No Shame, No Blame, Moving Yes Forward

Vote Yes skydiversThe Independence movement finds itself in a strange place right now.

On the one hand there have been massive gains. The referendum in 2014 was lost, but we came tantalisingly close to winning. Since then, support for Independence has gently risen, despite a continued onslaught from a largely hostile media and ‘OIL APOCALYPSE!’ screeching from the Unionist parties. The SNP won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in the UK election and are governing at Holyrood for a third term, in a tacit Yes alliance with the Greens. There exists a vibrant (if patchily-resourced) alternative media, as well as a pro-Yes Sunday and daily newspaper. Notwithstanding the long march of Scottish nationalism over a century, most of this has been achieved in a remarkable five year period, as a result of co-operation between nationalists, Greens, socialists, feminists and artists. All of us will remember those giddy months leading up to the vote when we learned the power of what we could achieve when we worked together.

However, the run-up to the recent Holyrood election has seen deep fissures and rivalries emerge in the Independence movement, which if not addressed might threaten to derail the entire project given time. It’s easy to write all these tensions off as mere social media spats, with no real connection to the outside world, but the internet is the primary means by which the Yes movement communicates with itself across Scotland. Social media and the blogosphere have real-world consequences.

I am not here to apportion blame. Quite the opposite. I’m not blameless myself. On the day of the Holyrood Election I was rather scathing about those who’d spoiled their first ballot, because this isn’t something I could ever do myself. But I can now see that there was a point of principle at stake and extend my apologies for being unwilling to initially recognise that.

In a similar spirit, I hope here to address the concerns which certain factions of the Yes movement have about others and treat these with the seriousness and respect they deserve, in order that we might see each other’s point of view a little more clearly.

First, let’s look at the main players.

“Both Votes SNP”

This would include the websites Wings Over Scotland, Towards Indyref2 and Scot Goes Pop, ex-BBC journalist Derek Bateman and various SNP activists.

“Indy Left”

This would include the websites Bella Caledonia, Commonspace and A Thousand Flowers, the Sunday Herald newspaper, the rapper Loki and various RISE and Greens activists.

I’m going to outline what seems to be their respective positions and issues with the other ‘side’, being as generous as I can, as I have friends and comrades across the board and can sympathise with all. I’m not going to express my opinion about the rights or wrongs of these positions, merely articulate them as they’re perceived by both proponents and critics.

“Both Votes SNP”: Purpose

Independence, first and foremost, is the goal. Substantial social and economic change cannot be achieved in Scotland while it is still chained to Westminster and the voting priorities of the South of England. The SNP are the primary mechanism by which this will be realised; without them there would have been no independence movement in the first place and no referendum in 2014. There can be no referendum in future without a strong SNP. The political flavour of Scotland – whether right, left or centre – will be defined by the Scottish people once the nation is sovereign. In order to ensure this, those in favour of independence should vote SNP on both the Constituency and the Regional ballots until the prize is won, after which people are free to vote for other parties to their heart’s content. Any other approach will harm the likelihood of a future referendum and thus all of the transformative potential which Independence can bring.

“Indy Left”: Purpose

Independence is not an end in itself, but the means of bringing about a more socialist and environmentally-conscious Scotland. There is no point to independence if that goal is not observed, since we already experience right-wing polity within the Union. One function of the pro-indy left, then, is to exert pressure on the SNP, reminding them of the ultimate reward: a socialist republic which empowers the most vulnerable, not the comfortable middle-class. A strong voice for left-wing parties – whether the Greens or RISE – is simply necessary to ensure that the movement does not become hijacked by the same neo-liberal economic forces which have damaged Scotland within the Union and which the SNP sometimes court. It’s also felt there is more the SNP could be doing with the powers the parliament currently has to move Scotland in a more progressive direction.

These contrasting stances led to particular behaviours approaching the Holyrood vote, whereby each side attempted to frustrate the other.

Indy Left: an SNP interpretation

SNP activists were happy to involve the left in the Referendum campaign, since they were aware as much as anyone else that Yes was not about a vote for the SNP. The Holyrood election of 2016, however, was about a vote for the SNP, as the game had been changed by the referendum result. Pragmatic politics were required to achieve the next stage. The indy left refused to understand the necessity for this tactical shift, and instead started furthering its own agenda, at the cost of the overall aim. Thus, the goodwill which had built up between nationalists and the indy left during the referendum was frittered away by constant attacks against the SNP. Given that the SNP are already the most ‘held to account’ party in British politics, as a result of an angry media and the combined Unionist opposition, it was disconcerting to experience more of the same from supposed allies. To attack the SNP and then in the next breath ask for their list votes beggared belief. Flawed readings of the d’Hondt voting system, and inflated claims of an SNP majority being certain, were put forth in order to trick SNP voters into backing the smaller parties on the list. Then, when SNP activists resisted this, aware of the fragility of their majority, they were met with familiar Unionist lines – about ‘cults’, ‘tribalism’, ‘bad nationalism’, ‘sheeple’ and so forth – thus sealing the deal: the left had proven themselves untrustworthy. Websites which provided an invaluable daily service in rebutting the scams and distortions of the mainstream media, or in tirelessly analysing poll-data, were being told they were toxic by a movement that had piggy-backed on the SNP in the first place. Why on earth should the SNP help such ‘allies’ when they not only threatened the independence project itself but continually sniped, insulted and misled?

Both Votes SNP: an Indy Left interpretation

The only reason the SNP were able to achieve a 45% Yes vote was because the radical left kept class on the agenda, getting into impoverished areas and targeting disenfranchised voters which the SNP could not reach, or did not care to reach. This indy left even backed the SNP at the Westminster election of 2015, helping them achieve a landslide. Then, when it came time to build a pro-Yes, rainbow coalition in Holyrood, a natural continuation, the left found itself excluded, told to shut up. The SNP were pushing class and the environment to the side in order to appeal to the middle-class, ‘small-c’ conservative voters they feel they need to achieve independence. The SNP were taking working-class support for granted, thus mimicking the journey of Labour towards New Labour. Pro-SNP websites were using ‘the Left’ as a pejorative term, which was revealing. Meanwhile, certain views about trans-people, feminists and Gaelic were being expressed by a well-supported site. If the broader Independence movement was not permitted to criticise such websites or the centrist politics of the SNP then independence itself would become contaminated before it had even begun. It was the job of the Greens and RISE to steer the movement leftwards, lest it become a managerial project rooted in maintaining power structures rather than transforming them.

There are many people, of course, who probably fall somewhere between these poles, though their voices have barely been heard among the clamouring for votes.

Both of these positions are logical and defensible – or certainly are to those advancing them – but problems arise when each side believes itself to be the ‘true’ animating spirit of the independence movement and the other to be the blind, selfish rogue element which will bring the whole thing crashing down, to the jeers of Unionists. This has also led to divergent readings of the Holyrood election result.

Holyrood 2016: An SNP reading

The ‘Both Votes SNP’ message proved to be correct: it is impossible to game the d’Hondt voting system in a way that maximises smaller parties, while protecting an SNP majority. As such, the SNP lost their majority on the back of Green votes. This has led to crowing from Unionists, a disingenuous media narrative about an SNP decline and claims from Ruth Davidson’s resurgent Tories that the SNP have no mandate to call a Referendum in the next term, even in the result of Brexit against Scotland’s will. Forming a ‘pro-Yes’ majority with the Greens is not helpful, furthermore, given their support for independence is ambiguous and conditional. We were right.

Holyrood 2016: An Indy Left reading

Relax. The ‘rainbow coalition’ in Holyrood has been achieved. The SNP were clear victors and Pro-Yes parties hold the majority of seats in parliament, maintaining momentum for independence. The Greens can pull the SNP to the left and help rebuff the Tory opposition, while the electorate will be exposed to alternative arguments for independence which they simply wouldn’t have heard from the SNP. This can only help credibility for Yes should another referendum come round in the 2021 term: it’s clearly not just the SNP’s vanity project. Besides, the ‘Both Votes SNP’ message led to 110,000 wasted list votes in Glasgow which only allowed Unionist parties to sneak in the back door. We were right.

Again, both positions are defensible. Nobody here is being completely unreasonable. What concerns me, though, is the damage that has been wrought to the movement as a result of these wranglings. There have been calls for certain websites to be quarantined, or for precious, crowd-sourced funding to be pulled from others. Some nationalist sites have called for the ‘opportunist’ left to be excluded from a future Yes campaign. Trust has been eroded in both directions. Bad blood lingers. It’s depressing and counter-productive.

I’m not so naïve as to suppose stating this will simply lead everyone to shake hands and apologise to each other. That’s an unreasonable expectation. A Thousand Flowers, who prioritise LGBTI, feminist and socialist issues well above independence are never going to be able to square their politics with those of Wings Over Scotland, who prioritise independence well above LGBTI, feminist or socialist issues (often brutally so). Intra-Yes criticism is valid and keeps us all on our toes. No-one should be required to sacrifice their principles for the sake of ‘Yes unity’.

I guess I’d just ask people to think more carefully about how they express themselves and to listen where they can. There’s an issue when constructive criticism – and I single no-one out here – tips over into vitriol, paranoia and hatred. That way lies the movement eating itself. It would be unfortunate, for example, if the comments below this piece turned into accusation and counter-accusation all over again. Let’s draw a line under Holyrood 2016 – which was, let’s not forget, a victory – and now move forward.

It’s broadly accepted that there will be another Referendum at some point in the future. Perhaps it will require that binding agent to fully bring us back together again, as it did before, quelling the factionalism which has arisen lately. After all, the shared purpose of protecting the Union managed to weld together the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems, the far right and the Communist Left!

In the short term, those who feel they can ease up on the invective should, to hear instead opposing concerns. For the next five years, thankfully, we do not have to compete with each other. There should be no Referendum called in this term of the Parliament, even on a Brexit vote against Scotland’s wishes. Voters are nowhere near ready and Yes would be punished. Over the next five years, let the SNP govern and the Greens throw pumpkin bombs at the status quo, so the movement at large can heal some of these scars, reflect, recharge, remember everything we’ve managed to achieve together and hopefully try to rekindle some of that positive spirit.

We’re still Yes.


Comments (93)

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  1. Wulls says:

    Sorry to say this but there is some crap in this article.
    There is no tacit “yes” alliance with the greens (who are soft on independence on a good day).
    The comment “Notwithstanding the long march of Scottish nationalism over a century, most of this has been achieved in a remarkable five year period, as a result of co-operation between nationalists, Greens, socialists, feminists and artists”
    As for socialism solidarity and Rise tried hard to dilute the SNP list vote. So much for co-operation.
    There is no agreement tacit or otherwise between the SNP and anyone else. The most naeive political commentator knows that no matter what the SNP propose they will get it over the line with two votes from someone.
    There is no way on gods earth the Tories, the remnants of labour, the Greens and Lib dems will ever agree on anything including indyref2
    In short this is another 2000 word wank that tells us nothing of value and starts of with some pretty tenuous positions.
    I think Bella can do better.

    1. James_Mac says:

      I think the point of the article is to try and make the pro-indy activists a little less tribal toward one another, which I applaud. The Greens have to be pro-indy now. Their vote and membership demand it. If there were strong grounds for an indyref2 and Greens do a Clegg, they would probably split. I made a mistake putting a candidate in Edinburgh Central. That is undeniable, and does not bode well for General Elections.

      I do agree that some of the stuff coming out of RISE and the Greens was Slab levels of idiocy. I like RISE, but Loki is still writing diatribes for Stephen Daisley’s STV about sheeple sitting next to triumphalist articles about Ruth Davidson.

      The main point is that the ‘pro-Indy Left’ is in the SNP and always has been. That’s why everyone and their horse on the left was trying to get potential SNP voters to give them a list vote. Calling SNP voters and activists sheeple is a sign of complete political ignorance and hugely idiotic.

      1. Stuart says:

        Re “mistake putting candidate in Edinburgh Central”…
        Key to note that Greens gained a seat on list through that (if SNP had won constituency seat, Tories would have got the last Lothian list seat at Greens expense).
        Many people may not want 1 less SNP MSP and 1 more Green, but everyone has to accept that this is a desirable outcome for SGP and for Green supporters. In their eyes this was most certainly not a mistake.

      2. GC says:

        I know a number of greens who were no voters. I also no many labour who voted yes. The problem with identity politics and nationalism in general is it forces people to be either with us or against us. This is divisive, energy sapping and ultimately a futile demoralising waste of talent and resources which should be being applied to much more important issues.

    2. Jamie says:

      I agree, the problem in both the Indyref and the election wiz ah they Byres Road trendy socialist/ artists just like the author. I’m a left wing guy, but many folk simply dinnae relate tae ah that guff aboot wish trees. I ken a few folk put off Indy cos of the feeling it wiz full of middle class champagne socialists in the Central belt. And then they go and split the SNP vote. The party that has campaigned for nearly a century for indy – bit arrogant to claim it wiz in the last five years. I wiz campaigning fir years before Alan Bissett and RISE. How many votes did RISE get. Exactly.

    3. Beth Watt says:

      Oh well. It’s a shame you can’t (for Yes’s sake) move forward. I suspect you’re still feeling cheated/hard done by or whatever but, hopefully, you’ll get over it soon and get back to the job at hand.

      1. James_Mac says:

        I’m perfectly happy with the result, I like RISE but what was written was beyond stupid. What happened in Edinburgh Central is a big reason I would be hesitant to ever vote for Green on the list again.

        1. Steve West says:

          Regarding Edinburgh Central: Would most independence supporters really rather have Alison Dickie in Parliament instead of Andy Wightman? I think not. Andy was a huge asset to the Yes campaign and will be a bigger asset to the cause of independence as an MSP. All 6 of the Green MSPs elected were prominent and effective Yes campaigners who worked hard for a Yes vote during Indyref.

  2. Justin Kenrick says:

    Excellent piece that may be hard for those (on either side of this disagreement) to hear, for the reasons you give. I think you’ll find that in many responses to your piece.

    Both sides can prioritise what matters to them most without denigrating those who are approaching Indy from the other perspective. Together we win.

    That need not become the mirror image of IndyRef that No supposedly won but actually was dismantled by. We don’t need to have won another Holyrood majority for Independence only to throw it away through infighting.

    It’s up to us, not anyone else.

  3. squirreltowers says:

    Great points Alan, much appreciated by a pretty average Yes supporter (Green) hitched to another pretty average Yes supporter (SNP). It pains me to see divisions in such an amazing group of folks.

    We read and try to support sites such as Wings, Bella, SGPop, Commonspace etc and appreciate the broad range of ideas and views represented in them. Its the plurality of the ideas thats inspiring, we just want the indy-media to keep on providing an alternative to that great creaking behemoth the MSM.

  4. Jacob1972 says:

    IMO it all kicked off when there was misinformation put out that you could game the d’Hondt voting system. The Scot Goes Pop and Wings Over Scotland analyses showed that there were huge risks to the SNP majority from a 2nd vote Green/RISE strategy as it was predicated assumption that the polling was accurate. It also neglected to factor in that the Tory Unionist vote is more motivated to vote.

    As we saw, small shifts in the numbers of votes to the Greens (not RISE as they failed inspire the electorate) meant reduced the number of SNP MSP thereby collectively harming the independence cause.

    As Derek Bateman said, vote for who most matches what you want to achieve. It’s the only honest strategy, but I’d add that people should do so understanding the risks and potential consequences of their choices, and that others trying to capture their vote should not misrepresent their own chances.

  5. Mark Crawford says:

    The problem is a failure by both these “camps” to fully embrace independence as part of a modernist – rather than postmodernist – political project. On this point, it’s critical to highlight the other great dividing line between the SNP and the pro-indy left – that is, the question of patience/impatience. In fact, if we bring in here those who belong to the impatient UDI movement, then I think we can propose the following typology:

    1. The patient postmodernists. This is the current SNP leadership, who want to wait until they see large opinion poll majorities before calling another referendum (even though, as ‘nice’ democrats, they concede this might never happen). They remain completely silent on Alex Salmond’s claim that there are “other routes” to independence (“modernist routes”, I would call them). Their patience, then, is largely premised on the need to persuade others in order to win independence. This is what the postmodern political will amounts to: persuasion, not drive.

    2. The impatient postmodernists. This is comprised of the pro-indy left (Solidarity, RISE etc.), who want another referendum asap (even though every indication shows that, at the present, we would lose another referendum). Like the patient postmodernists, they too avoid discussion of “other routes” to independence. For this reason, I think of them as postmodernists because they remain just as committed as the SNP to the notion of political will as persuasion rather than drive.

    3. The impatient modernists. This position is that of the UDI warriors, the Scottish Resistance etc. They have successfully realised that drive, rather than persuasion, is more important to the building of political will. But they demonstrate none of the patience required to properly direct and develop that will, with the result that they appear quite clownish in character.

    What we need, then, is to shift to the implied fourth position: a patient modernism. This would be a movement which isn’t as hung-up on observing democratic niceties as the SNP. A movement which, instead of trying to persuade our stubborn opponents, simply aims to expand the powers of the body politic directly. Paul Mason hinted at this in his recent interview with Common Space – he suggested that, instead of fretting over what can be done within the rules, the Scottish Government should just start “doing things” (even if, technically, they are reserved powers) and dare Westminster to try to intervene and stop us (UDI as process rather than event, if you like).

    This is why the pro-indy left – despite having been at the centre of the referendum – seem to have no place within post-indyref Scotland today. Of course, they have no place in it. When the micro-insurgencies of the referendum started to accelerate, postmodern democracy was threatened by the possibility of a truly modernist political event. The modernist aspect has been taken away from the situation, like a chair in a game of musical chairs, leaving the radical left in limbo. It’s up to them, I think, to put modernism back on the independence agenda.

    1. Jamie says:

      Fit??? Exactly fit I wiz spikin aboot. Bollocks.

    2. pistachiosarelovely says:

      “This would be a movement which isn’t as hung-up on observing democratic niceties as the SNP. A movement which, instead of trying to persuade our stubborn opponents, simply aims to expand the powers of the body politic directly. Paul Mason hinted at this in his recent interview with Common Space – he suggested that, instead of fretting over what can be done within the rules, the Scottish Government should just start “doing things””

      How democratic of you.

      I’ve no doubt Paul Mason would like to see people exhorting the Scottish Government to just start ‘doing things’ to raise his profile.

      You realise this is just his business? How he earns a crust and puts food on the table? By exploiting people, like you?

      1. Mark Crawford says:

        “How democratic of you.”

        Democracy is a bourgeois fetish – and that is why the SNP’s “democratic” approach is POSTmodern, if by the term modernism we mean the secularisation of everything (including the refusal to indulge bourgeois fetishes).

        “You realise this is just his business? How he earns a crust and puts food on the table? By exploiting people, like you?”

        Again, yet more postmodernism, in which everything is reduced to the intermingling of bodies and languages; a postmodern world in which there are no Truths, just competing interests seeking to maximise their own personal gains.

        1. Onwards says:

          Mark – The average person has no idea what postmodern bourgeois fetishes even means.

          1. Mark Crawford says:

            Erm, that’s kind of the point – if they did know then we would be having a completely different discussion.

          2. Stu Mac says:

            Neither has he, he just likes fancy labels.

          3. Mark Crawford says:

            “he just likes fancy labels”

            Mastery of the terms is also a fetish, of course. But do keep trying.

          4. Frank says:

            The average post modernist has never met an average person. Fuck average people. That’s what I say!

    3. Frank says:

      This was hilarious. I’m never sure if Comrade Crawford is parodying a certain type of left intellectual or if he making a serious point? I hope it’s the former! I’m not sure that the left wing zealots in Rise or Solidarity could ever be described as post-modernist however. They seem firmly committed to the grand meta narratives of modernist discourses, which to paraphrase Foucault paraphrasing Derrida will only end in disaster.

      1. pistachiosarelovely says:

        More of this chat please, Frank.

      2. Mark Crawford says:

        Well, of course you find it hilarious, Frank. That’s because you don’t agree with it. I don’t agree with the Lib Dems, which is why I often find them to be hilarious.

        You really should put more thought into these put-downs, Frank.

        Oh, and RISE are postmodern in terms of their presentation, their form of activity, the way they try to galvanise the political will through slick advertising and slogans. Of course, the content of much of what they say is “modernist”, though that doesn’t mean much in my book. But, again, you may disagree.

        1. Frank says:

          Perhaps Rise are modernist’s with a postmodern sensitivity?

          1. Hoops McCann says:

            This kind of academic bollocks is all very amusing, especially when wielded as cack-handedly as this, but unless Mr Crawford is taking the piss (which is quite possible), it reveals a very alarming mindset.

            So democracy is a bourgeois fetish? This is the kind of discourse you find in the Chinese Communist Party, the Turkish Justice & Development Party, or the Eastern European and Central Asian kleptocracies. It was also pretty commonly trotted out by Lenin,  Stalin et al during the Bolshevik Revolution and what came after, not to mention those guys in Spain, Italy and Germany in the 1930s. It’s a very handy way for illegitimate regimes to justify ignoring or subverting the will of the majority, or as in this case, for those who seek to seize it illegitimately.

            “Other routes” also has the sinister banality characteristic of the thuggish regimes and brutal street politics of both the left and the right. Routes other than the democratic route are wholly illegitimate in any state with democratic institutions and the rule of law.

            “Drive” is rather more worrying, especially in the context where it’s juxtaposed with “persuasion”. Let’s call a spade a spade and label it what it is – coercion. So it’s coercion of the majority to accept some kind of de facto independence, despite the fact that that majority recently expressed its view on this question in the negative. All in all, it sounds suspiciously like an attempt to subvert Alec Salmond’s beloved “sovereign will of the Scottish people.” Or to again use more honest terminology, 
            a coup d’etat.

            The fact that this coercion is apparently critical to the building of political will is also worrying since it strongly implies that the purpose of being in power is to advance your own agenda regardless of the views of the majority, even – or perhaps especially – when those views have been expressed through the democratic process. I don’t use this term lightly, but that sounds a lot like fascism to me.

            However, the most blatant and alarming part of this dangerous (or hilarious) horseshoe is this:

            “This would be a movement which isn’t as hung-up on observing democratic niceties as the SNP. A movement which, instead of trying to persuade our stubborn opponents, simply aims to expand the powers of the body politic directly.”

            Or, to translate:

            “This would be a movement which has no interest in or time for democracy, or indeed the wishes of the majority. A movement which,  instead of trying to persuade those who have a principled objection to our views, denies the very right to hold those views and instead aims to seize power and impose its own agenda by any means necessary.”

            Cards on the table, I’m a convinced unionist and I’m only an infrequent visitor here. I fundamentally disagree with you all (especially your wilful ignorance of basic economics) but know your enemy and all that. And it certainly beats listening to the Rev Stu shouting at the traffic over on Wings. So maybe Mr Crawford is your resident court jester, dishing out some form of sinister satire to the amusement and faint terror of all and sundry.

            I hope that’s the case, because if it isn’t, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for not dumping on him from a great height and making it clear that there’s no room on this site,  or in any part of your  campaign for this kind of proto-fascist bollocks. This is the kind of stuff that gets you labelled (accurately in my view) as a cult.

          2. Mark Crawford says:

            Frank – I think political subjectivity is the most important part of any project and, in that sense, RISE were certainly postmodernist, offering a postmodern radicalism that should, instead, have been a modernist militancy.

            Hoops McCann – I distance myself from the Stalinism that you accuse me of on the following basis… Those regimes that you mention sought to crush (through the use of gulags etc) individuals they saw as the members of the bourgeoisie. That led to an ethical disaster. Instead of extinguishing members of the bourgeoisie, I believe the ultimate project is the extinguishing of the bourgeoisie as a social space to which people can belong, so that the proletariat (as the universal class) is the only credible form of class identification open to individuals. That project is called the dictatorship of the proletariat.

            Incidentally, you might understand proletarian dictatorship better if you realise that today we are living under bourgeois dictatorship. Take, for example, housing. Aspiring to home ownership is simultaneously seen as both a sign of belonging to the middle class AND the only logical housing solution for everyone to aim for.

            Finally, if you’re a unionist, then let me give your cause some help – did you know that achieving independence via a referendum is always going to be undemocratic? Yup. Even if there had been a Yes vote in 2014, that would have been undemocratic. The conceptual weakness of the referendum process lies in the way it poses a question to the Scottish body politic: should Scotland be an independent country? The problem is: who asks this question and to whom is it addressed? The question posits the body politic as both its subject and its object, for there is no place outside the body politic from which this question could be democratically posed. The question is as absurd as imagining an infant, starting to enter the world of language, asking itself: should I become an independent person? Clearly, during an infant’s development, there is a passage from the pre-linguistic world to the world of language, but it would be impossible to reduce this passage to one single, identifiable moment in time. Both the infant and the body politic are cybernetic systems, in which developmental processes take place in a non-linear, non-reductionist fashion.

            Of course, “democracy” is not really a category of discourse that interests me, so I still believe that Scotland has the right to achieve independence through any route whatsoever. But if you meet some pro-indy folk who insist on a democratic process, Hoops, then you can certainly use the argument above to try and persuade them to give up. Are you a happier bunny now?

          3. RabMacPhoto says:

            Rise used “slick advertising and slogans…”

            Of course he’s taking the piss 🙂

  6. smiling vulture says:

    If Unionists are comfortable,not worried,they would never keep mentioning ref2.

    Scottish Labour a busted flush ,when they offered Vow +

  7. Fiona Robertson says:

    Thanks for this 🙂

    I’m one of the Both votes SNP lot, and am fine with the choice I made, though I understand why others made a different choice. The only issue I’d have with your article is a similar one I had in discussions pre-election – the assumption that Both Votes people had independence and not progress as their priority.

    I’m disabled, and only joined the SNP about 8 months ago after leaving the Greens because, while I agree with the latter’s principles, the SNP are the only party who have actually done something functionally useful for disabled people in the UK. They set up the Scottish Independent Living Fund, the Scottish Welfare Fund, and everyone I know in the SNP has been trying to fight the architects of austerity (who include Labour, since they introduced the WCA and the Atos contracts).

    I wanted an SNP majority because I was afraid that Labour and the Tories would band together to reject further SNP initiatives centering on the Scottish Social Security system which is part of the devolution package. We’ve already seen Labour back up Welfare Reform at every turn, though if Scottish Labour were Corbynites I wouldn’t have been so concerned.

    When it came to the issues with the d’Hondt system, it was always, always going to be a gamble. I would have liked to have seen the smaller Indy parties divvy up the regions, but that would have been as unfair on them as expecting the SNP to not ask for both votes. We won on the list last time, and, though the predictions were good, I think most people understand why so many of us were concerned that it was a tactic which has been used successfully before to reduce turnout. We had all already heard the whispers of the Labour voters turning Tory, and were genuinely concerned about that (rightly so, up here in Aberdeen, as the giant blue splodge to our west shows). I can’t speak for everyone, and I certainly can’t speak for the heid yins, but in our groups and branches and offices it wasn’t a cynical power grab by the Supreme Leader, it was a set of people who were genuinely worried that the media spin would both convince one side to back Ruth-the-capable instead of Kezia-the-mess and the other not to bother turning out to vote SNP because everyone else was going to.

    So it was possible to be on the Both Votes side *and* have social progress as the primary goal, as for many of us it is also the primary goal of independence.

  8. Steven says:

    Excuse me, but what is a “pumpkin bomb”?

  9. muttley79 says:

    Good article Alan. After the crushing disappointment of the No vote, I think loads of people were sorry to see the end of the Yes campaign, at least for the time being. But given the result, it was inevitable that we would have to engage in party politics, I am afraid it is going to be a necessary evil for quite some time now. Unfortunately party politics, given its nature and the necessarily competitive conduct that it is entails, there was always going to be sniping and niggles developing in the pro-independence movement. Again I don’t see any real or viable way around this. That said, I really think time will be a healer here. Most internet and social media spats should be forgotten about, and in time I think they usually are.

    In the last decade we have all probably experienced the most incredible period in Scottish political history, certainly democratically. If you look back to 2006, and forward to the present, and look at the sheer scale of change, it has been absolutely astounding. Remember this is essentially in fairly (small) conservative Scotland as well! I genuinely don’t think the Yes movement will suffer any long term damage from the various spats in the last 18 months, some relationships are probably strained beyond fixing, but I think most people will in time forget about what happened during the elections. People fall out over loads of stuff anyway, and a lot of the causes have nothing to do with politics.

    What will, or at least should, undoubtedly concentrate minds in the coming years is that the independence movements is now up against arguably the most cruel, malevolent, spiteful, and deplorable right wing British governments ever. The main opposition in the Scottish Parliament is now led by an individual whose hero was Margaret Thatcher, and one who is also close to David Cameron, one of the nastiest, most obnoxious, sneering Tory politicians that even that odious party has produced. If that prospect does not unite and focus the pro-independence movement in Scotland then nothing will. I think it will though.

  10. pistachiosarelovely says:

    “‘OIL APOCALYPSE!’ screeching from the Unionist parties.”

    It’s not ‘oil apocalypse’. It’s ‘Oil @£113 was all over the transition and tax and spend plans in the White Paper SCOTLAND’S FUTURE. Alan, did you even read it? No, I thought not.

    “However, the run-up to the recent Holyrood election has seen deep fissures and rivalries emerge in the Independence movement, which if not addressed might threaten to derail the entire project given time.”


    “The only reason the SNP were able to achieve a 45% Yes vote was because the radical left kept class on the agenda”

    The only reason 45% voted Yes was because the SNP and the Yes Campaign preyed upon the least well off and convinced them that Independence in itself was the solution to all their woes, and would bring about a smooth, easy, problem-free transition to a land of milk and honey.

    The SNP and the Yes Campaign preyed upon and took advantage of these people, who may feel that voting Yes gave them ‘hope’, or that ‘things can’t be any worse’ (they can always be worse).

    Should ‘independence’ ever occur, good luck with dealing with the social tinder, when these people turn around and find that Saltires, Face-painting competitions, shouting at others in the street and the ‘SNP’ have not miraculously solved their problems for them.

    “It’s broadly accepted that there will be another Referendum at some point in the future. ”

    No it isn’t. And if there is, we are a looking forward to beating you – again.

    1. Perfectly Imperfect says:

      Yes, well, very good luck with that. Scotland WILL be an independent country. Its not a question of ‘if’, but simply ‘when’.

      45% of the people voted for it, which only leaves 6% to be persuaded. The Tories will do that for us, in their stunning u-turn on ‘The Vow’, their austerity plans and the selling off of our NHS and Royal Mail. To name just a few.

      Plus, the 65-75 age demographic, which was 90% for NO camp, wont be around for indyref2, but the 16-17 year olds who will watch Westminster spectacularly backtrack on everything they said, and feel cheated in doing so.

      When indyref2 comes around, do you really think they will forget? ‘Great Britain’ is not so great. The ‘United Kingdom’, is anything but united. Its broke, time to fix it. When the time comes, we look forward to winning. At last.

      1. c rober says:

        Well spotted that it is 6 percent and not 10 , as often reported in the media and online.

        But a better result would be far more than 6 or even the 10 , where an overall majority vote for indy , or 65 percent demand FFA and keeping the union – whilst adressing its fairness , where the lack of fairness and represssive barriers then becomes a revolution , involving former unionists towards granting Indy.

        I dont think I will see SNP supply Indy in my lifetime , but I sure as hell will fight full on for FFA within that time , and that means holding SNP to task , where failure is rewarded with ironically less seats for it. To use the “line send them homeward to think again” may be apt.

        The snp has became the “system” , and with that comes hate , even from their own most vociferous current and former foot soldiers.

        Without policing bad Government , we continue to enable them , obviously we cant change Westminster , so to fail to challend Holyrood is to our own detriment. The list system prevents this at the electoral level at Holyrood , the sheer number of opposition , the democratically elected majority in Westminster would they vote for PR…. NO.

        This is something that has led to SLAB exodus , whom were sent homeward but forgot the think again , twice , but tragically as their unionists deserted , it aided the rise of the Tories in Scotland through the list system. Or if your that way inclined brought the unionists out into the open.

        Which brings me to that List system , where it is being abused , rewarding failure and not actually giving the proportional representation it supposedly works to acheive.

        IS it time that the SNP and Holyrood enabled darwinian LIST politics , for the betterment of democracy , even if it empowers over the longer term their opposition?

        Another site , not mentioning which one thats a little redbull , has a list of how the electorate rejects the candidate , yet they still end up in politics. This is an insult to those wards that democratically said no , even if you dont like their site , that one particular item is worth a read , as well as the comments.

        So perhaps for PR the future is new blood only in the List system , removing those already rejected by thier wards , that follow their party flag without question , or if one must have a concession – then only allowing a rejected politician on the list in the next election , not the current one.

        After all , had they done a better job for those they supposedly represented , not their masters , then they would have been returned anyway , so would have no need for an electoral , job protecting , parachute – that the list system represents…. at the cost of new politicians , and of course the electorate themselves.

        As it stands today leaders of parties are especially protected with the list system , there is no concensus for change at the top , no reason for listening to the geographically local electorate wanting change , it then becomes the “regional trophy for particiaption”.

        With maths handicapping those that the electorate choose as thier no2 as a democratic majority , and where a third place candidate can still get a seat , then perhaps its not a reflection of democracy at all , if anything its far from it.

        Its like ordering Asda shopping online , then you have it delivered , with a note saying “some items you ordered were substituted “, where nappies have been replaced with condoms , and to prevent your need for future nappies.

  11. Robin Stevenson says:

    Well said Alan, I particularly liked ‘I’m not blameless myself’, anyone that is capable of holding their hand up and admit ‘OK sometimes I make the wrong call’ has my attention, can we expect Kevin to do the same with the Rev? Hmm!

  12. SheenaJ says:

    Thank you for this Alan.

    The YES campaign was positive and exhuberant and that was its power. Without the positivity, which attracted more and more people like a magnet, it would not have achieved what it did.

    We can continue in this spirit if we collectively choose to. I, and I am sure many others too, are tired of and losing tolerance with our great pro-Indy sites putting up statements and articles which rip into other pro-indy sites and pro-indy communities. This leads us all down a path of negativity and childish bickering.

    It is perfectly possible to state your case with positive constructive comments rather than negative destructive ones. Our pro-Indy websites have a responsibility. They are now at the heart of our YES movement, like it or not, and they should try to act and speak in a positive way.

    If they don’t, then we all lose. If they do, then it will again become the attractive and energetic movement it was before.

    One more thing, there may well be people commenting on these sites who are deliberately there, and based who knows where, to stir up discord. We have a choice as to how we react to them, but always remember the yes campaign’s positivity. That is the key, that is why we all loved it and didn’t want it to end. Well it doesn’t have to.

    Be positive, be constructive and let’s start pushing forward together once more. I think this election has moved everything into a better place for us. It was the best possible outcome for uniting us once more.

  13. Staunch says:

    Thank you for the article Alan.

    I agree that we should put these tensions behind us and work to move on together in a constructive manner. The Holyrood 2016 election results are in and sniping at each other now serves no purpose but to erode the Yes movement from within. I cannot however agree with the conclusion you reach at the end of your otherwise well considered, fair and even handed, article.

    Should the eventuality of a Brexit vote pulling Scotland out of the EU against our wishes transpire, we cannot simply sit back and allow it to happen. Your claim that the Yes side wouldn’t be ready, while indeed plausible, overlooks the simple fact that a non-Independent Scotland out-with the EU would be detrimentally at the mercy of Westminster and, at least for the foreseeable future considering Labours infighting, the overarching control of the Tory party. Scotland may not survive such a thing and progressing to an Independence outcome for Scotland (of whatever political flavour) may very well become insurmountable and the social fabric of Scotland torn apart – potentially long before we were anywhere “near ready”.

    Organisations / Institutions like the NHS could very well be deprived of significant staff numbers from the many immigrants working within it (should they be unable to secure work / residence visa’s – something that would be very much in accordance with the Tory agenda of degrading the service to allow private interests to swoop in) and result in its collapsing under the strain. While I’m sure this was not your intent, your suggestion of not holding a referendum would be tantamount to our sitting idly by and allowing this to happen while we ‘bide our time’. That should not be an outcome any Left thinking individual (be it centrally or radically) should even countenance.

  14. pistachiosarelovely says:

    “can we expect Kevin to do the same”

    Yes you can.

    Kevin Hague states openly on his website and twitter feed that he welcomes challenges to his data and where errors or ommissions are demonstrated, he will happily accept these, amend the data, and recognise this publicly.

    Not so that other angry aggressive abusive nutcase.

    1. James_Mac says:

      Thanks Kevin.

    2. TigersOnIce says:

      He’s not talking about you, Mr Hague, you ridiculous egomaniac. He meant Kevin Williamson.

  15. kimberley says:

    I think this article sums things up pretty well and Alan points out that there are many who will recognise themselves a bit in both categories, and I think it’s important to see that as most people I know would probably see themselves that way. Personally I never thought that fellow yessers should give both their votes to the SNP as a kind of imperative, my argument was simply that if your main priority is a SNP majority government that SNPx2 was the best to ensure this happens simply because we don’t know how how accurate the polls are, and you really can’t game D’Hondt; and whilst the result certainly proves how inaccurate polls can be and that this view was, then, a merited one – I do also understand how people in areas like Glasgow would have felt their second vote would be better used for the Greens, even if a SNP majority was their top priority. And then there are those for whom this wasn’t their top priority and they wanted to give their list vote to another pro-indy party for other reasons and again fair enough.

    What I am struggling with is the spoiled ballots, and it isn’t because I think everyone should vote for the SNP even if their conscience says not to, it’s that if you are a yesser and you find the SNP – a centre left progressive party – so anathema that even though they are necessary for getting another indyref mandate (even if it is with the help from other small pro-indy parties) you would rather risk that mandate than vote for them, I can’t see how, as an SNPer myself, that there can be any ground there for future shared indyref campaigning. I now genuinely think that there will be people involved in a second indyref campaign who will not want to share the stage (both literal and metaphorical) with the SNP. Just think about that for a minute – just think about the effect that will have. Because this is an important point, the SNP aren’t just on the receiving end of valid criticism, they are on the receiving end of allegations from Rise and Greens of implementing ‘SNP cuts’ when we all know the debate we have to have is how to best mitigate them and that the cuts are very much WM Tory cuts that are themselves wholly about an ideology that really is anathema to the majority in Scotland. We had Rise protesting with Labour against these ‘SNP cuts’, we had Maggie Chapman connecting the SNP with suicides as a result of these cuts. Then we have articles painting the SNP wrongly as fiscal conservatives and alleging their anti-austerity commitment was empty rhetoric when this is all demonstrably untrue. Then we have Loki, for whom the SNP seems to be his own personal bogeyman, a kind of corporate, tory band of liars whose voters are basically thickos, and the ones new to the party and to politics are even worse still – indeed it’s those who he saves his deepest wrath for. All this basically because the SNP haven’t agreed to implement a 50p top rate of tax and haven’t managed to do what no other country with full powers, let alone just a devolved bag, has managed to do – eradicate poverty.

    And this is where and how a second indyref really will be different for yes campaigners. The differences here aren’t just about views re a list vote, there is a definite swathe of activists and some candidates (although I think re the latter it is just from Rise) who really do seem to hate the SNP – we didn’t have that the last time. And you know what – I personally just don’t have any interest in engaging with people who think so low of the party and people like myself – this isn’t a ground for debate – this is just toxic. But there is plenty ground for debate with people who don’t think like this on how best to work progressively with our powers and i think the SNP and the Greens have great ideas, obviously I prefer the SNP’s and think they have far more but I relish debating policy and have enough humility to know that both I, and indeed my party of choice the SNP, won’t always get it right so it’s important to be open and not fall into tribalism and that is the kind of activist I want to try to be and I understand Alan’s call here for us to be constructive. And I can see a bright yes campaigning future with the Greens if they steer away from going down the Slab style rhetoric route, which to be fair isn’t the way they usually conduct themselves and isn’t how the Green activists I know portray the cuts. As a party they are largely constructive I find – although early signs aren’t very reassuring with Patrick Harvie already saying tax is where the SNP will have to compromise in order to get Green support, i would have liked to see the Greens being more reasonable – the SNP has a responsibility first and foremost to do all it can to implement their manifesto, after all they are the only party who has a mandate to do that, and the Greens are the furthest party away from the SNP on tax (democracy guys!). But still I hope there will be a constructive ‘working with’ attitude in both parties in ways that respect voters. I guess we’ll see. I’m not convinced the SNP and Greens will work much together tbh – but overall I think there is a great opportunity for both parties to work towards indy together quite closely. However as I said there is just no future with people who pretty much hate the SNP, and I find it toxic just trying to force that and a big part of life is just being willing to accept where things aren’t working – and that is where this isn’t working for me.

    Other than that I would add that i think it would be great if CommonSpace moved away from being so Risey – I find the news reporting to often be biased (just look at how the manifestos were reported, Labour’s and Rise’s were all about their progressive policies, and quite right that is the readership they have, but the SNP’s was basically all about what they weren’t doing& without mentioning their progressive policies, which I think their readers deserved to read). Whether it’s manifestos, fracking or indeed even shoot to kill policy it’s a similar story of omission and at times outright misrepresentation. I don’t think it is deliberate, I don’t think it’s an agenda, but I do think it’s as a result of personal politics factoring in and an unwillingness to address that. This is why their opinion pieces may be a bit Rise heavy, because in the end you tend to get the audience you write for, and it’s your audience who are most likely to submit articles. I think Bella is doing a great job at being a broad pro-indy platform, and this may be at least partly as result of having so many people involved editorally from across the spectrum. Whatever it is, it’s working imo. But wow so many people are piling on Wings at the moment, very easily forgetting there is a human being at the end of that twitter feed (I would never want to deal with what he has to deal with…) but there is no getting away from the fact that Wings does his job as media monitor brilliantly, whatever personal gripes people may have.

    So I see a bright future in many ways, will try to be as positive and constructive as I can and agree with Alan’s words on this; but I don’t see a coalesced movement in our future. There are definitely people like Loki that I won’t engage with anymore because it has just regressed into toxic stuff and in the end it’s just not healthy or conducive. And I hope we get more a balanced new media where that is the purpose of the site, but equally if that doesn’t happen there is plenty to read as is and this will likely be the last I comment on any of that….

    1. Jacob1972 says:

      Well said Kimberley, there’s hardly a word I would disagree with.

    2. c rober says:

      Pretty good Kimberley.

      However with regard to WOS , I have had comments removed for highlighting SNP failures on Housing and ignoring SNP and Holyrood policy.

      I have also had posts here prevented , however that was due to language , not content , as it has been almost identically rewritten without the F bomb it was allowed , was on the same topic as the one on WOS.

      Loki , I can understand his frustration becoming rants , but I reckon he will eventually come into the concensus away from SNP bad… being something I have been accused of myself .One man crusades against a tide of SNP blinkered supporters , well is not in any way policing the party – when your blindly defending it , which is perhaps his catalyst.

  16. Kevin Williamson says:

    Share some but not all of your thoughts on this Alan. The YES movement has gone. It broke up into its constituent parts like any movement does after the battle was over. In all likelihood there will be another Indyref and that’s when a new Yes moment will arise. But this is unlikely to happen in the next 5 years unless there is a big swing in public opinion.

    Difference of approaches have opened up between the likes of Common Space/Bella (who want to explore ideas and take bolder more radical approaches) and the fundamentalist axis of Wings/Newsnet who act mainly as SNP cheerleaders while critiquing the media/Unionists in showboating circular arguments. The blogs close to the SNP are so devoid of new political thinking they’ll end up circling the wagons around an ever-decreasing readership. Such is the nature of movements when they ebb. Common Space and Bella have a future because they go beyond indyref politics. Its what makes these websites necessary. Scotland needs radical ideas, fresh thinking and the questioning of power much more than it needs pro-Indy government cheerleaders.

    I look forward to the next indyref and will throw myself into it when it comes. But until then its time to chart a different course. For instance, we could use the powers Holyrood already has e.g. for fairer taxation, for land reform & local govt reform, as well as preparing Scotland for the extreme climate change that is just around the corner. THAT is the biggest challenge/danger facing humanity and is way more important than independence. And it would pave the way for independence more than bellowing about the BBC, the YOON media or Kez/Ruth/Kez/Ruth/blahdeblah.

    I fear that those who try to hang on to the idea of a YES movement when the reality is over (temporarily, for a few years) are just going to argue themselves into a corner and wear themselves out.


    1. kimberley says:

      Erm, I think the readership numbers of the blogs and websites you mention kind of destroy your argument when it comes to where engagement is taking place…

    2. Rose says:

      Yet the Yes movement, such as it is currently, covers a broad spectrum of people on the left and centre-left who still strongly believe that independence gives us our best opportunity to oppose right-wing policies.

      Also, it seems that most votes are on the issue of independence and in this context any party that doesn’t take a strong stance (i.e. Labour, though that was only one facet of their downfall) will fall by the wayside. Most people voted on this issue alone. Probably Labour should champion Home Rule, though no one will trust them on that for obvious reasons! If they don’t champion Home Rule then more folks will opt for independence as the only larger scale and more powerful party alternative would be a right wing unionist party. The strong stance on anti SNP/pro-Union is why Ruth Davidson did well, alongside her ‘tory-lite’ tactics- she’s a magnet for those votes and that’s why I agree with Robin McAlpine that the SNP shouldn’t waste time courting Unionist Tories.

      I agree with mutley79 above, there has to be a united opposition to Tories or we’re considerably weakened on the left as a whole, and that left is now peopled mainly by folks who want

      1. Rose says:

        ..independence (left out that word for some reason!)

    3. tartanfever says:

      Kevin, I think you are missing a fundamental point.

      Wings over Scotland is a media watchdog. The reason he’s circular is because the media is. Same old same old etc. He responds in a tone that reflects what he/we read.

      Bella provides a much broader spectrum. Yes, you guys do media coverage as well, but throw in a lot of new, exciting ideas and non-partisan societal stuff – land reform, culture, gender equality, climate etc.

      Thats exactly what I like and why I appreciate the different approaches. There’s something for everyone.

      I’m telling you, if you want to know what the problem is, it’s Twitter.You bams should just get off the damn thing for a while.

      Haven’t you got some playoffs and a Cup Final to be thinking about anyway ?

    4. Hammie says:

      ‘I look forward to the next indyref and will throw myself into it when it comes. But until then its time to chart a different course. For instance, we could use the powers Holyrood already has e.g. for fairer taxation, for land reform & local govt reform, as well as preparing Scotland for the extreme climate change that is just around the corner. THAT is the biggest challenge/danger facing humanity and is way more important than independence.’

      Aye because everyone knows that nationalism and independence would solve climate change. Not cosmopolitan attitudes and multi level government. Pollution in *national* climate change is *national* If only the right wing pro fracking SNP who clearly despise the Greens, were in power then our pollution would be superior than that English pollution. 2018 fraking will begin in central Scotland and the SNP will be the architects of it.

      And land reform. The SNP have had a fucking decade, a fucking decade. Don’t hold yer breath Kev.

      And thanks for basically pointing out what evil yoons have been saying for years.

      1. 1314 says:

        That just made my day. There’s nothing quite like a civilised conversation.

    5. Jacques Coleman says:

      What a load of codswallop! You should read what you have written before you publish.

  17. Frank says:

    I’m glad that Rise and Solidarity were heavily defeated. Neither group made any effort to engage with the 55% who voted no and they were only content with fishing for votes amongst the hardcore of the 45. Moreover, their demands for indy ref2 were churlish and ill thought out. What was disappointing was how sites like Bella and in particular Common Space acted as the PR wing of Rise. Common Space in particular has paid a price for this and one of the results is that their journalism is not trusted. What the election demonstrates is that the electoral space for a radical left party outside of the SNP or the Greens does not exist and hopefully the right political lessons will be drawn from this.

  18. Kevin Williamson says:

    ps Re Wingsy: After continuing to blame Liverpool fans on the day a court of law finally cleared those fans – after 27 years of stigmatising and grief and after 27 years of Tory collusion with the police and media – he can go fuck himself. He’s a morally repugnant angry wee guy who has had his day in the sun. Shame really because he did some great work with that Wee Blue Book in 2014.

    1. howauldzyergranny says:

      And yet you supported him long after he made those comments in 2012 “wingsy is a bit much sometimes…”. Only changing your stance in the past few months.

      1. Kevin Williamson says:

        Changed my opinion of Wings the day the Hillsborough inquiry cleared the fans. Unbelievably Stu kept at it after a court of law cleared them. Realised the guy was an off the wall loon. Even The Sun backed down. This isn’t a peripheral issue. A court has found that 96 people were unlawfully killed. Stu will have to accept all the derision and scorn he gets now. He deserves it all until the day he puts his hand up, admits he was wrong, and apologises.

        1. Lindsay Bruce says:

          Learn the lesson. You’re entitled to an opinion, but spreading poison about one of the pro-indy sites is exactly the kind of thing Alan was trying to stop. The inevitable outcome of that kind of behaviour is the fracturing and failure of the pro-indy movement.

          Also be aware that the opposition – the unionists – will be watching all of this with great mirth, and they will be making notes. The British state is the undisputed world champion at divide and conquer; they will seek out any discord in the pro-indy movement, amplify it, and repeat it over, and over, and over again, using it as a wedge to drive our fragile coalition apart. Airing your personal grievances in public fora like this is giving them just the tools they need in order to destroy us.

        2. Onwards says:

          His opinion was that fans pushing and shoving were *partly* to blame. It might be a controversial view, but anyone who watches the original footage can see the situation at the turnstiles for themselves.
          In any case, those on the so called indy left, were idiots to make a big deal over Wings or the Sun endorsement in the week running up to the election. Instead of using the heid and saving it for afterwards.

          Talk about doing the unionists job for them.

    2. TigersOnIce says:

      It’s good to see you’ve heeded the article’s message of reconciliation and unity.

    3. Jacques Coleman says:

      What a disgraceful rant against a fellow INDY supporter. Clearly you have learnt nothing from the split vote fiasco… nor are you likely to.

  19. Onwards says:

    There is a lot of good sentiment in this article

    I know the “Both Votes SNP: Purpose” paragraph reflects exactly how I was feeling, so I am trying to see it from the other side.
    But as an SNP supporter, I still think an element of the “Indy Left” went completely overboard in painting the SNP as some kind of right wing party.. to the point where we saw an STV article all over twitter and facebook promoting “No Votes SNP”. When the SNP was, with a couple of exceptions, the ONLY pro-indy party standing in constituency seats.

    That piece and similar opinions from various RISE supporters probably cost them thousands of potential votes and a huge amount of goodwill. (And the Greens were probably tarred with the same brush). It’s one thing to pressure the SNP further to the left, or argue about the merits of a second tactical vote, but to see so called ‘indy left’ supporters actively harming the chance of independence was a step too far.

    The other serious issue with widespread Green requests for tactical list voting, is that SNP voters cannot be expected to wholeheartedly embrace a party that didn’t seem to have much of a commitment to a second referendum in their manifesto. I know the SNP was also accused of being wishy washy on the issue, but their manifesto was very carefully worded to leave the option open, and together with the summer campaign pledged, it left no doubt as to the SNP position that independence is the best option for Scotland’s future.

    The Green position was basically that *should* a second referendum happen they will campaign for it, but little else apart from a reference to a process for a million strong petition which frankly seemed like a cop-out. The Tories are now taking the view that Green ‘pro-indy’ MSPs don’t represent a mandate for another referendum in this term. Without a clearer commitment, it was pointless for SNP indy supporters to vote tactically, even if they wanted to. People were unsure if the Greens were still really YES or not.

    For what it’s worth, I think there may be some merit to a tactical independence vote on the list next time, but for it to be successful it needs to be a single issue YES party focused on independence, leaving left/right divisions aside until afterwards.

    I see there was such a single issue party on the list which got the same number of votes in Glasgow as RISE – “The Scottish Unionist Party.”

  20. Jim Bennett says:

    Hey, Alan; You’re far too sensible!

  21. Agi Tate says:

    As someone who sits fairly in the middle of all this, not a member of any party and who acknowledges snp as the efficient party machine and greens as the ones to influence changes I’d like to see- I really appreciate this article.

    I nearly didn’t vote, I left it till last minute. The angry pointy finger tribalism made me think we had no chance of ever working together again. I struggled to see the point, I know at least two friends that campaigned for yes but have went back to apathy for the same reason. I am willing to bet there are more that felt the same.

    Don’t underestimate the consequences of speaking to others like shit and throwing accusations everywhere. It’s far far from the positive movement we were.

    Get working together again, we have a pro indy government with an easy opposition. learn to accept others ideals and views of what indy means to them or it will cost us dearly.

  22. 1314 says:

    Not sure it required such a long article – or such long comments.

    All independence supporters got it right. We all voted in whatever way we thought would bring about our version of the ‘right’ result. In the end we, collectively, did pretty damn good. How about a cheer?

    Maybe the main reason we ended up with less independence supporting MSPs has more to do with the fact that the turn out was 55% as opposed to 85% for the referendum. In between, the Tories deliberately introduced individual voter registration because they know that, for a number of reasons, poor people are less likely to register. So we have a reduced number registered and a reduced turnout. We know that those now off the register (after a lot of hard work to get them on) and who are generally less likely to vote were/are much more likely to vote YES and for the SNP.

    And we’re all busy chewing lumps out of each other because we all voted the same way – tactically, according to our view. A bit of chuckling going on over a superior malt nae doot.

  23. MVH says:

    Out of all the sites mentioned, (including ATF) Wings is the only one that I have seen retweeting fundraisers for rape crisis centres and raising money himself for starving claimants. I don’t think people should be judged purely on what they say but also on what they do. At times I find what Wings says offensive. I am sure he would be disappointed if people didn’t have that reaction at times. I don’t have to like everything he says to find the website useful. I also find Loki offensive at times but I can’t see me getting involved in an exercise in shunning him any time soon. Some of the stuff he says I agree with.

    The Yes movement is over? Of course it isn’t. New indyref campaign starting soon according to Sturgeon and plenty enthusiasm for that on my social media timelines so am feeling entertained and optimistic about Scottish politics again at the moment. Cracking election result 🙂

  24. K. A. Mylchreest says:

    The Scottish electoral system is, as far as I can see, intended to combine the best of FPTP where you vote for actual individual MSP´s and the principle of PR. It does this by using the regional list vote to add extra members to balance out the numbers.

    It´s important to realise that this so called ¨Second Vote¨ is what is actually meant to determine the final make-up of the parliament.

    The weakness in the system is that while the list can add members and can´t remove any. So any party that manages to get more than its proportional fair share of MSP´s elected by FPTP keeps that advantage and everyone else suffers.

    This was I believe a cunning plan hatched by Labour and the LibDems back in the day for their own ends. Like most ¨cunning plans¨ it rather blew up in their faces when the SNP eventually broke the system by getting far more constituency FPTP seats than their proportion of the vote warranted.

    A quick back of an envelope calculation give the following approximate figures for the number of seats each party would have recieved under 100% PR based on the numbers of list votes. The numbers of actual seats are those in brackets :

    SNP 56 (63); Tory 31 (31); Labour 26 (24); Greens 9 (6); LibDems 7 (5)

    So in a completely fair democratic system, where as far as possible everyone´s vote carried equal weight regardless of where you lived, there would only be a knife-edge majority for indy (56 + 9 = 65), compared to what we actually have (63 + 6 = 69) which is workable, even if the Greens swither don´t all support the cause all of the time.

    However, remember and consider that the SNP have from a truly democratic perspective, robbed Labour, the Greens and the LibDems of some seven seats. They won more than their just deserts through FPTP and the system could not take these unfair gains away.

    Why is this important? Because an indy referendum is (hopefully) fully democratic, and so therefore can only be won when there´s a clear majority in favour. And we´re not quite there yet. So perhaps this result can act as a reality check while still leaving the SNP in the driving seat.

    As for the radical left, much as I agree with their stance, the fact is they only received a tiny proportion of the vote. Sadly the ´great unwashed masses´ are not ripe for revolution. Most are probably too bogged down with all their everyday hassles and worries to relate to the abstract rants of a few self-appointed leaders. Only if things get really dire will they rise, and honestly I hope it doesn´t have to come to that.

    So essentially it comes down to pragmatics. There are more folk in the centre than out on the fringes, so the SNP and indeed the indy movement as a whole, has little to gain and a great deal to lose by moving much further to the left.

  25. Scott says:

    Wings over Scotland is now toxic to the Yes movement. He blames Liverpool fans for Hillsborough despite a court and a jury saying otherwise, he has often made transphobic comments without apology or concern for those he offends and he continues to attack other pro-indy, non-SNP parties and groups for having the audacity to hold opinions different from his.

    1. Onwards says:

      Scott, the average independence supporter doesn’t care about wings personal opinions on other issues. That site and the WBB added many thousands of votes to the YES vote.
      I don’t like his opinion on Gaelic, but so what? Am I going to throw a strop and attack one of the biggest assets to the cause of independence? Especially in the run up to an election..
      Is one guys personal opinion worse than the Tories attacking the poor and disabled, and an unequal union that holds back our true potential as a nation. Hell no.
      We can be purists to the point where nothing is achieved.
      Anyway, what’s done is done. IMO all the YES sites including Wings need to get over themselves and work together again for the greater good.

      1. Scott says:

        Nice sentiment, but for many it’s too late for Wings.

        Having an opinion is one thing – personally attacking other Yes campaigners and specifically targeting and haranguing other pro-Yes groups and parties is quite another.

        As I said, he’s now toxic to the Yes campaign. His opinions have driven potential Yes voters away and his childish blocking of anyone who dares challenge his views is just proof that his ego is out of control.

        1. MVH says:

          For many it is too late for Bella/Common Space/RISE because of the offensive attacks on SNP voters. Perhaps a split is inevitable. My money is on WINGS, Scotgoespop etc continuing to argue for indy and Bella/RISE/CS joining the unionist media and/or getting jobs as accountants after they finish college. Oh well. Scotland is full of voices as yet unheard.

          1. K. A. Mylchreest says:

            You agree? 😉

          2. MVH says:

            Sorry, no disrespect to Cat Boyd, Colin Fox and Sillars who came across as hard working and experienced politicians. The RISE online campaign came across like a bad episode of the Young Ones, alienated the very people who Rise needed to attract. That is the image of RISE I have in my mind at the end of this. All the best with what ever happens next 🙂

  26. alan webster says:

    In an ideal world it would have been a good idea for all pro-indy groups to agree to SNP candidates stand on the list (would probably stopped labour winning Edinburgh seat) and have an agreed list with SNP Greens and socialists such as Colin Fox and Cat Boys who were impressive during referendum.
    The sight of torys trying to lecture the Scottish government on what they can and can’t do may just be enough to push the remaining labour loyalists into voting for independence

  27. Chris says:

    As an SNP-Green voter I consider my Green vote to be just as much pro- Indy as my SNP one.

    The Greens’ members are mainly Yessers who joined after the indyref , remember.

    What would unionists most like to see? Answer – a divided Yes movement. Please think about that before adding any fuel to this (currently pretty small, manageable) fire. Thanks.

  28. William says:

    A very brave article and an exceptionally positive note. We are still yes and now is the time to act together and with purpose. I personally don’t think enough ground work has been done for a majority yes vote anytime soon. I think one of the weaknesses in the pro Indy campaign has been the lack of non political civic groups; umbrella organisations that can rely on large numbers. Living in Barcelona I see the power of theses groups in proposing and supporting the “together for yes” coalition that has led to a popular time table for independence. Sure there is infighting between parties (the independence movement in Catalunya has a right wing element and a much more radical left wing than Scotland) but they are working together in parliament and on re streets. Scotland has a lot to learn and civic Scotland has a bigger role to play.

    1. Onwards says:

      William, what sort of non-political groups do you mean and what kind of examples?
      Who would organise such events ?
      Like “together for yes” music concerts and the like?

      It would be amazing to see the numbers on the streets that the crowds in Catalunya can attract, but I think we just have a different culture here. It’s gradually changing, but in Scotland and Britain as a whole it was often frowned on to even just talk about politics or religion or anything controversial at all, unless amongst close friends.
      The internet and social media have given an outlet to a lot of frustration in that regard, and it helps that independence support is now seen as mainstream opinion rather than a niche view.

      It would be great to see Catalunya gain independence in the next few years, because it will be an example of how the EU can adjust and accomodate them with little hassle.

      1. William says:

        The main grassroots movement is the Asemblea Nacional Catalana. These are the guys who organise the 1m hand holding across Catalonia, the 100,000+ regular demonstrations, the pot and pan banging and all the things that create noise and coverage of their cause. There are other umbrella groups who work together to show the strength of the movement. You ask a great question, who would organise those? And that’s my point, there doesn’t seem to be any civic organisation taking the lead. Organsing something large and unique isn’t difficult. It just takes some effort. Maybe less bickering and more creative thought into how to show the strength and determination of the movement might turn a few heads.

  29. John says:

    It’s good to see one Bella blogger has the decency to say he got it wrong , I won’t hold my breath for the rest .

  30. Graeme says:

    It has become obvious to me that independence will come about DESPITE the SNP. It’s time to grow a true progressive pro indy alliance and consign the neoliberal stooges of the SNP to history.

  31. Alf Baird says:

    Excellent balanced synthesis by Alan Bissett. Scotland’s only adversary is the British state/Tories and as Alan has poetically said before – “we’ll pay for it”, and in a thousand different ways, as many more ‘No’ voters will soon discover.

    At the end of the day – “We’re (all) still Yes.” And Independence is priceless, as all independent nations ken fine weel – we do not need to put a price on it. At least wee Ruthie and her posh boys will surely make for some comedy, if not tragedy.

  32. Mike Fenwick says:

    My take on much of what has been said above is that we seem to be in a “Waiting for Godot” period. Independence just like Godot is not coming today, but will come tomorrow.

    At the referendum, were we fully prepared for what was a very long list of questions, lets just take three – the questions of currency, of pensions, of oil price fluctuation.

    I don’t mean did we have possible answers, some possible choices, I mean were we unambiguously prepared, no doubts, no obstacles, no questions left without a definitive answer, and that includes being prepared for some of the harsh realities that face not just Scotland but are global, whether those be environmental or economic.

    Take currency.

    Should we adopt the £sterling, the Euro, a Scottish Pound, a floating currency under the management of a Currency Board, or might we introduce a digital Scottish currency as a means of exchange in Scotland only?

    Might that latter idea, an internal only Scottish currency also provide potential answers to the other two questions, a radical reform of how we transform our thinking on pensions, and how it leaves oil prices while still important and subject to global speculation, but also leaves them entirely separate from global speculation on the currency we use day to day within Scotland.

    “Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail!”

    What are we waiting for?



    From whom?

    Carpe Diem!

  33. Big Jock says:

    Agree wholeheartedy. The bickering has to stop. Leave that to the Yoons!

  34. john young says:

    Mike does anyone/anywhere have answers to currency/finances it is beyond and out of sight of all governments,the bankers/moneyshakers are a rule unto themselves and act accordingly,just look at all the so called financial experts heads below the parapets at the last debachle and those that went before,there are reports if an imminent financial disaster,can we do anything about it no we can,t.

    1. Mike Fenwick says:

      Hi John …

      We could start here, a paper issued jointly by CommonWeal and NEF:

      Rather than use the term “currency”, maybe we should use “money”, and realise that 97% of the money we all use is the other side of the Banks’ balance sheet, the other side being Debt, and recognise that it was the accumulation of debt that precipitated the 2008 crash, that and the failure of politicians and regulators, so maybe, nope take that back, there is a different way, for a more in depth analysis, try here:

      Radical, blue sky, too ambitiious, well try here, and see what the Bank of England are thinking:

      It was nearly 200 years ago, that Scotland gave birth to “paper money” – completely unheard of anywhere in the world until it happened, then it became nearly commonplace, but is rapidly diminishing as we digitally chip and pin, or smartphone our way forward.

      I am NOT saying, or trying to answer, what externally used currency we adopt or use, with our oil reserves it could be the $dollar in part because that is how it is traded, a basket of currencies is used by other countries, and we don’t need permission to go that way.

      What I am saying is that most of us in our day to day lives need a “medium of exchange”, and for me we should be seriously considering, for its many advantages, the creation of a Scottish Digital currency, used in Scotland and not used outwith Scotland.

      Sound independent … yep, because it would be, and not least, if you follow the above links, it would be independent of Bank created debt.

      Or I suppose we could just wait for Godot, and not live up to the repudation we Scots have for innovation.

      1. Mike Fenwick says:

        Ooops what was intended was … and not live up to the reputation we Scots have for innovation.

        Repudiation??? … where did that come from????

  35. Big Marky says:

    I don’t come on here too much because I feel that the whole Left Wing Socialist Utopia behind the vote for independence was not about Independence for Scotland, rather just a different system from Westminster. We all have dreams of what an independent Scotland could be, mine may vary quite radically from yours. At the end of the day unless we get independence it can never happen. We have to all decide that we want to take that step forward and form the crucible from which we will create a new Scotland. Whatever shape that takes I am pretty sure it will be fairer. I am also pretty certain it would also have to be a place where people can prosper through hard work, be attractive to companies wishing to come here and create employment opportunities for our people. The left has dominated the indie and unless there is an all inclusive “Yes” next time it does not bode well. We have to offer the left/centre/right an opportunity to see that an Independent Scotland offers the prospect of a better life for them, not at the expense of them. One where the economy is fertile enough that people can take a chance and start their own business, one where the disabled person has the security of knowing that they can live a life without fear of loosing their mobility, personal care etc. Personally I am 100% indie first and foremost, I love Scotland and desperately want to see it stand on its own 2 feet. Arguing about the wallpaper before you have built the house is detrimental and divisive. We have to fight for Scotland first and then we can all shape our dreams.

  36. Fiona MacInnes says:

    Come on – all go and watch ‘The Life of Brian’, examine where your anger is coming from, expel it and be ready to re-enter the indy movement remembering that not everyone reaches the same stage of realisation at the same time. It will take longer for some to vent.
    Take pencil and draw line.
    Tomorrow is a new day.

  37. Michael says:

    Ok, so we want different things for different reasons, but these discussions are for POST independence. The so-called “Rainbow Coalition” is an illusion, going by the last twelve months.

    We need to look at the bigger picture. SNPBad? SNPGood? Sheeples? Other comments are derogatory and disrespectful. Perhaps that sums up where we all start from. Whatever reasons we choose to campaign for independence, we won’t convince anyone if we can’t even respect each other’s views and our attitudes regarding others, including Unionists, how can we even hope to convince our “no-voting elderly neighbour”?

    Over the last two election campaigns, I have watched died-in-the wool elderly Labour voters turn up at polling stations and vote with increasing confidence for the SNP. Positive governance, not fancy political arguments (whether modernist or post modernist) putting people first, front and centre, encouraging equality, social justice and demonstrating responsibility and the ability to rebuild Scotland’s confidence and infra structure will win any argument. No other party than the SNP are in a position to do that, and deserve their position at the heart of the independence movement.

    The other thing to remember is that we lost the battle with IndyRef1, but not the war. In both the previous elections, we have strengthened our position, attracting new voters and although the turnout wasn’t as big as we would have liked, we commanded 50% (25% constituency) of votes cast. The d’Hondt system is designed to prevent majority governments, which isn’t in itself a problem. The temptation for tactical voting was clearly too much for some in this election, but the end result has been seen for what it is. Recriminations have no place here. It is what it is.

    We want independence? We have to prove to our own people how we can stand on our own two feet as a country. We say we are different, that our character and nature are different, that our tastes are for different things, rather than the usual meat of politicians? We have to show the electorate we are not the same as any other nationalist movement, that we are civic, not divisive, that we are prepared to work together positively. Let the colour of politics be the subject of a post referendum debate. Let’s move forward with integrity, with positivity and with confidence. And let’s bring everyone else with us.

  38. Anne Roberts says:

    Excellent piece. Can I also recommend that those who want to move on also have a listen to Broadcasting Scotland’s Full Scottish discussion from Sunday 8/5, which had plenty of post-mortem analysis but an equal amount of grown-up, constructive ideas. Thanks Alan. ✊

  39. John Page says:

    A request for help…..

    Does anyone have a feel for the STV system for Council elections?

    The biggest task we have on hand is to sweep Labour permanently out of Glasgow. Is there anything the Glasgow Greens and the SNP can start doing now to establish an arrangement to achieve that important goal.


    John Page

  40. Alf Baird says:

    Talking of ‘biggest task’ and ‘let’s bring everyone else with us’:

    Many will recall that Sir Nicholas McPherson, former civil service head of the Treasury admitted that UK civil servants prior to the referendum worked to achieve political ends because ‘the UK was at risk’. We should also remember that the civil service in Scotland remains part of the UK ‘Home’ civil service and has been active placing many of ‘their own people’ into government departments and NGO’s in Scotland over a number of years. Whether the people who are responsible for implementing Scottish Government policies today are ‘with us’ is therefore a moot point.

  41. Joe Killman says:

    What a load of ‘Proper Common Sense’!!
    All should read, take note and think on. Possible to disagree with one or two points but nothing is perfect. everyone should join together for the cause.

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