One More Time

Well I must say I’m bowled over. What a response from so many loyal friends. I appreciate deeply your sentiments. Just have a look at them on the right hand side. Thanks for taking the trouble to write. And as there’s only a week to go…I’ll stick with it meantime.

Have you noticed a trend of addressing the impending electoral success as something abnormal? There’s a tone of that in John Harris from the Guardian – How Long Can the SNP Own Scottish Politics? And in Martin Kettle from the same paper – What Now for the Rebels Who Became the Establishment? …with the referendum behind them, they need to find a new purpose. Meantime other writers are seeking a new politics in the light of the SNP success.

To be frank, I doubt if Mr and Mrs Scotland is really on the bus to work debating if we should be doing politics differently. For so many of them they have started doing just that – they began voting SNP for the first time in their lives and they like it. For many of us this is the first time we’ve voted for the party that wins, the first time we’ve voted – and got – the government we wanted. Success feels good. It’s empowering. We got sick of Tory governments in London and Labour hegemony in Edinburgh so over the devolution years we’ve eased them out of the way and left them on the sidelines. On the way we’ve transformed politics in Britain. We’ve obliterated the UK Lib Dems and, increasingly, taken on the role of the Opposition at Westminster.

We’ve blown apart the carefully constructed voting system at Holyrood and won over the broadest coalition of voters in our country’s history, first edging out the Tories and then bulldozing Labour. With all its faults the SNP represents more comprehensively the attitudes and outlook of the nation than any party has ever done while the MSPs and MPs themselves are like an identikit of the nation – born in council homes, taught in local schools, educated at our universities, self-made businessmen, industry professionals, health workers, carers and gey few career special advisers…and lawyers!

The argument that all this needs to stop is the intuitive mindset of the unbeliever. These are the voices of those brought up and conditioned by the constraints of old politics – Labour for 10 years (if you’re lucky) then the Tories for 10. The Westminster-minded only see through the same viewfinder. To them the rise of the SNP is a freak, a spasm, that will pass when emotion dies down and sense returns. They after all are used to setting the parameters within which we are invited spectators. When Yes kicked that idea in the groin in the indyref, there was muted celebration that someone had broken the mould. But to those who make a living from the Millbank village that could only be understood in relation to their world. So it had to transfer in some way to the old binary politics. But it didn’t. It marched right on down the road to London and occupied their green benches. It is supplanting Labour in the Westminster Parliament as internal strife erodes the authority of the official Opposition.

Steadily, through their efforts in Parliament and impressive performances in the UK media, the SNP is now courying in to the mind of the British voters where instead of starey-eyed bigots they become mature contributors saying things that chime with English ideas. They are gradually detoxifying themselves in the eyes of a misled electorate whose own fears of future independence are allayed. Persuasive salesman open doors to profitable transactions. An English electorate more relaxed about a new arrangement with a sensible and friendly neighbour helps open that door.

I am bemused how winning a democratic majority has translated so quickly into becoming an establishment – at least in the minds of the doubters. It is meant to cast an aspersion of stasis, corruption and decay. Is that what you see in modern Scotland? A country open to immigration, arguing for refuge for abandoned children…a gender-balanced Cabinet…the appointment of a critical anti poverty scrutineer…engagement with an almost universally hostile media…a transformative renewables industry internationally praised.

Put it this way – did the Cabinet all attend the same exclusive schools? Or go to Oxbridge? How many are millionaires? Is their money stashed in Panama? Do they have existing links to big business? Has there been a wholesale M(S)P expenses scandal? Is there a long-running suspicion of top-level conspiracy on child abuse or football death cover up? (When there was a huge complex issue who was it who stood against so much world opinion and released the convicted killer?)

To me, electing the SNP is the new politics. They fact that so many critics are obsessed with undermining it is the proof you need. They might as well say: Stop voting SNP because we don’t understand it. Can we go back to normal now?

There is of course a case for doing politics differently – if you’re the opposition. It isn’t the winner that has to reassess but the losers. Will they merge into one anti-SNP regiment? Hardly. What appears logical on paper rarely works when emotion and tribalism are involved. Logically Edinburgh should have one football team but what happened when Wallace Mercer suggested it?

No, I think the next big move will be an STV voting system which will offer elected places to a more diverse range of views to challenge the SNP. The one idea I could envisage is Labour dropping its outdated commitment to the Union as it stands. There is a gap in the market where the Liberals used to be because if we have to wait for independence, there is a compelling case for UK federalism. A Labour group that made that case while not opposing independence longer term might get back into the game. But the issues are complex. There is evidence today that SNP voters are actually to the Left of Labour voters which, if true, leaves Labour stranded without the very people they’re appealing to.

But, with less than a week to voting, that’s their problem. Our problem is making sure the forecasts are correct by eliminating complacency and delivering the vote. With an SNP government installed, and I hope, an increased Green contingent, we can look ahead to the council elections next year (I’m assuming we’re still in the EU!). If the re-election of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister is the mark of a Scottish establishment, it’ll do for me.

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If You Don’t Know By Now

I’m thinking about taking the advice of Unionist friends and giving this up. They think I’m wasting my time because I’m not any good. But the real reason for stopping is altogether different…is there any point?

What more do we have to do to show that, whatever your doubts about independence, sticking with the UK is a mug’s game? Are we really thirled to a country that allows 10,000 people to lose their jobs and many their expected pensions so a gold digger and tax dodger can buy his third massive yacht…do we really owe allegiance to a parliament that knowingly says No to a mere 3000 destitute and frightened children…can we stomach the corruption that allows a cover-up of 96 unnecessary deaths to last nearly 30 years…or the biggest transfer of public money to the richest few in history in a bank bail-out and money-printing exercise…while an unfair sacking can’t be challenged without £500 in cash up front…where landlords are handed billions in subsidies while a majority of young adults can’t buy a home…where we are reliant on foreign governments for energy policy and pile taxpayers’ money into inflated nuclear price deals that last a generation…and a country where promise after promise made to hold us in is cynically broken by a Prime Minister who one day loves us and the next tells a colleague he couldn’t care less if we stay or go?

Whatever doubts exist over a future outside the UK – and there are salient issues at play – have we not reached the stage where the minuses outweigh the pluses. If you’re Unionist by instinct, how do you view the running of Britain today as the various brands of Toryism spit and scratch at each other over EU membership? Is an internal ideological schism enough reason to risk the stability of the country for the foreseeable future? Isn’t that why so many couldn’t risk their vote for Yes – uncertainty over economic buoyancy and yet here it is being threatened on a grander scale by the same people who told us instability had to be avoided?

It was the same Tories who told us our European future was safer in the Union. The Clyde shipyards had only one guarantee – a No vote – something now worth less than it was as the MoD squirms over its reduced and delayed orders. The union men who fronted the No campaign look like suckers now but isn’t that the way it is for us all?

How many times do we have to learn the lesson so many automatic apologists of government never do…politicians lie. Not just mislead by pointing out partial facts that suit their case but dishonestly fabricate and falsify. The list of such crimes against Scotland since the indyref lengthens to removal of the carbon capture project (again), cutting support for renewables and, of course the fast delivery of major constitutional change. The scale of the let-downs reminds us just how rattled the British were and of the depths of their desperation to keep control of us – an odd juxtaposition with their constant narrative of subsidy from England and disregard for claims for more powers.

Is the Unionist answer still: Aye, but it would be far worse after a Yes vote? There are still frigate orders coming, just not as many or as quick and there would be none at all under independence. Is that true? Would a government deep in debt and frantically selling off any utility it can to raise money really upsticks from the Clyde, invest in an English port at a cost of hundreds of millions, search for a qualified workforce, all with only vindictiveness as motive? The naval man who gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee made clear that existing orders would be fulfilled because it was simply too tricky to do otherwise.

It’s true that for the doubters the specific arguments over the economy and currency outweigh all else but, even as they remain sceptical, do they still view the old UK with equanimity? Is it still the powerful political and cultural entity that makes the heart beat faster? Cameron and Osborne have hollowed out the idea of the island nation by squeezing everything that makes life better for ordinary citizens from the threat to human rights, the attack on universal welfare, the deliberate rejection and impoverishment of youth and the feather-bedding of pensioners, the obsessive concentration of subsidy and wealth in the South East, the demonization of immigration and asylum and the Victorian hounding of claimants.

What are the SNP sins that compare? Well, from the Left, they haven’t done enough for the dispossessed and won’t put taxes up. From the Right, they’re Hell-bent on a second referendum. Neither, I’d say, convincing to the traditional Unionist No voter. (They haven’t even got a referendum in the manifesto).

Are Unionists waiting for a gentler Conservatism? Or for Jeremy Corbyn? If the election returns another SNP government there will be many who will finally come to terms with the changed reality of a Scotland determinedly different from the rest of the country and ask themselves if it isn’t also time they got in tune. Supporting the Union means voting for Dugdale, Davidson or Rennie and their scarecrow parties. The days when there was talent and gravitas in abundance are long gone. Just as an earlier generation deserted the Tories (for Roseanna Cunningham in Perth in the mid 90’s and for Blairite Labour) so the remaining core of Unionism will have to decide – thrawn to the end or embrace the new orthodoxy? Those who opt for Davidson do so in the knowledge they are backing the government and scorched earth policies of Cameron. At one time a vote for anything up to 20 Scottish Tory MPs was married directly to the powerful London-based party who had UK-wide popularity. Today there is a single nice but unimpressive MP feeding into a divisive centre. Davidson’s Holyrood troup exists almost exclusively because of a PR system in a chamber they tried to stop happening.

Most of us can at least vote with pride and conviction. But how often can you vote with a heavy heart and a reluctant hand for something you know is passing and may soon be gone?

Put it this way. If you haven’t understood the decline of Britain, you’re unlikely to grasp the vision for Scotland. And that means I’m wasting my time.

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Know Your Friends

Just realised I missed the SNP manifesto launch. Still – so what? Who needs to read it when I know it’ll be perfect in every way. Others may laugh but there’s a deep contentment to be had from blindly believing everything you’re told. Handing over responsibility for judgement and decision to somebody else is such a release. I don’t have to think for myself at all. Baby boxes? Brilliant! More money to head teachers? Genius!

I’ve looked at the pictures and frankly any party that can stage an event like that with a leader who’s better than a TV evangelist can do no wrong in my opinion. I see the Brits have been flag-waving over the Queen but to be honest she’s not a patch on oor Nicola. She’s real royalty. You have to pity all those other party people with their crappy one-man-and-a-dog launches and misspelt manifestos nobody reads, all vying for a handful of votes just to get a one or two – or any – seats. Imagine having to work out who to vote for and why. Who can be bothered. Why can’t they just pick up a tambourine and join us?

 I paraphrase for you all, of course but this is how we are presented by the discerning, non-judgmental voices of an open and inclusive democracy. (From what I read, they couldn’t actually find much content to criticise in the manifesto so falling back on the lazy cliché is understandable). You’ll gather I’m not overly impressed with the stagey attempts at painting the dictatorial, centralising, over powerful Nats as, well…dictatorial, centralising and over powerful.

If one party is in power over generations and spreads its tentacles through the institutions of society, gets sticky fingers and turns itself into a Jobcentre for the relatives (I’m thinking Scottish Labour) there is indeed a danger to society, especially when the majorities are so high there’s no realistic prospect of unseating them. Or so they thought. Is that where we are in modern Scotland? Has the SNP taken over the institutions of our country? Did they appoint the head of the BBC? Is the leader of the STUC a Nat? Or the CBI? Or Scottish Opera? Or Creative Scotland? Does Sturgeon order the media around? Has any organisation been hijacked by the SNP? The only suggestion of cronyism was the puerile attempt mainly by the Herald to link a former party staffer to a grant for TinthePark – a ‘story’ utterly discredited since as being without foundation.

Also the SNP didn’t win the 2007 election. They had exactly one seat more than Labour. They were a minority government. They were happy to seek alliance with others but the Liberals were too high handed and too Unionist to deign to serve.

There was nothing foregone about the 2011 result, except that we knew the SNP would do well and probably govern. Nobody – as in nobody –predicted an overall majority. The critics talk about landslides but they only still had a majority of four seats over the magic 65. Even then they lost two to resignations during the parliament (albeit still supporting on the main issues).

On the other hand Tony Blair in 1997 had a majority of 179! Scottish Labour won the largest share of the vote in Scotland at every election from 1964 until 2015. In 1997 they had 56 out of 72 Westminster seats. These are truly massive figures that in Scotland existed over a generational period. There is no doubt that many worried about the embedded distortion on public life but Labour’s failure wasn’t in being deaf to it, but rather the failure to do anything about it. The SNP’s rise has been rapid and short by comparison – it’s hardly a generational change so far. And I would be astonished if they weren’t alive to the risks of being the incumbent having observed Labour’s travails.

But isn’t the point here that it takes a bull-size brass neck for those who surfed the wave of power to complain now that someone else has the key to the door?   Why is it a problem if Scotland elects a majority government? One argument is that Holyrood was never intended to be this way. But that’s because it dates from the nineties and is the brainchild of Labour itself. It was meant to lock in a Unionist majority – in itself an anti-democratic concept. Since then Scotland has changed. Our politics have blown the cosy old consensus to smithereens. Why do so many of the intelligentsia have a problem with that change being represented in a democratic vote to elect a government? Why can’t they allow Holyrood to evolve according to the wishes of the voters? Since when did a majority become something to be despised?

Scotland is the only country too afraid of itself to vote for its own independence. Are we now to be the only country afraid to elect a government with a democratic majority?

I have no difficulty in accepting that the SNP are venal politicians but then so are they all. They fought hard to get where they are today and aren’t ready to relinquish more than they feel comfortable with. Surprise!

Jogging them along is what we all have to do and in my case I’m unhappy that they made a Nat the Presiding Officer. It was Labour’s turn. I think there is scope for a committee of the house to carry out a kind of practical-implications-scrutiny of legislation – not to challenge the principle behind it but to look for holes that may have been missed and consequences unconsidered. I believe the committees should be put on a firmer foundation to enshrine neutrality to remove any influence of whips from decision-making. I would like us to move to an STV voting system. But I am very wary of those who dislike the influence of a party so joyously embraced by the voters. It’s almost as if the commentariat knows best.

Some of these critics makes themselves look foolish indeed. Take for example the estimable David Gow, a retired Guardian hack and lifelong Labour diehard who, among other things, edits something called Sceptical Scot. David is a leftie with an abiding contempt for the SNP. No amount of explanation and justification about European social democrats or social justice will convince him Nats are anything but ignorant teuchters who hate the English. Jock Farages, the lot of ‘em…

He was at the interestingly-timed Electoral Reform Society conference on ‘predominant parties’ in Scotland. He tweeted : ‘good lineup for debate on one-party rule at Blythswood Hall after ‪@theSNP presidential manifesto launch by dear leader’.

Get the drift?

If you imagine that he was there because he’s dead interested in improving Scottish democracy rather than to stick the knife into the SNP, I offer you this link to his blog.

Was he writing this stuff when Blair had his mountainous majorities? No, I fear that outright opposition to the SNP is being camouflaged by false flag waving. Pretending to be concerned about democracy when you’re real agenda is fighting the Nats is devious. I get tired of people who never declare their true allegiance while posing as principled critics. The Sceptical Scot site for example preens itself thus: Scotland’s premier non-tribal forum for passionate, informed debate. Sceptical Scot is for all who care about Scotland’s future, regardless of how they vote: for party, independence or union, EU or Brexit. We aim to provide an arena that is both broader and deeper than current online/print offers with a rich diet of well-researched, polemical, thought-provoking writing. Aye. Right.

I checked their editorial board. After David comes Lucy Hunter Blackman, a well-qualified sometime civil servant. She came to prominence with a one-woman campaign attacking the SNP’s no tuition fees policy. It was picked up by the media and repeated by Rattle magazine, brainchild of disaffected former SNP officer Alex Bell and by the ScotlandinUnion Unionist zoomer site.

Next is Jackie Kemp, a fine journalist in her own right and daughter of renowned editor (sorely missed today) Arnold. Jackie is a regular in the Huffington Post trotting out darkly sinister stuff about the SNP’s apparent racism and alleged Nazi past. Try here

And here

Note how in the second article the theme again surfaces of voters being too stupid to see what the intelligentsia can. How can the SNP be so popular?

When, as I hope, the voters return an SNP majority, we can expect a lot more of this sanctimonious ‘non-tribal’ drivel from the self-appointed Compliance Officers of the Scottish Commentariat. For the rest of us it will add an extra piquant pleasure to know we not only elected the government we wanted, but we stuck up two fingers to the arrogant know-alls too afraid to confess to their own political allegiance.

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It’s a Conspiracy!

Tired of being instructed how to vote? Fed up with being told you’re a power-hungry elitist and a traitor to Yes? Still voting for the boring old SNP? What have they ever done for us? Anybody would think there was an organised campaign to harass SNP voters. In my timeline there is a discernible trend in what begins to feel like a wee wave of dissent.

Not sure why. Surely the distorted Sunday Herald piece complete with compliant Macwhirter column counted as a coup. I mean ‘John Curtice says don’t vote SNP in the second ballot. Vote for a smaller party’ is as good coverage as you could expect without paying for it. Iain’s piece claiming Holyrood worked better without a majority and that this was against some founding principle made up the Full Bhuna.

Not sure why either when my blog offerings only say essentially two things – why I am personally voting SNP and why everyone should also vote for their party of choice regardless of outside influence. It seems that any suggestion you’re not sharing your vote is deemed to be treachery. Of what? Of whom? I’m a Scottish Nationalist who votes for an independent Scotland. In casting a second vote for them, I think I’m maximising the vote for my party of choice. I could be entirely wrong. It might work against me depending on the outcome of the FPTP constituency vote but I can’t possibly know that. I believe it’s less of a gamble to stick with the party I want to govern and which presents the only credible route to independence.

Some now say I’m breaking the bonds of friendship born in the Yes campaign. By not voting for one of the other parties? I don’t remember anyone saying in the indyref they would support independence so long as they got my second vote for Holyrood. Do you? This begins to sound like an entitlement. We backed the project, now you pay us back.

As it happens, I am pretty convinced there will be a Green surge this time. Not exactly sweeping Patrick to power …but enough to treble the MSPs and possibly more. So long as there is an SNP majority as well, I welcome this. I strongly suspect people close to me will vote accordingly. Enough people have heard convincing arguments on major issues like energy, local taxation and land reform from persuasive voices who successfully rise above the acrimony in order to feel comfortable voting Green. I think many of us feel good about voting for them as if we know we really should – a powerful motivator which also drives a lot of SNP votes.

Unlike RISE (Scottish Socialists) , the Greens have been a constant part of the Scottish parliamentary scene from the start although similarly suffering from the 2007 SNP surge. They have earned a respect which the socialists squandered. What started out – first with Tommy then the Socialist Six – as an innovative aspect to our parliament gloing on to argue successfully for policies like free school meals, fell victim to personal rifts and backbiting. Despite really good performers like Rosie, Carolyn, Frances and Colin, they collectively failed to promote a public perception of socialists as responsible and trusted legislators and instead confirmed the fears of many about irresponsibility and factionalism. Of course that’s history now but that still taints voters’ memory. I maintain that reasons for the Greens’ success include competence and maturity even while challenging society’s basic assumptions. It requires patience as well as commitment to stay the course. You have to earn the right.

I’m glad others now support independence but I never forget the trials of the early SNP and how many crushing disappointments there have been even in my adult lifetime. It’s easy for liberal commentators to talk about ‘too much’ SNP power as if that were in itself a bad thing. For a start it seems to be a reflection of our voting patterns which makes it the expressed will of the Scottish people. But it’s also a reminder of when Scotland didn’t have power, when we had to plead and beg just for an administrative assembly and times when the SNP leaders we see today pondered giving it all up. I’ve seen some of today’s Cabinet Secretaries in the depths of despair thinking it would never happen for them. It’s partly because of those times and the astonishing advances made since the rise of the SNP drove the whole devolutionary movement, that I believe so strongly in the current SNP leadership.

One of the weakest arguments is the one that the SNP is so powerful nothing can stop it and that we must remember what happened to Labour – that history will repeat itself. In a normal society you might make that case. But in Scotland with its totally distorted media relentlessly hounding the government and pouring resources into opposing everything independence is, it’s pretty silly to argue they are unimpeded. No government has ever been subject to such inexorable and biased scrutiny. Political opposition both within the party and in the chamber has also changed policy and approach from toughening land reform laws to publishing the FM’s tax details. The fact the others are so weak is hardly the SNP’s fault. Maybe’s no try so hard and gie’ us a chance?

And don’t you think the very history of Labour hegemony and their low-level corruption, cronyism and creative catatonia is the reason the SNP won’t make that mistake? The SNP has filleted every aspect of Labour and taken what they got right and rejected what was wrong.

There is understandable frustration among RISE folk at the failure thus far to make an electoral impact. The referendum gave a profile they might otherwise not have had but it hasn’t so far coalesced into voter support. The patience and belief shown by the Greens and the SNP point to a way ahead. At the same time, you only succeed by having popular policies and credible representatives who can persuade the public. Asking people with other political priorities to back you instead of their natural party isn’t much of a case.

Nor is attacking SNP types on spurious grounds of abandoning Yes or rejection of electoral diversity. After all the SNP’s the only party whose raison d’etre is independence – the beating heart of Yes and it’s funding source – and on the second point there are already five different parties represented in Holyrood. No one has an automatic right to seats.

I welcome diversity and support a move to STV for future elections. I also promote all views in debates at Newsnet and have given more airtime to RISE-supporting voices than any other outlet. None of which gives anyone a claim on my vote. To repeat – if you’re RISE, vote RISE. If you’re a green Nat – vote SNP and Green (like Peter Arnott). And I’m voting for the party most likely to deliver the outcome I want. So stop trying to hijack my vote to your cause.

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RISE with UKIP, Anyone?

I’ve just had a chat with John Curtice. He says in Glasgow I should give my constituency vote to RISE and then vote UKIP on the list. Apparently he likes the idea of a parliament with diversity in which no party dominates. And we all like a bit of colour in our politics, don’t we? It makes perfect sense to me.

The way it’s going with a scramble for second votes, I wouldn’t be surprised if some daft scenario like this does emerge, so complex and daunting are the convolutions from gaming the system.

From what I read of the Herald story, the major flaw is surely in the top line that Professor Curtice says ‘you should vote for a smaller independence party on the list’. The day Professor Curtice tells you who to vote for is the day he destroys his legendary professionalism. You’d have to ask him something like: John, I want all Labour’s policies implemented. Who should I vote for? to get anything like a Vote Labour instruction from him. Even then he’d hedge and suggest a Labour policy is better expressed by another party.

This is why the Herald story fails – no editor reading his reporter’s line that the Professor tells us how to vote should have let it go unchallenged. It isn’t credible. And it’s not true either. The Curtice line is that in some areas it is suggested that it might be worth considering not voting SNP on the list. That’s like saying: If you are a Labour voter who wants to keep the Union, you might consider giving your second vote to the Tories. Turning the Curtice quote to back up a partisan report in which the affiliations of the authors is kept hidden is Daily Mail journalism. Another Herald failure.

But looking beyond, isn’t the answer obvious? It is to vote for your party of choice and stop second guessing the system. If you’re a socialist, vote RISE. Do a Loki and give them both votes, if you have a candidate. Who encapsulates your political priorities? Greens? Vote for them. Don’t apologise. The truth is that nobody knows how many votes each party will get on the first ballot which determines how many seats they win and adjusts the calculations of the second votes. It is a blind gamble and if you get it wrong, you may help a different party. But that’s the serendipity of democracy. (It’s also why we need to look at changing the system. When people don’t know how it works or what to do, even in the best informed electorate, we’re in trouble).

So, if I’m allowed to, I’d like to instruct you how to vote – give the votes to which ever party suits you best. If you do, you don’t take any of the ‘blame’ when we look back at the consequences. However, if your vote went ‘the wrong way’ because you tried to predict other results, you are rather liable for criticism. Be true to yourself.

That’s what I’m doing and my view has changed recently. When the parliament opened, there was a rush of excitement and a second vote led to a colourful collection of parties and individuals that reflected Scotland at that time. I preferred there not to be a majority – consensus and compromise was a fairer reflection of public attitudes.

But I never thought that in such a short time we would be peering over the edge of independence and Holyrood would become the focus of a new public-led movement.

The referendum and the subsequent emptying out of Unionist Westminster MPs made me believe that there was no way Whitehall could avoid addressing the structures of governance – most likely with a constitutional convention for the UK – and a serious discussion of a federal outcome with the nations claiming the powers they felt were relevant to them. Instead we got English Votes in Parliament and the dismal, unambitious Smith proposals which were turned into a fiscal trap by the Tories with only toxic income tax as the main tool of increasing spending while they cut the budget. It beggars belief that Labour, the Lib Dems, Greens and RISE have all marched into the trap and heard the door slam behind them. Mundell must chortle. If only the Nats had fallen into line and left a clear run for Ruth…

We are now a changed nation. (The moaners who say another Scotland isn’t possible under the SNP completely miss the point that hundreds of thousands of Scots are already inspired, energised and engaged in unheard-of ways – and we’ve only got started)

The change is that we have rejected Liberals and Labour and their self-serving collaboration. We have realised, the majority, that if we want real change only one party can deliver that. We know we were lied to and conspired against and that London government will never treat us as anything but an irritant and only then when we cause trouble. I have a respect for Greens and for RISE but I ask myself this question: Who do London fear – more Greens, possibly a single RISE MSP (long shot) or a continuing SNP majority? What scares the pants off Westminster where there is already a huge SNP block – Patrick Harvie and half a dozen Greens at Holyrood or Nicola Sturgeon commanding a Nationalist government with a majority?

It’s a no-brainer. How the Tories – and Labour – would love the SNP vote to go down. Do you think they’d welcome RISE and the Greens as an ‘interesting reflection of democratic choice’ or would they rub their hands in glee at the diminution of SNP power?

Because power is the relevant word. That’s what Scotland needs. Sure we still need debate and challenge but even RISE concede that independence is the only game in town. The British state will never deliver what Scots want, let alone socialist voters.

I was scoffed at recently by those who use phrases like: What’s the point of independence if nothing changes? How blind can you be? It is only independence that produces the platform from which any meaningful change can occur. If Westminster was minded to allow real change, would they have ceded only income tax and welfare powers? Was it RISE or the SNP that had the entire British Establishment wetting its pants only 18 months ago? Was it the Greens who sent a shiver of fear through the EU and made its president lie? Or was it Colin Fox who made NATO issue threats about defence? When the American President broke with protocol and stepped into the debate, was he worried about RISE or terrified at the prospect of SNP success in the referendum?

Self government allows us to run the country anyway we want. That means there could be a Left coalition in government if the people vote for it with nothing to stop policy implementation. Or it could mean Davidson in alliance with UKIP. The point is that it will be up to the Scots to decide that. Those who ask What’s the point? are really saying: I’ll support independence so long as I get my policies implemented afterwards. That’s not how democracy works. If that’s the Left view then they’ve misunderstood what we’re fighting for. My belief in independence isn’t qualified. I want the power so it can be delivered into the hands of the Scots to determine what kind of country they want. But it happens after independence. Without the power we are playthings of the Mundells and Cameron and electing a clutch of small party MSPs won’t change that one jot.

So if your objective is to make devolution more attractive and more fun, give your second (of your first) vote to smaller groupings who’ll make Holyrood appear more consensual. I used to agree with that. But if it’s power you’re after to cast off British control and imagine a renewed nation, you invest in the one party that can achieve that – without qualification and caveat. (I could almost get Professor Curtice to agree…)

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