2007 - 2022

#SP16 Report: More election context from Cosgrove, Lindsay, Henshall, Katwala

fonzsharkjump-300x300What, there’s more? Are you kidding? More context on #SP16 than you could fit in a voice-operated elevator in Burnistoun. This time round, Stuart Cosgrove, Isobel Lindsay, Douglas Henshall, Sunder Katwala.


Stuart Cosgrove (@detroit67book), author and tv titan, on how the shark was jumped in #SP16

It was the election that jumped the shark, vaulted the bison and humped the pig. Never in the history of social democracy have so many demeaning photographs been taken in the pursuit of votes.

This is something more than a sideshow for much of the election it was the show. Every morning in gleeful conspiracy, party coordinators and freelance photographers met at pre-arranged places to try to conjure photographs that would either humanise or bring dynamism to our political culture.

Hard hats and high-vis jackets for jobs and industry; building blocks and splash paintings for nursery care and white coats for everything from bakeries to science centres. No cliché is too hackneyed for this demeaning and often counterproductive festival of naffness.

But still they insist on humiliating themselves and us. My heart goes out to the leaders of Scotland’s nanotechnology sector: politicians have yet to find a suitable fancy-dress costume to represent this exciting and futuristic industry.

Lord put us out of our misery – no more cowboy outfits, no more go-karting and no more sound bites as pigs fornicate in the background. Give them some privacy please.


Isobel Lindsay, sociologist, Scottish CND 

“If you want a quick way of predicting where the SNP will do well, look at the unemployment figures in the area.”  I’m quoting from memory the statistical expert covering the results for STV.  Add to that the recent analysis that current Labour voters are to the right of SNP voters.

The SNP has to nourish its base. Being over-cautious, it did not win over the prosperous anti-independence voters.  They felt they could return to a Tory party that had pursued a very separatist policy of distancing themselves from Cameron and Osborne and everything that was happening in England.

The result may turn out to be a good one. On a range of issues the SNP will have to improve their policy positions.

Every other party is against the APD tax reduction.  This should definitely mean an end to fracking. And there has to be serious planning for independence if they are to sustain the enthusiasm of activists.

There are many good new SNP and Green MSPs.  Let’s hope they will be genuinely involved in policy-making rather than just being told what the policies are.


Douglas Henshall (@djhenshall) is an actor

The SNP have won, but will form a minority government. Scotland has voted the Tories into second place and Labour into oblivion. The Greens did well but… Oh what’s the point, I can’t be bothered.

What’s going to happen to the arts in the next five years ? Anybody care ? Not one party had the arts or culture anywhere near the front of their manifesto. In fact it’s so far down the list of anyone’s priorities that John Swinney managed to cut £20m from the arts budget and no one batted an eye.

Which is the equivalent of one of your neighbours kids having a limb hacked off and your only reaction was “That’ll need a bandage”

‘Culture’ in Scotland, which apparently we’re all so proud of, is disappearing down the drain, faster than the NHS. Wake. UP.


Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) is director of the think-tank British Future 

Had it not been for the impossible majority at Holyrood in 2011 and the sheer scale of the Scottish political avalanche of 2015, this 2016 result would be seen as a remarkable SNP victory.

How rare it is anywhere Europe, in this age of ever greater electoral fragmentation, for parties to even glimpse the chance of an overall majority in a PR election, though securing an unprecedented “double” has slipped just beyond reach.

Yet Nicola Sturgeon clearly understands the limits of the SNP position too. After the surge to 50% in the Westminster 2015 vote, the 2016 result suggests an entrenchment around the core political cleavage of the Yes/No referendum vote

This is confirmed too by the impressive rise of Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives, rewarded for their greater confidence than the squeezed Scottish Labour party in offering a clear contrast on both the constitution and domestic politics.

The referendum cleavage is a barrier to Sturgeon’s goal of building stable, sustained support for independence from six out of ten Scots. So the SNP dilemma is that its core misssion of independence now looks unlikely to be advanced further while independence remains the central political question.

Sturgeon’s pragmatic instinct is to govern, to seek a domestic track record in improving Scottish education, and to embark on the heavy-lifting of creating a stronger economic foundation for an independent Scotland. This is a daunting task made more difficult by so much uncertainty in the European and international context.

In June, exhausted Scottish voters will take part in their fourth defining national vote in just a year and three quarters. A UK vote to Leave could well bring the next independence referendum forward.

Such unpredictable drama may indeed deliver an independent Scotland before 2020. Yet Sturgeon must be quietly hoping that she gets to play her longer game instead.

Comments (31)

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  1. Drew Campbell says:

    Continuing the shark theme, we all know sharks must keep moving forward or they die. The Yes movement may just have injected into Nicola and the SNP a new dynamic to propel them forward: the Scottish Greens snapping at their tail.

    Independence will not be won by one domineering party, not now and not ever. We won’t create a distinctive polity playing too safe either. We need some genuinely radical ideas – land reform, land value tax, local government restructuing – that make Scotland different, fairer and better.

    This might be the best possible result to build towards another referendum. I have a a vision for 2020…

  2. Mike says:


    The Green party has now managed single handedly to not only put the Independence movement back to 2007 they’ve done it by given the Tories this “New Dynamic” to be the Yoons from Hell.

    Make no mistake Cameron has been given a clear cut message that Tory policy can be implemented in Scotland for fun.

    There will be no Indyref 2 now not for a generation get that clear. The Greens singlehandedly took away any mandate from the SNP to hold one in the event of circumstances becoming favourable to a Yes vote.

    Jesus Christ almighty. What a day for Yoon Neo Conservatism.

  3. Mike says:

    Less than 500 votes between having a mandate to call Indyref 2 in the event of a constitutional game changer event and having to wait a generation.

    Well done the split the vote geniuses.

    1. Voline says:

      Do you have a source for this “500 votes” assertion?

      1. Mike says:

        Yes! The “Election result”! Jackie Bailey in Dunbartonshire and Ruth Davidson in Edinburgh. Not to mention the Lothian list results.

        2 seats short of an Indy ref mandate within the next Parliament because the SNP were short of less than 500 votes. Splitting the list vote ensured that the SNP are a minority Government with no mandate on the Constitution no matter what happens in the next 5 years.

        Face reality the Greens won for themselves at the cost of the overall Indy movement.

        The Indy lite party of the environment have used the Independence movement to feather their own nest but worse they did it in a manner which allowed a resurgence of Neo Conservatism in Scotland.

        That is something we will all pay for. The SNP are now forced to do deals with the 3 yoon parties as well as the Greens. What do you think that going to do to the SNP welfare plans?

        We can kiss Indyref 2 goodbye for a real generation now. The Yoons will be able to rally behind a single party in Scotland now. Not sure how that going to help the Scottish environment anymore than the social structure. Maybe you can enlighten us?

        1. Drew Campbell says:

          Acually, the SNP only need to deal with the Greens if they wish. You know, the other significant pro-indy party whose support you were glad of back in 2013-14.

          The SNP will never win an independence on its own. Rediscovering that need to work with others might be the best thing in the long run – the long run to independence.

          And it is independence that’s the goal, Mike, isn’t it? Or are you SNP first, Scotland second?

          1. Mike says:

            Spoken like a true Labour spin Doctor.

            No the SNP don’t have to do deals specifically and only with the Greens.

            Hells teeth where were you between 2007 and 2011? The SNP can do deals with any of the other parties because they only need 2 votes.

            So the Greens wont be able to hold the SNP to ransom on any issue.

            All that’s happened is that the Greens have put down a Pro Indy Government in favour of a pro Indy Minority administration who will have to compromise on every policy but not specifically with the Greens!

            And we can kiss Indyref 2 goodbye for the foreseeable future as well.


        2. Dougie Strang says:

          Wow Mike, does it occur to you that many of us who are instinctive green voters tactically lent our first vote to the SNP, but voted with our heart on the second. And, had some SNP voters used their 2nd vote tactically, we could have kept out a large number of Tory list candidates and had a much larger pro-indy majority in parliament.

          Drew’s comments are spot.

          1. Mike says:

            No Dougie it didn’t occur to me because that aint what happened.

            You cant play tactical with this voting system! Jesus Christ the Tories are the party of opposition because too many people tried to play tactical.

            Its a system specifically designed to prevent majority Government which part of that do you people fail to understand?

            We don’t have a pro Indy majority Government! We have a pro Indy minority Government! That means a Government forced to do deals not only with the greens but with everybody else as well.

            You’ve put the Indy movement in hock to a Yoon minority! There goes any real chance of welfare reform.

            You cant hold the SNP back on Taxation for example because they can do a deal with the Conservatives who don’t want more taxation either but they will have to give up something on welfare in exchange.

            That’s what happens when a minority Government is held to ransom!

            The Greens cant force the SNP to do anything other than make deals with the Yoons!

            Don’t you get that?


  4. Redgauntlet says:

    Still out canvassing I see Mike? Still chapping on doors?

    Did you read the SNP manifesto? Where does it mention a second referendum in this parliament?

    The “material change in circumstances” which the SNP spin doctors have come up with is just an expression which allows them to keep the door open on indie ref 2.0 indefinitely. The SNP will never call a second referendum unless they are absolutely sure of winning it. And Brexit, in the event, probably wouldn’t be enough to swing most Scottish voters is my bet.

    But if Brexit occurs, and the polls suggest a big swing to YES, could the SNP government not just resign and call another election on the specific commitment to indie ref 2? Does any Scottish government have the power to resign and force another Scottish election? Anybody know?

    If so, dinnay fash, that is what the SNP will do. If they have to wait until 2021, then they will turn the next parliament into one long referendum campaign…

    I think it is good that the Greens are in the picture. They will keep things fresh…

    Well said by Douglas Henshall about the complete zero absence of culture in the debate… though it has its upside Douglas. Can you imagine oor Kezia and Ruth talking about culture? It’s painful enough listening to them about politics, mon….

    1. Mike says:

      Your attitude is dependent on your priorities. If your priority is Independence then this is not a good result for Scotland. There is now absolutely no mandate for and Indyref within the next 5 years no matter what happens. If your priority is the environment then I fail to see how having an SNP minority at the ransom of every other party in the Parliament is going to help our environment.
      If your priority is to get specific characters and personalities into Parliament then your on to a winner.

      Adam Tomkins, Jackie Bailey and Ruth Davidson all thank you for your efforts.

      Now theres a whos who of Scottish culture.

      1. Drew Campbell says:

        “… an SNP minority at the ransom to every other party in Parliament…”

        Sheesh – what drama queen!

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Just a tad, Drew…

          …on a more serious note: does anybody know if it is in the remit of a Scottish government to unilaterally resign and thereby force another election?

          Or is the government, under the Scotland Act of 1998, obliged to fulfil its full term?

        2. Mike says:

          Well hey you got 6 MSPs within a Devolved Parliament. I remember when the SNP got 11 within Westminster. It had exactly the same effect. Nothing! Changed nowt.

          We still get more Tory Governments than not and we always will within the Union.
          Thanks to the SNP we all but got rid of them in Scotland and now the Greens have helped bring them back with an even greater emphasis on their “NEO” Con.

          People are actually dying of malnutrition and exposure as a direct result of Neo Conservative power within the UK and that’s me being a Drama Queen?

          But Hey you got 6 MSPs on the Devolved gravy train. Yeehah.

          1. Drew Campbell says:

            I thought I was a Labour spin doctor? Make up your mind, Mike!

      2. Can you explain how we would have got independence with more SNP MSPs Mike? How would that have happened?

        How would we have established a referendum and how would we have won it?

        1. Mike says:

          You do know the difference with regards to mandates in respect to Majority Government relative to minority administration?

          I’m sure you do. I can only guess you’re asking if I do.

          No matter what happens now within the next 5 years the Scottish minority administration has no mandate to do anything without making a deal with somebody.

          Its about the difference between having an over all majority Government with mandate and not having an overall majority Government with any mandate.

          FFS stop pathetically trying to make excuses or deny reality.

          1. Drew Campbell says:

            You don’t really get this whole parliamentary democracy thing, do you Mike?

          2. douglas clark says:

            It was a gimmie, not that long ago, that a majority SNP representation at Westminster was enough.

            What happened to that criteria?

            Nowadays we need other parties , like FALLEN, to justify a claim of right.

            Err, no.

            Not noticed that we have already reached a potential tipping point Mike?

            The SNP group in the Westminster Parliament could request another referendum when it suits them.

            It is tough to see that being denied.

            Perhaps, another UK Government – versus – the Scottish people cage fight.

            For it would be the people against the government Mike.

            Who is your bet on?

      3. Coul Porter says:

        Mike, that’ll be ‘who’s who’ (with an apostrophe). You’re obviously not good with detail.

        Perhaps there is ‘an education problem in Scotland’.

  5. john young says:

    There is a bedrock of around 40% that will never ever countenance independence,so we have a very small window inmo in what we can do,won,t happen now or the foreseeable future,get set for a whole lot more of “Rule Brittania” /”God save their Queen”.

  6. James_Mac says:

    I think the results are positive for the pro-independence movement. The Greens have a chance to help establish a broad pro-independence movement and they should now be very unequivocal in the support for independence. The Greens standing in Edinburgh Central was a mistake.

    The SNP had another thumping win, its vote held up. They are just shy of a majority but in reality they are untouchable.

    It is the state of the Unionists is the very pleasing. The Labour Party in Scotland is now a rightwing neoconservative shell. Slab have been happy to work with the right-wing press in attacking the SNP and Corbyn. The Tories have responded by absolutely hammering them.

    The Conservatives are now a Scottish UKIP relying on bigots, rural Europhobes, and ardent unionists. Only so many smiling photo-ops will be able to mask the orange marching, far-right grassroots her party will be unavoidably cultivating.

    The Lib Dems are now fifth and can only claim to be more relevant than David Coburn of UKIP.

    Let’s be cheerful!

  7. douglas clark says:

    Off Topic, i.e. back to the Opinion Piece.

    Sundar Katwala, who I have a lot of time for as an analyst says this:

    The referendum cleavage is a barrier to Sturgeon’s goal of building stable, sustained support for independence from six out of ten Scots. So the SNP dilemma is that its core misssion of independence now looks unlikely to be advanced further while independence remains the central political question.

    I think that the Hollyrood Election cleavage, y’know yesterday, suggests that the SNP’s dilemma is not what Sundar believes. It is indeed a cleavage between unionists and nationalists with very few in between. How those, undecided votes, fall in a new paradigm will settle whether we have another referendum shortly, or not.

    We can get to 60% at some stage. Betting on that over an independence campaign, i.e. maintaining that advantage, is why I am glad I am not Nichola Sturgeon. At some point the hat has to be thrown in the ring, and judging the moment is well above my pay grade.

    Hopefully, it is not above Nichola’s.

    1. Mike says:

      She cant throw any hat into any ring as the leader of a minority administration. She has to do deals.

      I’m starting to believe there is an education problem in Scotland.

  8. douglas clark says:


    The education issue lies with you. If the Greens agree, then it is game on. Hopefully there are people who would, in both the Greens and the SNP have judgement on their side. As to timing, as to possibilities, as to winning? I would suggest no-one takes lessons from your good self.

    There is an education issue in Scotland. Motes and eyes and shit like that Mike.

    1. Mike says:

      If the Greens agree to what? What do the Greens want? What can they offer in return? The SNP doesn’t have to do any deals with them they only need 2 votes so can get them from any party on any issue.

      The SNP know better than anybody how to work minority Government. The fact that they have to again after gaining a majority is down to the Greens and the split vote morons.

      Never mind the death of Indyref 2 its going to be costly for the Scottish Government to get their welfare program through Parliament.

  9. douglas clark says:


    Were you not the advocate of RISE, aka, FALLEN?

    I cannot take you seriously.

    1. Mike says:

      I have no idea what you are on about. You got me mixed up with another Mike.

      I’m not asking anybody to take me seriously I’m asking folk to take reality seriously by not pretending its not happening.

      1. douglas clark says:

        Cool, if you are not that Mike, then I apologise.

  10. Colin Brown says:

    I have been a member of the SNP since I was 17,i am 60 next month so more than 40 years.Because of this I desperately want to win and see an end to this nightmare of a union. I hope i’m wrong but I fear trying to game the results may mean another 15 to 20 years may pass before another good opportunity comes our way.

    Trying to land a glove on Westminster can be like trying to punch steam, and their are only certain times when they are destabilised by events, and not sure how to proceed, examples are 2nd devo referendum, first SNP government, first majority SNP government, winning the 56 seats.
    These events tend to have a number of years between them, and it can be very easy to turn into an elderly man while waiting for the next opportunity. I remember October 1974 when we won 11 MPs and 31% of the vote and we thought we were well on the way to a Scottish parliament we were wrong and 20 long years passed. My dad always told me “never split the SNP vote, it’s only good for the unionists”. I think he was right ! .

  11. Smeddum07 says:

    The education problem was definitely the SNP x2 voters. People can vote anyway they want however if independence was ur key aim u voted twice for a party with no referendum in their manifesto so no mandate this 5 years.

    Take central Scotland were I live SNP won all first votes which everyone knew would happen they also got 129,000 second votes with no seats. If u got 60,000 and 60,000 for rise and greens they would of beat then they would of beat labour and conservatives and won more seats this is would of given a very different pro independence and (more importantly) left wing parliament. If u know SNP are going to sweep no point voting for them list vote was obvious before and obvious after

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