the SNP which predates them that has learned how to succeed and win elections – oh and how to govern.

The operating model works and the last thing it needs is to be replaced with a higher-octane, get-there-quicker version which leaves half the electorate behind.

That’s why I think Cat’s idea of catching the moment to stage indyref2 is wrong and naïve. A significant part of the SNP vote is delivered because of the Union, not despite it. Scots learned to like the Nats in power, smiled at the stick they poked London with and allowed themselves to feel good about being Scots again. That did not, and does not, mean they are ready to leave the Union without a better offer in a more likely economic environment.

Indyref2 anytime soon is suicide as it is just as likely to be lost as the first. It also carries the stigma of casting us as anti democratic by refusing to accept the people’s verdict and merely staging another go until we get the result we want.

There is a demand within the digital village for radicalism which I understand but look back to 2007. We’ve already asked Scots to consider turning their world upside down in a referendum, helped them awaken a political hunger they’ve never known, got them to overthrow their generational love affair with Labour at both Holyrood and Westminster and transformed our political landscape in a way older hacks like me can scarcely believe. To the public this is radicalism. They’re voting SNP and loving it and still it’s not enough for some. Gie’s a brekk should be the conference slogan for Aberdeen.

The mistake will be to have a stonking majority and not use it, just like Blair. But let’s get the election over first, count the votes and savour the luxury of victory. The voters should be on your shoulder, not ten paces behind you. Never get too far ahead of them – they are all you’ve got. Everything is invested in them, just as it was the players, not Stein, who won the football games.

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