IMHO

Everybody else is chipping in with their I-Know-Where-the-SNP-Went-Wrong opinions. So here’s mine. (Isn’t it amazing to discover how many experts there are out there AFTER the event.)

It was, we are told, wrong, wrong, wrong to offer a referendum on Scotland after the Brexit deal. Really? I don’t remember anyone but the Tories picking that up – presumably from focus groups. Then of course we hear it’s all the fault of Sturgeon having her husband as party chief – a job he held when they got together as far as I know – and which made not a jot of difference in all the preceding election victories.

Like all mass operations, election results are a volcano spewing out clouds of barely discernible material that can only be identified once cooled and hardened over time.

You can certainly argue the referendum issue was key but what is truly indisputable is that this was an anti-SNP spasm. Note: It was not an SNP Loss. That is fake news and a five-year-old can see it’s numerical nonsense. But there is a distinction to be made between losing an election and losing momentum. Momentum is as important as winning/losing in politics. But not in government – hence we see both SNP and Conservatives winning numerically and forming governments (at time of writing) but still losing momentum. It is the oil in the political engine. Without it, the turbines slow and the motor seizes.

For myself I go back to what I was feeling and thinking during the election rather than being smart after the event – a speciality of mainstream writers who fasten on to the zeitgeist in the blink of an eye and please don’t remember what they wrote a month ago.

I became concerned and confused by the SNP election strategy because it was hard to discern what it was. I couldn’t write that it was wrong because there was nothing palpably off-key. But there was nothing to enthuse either. It was a content-free zone relying on the same mantra as two years ago at the last election – a Stronger Voice for Scotland. Did, I wondered, the SNP have its own secret polling indicating that this would work? As a supporter I’m reluctant to raise serous doubts mid-election, not because a Bateman Blog will change public opinion! Rather because it feels like undermining the effort.

I convinced myself that the opinion polls privately confirmed that the anti-referendum feeling wasn’t running strongly enough to make a difference except in a handful of seats and all that was needed was stoicism. Further, a late Corbyn swing was most likely to damage those Tory votes moving against the SNP. I was wrong.

I’m astonished to find the party had little idea it was heading for a crash landing until it was too late. Yet the movement of voters across the North East and the Borders was, it turned out, on a scale that should have set off klaxons much sooner. Was canvassing good enough? Was it accurate? Were the findings relayed to HQ? And were the decision-makers at the centre good enough at their job?

I don’t doubt for a moment that the real problem here was simply timing – the election came too soon instead of playing out over Brexit when there is a greater chance that the grim implications of life outside the EU will compel a demand for a vote to leave the UK, at least to test the idea and give a choice between UK and EU.

May’s hubris knocked out the timing, rather like Iain Gray losing the 2011 election so badly he gave a majority to the SNP and hastened the referendum to a time that proved too early.

In the aftermath of that referendum I was interviewed by Phantom Power and was forthright that Yessers had to accept the outcome and live with it. This prompted an outspoken response accusing me of giving up on independence etc. I will never do that but I am also a democrat and if the Scots vote against me, I’m duty bound to accept it. Like (my very good friend) JK Rowling, I believed the establishment would get such a shock from the closeness of the vote and, subsequently from the amazing 2015 election result, that something akin to federalism had to be the answer. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Not only did we get but crumbs from the table in terms of powers but they devised a fiscal trap by giving income tax rates but not no other balancing taxation levers. They built-in a fiscal time bomb to make us fail. The cynicism of that in the circumstances is shocking and displays contempt both for democracy and the Scots. (Which is one reason I say Mundell is nothing but a Westminster agent rather than a Scottish champion).

The mistake of some was to appear to ignore the result of 2014 and continue as if it never happened. I agree you don’t give up on your principles and objectives after a setback but you have to find the grace and guile to change the language and point of attack. The SNP leadership seemed to get this until the breathtaking gaffe of Cameron in asking Brits to endorse immigration (effectively) in an EU referendum. It doesn’t matter that a second indyref was party policy in the event of a British No and a Scottish Yes, the mistake lay in assuming the wider country would agree to go through another vote because, if you like, the SNP said so. They seemed to be blind to the significant numbers of Yessers who were still anti-EU. When it comes to it, I imagine many of them would vote for independence for Scotland with the EU over staying in the Union outwith the EU but we are steps away from that position and it’s not a answer they want to give right now.

So what could they have done? Well, not pounced on the EU outcome like an osprey on trout. The trick is always to take opinion with you. As I’ve argued before, one of the prime talents of the SNP, certainly under Salmond, was to stay in step by talking up a subject and waiting for the public to catch up once they’d contemplate it. There were over the years many voices urging ‘radical’ solutions – just as there are now, but the leadership understood the nationalist heartlands. Having spent the last 30 years in the north east, Salmond had a firm understanding of more conservative, non-radical voters and what they would tolerate. Regular readers will remember I’ve often written about this phenomenon that too many inside the Central Beltway have never experienced – the cautious traditionalists who could be wooed by a well-run Scottish government if Westminster had lost its appeal but who would unlock the gun safe if they heard danger in the form of a radical idea approaching. Salmond, Robertson and Whiteford all managed this conundrum with craft and Salmond remains a figure of gravity across all sectors in the north east. I’m far from convinced Sturgeon, or any of her immediate cohort have the gifts required to reflect that ability.

The question is: Did she consult wily old Alex before coming out for the referendum so forcibly? I have no doubt he agrees that this is an opportunity not to be missed but would he have urged caution? Why not remind people it has always been an SNP plan then resist the temptation to push it, waiting instead for public opinion to come into line, or otherwise? Political opportunism does not attract the public – one key reason May failed in Westminster and why so many people were thrilled for Corbyn. She was exploiting the numbers and assuming they would back her, taking for granted their votes. Sturgeon looked to do the same. She was saying: Look! My prediction comes true so I’ll threaten a second vote and you’ll back me. She took them for granted.

We’re all a bit weary of voting and maybe Nicola is too. I’m afraid you can’t just stomp the country waving without a new message. If your opponent has a simple, one strand message, you need a riposte. She had none. So that looked complacent. But where were the rest of the talent pool? We saw Angus Robertson but where were the wide range of SNP characters to display the breadth of coverage the party represents in local, Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels arenas? I know they were fighting their seats but I didn’t see Eilidh Whiteford appear, or financial and economic experts Ian Blackford, Geoge Kerevan or Roger Mullin. Did Tommy Sheppard get an outing?

Even her own Holyrood team lack presence. Do you know what brief Angela Constance holds? When did you last see Shona Robison? One the best of the crop is Jeanne Freeman, again not exactly being muscled to the front of the studio queue.

I wrote recently about the dire state of SNP communications, once the flashing glitter ball hypnotising the whole media. It has stopped spinning and somebody’s switched off the lights as a long run of initiatives has spun out of control, perhaps the worst being Named Person laws which burst in the tabloids with virtually no public awareness of its existence or its intentions. It was immediately demonised and all the hard work was needed to extricate it from the lies. Good PR avoids that.

So you see, it may be that the election was the culmination of many issues which were triggered by indyref2.

But I struggle to agree that the thing to do is panic and run in the opposite direction shouting No referendum! That’s what Labour does. You don’t like this policy, I have others. I’m against Corbyn, except for this week when I support him. I will support a referendum until I decide I won’t.

The tactical mistake has been made, let’s not compound it. For a start, taking it off the table will alienate nationalists, rightly or wrongly. It would be a grievous error to compound the problem by disappointing core support. It won’t stop Davidson, as James Kelly points out, who’ll still complain there’s a secret plan for a referendum. It’s party policy, Holyrood voted for it and it’s twice been endorsed in elections, including this one.

You don’t dance to someone else’s tune and call yourself a leader. We don’t need another Kezia.

However, the mood is against, clearly. The chances of winning look remote. Right now. But isn’t that what we said of Corbyn? Of Brexit? Again the timing is key. We haven’t started the Brexit talks yet. Maybe the tone will change and the objectives soften to allow a customs union or market membership. But I doubt it. May’s new friends are hardliners against Europe and even Labour says we must come out of the Single Market – a grievous error when it could be corrected in the aftermath of the election.

The whole point of the referendum was not to hold a vote now but to await the Brexit deal and give Scots the choice. That isn’t scary, it’s logical and if the London government handles the talks as well as it’s handled the last two years, it could result in a mess even doubtful Scots want to escape.

It is perverse to deny yourself an option when you don’t know the deal. For the SNP it would be farcical to deny its own policy and remove the means to achieving it because of a setback. The first question that would be asked is: What are you for? If you deny Scots the chance to decide their own future over as crucial an issue as the EU, what’s the point of you? As countless voices in England are saying, this is a matter of national interest. Our economic wellbeing, if not the security of the nation, is in doubt. Only anti-European zealots claim there will be an improvement in our condition. Indeed they spend their time devising ways in which we can achieve what we have now by other means.

Scotland has suffered enough from the Union – are we now to follow meekly into reduced circumstances, adrift from our European heritage, locked into decline despite our clear EU vote, removed by a hard right failed government whose strings are pulled by Orange bigots?

What message does it send to those we look to in Brussels for rescue that we distance ourselves from the only means of rejoining the EU? They will wash their hands of us as a distinctive entity opposed to England’s perfidy and seeking to build a bridge to Brussels.

(I laughed at the characterisation of anyone saying this kind of thing as hardliners. I suppose if you drop a plan that is policy, approved by parliament, endorsed in two elections and which is a logical democratic response to an impending national emergency, that you are by comparison weak and ready to run at the first sign of trouble. Therefore everyone else is, by that standard, hardline.)

And yet…there is a right enough problem here. Along with internal improvements in management and organisation there will have to found a way of not scaring the horses. Nicola will be obliged to ‘listen to the people’ and shelve the referendum one way or another…because, as they say, that is politics. At times like this national interest shrinks in the glare of party interest and they smile tightly in the face of headlines saying they’re on the run from Ruthie.

That’s how it will be, no doubt.

We need to face a reality, I think. There is a sizeable constituency of Scots who are as politically promiscuous as they are conservative. The drop in SNP voters turning out is a sign of apathy generated by the campaign but the jump in numbers for Unionism shows how readily people can switch between apparently opposing parties when it suits them. It’s worth pondering that those celebrating Tories will still enjoy the fruits of SNP Scotland like free tuition, prescriptions and school buildings while deserting them for a party which would demolish them. They can console themselves that this was a vote against a referendum but it was also a vote FOR removing child benefits from mothers who were raped, unless they can prove it to a civil servant, a vote for punishing the disabled by literally making cripples crawl, consigning a million more children to a life in poverty, keeping the NHS in demoralising crisis, maintaining the lowest wage growth in Europe and demonising essential immigrants. And nuclear weapons or course, and an underfunded defence. And fox hunting. Ironically, they also back a governments that has overseen the shrinkage of the oil sector. And, of course, getting into bed with those other Unionists, the DUP. I hope they enjoy it.

Because some of us think this may be a time to watch events unfold including the exposure of talentless new MPs selected from what has become a severely restricted gene pool. It’s hard not to shake your head at Scots so afraid of their own future they vote for a hard right government just as England turns against them, in an unnecessary election caused by the grave misjudgement of the previous Tory incumbent. No matter how much humiliation and failure the Tories accrue, you can rely on some Scots to stand up and applaud them. What would these people be like as helpers in a newly independent country…worrying thought, eh?

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75 thoughts on “IMHO

  1. Bugger (the Panda)

    Derek, here is my tuppence worth.

    Caveat coming up. I am not resident in the UK so am dependent on social media and such access I can wangle to UKtv and printed press.

    The SNP were fighting a multiple and organised coordinated onslaught from the entire MSM

    The SNP have long accepted that and rely on foot soldiers to balance it off, maybe with the aid on social media. After all, it nearly worked in Indyref 2014 and did (?) in subsequent Holyrood and Westminster GEs

    The SNP wound down their unexpected cost in money and effort and maybe they could have taken their eye off the ball after the last two elections’ good results?

    The SNP, in my eyes let the MSM and the 3 unionist parties define the agenda which IndyRef2 and very specific guerrilla type campaign of targeting specific targets; that of influential MPs whose integrity would rubbished locally by way of all out personal onslaughts. Somebody funded the public element of that?

    Nicola seemed to accept that her public appearances would be turned onto her performance in devolved matters and not UK ones. Not only that but she seemed to apologise for inaccurate accusations on underperforming policies.

    It was a very underhanded nasty campaign all round and I bemoan the lack of integrity shown by the unionist press, bbc and unionist party leaders.

    The answer?

    • We were too nice. Trying to defend policies which were nothing to do with Westminster election was soul-destroying to watch. People gave up, and if they didn’t they certainly weren’t inspired by our campaign.

      At the last referendum, our message was overwhelmed. You’d think that would have been noted and planned for. RD had one message and collusion of all unionist parties didn’t seem to be expected!

      Scots need to be shown how good our gov is and what is reserved and what is devolved too, as that is still confusing for most folk(even those with political knowledge).

      More importantly we need a powerful vision of an Independent country. At least it gives us a benchmark to argue with…

      • Bugger (the Panda)

        yes, we need to be more compartmented in our marketing and I believe, remember I am in Europe, that the enthusiasm of the dedicated activists and foot soldiers had waned

        • I am so agreeing with you here…

          It is hard to fight a ‘snap’ election when the establishment clearly is against you. I still remember the words of Theresa May, proposing to ‘take out’ the terrorists and the extremist… after the election the BBC introduced Douglas Ross as the newly elected MP for Moray ‘who has taken out Angus Robertson’… the seed is planted, and some elements of the media collude on this. They were already giving signs that Moray was up for grabs and promoted this idea at every news bulletin…

          However, I also agree we need to be better at setting the agenda, rather than reacting to it. The party seems to have lost a bit of that energy… Kevin Pringle left as comms manager, not sure who is in post currently. Angus was (I believe) the campaign manager for the 2015GE, who was the campaign manager for this one?

          I am not willing to point the finger of blame, nonetheless, there needs to be an evaluation/examination of the strategy, outcome and agree actions to be taken as a result. I want to have a better understanding of what the SNP has done for Scotland at every level of government. A comms manager should be providing press releases via social media about the many successes and we have had and the hard work, commitment they put in the and results achieved. In addition, I believe is time to foster better contacts with the MSM… why are they always miss representing? and – importantly, we need to be ready to counter act their arguments.

          Alex Salmond posted yesterday the eulogy he read on the service to his father, the late Robert Fyfe Findlay Salmond and I recommend you read it here http://www.alexsalmond.scot/press-releases/2017/6/15/robert-fyfe-findlay-salmond. In it, he described some of his father’s traits and one particular sentence stuck me:

          ‘once he had committed – he stayed committed’…. I am still committed to independence and I will work with the party that continues – despite this reverse – to give us that fighting chance.

    • I’m not glad that Scotland has 13 tory mps but maybe they are necessary. Necessary to show the public just what the Tories stand for. That has been too remote a reality for Scots of late, cocooned as we are from the worst of Tory policies by the SNP.

      AS of now, when the 13 Tory MPs start walking through lobbies to cut welfare, give tax breaks to millionaires and all the other woes which are shortly going to benight this coutnry, Ruth Davidson can no longer wash her hands of Tory hurts by saying ‘its nothing to do with me & I don’t agree with this but you know..Hey ho.. Look there! I’m sitting on a tank! Look here! I’m sitting on a coo!” and the BBC simply let her off the hook. She can’t do that anymore and neither can they. Toryism just got personal in Scotland and there is now nowhere for them to hide.

      • Bugger (the Panda)

        Bibbit, the problem is that the BBC and Press will not tell the people about this.

        The real solution is based within the rediffusion of the truth or at least a balanced Press and Air Waves.

        Not hopeful.

        We run the social media but many voters don’t do the internet and are happy swallow what they are fed/

        • Absolutely correct. I have a S.N.P voting Yes relative, who is still insisting that immigration is the root of our problem, and not various Westminster Governments, who along with their pals, the financiers and bankers, got us into this mess.

    • Alasdair Macdonald

      Mr Jim Sillars expressed scepticism about the referendum policy, well before the election. However, although he has bellowed, ‘Ah tellt yese!’, he has been constructive on Common Space.

      I am not an SNP member, but, I am committed to independence, and I see the present developments as both worrying and having the potential for change.

      I am worried because, I think that the shuffling around of seats has, perhaps for several years, removed the possibility of an agreement by Westminster for a Sewell motion to permit a referendum. Also, by the next Holyrood Election the SNP/Green majority might be lost, particularly with the demonstrable effectiveness of unionist tactical voting in historic Tory and Lib Dem areas. They will, almost certainly ‘game’ the next Holyrood elections to prevent a majority, and prevention is all they need. This is all pretty galling because, it is possible that there is, indeed, a majority for YES taking things across the spectrum from Michael Fry, via Simon Pia to the various pretty solid independence supporters. …. optimism of the will!!!!

      There is no doubt that the present political situation is very unstable. The Tories are wracked with conflict, but as ever they grasp the fact that power is essential and put out the emollient statements via the compliant media. Nevertheless, cracks papered over are still cracks and the DUP link could force a wedge into these cracks. The Brexit negotiations are upon us and these will, our undoubtedly open tensions in the Tories and in Labour. Mr Corbyn might well have changed the hegemony. He certainly enthused sufficient young people to vote and they showed shrewdness in tactical voting. Labour and the LibDems have been shouting about federal solutions for some time now. Some of their supporters, particularly the many recent join-ers to the Labour Party, might begin to want more devolved powers to various parts of England and a coherent scheme for the entire UK. I am not sure John McDonnell, whom, I think has tribalist tendencies, would support it, nor some within Labour in Scotland. However, Labour in Wales is beginning to find a ‘voice for Wales’. And, of course, we have Northern Ireland. Every seat along the border with Eire is a Sinn Fein seat. The demographics in NI, have changed as the recent Assembly elections have shown, where there is no longer a unionist majority. The Westminster majority for the DUP is partly the result of gerrymandering.

      So, I think there is much to play for, and, in the coming days and months we need nimble and adroit politicians, like, Alex Salmond, who can ‘seize the time’.

      For the intermediate term, the SNP has to take stock and the wider independence movement needs to sharpen he message and answer the questions that stopped us short in 2014.

  2. Yep, it’s time to dig out the popcorn and watch things unfold. Let the Westminster establishment be seen for the shambles that it is; let Boris become PM and watch the Scots tory voters recoil in horror at what they have unwittingly unleashed upon us all. They thought May was strong and stable. How foolish. They’re now facing potential representation by a Trump clone. Or should that be clown?

    In the background we assemble the best talent to put the case for an independent Scotland. As I’ve said elsewhere, there’s only so much weight that actors such as Connery and Cumming carry. They are not bankers or economists. We need some heavy hitters to counteract the senior tory/labour stalwarts who warn us of the dangers of independence from under their ermine wrappers.

  3. An excellent analysis. Along with several others (e.g. James Kelly) you have identified many of the shortcomings which resulted in the landslide of 2017 (see J Kelly again), having gone from 6 to 56 (a freak) to 35. But the reaction to the disappointment of losing a number of seats and some big names seems too often to accept the Unionist spin on the result.

    And that was true of the campaign itself, letting the Unionists and media set the agenda, debating on their (and the BBC’s) terms of devolved matters instead of taking ownership and debating on the SNP’s achievements, manifesto and the huge number of issues where the opposition were vulnerable such as rape clause, dementia and bedroom tax etc.

    Why didn’t they spell out what you have, i.e. voting Tory is to vote for dismantling the many advantages the SG have given us, such as free prescriptions, free education with more attacks on the social state still to come. Perhaps they need a new strategist, a press officer of some experience and some training for those going in front of the media. Has your phone rung yet?

    If the SNP do put the referendum on the back burner, rather than committing to the principle of having the option once Brexit settlement is known then they will lose a lot of supporters, and more importantly, a lot of activists who put in the hard hours meeting the voters.

  4. I believe the latest Indy poll shows support is unchanged at around 45%. I think what we witnessed was left-leaning Indy supporters backing Corbyn, despite evident risk of allowing Tories to sneak in. And staunch unionist WATP types moving from Labour to Tories.

    Question is, can we continue to rely on those who moved to Labour to still back Indy? Especially when Labour failed to win yet again, this time against the worst Tory campaign for decades, if not ever – a campaign that would’ve sunk any other party in almost any other country, except for the UK (such is the power of the media). Ironically abetted by Labour in Scotland telling voters to back Tories in some seats.

    What shouldn’t be done is shelving the next indyref, but instead emphasis has to be on the vote taking place once we know the conditions of Brexit (I don’t think that’s still clear to the whole population). And a more effective comms team that can try to counteract the staunchly biased MSM.

  5. I will only speak about the Borders where you say the movement of voters should have set alarm bells ringing. The LibDems fielded a paper candidate in order that it became a straight fight between Lamont the Tory & Calum Kerr (who might well be a Tory in an Independent Scotland!). It must have been evident to the SNP very early on that the Lib vote had completely disappeared of the face of the earth (Steele & Moore were either complicit or should hang their heads in shame) & it was a straight Tory v SNP contest. In the end, the SNP vote held up well and only dropped by 3% but Lamont romped it with the Lib votes (sadly). In Salmond’s constituency it looked like a similar LibDem disappearing act had been organised – what 2 seats did the Tories not contest seriously in return for the favours?
    The electorate down here suffer Border TV and so rely (lol) on the BBC for politics. The number who voted on devolved issue reasons was quite astonishing- that is where the SNP failed to get the message across as many voters down here are idiots who have no idea what is devolved and have no idea how bad the Tories are. They weren’t sufficiently informed but fell for the beat the SNP at all costs game. The vote wasn’t anti-Indyref2 but anti-SNP. Why? Because despite all evidence to the contrary, they were persuaded that the NHS and education were on their knees thanks to the SNP. Persuaded by the media. That is where the fight needs to be taken to.

  6. I enjoyed listening to Barry Gardner of labour call out the media bias on a few occasions. It was a breath of fresh air and they didn’t like it.
    The gloves need to come off.
    We should outwardly call out the media bias and I hope SNP MPs/MSPs do this in future.

    For me the snp has no choice but to honour it’s manifesto in the event of brexit and loss of the single market.

    Country before party.

  7. Thoughtful piece Derek.

    I think we need a good response pretty soon form the Leadership – that the SNP is for Independence in Europe and we will have our referendum.

    Nicola should also make changes in her team – I agree with K.Mack. that her husband should be moved aside to let someone in who is fresh and wants to create momentum. He always struck me as someone who was happier on facebook than developing compelling strategy.

    The world has changed and so must the SNP – Ruth Davidson is more effective than Nicola on TV by quite some distance. Nicola needs to find an ‘attack dog’ to go for Davidson when she starts lying – she is very thin skinned and would crack under close cross questioning.

    The SNP also need more effective communicators. Swinney, for example should never be allowed in front of a TV screen he is boring and lacks any charisma. We need passion as well as policy – even for Westminster elections.

    I am incredulous the SNP were so timid and subservient to the hostile media – no counter punches, no dismissal of spurious tosh ….

    • I am incredulous the SNP were so timid and subservient to the hostile media – no counter punches, no dismissal of spurious tosh ….

      You are not the only one. We have been in Christian fellowship mode for ages. They can basically say we are Nazis and nobody in the SNP seems to bat an eyelid.

  8. I would add to the above that Tommy sheppard is an extremely capable politician and should be at the forefront of the party.

    We also need to make it very clear that until a government controls the money supply it has one armed tied behind its back.

  9. Macbeda Blackstone

    I sometimes wonder if there is an enemy within. SNP seemed to be timid.
    Maybe they should stop the presidential approach to politics in Scotland and get their hard hitters backing and sometimes even fonting the SNP attack.
    Attack is what is needed. Defensive only works for so long then it gets boring.
    Address the issue of BBC Scotland. Either get them telt to be unbiased or you withdraw all political notifications from them OR ignore them completely and go independent with the new media, setting up an independent mix of TV and Radio.

  10. Firstly I agree with much of what was said in the article and in comments made by BtPanda. But if I may make a couple of small points. Firstly, People seem to have forgotten that the SNP manifesto launch was delayed and campaigning suspended because of Manchester. Then the delayed launch took place in the shadow of the London attack. That resulted in a quite significant loss of momentum at a crucial point in the process.

    Secondly the call for the election came right in the middle of the campaign for the local elections -18th April. The ‘No 2nd referendum’ was already up and running for the LC elections and then seagued seamlessly into the GE campaign. The SNP did not have the same message that could carry over in that way because they rightly, and honourably, treated the local elections as just that whereas the other parties did not. What local council can influence whether there is a 2nd indyref or not?

  11. I think there is a simpler explanation for a perceived lack of momentum. On the night before the 23rd May when the SNP had scheduled the launch of their manifesto, there was a bombing in Manchester which killed 22 people. the manifesto launch was cancelled for a week, quite rightly.
    But all the other parties had launched their manifesto to great public fanfare and indeed, in the case of Labour, a leaked manifesto a few days before. This ensured maximum publicity timed to fuel discussion in the run-up to the election.
    Another terrorist incident happened the day before Nicola Sturgeon and Tim Farron were scheduled to appear on Question Time. That too had to be rescheduled to two days before the election. Nicola Sturgeon appeared in several interviews and QT that evening.
    It is difficult to build momentum if you have to reschedule your major events. Everyone’s attention is diverted to what is happening elsewhere and the prncipal news bulletins are focused on the tragic terrorist events, the r3eaction of the security services and the statements of the PM.

    It was a dreadful election campaign for many reasons. But the terrorist attacks made it a truly awful experience.

  12. I am extremely pissed off at the SNP leadership after that election. Sturgeon in particular as been listless and far too passive for the last two years. No fight, no passion, no verve, no zip. We have lost all the momentum built up after 2014 and the general election of 2015. Kevin Pringle has never been replaced, and the fact that the SNP do not even have their own think tank is toy town politics and completely inept. Sturgeon and company need to get a grip on policy and stop being so controlling. Show some passion and fighting spirit. Too ducking moderate and happy clapping. SNP in 2017= Pansies.

  13. I think Sturgeon is far too cautious a person. Far too focussed on not scaring the horses to make the necessary moves and arguments. We are never going to get Norwegian levels of support for Indy, we just need to get over the line, once.

    if you don’t fancy governing a split country after Indy then step aside in favour of someone who does.

    Of course it won’t be easy and of course the Tories will position themselves as the ReUnion party but so what? History says that independence creates its own momentum.

    • Muscleguy, I sadly think you are right about Nicola Sturgeon. She is far too cautious, small (c)onservative, decent enough person, but does she have the fight anymore or even vision? We need to shake things up and be imaginative, not reduce politics in Scotland to a endlessly boring chess game. Technocracy and competence only gets you so far. It does not inspire, or capture the imagination.

  14. Time for action, not words. Time to stop playing by britnat establishment rules. Action? Surely there are some weel-kent SNP/Green politicians who have the guts to put their careers on the line by taking illegal but non-violent action to further our cause.

    How about some SNP/Green politicians proclaiming publicly that the bbc tax should be boycotted and guaranteeing the Scottish government would never allow members of the public who follow suit to be prosecuted for non-payment in the Scottish courts?

    How about next time there’s a delivery convoy to Faslane one or two SNP/Green politicians or weel-kent supporters follow Mr Brian Quail’s example by blocking the way of these WMD?

  15. Richard Smith

    It has to be said in Nicola’s defence that she’s been run off her feet of late, and was visibly exhausted in the days before the election.

    That being said, there’s inarguably a need for a strong, integrated and relentless media machine, and a clear, easily understood message for it to deliver.

    Separately, the indy rationale, philosophy, and practicalities need to be broadly understood and agreed across the movement. Otherwise, we’ll have folks pulling in all sorts of directions and fighting over trifles instead of focusing on achieving an independent Scotland.

  16. I think we might be on the brink of another mistake, but I hope I’m wrong.

    Yes, of course the referendum vote must wait to see the final Brexit deal, but only the voting part of the referendum surely. The actual campaign, (and I hope a very active and dynamic campaign), for Scotland to stay in Europe has to begin long before the Brexit pronouncements start falling upon us from the Heavens.

    The detail of Brexit is just that, the detail. The global principle of Brexit is surely damning enough without waiting for the small print to prompt our despair about exiting Europe.

    We have a population to first educate, then persuade, about the perils of Brexit, the benefits of sovereign control, and the dire consequences we face if we cannot combine the two before we exit Europe. Sadly, we have a mainstream media which actively seeks to disrupt and obstruct that process of enlightenment, and that is a massive problem we somehow need to overcome.

    The day long ScotRef ballot, held after Brexit is set out, should not auger the start of the fight, but should be the formality we sign at the end of it. The vote itself should merely be the ratification event at the end of a collective, educated decision made after months of progressive, constructive and enlightening referendum investigation, research and rigorous debate.

    The biggest challenge for all of us is not winning the argument, but getting the arguments heard at all. If we fail, then ScotRef will be as impotent, inconclusive, and wholly unsatisfactory as the 2014 Yes referendum, and settle absolutely nothing for another whole generation.

    Sorry to say it Derek, but I have my own crosshairs on the BBC, and I firmly believe Scotland’s greatest problem is its media. It leaves Nicola Sturgeon as a creative artist denied a canvas to paint on.

    • Certain sections of our media are barred from entering some High Profile football stadia because of their perceived bias against their hosts, No underhand stuff required just make it clear we won’t be answering loaded questions, How many of the “Plants” On BBC Question Time did damage but were know before hand,Yes to nice by half get the MSM and the BBC told no more! Remember Tory John Nott ” This interview is over” and off he went leaving the host baffled, Time they took the gloves off.

  17. Until you accept that it was your old pals at the bbc who decided the result of this election then there is no hope for you. Defend them all you like but they truly are the concentration camp guards who claim that they were just doing their job.

    Plantation quay needs to be destroyed. How, I care not. Starved of funds or burned to a crisp, either is fine.

  18. We need the YES movement again. It should push the benefit of independence. The scottish government of the day would set taxes, collect taxes and spend taxes for the benefit of the SCOTTISH PEOPLE. Not fight in illegal wars. Spend its defence budget on armaments for scottish needs,

  19. smiling vulture

    tartan tories decapitated alex salmond

  20. I think you have identified many of the problems Derek in your article. I do not think the SNP are as strong at Holyrood now as has been claimed at times in the past. There is Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf, and not many others at the present time. Some of the new intake are impressive but it will take them time to get acclimatised to the political scene here. There are those at the veteran stage, Russell, Cunningham, Swinney, but they are past their peak now.

    There does not appear to be a strong political strategy coming from the SNP leadership, very little vision, policy confusion and drift, and no real fight. It is almost as if we have gone back to 2002. Take away the 2015 general election campaign and result, I have been disappointed in Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership. She has become more and more distant from the party, does not appear to have much ideological conviction, and even seems to have lost willpower and fight, to the point of being toothless imo. I hope I am wrong.

  21. I want to sit back and observe the shenanigans but I fear the possibility of another GE campaign starting up before I have put the slippers on.

    • David, I just cannot see there not being another election this year. May is clearly on her way out and she just has far too many enemies in the Conservative Party now.

  22. I thought the message amorphous “A Stronger Scotland” – spin doctor shit IMO.

    Why not
    “Do you want to lose the NHS?”
    “Do you want to lose free subscriptions?”
    “Do you want to lose free bus travel for the old?”
    “Do you want to make the students pay Uni fees?”
    “Do you want Scotland to get screwed?”

    etc etc

  23. Even before the election was announced I had been saying that the SNP MPs and Holyrood MSPs should be working out a plan for Independence. I understood they were new to Westminster and had to learn the job, and were gaining experience in government arguments, committees etc but I still thought they would be putting together a plan.
    My thought was that they should be up here going round the country making the arguments. But they seemed like two separate parties neither talking to the country about the arguments. Though the MSPs did speak in Holyrood.

  24. Campaigns help to rebuild momentum.I agree wholeheartedly with Breeks.

    Another subject on which to campaign is health inequalities. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the research here are links to some of it.

    http://www.academia.edu/25201588/What_would_be_sufficient_to_reduce_health_inequalities_in_Scotland

    https://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~alexss/thatcherism.pdf

    http://www.academia.edu/6339372/What_or_who_causes_health_inequalities_Theories_evidence_and_implications

    If these researchers can be persuaded to make videos summing up the research a campaign might try to get them played across all social media.
    The cost to Scotland, individual, social, financial, can be repeated time and again.
    Doctors and nurses and their Trade Unions might be invited to participate- making videos of their experiences in dealing with the effects of health inequalities.
    Mainstream media should be attacked for its failure ever to mention that Scotland and Wales and N Ireland all lack the most effective means to tackle health inequalities. The means to most effectively redistribute wealth, power and income. All lack the necessary control of economic and welfare policies. This can be remedied by devolving those powers – the Union is not at risk.The aim would be to press hard enough via social media that the MSM eventually starts coverage.
    Brexit will inevitably lead to more poverty and consequently more health inequalities

  25. Robert Graham

    Well with friends like the ones above who needs f/in enemies , ok we have had some casualties, but for f/k sake get a grip, calling for our best asset to step down, has Ruth Davidson been posting on here ? . The only mistake I can point to was allowing the BBC to call the shots, they even admitted to it on Air during the first debate, their excuse was, there has been so many questions on this or that we had to allow them, Oh if the audience asked about football that was ok then .Give us a little bit of bloody respect that we have some brains , This first debate was a warning why oh why it wasn’t countered in all the others beats me ,
    As for calling for her head get a bloody grip, that would suit the Unionists , ok it wasn’t a great few weeks but we ain’t knocked out yet, 35 beats 24 get it .

    • Nobody has called for anyone to stand down. You have made that up out of thin air. But what are we supposed to do? Constantly be cheerleaders for ongoing policy drift and confusion, or any lack of a forward looking strategy? You steadfastly look the other way and ignore the warning signs and failings, others want to be more honest and open about the problems we are seeing. Myself included.

      • I made it up Out of thin air yer taking the piss aren’t you, really ,read your own posts & the muscle guys , a resounding vote of bleedn confidence they are aren’t they ? Anyway way to late to argue with a idiot, or are you Ruth Davidson in disguise ?

        • I am well aware of what I said in my posts. Where on earth do you get the idea that I am calling for sackings or resignations? I am clearly not doing that. What I am trying to do is give an honest critique of the flaws in the SNP. All governments/administrations who have been in office for a decade or more get complacent, and begin to think they will be there for a long time to come. But it ends sometime, and the SNP are no different to any other governing party in this respect.

  26. Derek, I,believe that you and most of the contributors to this page have the Knut of the argument, if not yet the solution. 1. The election campaign was anodyne and pretty aimless. 2. The party is crying out for bold and radical leadership. The political environment of the UK is apparently undergoing a leftwards paradigm shift.. This presents a ‘tide in the affairs of men’ and whether the party goes on to great fortune or leads on to great fortune or to endless misery will depend on the ability of the party leadership to chart a credible course in the coming weeks. They will axiomatically have to also listen to the membership, if they wish to retain mass membership that is.
    3. On many and varied forums and from different sections of the party ther have been lod calls for a high profile media rebuttal unit or some such. Yet, this has not been addressed: I imagine for fear of alienating prospective voters? This allowed the Unionist media to paint this election as an unofficial independence referendum or to frame the issues in terms of perceived SNP policy weaknesses on devolve issues. A fairly basic political error you should never let your enemy pick the battlefield.
    However, I do agree with you,Derek that most of these issues only,became obvious to many of us during the course of the campaign itself. In addition, it would be foolish to u derestimate the resources deployed by our political foes.

  27. I was out doing my activist bit during the campaign in Moray and it was so disheartening. No message to put across and no taking the fight to the Tories from the party. Just backs to the wall. And yet the Tories are always an open goal. Teresa May gave us a free pass herself when she labelled them the “Nasty Party”. We should have battered them relentlessly with that one, but no, we’ve got to maintain the moral high ground bullshit.

    I’m actually not that bothered by the Tories now; it’s a resurgent Labour I fear. I dread another election later this year and I think we could be swept away in much of the central belt. We haven’t motivated people to come out and vote for us so why would they if someone else is seemingly offering something better. As DB says, they have the momentum and that shapes perspective.

    I fear the SNP is making the same mistake that the old Labour party made, ie, assuming that if someone votes for you previously then their vote rightfully belongs to you. It doesn’t; the SNP has to earn peoples’ support and it needs to disabuse itself of any sense of that kind of entitlement.

    The leadership really do have to step up to the mark now. They should be given time to end the drift, but I wonder if they’ll get it.

  28. the referendum should still go ahead!! This was a westminster election which concentrates on the 2 main parties that can control ie labour n tories.

    I think as many others do that some snp from last elections were we recorded 56seats (almost an impossibility) drifted back towards labour because of corbyns manifesto (it was a good 1 after all),this does not mean that an independence vote will have seen a drop,we now also know how roughly how big the true-blue unionist vote is (thinking they all voted tory myself for ruth the muths manta).

    The snp didnt even come close to being knocked off the top in scotland even after all the campaigning from the unionist parties only being about being against another indy ref,the snp still walked it no problem

    So after all this we then also take into account the fact that 16/17yr olds never got their vote & also eu nationals too.

    The next independence referendum is gona be a breeze especially with all the hard work that is being done on the tough questions from last time ie currency, all this will come out very soon n i for 1 cannot wait

    SOAR ALBA

  29. The media and Ruth have been spinning the lie for months that there is no demand for indy ref 2. It’s a trap!

    The polls show that roughly 50% of people agree with indy ref 2 after Brexit is clear. That’s when the SNP asked for it to be held.

    When the last indy ref was called, support for independence was 28%. We had 6 mps and a smaller vote share at Holyrood. Right now the SNP have won 3 elections in the last year. We won the council elections, control Glasgow, have 35 mps and are the government at Holyrood.

    The polls show on average a 46% support for independence. That’s why the Yoons and the media don’t want indi ref 2. It’s nothing to do with demand in the polls. The last time I checked it was the ballot box that decided democracy.

    We can’t win any more elections, so what other mandate is necessary. Ruth turned the GE into an independence vote, which she lost heavily.

    Many or at least 10% of other voters who didn’t vote SNP still back independence. Dundale would do well to remember that.

    The support is as it was pre-election. Do not equate independence support as automatic support for the SNP.

    We are where we were, and Derek is correct. Walking off with tail between legs looks like defeat. Stick to what is right and take the flak, but bloody well fight back!

    We need to be hard nosed and not fall into line with the media fake news. The fact that they don’t even want a vote on independence tells you all you need to know. The verdict scares the crap out of them

    • Your last paragraph says it all Big Jock. Too many here believing the unionist fake news which has only one purpose, to divide us. While mistakes no doubt have been made, if we allow ourselves to be fooled by the M.S.M we will never achieve our independence.

  30. I think what you say about Alex Salmond being wiley is spot on. He fished, tickled. Sturgeon has an assertive style that puts people off and she doesn’t have the same listening ear, or technique, to first float an idea, listen for the response, then tweak the idea to the response and guide the fish gently into the net. Instead she over-analyses a situation then imposes her solutions. She may be totally right in her analysis, but you need to carry the people with you, sell your ideas and solutions, not tell them what needs to be done and expect them to like it. It’s interesting she’s scared of dogs but Davidson loves them, lets them lick her face. Maybe she’s less in tune with the animal mind.

  31. Because there was no campaign by any other party locally, and the response on the doorstep was promising, no one here picked up on any danger signs of us losing the constituency. Single and mass canvasses had to be cancelled several times due to the attacks, but what data there was pointed to a comfortable win in line with GE15. The campaign effort left nothing to be desired, the local activists were exhausted but soldiered on regardless.

    When the leaders that ordinary voters see on telly, however, get bogged down in arguing about the timing of another referendum or in proving the party’s competence in a wholly unrelated parliament without preparing properly or going on the attack, I think it turns them off.

    And why did I not once, not once, hear Nicola Sturgeon or any of the others say “Of course we are obsessed with independence and here is why”. Making the positive case for independence, refusing to get drawn into the stupid timing arguments. It seemed as if the SNP leadership were feart themselves, feart of reminding voters that for the SNP this is what it’s all about. I understand that voters up north don’t want independence and would be scared off, but there was a shift to Tory here in Fife! in Fife! Labour lost votes here, they only won this constituency because enough people went from SNP to Tory and our support simply wasn’t motivated to turn up.

  32. Mutley I would put my mortgage on another election by October. May is being allowed the time to start the EU negotiations. After the summer recess there will be a leadership campaign. I fancy Boris will get it. He will have even less of a mandate than May.

    So off to the electorate he will go. When people in the Tory party are calling May “Dead woman walking”. It means they are after her scalp. She has destroyed the party so why would anyone keep her.

    The SNP need to be ready to get these Labour voters back to the SNP before October. Corbyn looks like winning the next election. We need those 6 labour seats.

    The next election actually could be the end of indy ref 2. I hope the SNP are ready and the campaign starts now.

    • Big Jock, yes another election is definitely on its way. The SNP needs better policies, more energy, more vision, and a desire to go toe to toe with Davidson and company. They are starting to get bullied and it looks very bad from the outside. No retreat from independence either; Swinney, Marco Biagi and others have to become assertive, being seen to give up on your main goal will put us even more on the back foot than we are at present. Plus it will led to a walk out of members.

  33. Having listened to your podcast on Newsnet, Derek, I have to say that I was particularly worried by the last ten minutes or so. I thought there were some strong points made and much of what I picked up would suggest that communication is right at the centre of the problem. Surveys being commissioned- no feedback/ different sectors not communicating/ inability to break the message through the wall of the MSM/ no challenge on the downplaying of the domestic record/ inability to challenge the “now is not the time” mantra even though “now” had never been suggested/ inability to separate devolved issues from Westminster driven policy. And, as everyone is suggesting, the SNP looked tired and listless. So what to do? I rejoice that the SNP has at least one or two consummate communicators who may come back to Scotland. They need a new coms. team and I hope they can entice these gentlemen to bring their expertise to bare. In addition I believe the SNP need to challenge the constant references to Indyref2 made by the Unionists parties. They really need to​ get the message out there that there is no need to discuss it further until the relevant Brexit info is available. The democratic right to hold it has already been secured. They do not take it off the table. They need to focus on getting their massive communications issues sorted out.

  34. 56 seats in 2015 was a fluke. The unionists were caught napping and fighting each other. They (of all colours) have regrouped and co-ordinated; this is fair enough.

    This was an election in which the unionists tried to get the SNP to capitulate regarding a properly timed IndyRef. The ‘we don’t want another referendum’ line was hammered to induce fatigue and fear.

    If the SNP had given in and put IndyRef on the back burner it might have saved a few seats (I doubt if it would have been many) but would have harmed Scotland’s prospects.

    Would we rather have 45 SNP MPs with IndyRef ruled out?

    With hindsight it would have been better if the request for section 30 had been delayed but there was huge pressure from YES to get on with it; no one knew that a snap election was coming (although I wonder if the other unionists parties had a tip off).

    Despite not appeasing the unionists by abandoning the chance of another referendum, the SNP got a majority of seats.

    The campaign should have been less apologetic about Independence and there were times when it was bland. We do need to learn.

    The SNP have a huge task governing (avoiding deliberate traps) while forwarding Independence.

    The YES movement is bigger than SNP.

    We must be ready for the next contest but absolutely must NOT surrender the hope of IndyRef2 at the right time. The unionists want us to get tired and disheartened

    Brexit is being run like a ship trying to ram an iceberg. Now is not the time(!) to burn the IndyRef lifeboat.

  35. Prof Curtis has stated that only 75% of yes voters voted SNP. So there is your proof that the 37% wasn’t the indi vote. It was over 50%! So the lie is exposed that there is no demand.

    However these people need to realise that not voting SNP and voting for unionist parties is a monumental mistake. The media and Tories can use it as a weapon. A vote for Labour is a vote against independence.

  36. Bill McDermott

    I don’t want to add to the criticism of Nicola, because she is still a class act when it comes to debating Ruth & Co. However I agree that the campaign was lacklustre and insipid – judge by that terrible PPB which was full of atmospheric but carried no message.

    We do need a strong re-buttal unit as per Labour prior to the 1997 election. And we sorely need a think tank to set the agenda. The MSM thrive on new data and we don’t give them any. What has happened to Andrew Wilson’s economic forum’s output?

    Corbyn showed the way for us, even though half the ideas were pinched from the SNP. We need to enthuse people, particularly the youngsters.

  37. Thank you. A succinct and sensible summary.

  38. Great analysis Derek and much food for thought to go forward with.
    However, all day long, I’ve read one person after another on Facebook dissecting and giving their opinion and amateur analysis of the General Election result, playing the blame game and criticising every aspect of the SNP campaign.
    I really think the folk criticising the SNP need to take a long hard look in the mirror! They need to ask themselves how they actually contributed to the GE campaign: did they contribute to any fundraisers? Did they deliver any leaflets, did they spread the message and persuade friends, family and neighbours, did they campaign or sit at home behind the safety of a keyboard and pontificate on what the SNP should be doing? Did they knock on doors to get the vote out in the pissing rain on polling day? Did they sit at home thinking that an SNP win was a foregone conclusion based on 2015, and not bother to get their lazy arse out the door to vote?
    Easy to criticise, but the buck stops with us!!!
    WE are the SNP, we are the members, the supporters, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE, not just the elected representatives and candidates!
    In all likelihood there will be another GE happening very soon, so THINK ON!!!
    The SNP are only as strong as its support and membership, if we can’t be arsed, then it’s US to blame.
    When the GE was announced I emailed my branch membership asking for donations to the campaign fund, I pointed out that if every member only contributed £2 per head we would be able to raise over £2000, I even gave an example of how the money could be spent, £3 paid for 300 leaflets, but as usual, it was left to a handful of generous donors to contribute!
    People don’t seem to realise that it’s the branch who pays for their candidates campaign and not SNP headquarters, we rely on the generosity of supporters and members.
    The Tories have unlimited funds, and wealthy donors, they can throw money at a campaign, it’s not SNP headquarters who pay for the election materials, it’s down to us the members!!
    Similarly, it’s the members who prepare and deliver the election leaflets, in their spare time, where the Tories either post theirs or pay people to do it!
    If people really genuinely want to help the SNP win, then they’ve got to take personal responsibility and get their bloody finger out and HELP!!!
    One critic in the National was moaning about the lack of SNP leaflets in Perth where Pete Wishart almost lost his seat, he said he’d had 10 Tory leaflets and only 1 from SNP, perhaps if he’d got off his lazy keyboard thumping arse and HELPED DELIVER some himself, people would have had some more leaflets!
    As it was, Perth SNP had to draft in a team of helpers from Dundee to canvass support and deliver what they actually had! Where were all the SNP members in Perth leading up to the election?
    The buck stops with US!!!! If you want the SNP to win, then WE HAVE TO WORK FOR IT!!!! Get out and help!
    Next General election is surely round the corner, get the message out and HELP!!!!!
    Folk are blaming the voters, the media, the BBC, the candidates, Dugdale, Davidson, Nicola, Peter Murrell, everyone in fact, except themselves!
    It was non voters who let everyone down – the complacent folk who sat at home on their lazy backsides because they’re “not interested in politics” but moan like hell when anything affects them, the folk who stayed at home because it was pissing rain and they thought SNP had it on the bag because of the 2015 result, the folk who couldn’t be bothered because they’re lives are OK and they’d miss an episode of Corrie if they went out to vote!
    The folk who’s lives are ticking over quite nicely and don’t think about anyone other than themselves!
    The folk who moaned about not enough information or leaflets from the SNP and didn’t get out and about to HELP with the campaign!! These are the people who let us down, and some of them are the loudest most whinging voices on Facebook right at this moment, blaming the SNP – they need to take a long hard look in the mirror!!
    Responsibility lies with ALL OF US!!!!!

  39. Well said Heather!

  40. Well said Heather, I donate monthly to the SNP and thought they funded the local candidates, an eye opener that will be rectified next time.

  41. Personally, on the back of the 2014 result, I had reckoned on five to ten years of building consensus in the face of a long term Tory government and appalling austerity ideology. Patient persuasion and considered debate slowly building momentum to an eventual and natural conclusion.

    Pretty sure that’s what the current SG probably had in mind too. Who knew the world would go mad in the space of a year?

    When the first minister, the day after the Brexit vote, made her speech to calm the fears of Scotland’s electorate, I thought it was brave and principled and ethical. Her attempt to reassure new Scots, whatever their point of origin, that she would fight for their and all our democratic rights was and remains the principled thing to do. The right thing, regardless of inauspicious or inconvenient timing.

    That’s something we tend to forget in the middle of campaigns. Polling data, demographics, canvassing returns, targeting, strategising, triangulating, messaging and narrative… all very clinical. All very impersonal. All very deliberate.

    Sometimes though, events are forced upon you and what started as a long term gradualist strategy can be binned overnight in the light of what’s happening right in front of you. Sometimes you’re faced with having to practise politics as you believe you understand it or do the all too human thing and stand for what you believe to be right and knowing in the face of your experience and knowledge, it’s going to cost you.

    Doing the right thing can be an inconvenience when you’re working to a plan.

  42. Derek,

    Just to say thank you for your calm and holistic analysis. Your writing always helps me (and many other Yessers I know) see the wood for trees!

    Totally agree that for a party which seems to have such a wealth of capable and charismatic people in its upper echelons, we don’t seem to see a wide enough range of faces as often as we should. I hope that the numerically diminished group at Holyrood gives an opportunity for the likes of Tommy Sheppard, who I rate very highly.

    Personally I feel like the whole discussion has shifted onto process, no doubt largely due to the knowledge among Unionists that this turns people off (even some Yes sympathisers would admit they are not exactly looking forward to going through another referendum).

    This is why I feel like at EVERY opportunity there needs to be a focus on the destination – in other words, why would this issue be better dealt with in an independent country and, just as importantly, why is it worse under the tutelage of Westminster. Criticisms of management of devolved issues are fine but they need to be seen in the context of the hamstrung nature of Holyrood. When such issues are being discussed by SNP folk in the media, every answer should be prefixed or suffixed by one or all of the above points. If this doesn’t happen, the point/hope/vision of independence just becomes lost in a sea of bland managerial speak which does little to inspire.

    All the best and keep up the good work.

  43. My tuppence worth, which I might add is as valid as anyone elses.

    For me the SNP and the Scottish Government need to be harder. It’s so galling to see Davidson, Dugdale and Rennie et al mouthing off all sorts of invented tripe, deliberately misconstrued claptrap and outright lies without them getting pulled up for it.

    The same goes for the media. They set out to vilify Scotland at every turn and Hollyrood just lets them. If you won’t threaten the papers with legal action then at least go after the article writers and call them out on any mistruths. Wings Over Scotland manages it. As for the BBC the SNP should make a general statement refusing to deal with them until they can guarantee impartial reporting. Re-iterate this publicly on a regular basis. For those of you who are thinking “then we don’t get our say” open your eyes, we don’t get our say anyway.

    Same goes for our dealings with Westminster, we need a lot less of the cap in hand and a bit more of the mailed fist (not literally, but you get my drift). It appears to me Westminster gets to call the shots, not because they have a right too, but because they have assumed that right and we just do as we’re told like nice obedient children. These people eat nice, they see nice as a weakness. So we need to stop being nice. We should be dealing with them with purpose, and from at least a perceived position of strength. This may not be particularly radical thinking but it’s what we need to see from our political representatives.

    Theresa May makes much of “Strong and Stable”. That’s what I want to see from my Scottish Government. Since 2015 we have had a strong presence at Westminster, we had good people doing a difficult job albeit without any significant benefit for Scotland. This is primarily because our people got rolled over by the sheer weight of the opposition. During that period Westminsters Unionists gave us every chance to show some grit and a determination not to be rolled over but we did nothing. When Cameron made his EVEL speech following the NO vote we should have walked out thus creating a constitutional crisis, but we didn’t. We stood up and made speeches, some of them very powerful indeed, and we waved our bits of paper, then we sat down and let them roll over us again.

    With this election we made another major error, we let them make a General Election about independence and the Scottish Government and we did nothing to stop them. Guess what? Yep! They rolled over us yet again.

    A wee addendum. We may have lost 21 MPs, but at Westminster it makes no difference. 35 or 56 they’re still able to roll over us. Maybe we should stick to concentrating on Scotland, in Scotland.

  44. Derek – I agree with your analysis. But – one things bothers after reading an article in the Guardian which states that the EU (or someone within it – I forget the wording you can check) has actually been advising Theresa May of the negotiating stances of all the other EU states – since September in order that UKGov are prepared etc. Those smarter than I am will better be able to pick up the nuance of the article as to what this means – and how such a situation could make it both a reason for and a danger to the Scottish Government not having a seat at Brexit negotiations – but that the DUP might have that luxury.

    My worry is that the election results were very neatly to the advantage of the UK-wide promotion of a Ruth Davidson who seems to have been packaged and presented for the past year as being the natural ‘spokesperson’ for Scotland on all things – with this given the impression that there is some legitimacy in her doing so. The gleeful James Kelly on Sunday Politics Scotland seemed also to be copycatting the demand from the other Holyrood Westminster parties that their demand to Nicola Sturgeon is going to be passing legislation through Holyrood that there will not be another independence referendum.

    Does this mean that there can be a no confidence vote in the Scottish Government – or are we seeing merely a propaganda effort to convince the public that Nicola Sturgeon/ScotGov is incompetent – or do the above situations which make it appear the EU is closer with Theresa May than we thought and that Holyrood can force Nicola Sturgeon to pass no referendum legislation indicate we are on a stickier wicket than is clear to us?

    I’m bewildered at the moment.

  45. Gavin C Barrie

    Excellent Derek, excellent.

  46. Excellent points. I wonder too if the SNP were overconfident that the partly tribal left-wing vote that Labour enjoyed in Scotland for so long, even into the Blair years, had transfered to the SNP. It is strongly issue based now – with new issues on the table – and as you say you have to take people with you in your argument..

    To me at least the two strongest arguments for Scottish independence were always the fact we’ve voted in the majority to the left (and were not represented by Westminster) and that devolved, localised power serves Scotland’s interests best – so it follows that independence is the ideal. You’re right, we’ve been messed about by the Union for far too long, why vote for it? But then, why do people in England on a low income vote for Tories? That’s another debate.

    More recently the fact we’ve all seen where casino banking and aggressive foreign policy has got us, has made us (the broad left at least) see an opportunity for real change with independence.

    It seemed to me Corbyn was making noises about those recent issues more effectively than the SNP. I’ve no idea to what extent that last factor may have played into a drop in SNP votes, but I do know and agree with you that grass roots support is essential. The little I learned from my three-year stint as a manager in the NHS in England, under PFI insanity, was that unless you have the dominant leaders in such a system (bullies in other words) on your side, grass roots support is the only way forward – show the evidence for that – otherwise you’re on your own, or up shit creek without a paddle!

    No one can assume that leadership alone is the answer, it’s more that important issues and demands by the populace are strengthened by strong leadership. You make the point that Salmond knew how to introduce new ideas in a way that allowed people to take ownership of it – that’s sound management and leadership too. Nicola Sturgeon as a talented leader will be fully aware of those approaches. Yet there were so many, perhaps too many, factors at play – What a political soup to navigate! The upside is that tories appear to be in a serious mess.

  47. Yet just over two years ago, there were 6 SNP MPs in WM, then 56, and now, 35.
    In the interim, despite the Red Blue and Yellow Tories forming a Unionist Pact, Glasgow City Council was wrested from the 50 year old corrupt New Labour Administration.
    At last, the Education Attainment Gap, NHS bed blocking and Social Care for the elderly, equal pay and the dodgy Arms Length Jobs For The Boys Contracts will be dealt with.

    Independence is a long game played slow. We have time on our side.

    Over the next 6 to 9 months the Brexshit will hit the fan, and as I observed elsewhere, the Coalition of Terror, the Blue Tories and the DUP, will be tested, as it will only take one heart attack, one sex scandal, and an expenses fiddle, for their majority to crumble.

    Indyref 2 will evolve naturally from the mayhem, probably in October ’18, but must be before we are out of the EU as part of the UK No Deal.
    It is essential that 180,000 EU nationals working here are entitled to vote.

    The new batch of 16-17 year olds will be available also.

    Thirty five out of fifty nine MPs is quite a remarkable haul, SNP is still the Government at Holyrood, and an impressive LA haul of councillors ain’t bad for a party with the entire UK and Scottish Establishment turning their guns on them.

  48. WIN THE WAR NOT THE BATTLE
    If independence is the prize, what damage could be done fighting a campaign before the YES movement (and as a part the SNP) has all the ducks lined up regarding a message on practical issues, Currency, EU, Trade, Economy, Social security…
    This was the undoing of indyref and knowing repeating the same when Brexit is looming upon you would be devastating to independence.

    YES – CONTROL THE DEBATE
    1 – FACT ….The SNP won the majority of WM seats
    2 – FACT ….The SNP have the most seats in all levels of government
    3 – FACT ….The country (Scotland) has a right to ask the question. It is for the people to decide constitutional issues.

    YES and SNP need to be more accurate in their language. Too many are falling into the trap of framing the discussion in terms set by the unionists (MSM and unionist parties). The SNP won the majority of seats. With the regard to the campaign, there are many issues that could have put the SNP on a better footing to enhance their majority.

    PLAY TO WIN
    The status quo forces have learnt from the US election that campaigns can be controlled/staged/manipulated further than was previously thought.
    – Hiding the woeful candidate,
    – MSM to spin/construct the artifice
    – Starving alternate parties of oxygen,
    – Obscuring the WM debate with devolved and local issues.

    The fact that TM is even close to government is a sign of their success, given how bad TM is at campaigning, and the disasters that continued to be revealed.

    The issue for the SNP is they knew this would be the case and did not set up sufficient alternate strategies to set the agenda.

    1- The FM out front gave the MSM opportunity to focus on devolved matters and allowing the MSM to control how SNP were seen. SNP needs to let WM leaders do more of the heavy lifting. This can also clarify how the SNP fights for Scotland at different levels of government.

    2 – Setting a clear message for the campaign,
    The SNP should be proud of their Social Democratic achievements and should win a straight policy battle easily (notice the “straight” is the issue). It is this fighting for Scotland that by extension leads to the statement the SNP is a government that fights for Scotland and when there is a constitutional issue, the sovereign people are the ones who choose the direction for the country.

    3 – NAIL UNIONIST TO BREXIT
    Every referendum question WAS a question on Brexit and the constitutional future of 2 countries.

    It looked like the SNP were playing a dead bat to Referendum questions. This let the Unionists off the hook. In reality, unionist must answer the Brexit question…Brexit is the radical new policy they want to impose on Scotland….Meaning there is no status quo for Unionist to rely on.

    Hence, the way to address the Referendum issue that the Unionist forces wanted to play was to turn it back on them and have them answer how every issue they raise would be affected by Brexit (or which Brexit they are getting). AND once they provide an answer, question how they would guarantee that in the negotiations. They had to address how Brexit would make a better deal for Scotland.

    The critical flaw of a Unionist referendum campaign once pushed to justify their stance would be that each reason Brexiters cite for Scotland to remain (and jump of a cliff with rUK) are the ones to remain in Europe….Bigger, stronger, better together, shared history, security…

    REMEMBER ENGLAND LEFT SCOTLAND.
    At the crucial fork in the road, England chose to abandon the existing shared path of Europe to choose isolation. Brexit means the 2 countries now see their constitutional futures as different.

    Scotland is not leaving the UK, England left Scotland…and broke the UK. Scotland should now chose its best way forward.

    These are comments from a non-Scottish observer.

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