2007 - 2021

The SNP has got us where we are, but the SNP on its own isn’t enough in the future

SNP conference 2013The SNP have played a huge role in getting us to where we are today. They are central to where Scotland goes in the future – but they on their own are not enough.

Without the SNP there is significant doubt that we would ever have got a Scottish Parliament. It is true that Labour legislated for it, but they were first brought back to devolution in the 1970s by the electoral threat of the SNP. Without the SNP there would have been no indyref1, and without them there will be no indyref2.

Therefore Scottish politics owes a great deal of gratitude to the SNP. Just for one second imagine politics over the last 40 years without the SNP. All Scotland would have available to show any dissatisfaction with Westminster and desire for self-government would have been to vote Labour or Lib Dem (with the Greens under FPTP remaining a minuscule force, and without the SNP there being no guarantee Labour reverted to its earlier home rule stance).

All of the above is increasingly important as the SNP prepare to meet for its Annual Conference in Glasgow, but it is also true that the SNP on their own are not enough. And blind loyalty to one party is different from passionate support for ‘the cause’ and, even at times, counter-productive. The SNP contributed hugely to getting us where we are. But they are not enough to take Scotland to the next stage: winning an indyref and making the politics of a new independent state.

The SNP have high poll ratings as a party, Nicola Sturgeon polls well as First Minister, while there are impressive trust ratings for the Scottish Government. After nine years in office, the SNP have ratings that its political opponents would die for, and the envy of the developed world.

However, there are two caveats on the above. Nothing lasts forever. The SNP haven’t completely reinvented the laws of politics and what goes up eventually comes down. There is no sign of that yet, but the physics of political gravity suggest eventually that they will.

Such popularity also comes at a cost. It does not liberate you. It gives politicians a strange mixture of nervousness and arrogance, as they do everything in their power to retain their ‘Big Tent’ appeal. There is an over-awareness that everything should be geared towards the maintenance of that alliance and coalition. And there is also at the same time, seemingly paradoxically, a creeping arrogance that typically comes with ministers being in office for what will shortly be a decade. In this mindset, every problem becomes solvable by ministers and every solution entails ministers and government taking more power into their own hands.

snp-victory-and-it-was-all-yellow_designThe SNP’s centrist agenda of steady as she goes safety-first politics has been disguised by the theatre and drama of our times. First there was the sheer novelty of the party winning in 2007 and entering office and forming a minority government, followed by majority government and the helter skelter experience of the indyref, and then the popularity of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.

Nine years is enough of a period to be able to discern some big patterns: some positive and some negative. On the former, these include the shallowness of the SNP’s legislative achievements in its near-decade in office. For all the party’s much pronounced social democratic credentials, there is little evidence of legislation and practice that has advanced a politics of social democracy, redistribution and greater equality. We have had a lot of rhetoric and assertion, but too little movement, even allowing for the powers of the Parliament.

Such sentiment is beginning to be more slowly talked about, with this week former Minister Kenny MacAskill saying that the SNP in office under Nicola Sturgeon has been ‘marked more by timidity than radicalism’ and that if this continued ‘the danger is that her government end up simply managing, not leading, the political agenda; much indeed, as Labour did …’

On the positive, the SNP have presided over a transformation of how Scotland thinks and sees itself. The Scottish Government feels like a Government not a Branch Office. The office of First Minister has become the undisputed leader of the nation. And Scotland has, thanks to the indyref, significantly reappeared on the international stage for the first time in the modern era.

These are long-term shifts, maybe as (or even more) important than legislation. If we look at the big picture of how Scotland has altered as a society beyond government and politics, much of this has happened not at the hands of the SNP alone, but as part of a much more diffuse, diverse set of changes. This is Scotland’s ‘quiet revolution’ of recent debates – the weakening of liberal unionist and institutional Scotland – that is separate from the SNP and which, in parts it along with formal society, barely understands.

“Time is of the essence here. We are living in the shadows of the last days of the British state. The next few years are going to be stormy, turbulent and in places, ugly. British nationalism of a very uncivil and unpleasant kind has been let out and is free to roam and devour those it doesn’t like.”

Given these changes, the fact that the SNP has been so timid, cautious and conservative is even more pronounced. Take any number of examples – social justice, local government, broadcasting and culture – and there has been little bold, far-reaching or that imaginative.

This brings us to the SNP’s command and control politics and the need for them to let go the propensity to centralise, standardise and rationalise. This has combined with a politics of decision-making under Nicola Sturgeon which, as Mandy Rhodes observes in the recently published collection ‘SNP Leaders’ edited by myself and James Mitchell, really only comes down to Nicola in association with Peter Murrell, Chief Executive of the party and her husband. Such a concentration of decision-making can work for a period in good years, but it rarely ever ends well. Mike Russell in the same book has warned that the years of office have ‘eroded the reality of distributed authority’ in the party.

“The entire Westminster system, political class and British state is away to enter the most challenging and difficult times since the 1930s. This is a time of maximum danger and opportunity. We have to seize that agenda creatively and responsibly and be aware of the age we are living in: where power economically, politically and geo-politically is in flux and fluidity.”

Two fault-lines are emerging in Scottish politics which are explored in my forthcoming book ‘Scotland the Bold’ out next month. The first is the re-emergence of one of the big dividing lines between anti-Tory and Tory Scotland – this time as Nationalist Scotland versus Tories as the new independence-unionist divide. One can already see both sides preparing their rhetoric and there is a mutual advantage to both pre-indyref2 – mobilising their own sides, playing to their raison d’etre, and further squeezing out Labour. But this cannot be enough of a debate to define and win a future indyref, because it plays too much to a comfortable set of stories about Scotland, constantly referencing the 1980s and sins of Thatcher and Thatcherism and doesn’t address future challenges.

Then there is the perspective of the enlightened, professional, insider class versus the self-organising, self-determining DIY Scotland – the last of which we saw in action in the indyref, but which is part of a much longer-term and generational shift and change, not just here but across the West.

The first are the strata of society who have administered Scotland for as long as there has been a sub-state and which has grown increasingly important as state, public spending and the reach of patronage grew over most of the 20th century. This group is formal, institutional Scotland – and thinks it has the legitimacy, mandates and resources to make most of the important decisions in society. Fortunately, its worldview is one that is increasingly in crisis and retreat. DIY Scotland while having less resources has an energy, motivation and generational story. It also has a welcome distrust of the state and institutional authority that has let people down so often in recent decades.

One big question for the future character of self-governing, independent Scotland is where the ideas, self-criticism and debates emerge – something Pat Kane rightly raised last week in Bella Caledonia (‘Strategies for Yes need new Institutions’). What is required I think is an ecology of self-determination in which pro-independence institutions can establish, find an anchor and support, and grow. These would include many different types of bodies, but three are worthy of individual mention:

National Collective Press Conference, Royal Faculty of Procurators, GlasgowThe think tank question. With the exception of Common Weal there is no independent supporting conventional think tank. There are numerous limits and criticisms of the think tank industry, but not having one is equally problematic.

An ideas/cultural journal. This wouldn’t be a ‘New Statesman’ or ‘Prospect’ as the market won’t sustain one, but a sort of mini-Scottish ‘Marxism Today’. It would have an ecumenical, generous and pluralist vision of self-government, and while being based and rooted in Scotland, about both Scotland and the world.

An independent cultural body. This would be about arts, culture, imagination and ideas which would sit in a place inspired by the energies and drive of National Collective.

All of these bring up big issues about organisational form, remit, business models and finance, which need detailed discussion. What also matters are values, vessels and voice: understanding where they sit, who they draw upon, and what kind of Scotland they try to reflect and champion. Equally, we have to assess the attitude of the SNP leadership to such independent minded, pro-independence initiatives. So far it hasn’t been that encouraging.

One reason for this has been that the SNP leadership have concentrated upon party strategies and building, and haven’t recognised or prioritised non-party initiatives. But it does increasingly look like there is more to this after so many years in government. It does seem as if there is a tendency to be wary of independent initiatives and instead want to have some element of control over as much of the independence movement as possible. It isn’t as black and white as that I surmise, but there is wariness in encouraging non-SNP spaces, and a lack of grasping the need for a diversity and ecology of self-government bodies and voices.

All of this is not a sideshow. Independence necessitates a ferment of ideas, claims and counter-claims and a rich soup of policies and proposals. That cannot wait until day one of an independent Scotland because on that day, Serco, KPMG and others will be there with their feet under the table and their Powerpoint pitches for outsourcing, privatisation and ‘smart’ public spending cuts.

Indyref2 cannot just be won by the SNP and SNP alone. The Nationalists need Green, Labour and Lib Dem votes and they need sizeable percentages of each if we are to be sure that independence will win, and win emphatically and well.

This begs a whole host of questions for consideration and discussion: about what can we best do now, how do we do it, and what kind of institutions and platforms do we most need and how do we create them and financially support them?

Time is of the essence here. We are living in the shadows of the last days of the British state. The next few years are going to be stormy, turbulent and in places, ugly. British nationalism of a very uncivil and unpleasant kind has been let out and is free to roam and devour those it doesn’t like.

The entire Westminster system, political class and British state is away to enter the most challenging and difficult times since the 1930s. This is a time of maximum danger and opportunity. We have to seize that agenda creatively and responsibly and be aware of the age we are living in: where power economically, politically and geo-politically is in flux and fluidity. That cannot just be left to the SNP, but entails a nuanced debate and interventions alongside the SNP to make sure that the different society many of us aspire to does happen. The Scotland of the future is being made now. That’s a challenge and responsibility to every single one of us.


Gerry Hassan is author of Scotland the Bold: How Our Nation Changed and Why There is No Way Back published by Freight Books on November 14th.

Comments (55)

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  1. Stewart Connor says:

    Why not just break up the Westminster mould of party politics and re-invent our politics in a new Scotland. If eastern Europe could do it why not Scotland?

    1. Crubag says:

      Eastern Europe has a similar left-right spectrum of political parties, they just have different names. It is the centre right that is in the ascendance at the moment, with the Law and Justice (sort of Christian Democrat) party in Poland and Fidesz (originally an anti-communist youth movement) in Hungary.

      1. Lawrence Anderson Burley says:

        In fact, both Poland and Hungary have produced some pretty unpleasant avowedly illiberal right wing parties, no better – perhaps worse – than those of the old West Europe polities

  2. tartanfever says:

    The question surely is, are we waiting for the SNP to tell us when to start ?

    Because if we need these ‘institutions’ (think tank, journal etc) then we better get off our backsides and get on with it, because it is not up to the SNP to provide this, nor should it be.

    Who is going to restart the Yes campaign with a written agenda, core objectives, officials in place and a campaigning strategy to raise monies ?

    Or do we have to wait until Nicola tells us there will be another referendum ? (at which time, it will most likely be too late to do anything)

    1. John B Dick says:

      We know that Indyref2 will be triggered by stable 60% polling and a material change.For the latter we have had the dogs brexit and that’s like the Glasgow busses. There will be another one along in a few minutes.

      So watch YOUGOV and John Curtice’s blog, and you won’t need NS or anyone else to tell you when to start.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        We don’t know that at all. The 60% figure was dreamt up by the corporate media.

    2. Dougie Blackwood says:

      When we started the 2014 Indyref the Yes figure was about 20-25%. Through hard work we got it up to 45 and many of those that voted no were scared into it by threats of losing either jobs or pensions.

      We are waiting for the SNP to start the process again but in the meantime the forces of unionism are hard at work while we sit on our hands. My wife reads the Express and every day there is another “Hammer Blow for Sturgeon” or another fault of something the SNP can be blamed for. The BBC trumpets nothing but bad news for Scotland and ignores anything positive. The effect is that our support is not growing but will diminish over time in the face of all this negative publicity.

      We need to bite the bullet and fire the starting pistol NOW. I hope something happens at the conference or the tide will turn against us.

      1. c rober says:

        Dougie , I thought it was just me reading the enemy jotters.

        Your right abut the beeb , every time and opportunity for SNP bad , its has became farcical – If only they could blame the national footy squad over the last 20 years on them , then they would get somewhere fast.

  3. ScotsEngineer says:

    To pick up on the point about the SNP being wary of independence initiatives that they don’t lead; I’ve always thought that this is because they’ve undetaken a risk assessment. Present an past experience would tell us that with an almost overwhelmingly negative print and broadcast media that any controversial issues that arise in the wider non-party group would be reflected (deflected?) onto the SNP. We can even see this with Jeremy Corbyn being repeatedly hounded to apologise for behaviour of his wider supporters outwith the Labour Party. For the SNP it’s not worth the risk unless there’s a change in the media position.

    1. c rober says:

      The argument now is there that the project fear campaign was right on oil , and therfore the economy , however brexit was not even factored in within either dockets , and yet the levers of economy can only be adjusted in Westminster , where it also has most of the effective powers for working the economy in Scotland reserved also.

  4. Thomas Potter says:

    I’d like some clarification on how the SNP and ‘broadcasting’ are thrown into this article when as far as I know we are the ONLY country in the world that doesn’t have its own TV/MSM/ Radio channels? Why is that?
    Even Outer Mongolia has it’s own TV channels ffs.
    No explanation that the Scottish people and their aspirations are suppressed by Big Brother Establishment MSM and are under constant attack with lies, misinformation and propaganda that would put Goebbels to shame.
    Some good points ,even for you Gerry ,but ‘the honeymoon is over for the SNP’ gist of it is misleading and false.
    The Engagement has been going on for a wee while but the Wedding is on the cards very soon-right after indyref2 and WM has went to hell in a handcart.
    Then the marriage of Scotland and Independence will only truly begin.
    Thereafter we might discuss the honeymoon.

    1. bringiton says:

      The BBC’s response to not having a dedicated Scottish news hour has been to increase the number of Scottish presenters on the “national” news.
      London must think we button up the back.

      1. c rober says:

        Or it was simply career improvements , funded with pieces of silver.

  5. lordmac says:

    If Scotland did get independence, and say the SNP ruled that in vote what need would there be, for the labour party,the lib dems, as their polices would not be able to stand in Scotland. As for the Torys they would also have to give up there English views. And what party’s would there be, they would have to be new party’s formed,away ,from English connections, as they would have no interest but there own, in then,trying to unstable the Scottish independence. would the only three partys be Greens social, and SNP to govern Scotland

    1. c rober says:

      Which is the reason why many ask why Slab has failed to listen to the voters , its not jsut a branch office thing , its the self serving politicians up to now leading the party , one once formed under a banner of home rule….that has somehow fell off their history books.

      Come May there might well be a wipeout of those few Slabbers that are left in the councils , but then again they could just manage to keep their jobs by handwashing the national party line instead and claim local is their politics – not national and definately not nationalism.

      And that is where the SNP should be gearing up to capitalise on , importantly given the ousting of a FPTP winner dad of the FM in the NAC by election during the summer – where strategic voting meant the 2nd place won , aided by the tory vote , hardly a win then on party policies.But thats where the idea of democracy fails in overturning the FPTP system.

  6. Derry Vickers says:

    The analysis of the problem is easy. The solution is ‘another kettle of fish’.
    Think Tanks worry me, plenty of thinking before they tank.

    1. c rober says:

      Think tanks are a great thing , for those that own them , and for those that want to direct traffic in their favour.

  7. Aaron Carr says:

    Yes, the SNP have been cautious in their legislation, but radicalism does not suit the primary objective of independence for Scotland. The concept is of itself quite radical enough. Recently Scottish Labour’s pledge to raise taxes to fund social programmes appeared to be the final coup de grace for their prospects (although it is difficult to separate this effect from their total lack of political competence in every other area).
    The SNP are a vehicle to get us to where we need to go. I agree we must appeal to supporters of other political parties, and yes the independence movement should and is a broad church. However, we need to provide a unified front against the monolithic onslaught of unionist parties, media and other powerful interests.
    A truly independent media is lacking. Sales of The National are disappointing but reflect a deeper technology driven waning of the entire sector. I would like to see a devolved television news service (probably a vane hope) and more cohesion in online commentary. It’s all so fragmented and the essential will to pull it altogether under some collective umbrella appears to be lacking.
    If we win our independence, the political landscape in Scotland will transform virtually overnight, the vehicle will have reached its destination. How that precisely pans out is difficult and probably futile to imagine. Suffice to say that I expect truly radical voices to be loud and compelling.

  8. punklin says:

    I’m sorry but I find so much of Gerry Hassan’s ideas wishful thinking. If the ‘institutions and platforms’ he advocates have not already arisen organically then it seems unlikely that they suddenly will.

    Common Weal is great but I think its efforts are most effective when it can work with the SNP to radicalise the thinking of Scotland’s most effective vehicle for winning power and independence from the doomed UK.

    And journalistic phrases like ‘blind loyalty’ are not helpful. I know hundreds of SNP activists and not one of them would I patronise, as yoon commentators and sadly others like Gerry do, by describing them in such terms. They are intelligent, hard-working and supportive and appreciate the importance of solidarity, that’s all.

  9. John Robertson says:

    Yes, but it is essential that the wider Yes movement’s elements concentrate on the target, and do not create opportunities for Unionist forces to attack the SNP by sniping at their governance. I’m thinking of Kevin McKenna for example.

    1. So there should be no criticism of the Scottish Government at all until independence John?

      1. John Robertson says:

        Restraint, less posturing, less vanity, more patience. Keep your eye on the ball?

    2. Alf Baird says:

      Perhaps it is the SNP leadership who should “concentrate on the target”. In trying to be centrist and appeal in the main to 5-10% of No voters their “governance” is seen (by many Yessers) as increasingly establishment-oriented, refusing to change things they could change even now under semi-colonial rule (e.g. land reform, culture/language, higher education, appointing the same old unionist-elites to head up quangos, dilettante legislation etc). It is surely the SNP leadership who have taken their eye off the target, not the 100,000+ who joined the party after Ref1, or the 1.5m+ Yessers; our eyes are firmly on the target, but we are waiting on some inspirational leadership from the supposed party of independence. All we will hear this weekend are the usual soundbites and “we will fight against a hard Brexit”; aye right, fight all the way for their unionist salaries mair like. Fowk dinna want mair uissless wirds, thay want action.

      1. John Robertson says:

        I agree with all you say bar one thing, the timing. Only the SNP can take us over the line. Concentrate your fire on the Unionists especially the now allegedly ‘surging’ Tories. By all means save a few bullets for after the Great Day. I’ll happily join you in aiming them for proper land reform, more fair economic policies, an end to the monarchy, an end to NATO and so on. Apologies for my murderous metaphors.

      2. John Robertson says:

        And there are worse things about the SNP. Like all large successful organisations it has become a honeypot for self-seeking psychopath-spectrum individuals (I could name a few) who fill me with disgust but they can wait and so can I.

  10. barakabe says:

    Human nature tends to command immediate action on whatever ‘problem’ it focuses its attention- this includes our individual & collective attention on independence- reflecting this command for action through the time frame of its own limited duration. What we need is a longer term strategy for action that will secure permanent independence for Scotland. This is a time frame that conceptualizes its strategies in generations rather than immediate time frames- make no mistake if we lose the next Indyref then its over. The most partisan Unionists have a fluid relationship with democracy- almost definitely viewing democracy as secondary to their own Unionist ideology- & will set out to crush any future opportunity for Scottish independence. Scotland’s resources are going nowhere. The Tories are largely an irrelevance in Scotland. Labour are nudging towards extinction. The mainstream media is fragmenting & disintegrating at an accelerated rate. The older deferentially conservative unionist leaning section of the population will be largely gone in a generation. Are we not better playing the long game here- if we do I see it as inevitable Independence will happen ( maybe just not in the time-frames wished for by many)- are we at risk of falling into a Unionist trap constructed by our own impatience?

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Ower the lang-rin we’ll aw bi deid!

    2. John Robertson says:


    3. c rober says:

      The long game maybe also doesnt work , Nulabour?

      Scotland and its generational blindly voting , for 14 years or so of Westminster power , while that may have led to a knobbled Holyrood – it didnt deliver the other promises from them during the previous 17. Housing , reindustrialisation being those important factors.

      This is why the SNP , in their refusals to be policed from inside or out on change actually matters.

      Today SLab are electorally suffering , the very physical description of clinical madness combined with ostrich syndrome , and simply are not listening to the electorate. Therefore it is in any SNP voters interests to listen , and not assuming that EVERY SNP bad story is just lies for political capital.

      As for the Tories , well in Holyrood its ironic that the Nulabour D Hondt mandate is the only thing empowering them , its not the buffalo girl for sure , and like a rat would end up on the good ship Westminster give half a chance – But for that to happen she would have to be parachuted into an English constituency , as Mundell is the only token tory “in the village” – sent in Scotland from millionaire farmer land.

  11. Henry Finnen says:

    NO is an easy word to understand , we the MAJORITY told you this on September 18th 2014 , but you deluded , brainwashed people still bleat about it .There will be NO indy ref 2 , because the person with the real power and final say , Theresa May prime minister of the UK of which we Scotland democratically voted to stay part of , has already said No to it repeatedly since becoming PM to KRANKIE and her minions. PS what oil money ?? false promise number 1 , the country would be on it ‘s knees , if the NO vote had not saved it.

    1. Weeme56 says:

      Oh dear, as with the ‘Nazi’ name calling, when you resort to name calling & personal insults like this you have already lost the argument! We are having another Indy Referendum. Get used to it. Would you expect the No Voters to give up if they had lost?

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Persuasive stuff, Henry!

    3. c rober says:

      Henry here in lies the problem with your argument.

      During the Indy debate many promises were made to the voter , bribes if you will , in order to remain.

      Of those promises many have either been watered down , or indeed failed to materialise. I would love at this point to purely blame the tories , but I cant , Labour and the North England office offered even less.

      Thus like Brexit , which you no doubt obviously subscribe to , the terms have have changed so the contract needs redrawn , in that during indy the EU membership was offered as being ONLY through being part of the UK.

      When it comes to numbers , seeing as how you are referring to the Indy Ref Numbers result , which was 55-45 percent to remain , the Concensus of Scotland was far higher than that of indy in that 62-38 percent of the voting public voted to remain in the EU.

      So essentially , while the argument of the MSM was a once in a generation indy ref , that may have been the case then – but in the duration since there has been radical change in the conditions since…. conditions that as mentioned were part of the agreement in the first place.

      SO to expect anyone to shut up and accept History , well it just sounds like adding fuel to the fire , Scotland has accepted it history for too long already…. over 300 years of it , and all the silver that came with it for both the original unelected few….. and those elected since that have conviently forgot the party mandate of “home rule” since.

      The answer to the bigger question Might come in the Council elections , that is if the SNP has the cahonies to stand ONLY on a mandate of voting for the party in order to define another indy referendum imo. But its a long time until next May , and if a week is a long time in politics , then thats a lifetime. This sort of mandate at the council elections isnt though the kind of radical thinking we would ever see from the SNP – but it should be.

    4. Maria F says:

      “we the MAJORITY told you this on September 18th 2014″

      May I kindly ask who is we, Henry?

      On the 18th September 2014 a 55% of those voting in the Independence referendum did so to remain in the UK. But the population is not static Henry and more importantly, the UK we were promised by the Better Together was all smoke and mirrors. That kind of invalidates the vote, don’t you agree?

      So, now that the Tories have taken the mask off from the UK and we all can see the xenophobic horrors, unaffordable nuclear weapons we are lumbered with, a pound in free fall and deep austerity for most that it has in store, how many of that 55% do you think are now so shocked by what the UK has become that would jump at the opportunity of vote again and say YES?

      How many of the 55% on 2014 do you think have now realised that they were conned by all the lies, broken promises and false assurances of economic stability, pension guarantees and security by the Better Together? I mean, let’s take Ms Davidson for a second, didn’t she said over and over again that the only way to ensure we would remain in the EU would be by voting to remain in the UK? Well, I am sorry but that is misleading the electorate big time. Actually, I know quite a few of those within the 2014 55% that are furious about it.

      How many of those 55% do you think feel now let down by Brown and his unholy vow not delivering the much trumpeted ‘devo max to the max’?

      It has been said often that a big proportion of those voting NO in 2014 were senior citizens. I am not entirely sure of this myself, but in any case, how many of those are not longer around us because they passed or because they have decided to spend their retirement somewhere nicer and warmer? Of the latter and seeing the impact that a tanking pound is having on their pensions, how many do you think are now wishing they can vote YES?

      How many of those that were 14 in 2014 are 16 now and could vote today?

      How many of the EU citizens, fooled by Davidson’s words in 2014 may be voting YES today?

      How many of the 55% in 2014 is sickened after having to endure years of Tory tyranny when the 85% of the Scottish electorate didn’t vote for this party during the GE?

      How many of the 55% rather ditch a regressive UK so Scotland can remain in the EU in line with what the 62% of the electorate voted for on the 23rd of June?

      So majority is a very big word Henry. The only way to know if ‘your’ majority is still there or has vanished like Cameron is by testing it with indiref2.

      As per Ms May refusing to let us have it, I think you are not giving her any credit, actually. Ms May strikes me as being far too smart a politician for making the amateurish mistake of ‘refusing’ another indiref when the 85% of Scotland’s electorate voted against her party in 2015 and a 62% of the electorate voting in the EU referendum did so to remain in the EU.

      ” what oil money ??”
      The one Scotland could have now had the incompetent of Gideon decided not to bring the oil industry to its knees.

      ”the country would be on it ‘s knees , if the NO vote had not saved it”
      England? Well, absolutely Henry!!!! I think you will find a lot of people agreeing with you wholeheartedly on that one. I mean, we all know that the Tories don’t really do charity or humanitarian cases, don’t we? So what other reason is there to desperately keep holding onto Scotland if it is not because they really need it? Ahh didums! You are not going to tell me now that you believed that nonsense of Scotland being a basket case, are you?

      Can I now be a bit impolite Henry and kindly request that you better unleash your unconvincing bullying approach to debate in a more appropriate site: for example in the MSM comments sites frequented by some radical tunnel-vision and intransigent selfserving hypocrites that only care about Scotland for the number of votes that it may give to their political parties at Westminster.

      You see Henry, Bella is a civilised environment frequented by knowledgeable and sensible people that is genuinely pursuing the betterment of Scotland. Sadly your comment falls well below its standards.

      Talking about standards, I hope you don’t mind me remind you that using capital letters within comments equals to shout. I mean, being fair, your comments come across as aggressive and bullying enough as they are. Adding the shouting on top feels like that you are trying to kill an ant with a tank. Even in the MSM sites it may be a tad over the top…

  12. Crubag says:

    Gerry overlooks that a vote for a party is not necessarily a vote for constitutional change, though it can be a good indicator. A lot of Labour voters voted Yes, some SNP voters voted No. In fact, the contrast between the SNP’s historical heartlands, and its new acquisitions in Glasgow and Dundee was striking.

    (And in Scotland and across the UK, voters ignored “their” parties when it came to the EU.)

    As a centrist party (more right on economics, more left on social issues) the SNP may struggle over time to keep that coalition together. At the moment, Labour disarray is a gift, but if the Corbyn takeover did revitalise left politics in Scotland (I wouldn’t bet on it myself), that could be a challenge as to which wing does the SNP drop?

    I think the conference itself will be about settling down for the long-haul. No indy2 on the back of BREXIT, but a commitment to “soft power” keeping Scotland visible within the UK, Europe and globally. The opinion polls would point to that as the sensible tack to take, but whether it will meet the needs of the new SNP members, I don’t know.

    1. tartanfever says:

      As long as McTernan and the other Blairites continue to rule the Labour Party (which they do through the PLP and NEC) then Corbyn is not an issue. Dugdale doesn’t believe in him, nor does Ian Murray, Scotland’s only Labour MP and if they were to suddenly rally round to Corbyn’s side, then wouldn’t a sizeable chunk of remaining Labour voters in Scotland move on/back to the Tories ?

      Labour’s vote in Scotland isn’t just working class, it’s the Edinburgh middle class of Darling and Rowling and the south side Tories that moved to vote for Labour’s Murray in a tactical effort helped by the likes of natural born Tory voter and journalist Alex Massie.

      I think Labour are stuffed anyway they turn at present. Corbyn may rally against Scottish Independence, but our message is exactly the same as his – get rid of Trident/economic fairness/social care etc. If he started arguing against that he’s going to appear the biggest hypocrite going.

    2. Mungo says:

      Crubag predicts! Lol

      1. Crubag says:

        Always ready to be proved wrong! My crystal ball is as cloudy as anyone else’s.

        But I’d say the announcement of the indy2 legislation on Day 1 suggests this is it being raised and parked (apparently only one motion discussing indy and that is part of larger motion on EU?).

        So big event on Day 3 likely to be domestic. Not sure what that might be. Something radical(ish) on education – more centralisation of delivery but giving parents more choice on what schools their children can attend? Employment – guarantee of training at whatever life stage?

        The mists thicken.

  13. w.b.robertson says:

    SNP strategists should not be waiting on Nicola firing the starting pistol and then gambling on a percentage game. For much of the last decade the party in Holyrood has enjoyed increasing influence and power – but has been timid, and indeed, very conservative in using it. If, even at this late hour, the Scottish government drives forward with a radical programme of change (land use reform, education, health etc) then the Indy doubters would see what the future could be like. Provide a vision of this New Scotland and they will vote for it.

    1. Crubag says:

      All three of those are already devolved issues. It is the economy that is the prize.

      But we could have transformational leadership even now if our local authority system was remade.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Nationhood is the prize. Everything is possible after that. Nothing otherwise.

  14. Kenny Smith says:

    We have to hold indyref 2 in the next 2 years. I too don’t want to lose but what arguments from better together stand up now? Oil? We are all aware we had to move away from that at some point but there is still enough to keep us ticking over until renewable energy becomes the norm. As for the shite wipe that’s GERS and the deficit that adds to the argument that we are being mismanaged from Westminster and any unionist that pulls that one out never realises that until you say then you see the look on their face. All the other arguments have one by one fallen down because of the unionist parties ill conceived loyalty to instructions from London. I know no one here really loves the EU, no matter what way you voted the vote only highlights the fact that Scotland’s opinion is totally disregarded. As for this bullshit most of our trade is with England, fair enough but if Westminster is so confident that it will get a favourable deal with trade to EU and we are part of it then what is the problem? As for the hard border, it was bullshit in 2014 and even more bullshit now because they have promised no hard border with Ireland. We could spend our life waiting on a chance and never have a better one than now. I remember in 2012 when the starting gun for Indy ref was fired a rather condescending attitude was that the stars will never be so aligned again so if we lost that would be it forever, well I’d say they are more aligned now than when they were then so let’s be the brave Scots we are and go and win our right to be a nation again. All the unionist trolls that pepper these sites keep telling us we voted no so lump it and if all the promises were kept then there probably wouldn’t be the clamour for Indy ref 2. The Tories paint themselves as the defenders of the union but have done more to destroy it than the SNP ever could. If we go now then I believe we will win

    1. Crubag says:

      “I too don’t want to lose but what arguments from better together stand up now?”

      Currency, which is shorthand for the other economic levers, remains. Apparently Swinney suggesting indy2 would still argue for using rUK’s currency, or pegging a Scottish pound to the rUK pound?

      That gets expensive very quickly if the economies are moving at different speeds, or investor sentiment differs, and the Scottish central bank has to intervene.

      Leaving the EU has pluses and minuses, but it does create a potential new border issue if we did want to apply for EU membership. UK is pitching for Ireland to take on UK border responsibilities, to allow the common travel zone in the UK and Eire to continue.

      For the movement of people, it’s not a bad idea, but if there were tariffs for the movement of goods between EU and UK, then Ireland would have to start managing some of those too, including setting up border controls with NI.

      The SNP won’t ask for a referendum yet, partly because of the polls, but more because these issues aren’t ironed out yet.

      1. c rober says:

        Eire is the better option for only Westminster , prevents wealth from going to an independent Scotland , ie and as a positive argument FOR INDY , through new jobs created in a new State within the EU and English companies moving North – at least in part through small offices like the googles and apple of the world.

        This angloirsh BFF could also mean that EIRE is still controlled from England despite being long term independent from the UK , something that wont sit well in the stomach of the Irish outside of the North East and Dublin.

        For example Westminster through creating legislation that all EIRE hard exports are routed to NI away from Irish ports will equal job losses in one and creation in another , say for travelling to and through England to the EU as a border , where they can be met with Hs2 reasoning for train freight from English ports to the super ports of the SE. Its a bit like the French championing free trade movement in the EU constitution , yet is the most tolled route in the EU for its partners exports….thus gets a stealth tax income from them.

        Of course we also must add that the cherry in the cake , at least for Westminster , is the euro passport for banking.

        This is something that Dublin wealthy city folk may see as worth that cost for the working class in Ireland be once again the navvy of the English wealthy elite. I suspect this is the reason why the country seems quite receptive to the idea of a soft border , but they should at least offer that scenario as a referendum to their electorate , which of course means public transparency on the conditions being aid down by Westminster also on what is infact a soft border and the conditions that come with it.

        History has shown what Westminster can and will do to Ireland , aided by those nationals for personal wealth . It is not in any way a charitable endeavor here neither , its more than likely parasitic or at the very least most beneficial to the bigger partner ….if not just to prevent the Scottish independence cause gaining ground through increased employment.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          Here we go, back to discussing 101 issues to try and answer the msm better-together hounds when they come back howling for impossible definitive answers on a’thing. If Brexit showed us anything it is that we don’t need a plan never mind a white paper for indy. Indy is a matter of faith, as was Brexit. The political classes who come in afterwards will deal with any outcome. Our final voting decision is in any case now primarily a cultural/behavioural/psychological one anyway, where our future is based on two self-evident alternatives, e.g.: Scottish = welcoming, egalitarian, smiley faced, inclusive, society-oriented, up yer lum etc; or British = unwelcoming, individualistic/wealth focused, exclusive, aggressive/domineering, arrogant, plant their flag anywhere etc. I would be more worried if I see another white paper materialising.

          1. Wul says:

            Alf’s right,

            The question is: “Is it possible for Scotland to function as an independent country?”
            The answer is “Yes” (even unionists agree with this)

            I can never understand how Scotland having “a black-hole deficit of £….xxxxx” Whilst. Part. Of. The. UK- is meant to show that independence couldn’t work. Eh?

            I think we need a concerted campaign to show just how badly ripped off Scotland has been over the last few decades to help people make up their minds. (England’s getting ripped-off too, but that’s their fight)

  15. MBC says:

    I’m finding it confusing as to what Gerry is actually asking for here.

    It’s surely a contradiction in terms to expect the SNP to ‘support’ non-party organisations?

    How would these ‘non-party organisations’ be non-party organisations if they had some dependence on the SNP? Gerry needs to define what he means the SNP should do in respect of non-party organisations. A formal electoral pact with the Greens?

    It seems to me the SNP broadly welcomes these organisations if they are pro-indy, for example by standing on the same platforms.

    Surely the cornerstone of liberal democracy is the number and range of independent organisations? The opposite situation would be totalitarianism.

    And as for the SNP’s ‘wariness’ of such non-party organisations, could Gerry please give us some examples?

    1. John Robertson says:

      Are the SNP’s ‘Critical Friends’ really helping or just posturing? http://indyref2.scot/are-the-snps-critical-friends-really-helping-or-just-posturing

        1. John Robertson says:

          ‘It’s a piece so loaded with self-loathing, barely recognised inferiorism and desperate desperate political emptiness it’s hard to approach, but we really do need to talk about Kevin. ‘


          1. Yeah, it’s a good line to be sure John and may have contributed to influencing a key commentator to come on board and reflect on independence.

            Quite why you’re bringing this all up now I don’t really understand.

          2. John Robertson says:

            Both Gerry and Kevin, today in the Observer. I have good reason to doubt them both.

          3. I think you need a list John, somewhere between Theresa May and Santa Claus. This ‘lack of discipline’ needs to be stamped out, pronto.

          4. John Robertson says:

            You’re being unfair. Given the massive power imbalance, it would make a lot of sense for the pro-independence ‘movement’ to stick together and to maybe turn a blind eye to ‘failures’ by those in the vanguard who might actually punch their way through…for all of us. I know that the brutal attacks of Unionism have brutalised some of those on our side but that’s war.

            Surely Monty Python taught us well?

            Scottish Liberation Front, Front for the Liberation of Scotland, Common Front for the Liberation of Scotland, Rise Again Scotland Group, Caledonian Liberation Front, Front for the Liberation of Caledonia, Scottish Radical Independence Group………………..

  16. John Robertson says:

    Oh, yeh, the use of my first name all the time….can look a bit like an attempt to patronise and dominate the other person. Psychopaths use it all the time. Watch out for it. I’ve forgotten your name of course.

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