Saturday 7 June 2014

A vote for independence is a vote for the SNP

I’ve long been of the opinion that the SNP are in the business of hiding the truth from the Scottish people. This isn’t because they are bad people or anything like that, it’s because they believe passionately in Scottish independence, but know that people who share this belief are in a minority in Scotland. Less than a third of the Scottish population consistently support independence come what may and this figure has remained steady for years. These are the core SNP supporters, the people we meet online, who have believed in the SNP vision all their lives, who are desperate to win Scottish independence. I’m often impressed by their sincerity. They campaign effectively and they are very well organized. They are well funded too. They all know that the task is to convert the core nationalist support into 50% plus one vote. So they need to convert around 20% of Scots to their cause. This 20% are, of course, not SNP supporters; they may even be opposed to the SNP, but they need to be persuaded. How do you go about it?

The first thing you do is pretend that a vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP. Lots of Scots are put off by the SNP. I’m often struck by how many independence supporters object to being called nationalists. They seem blissfully unaware that one of the meanings of the word “nationalist” is someone who supports independence. Well then what is someone who is Scottish and supports independence other than a Scottish nationalist? This isn’t in any sense pejorative, but is an accurate description of someone’s political beliefs.  Ever since I can remember, to describe someone as a Scottish nationalist is to describe someone who supports the SNP, just as to describe someone as a Welsh nationalist is to describe someone who supports Plaid Cymru. People who support Welsh independence, but don’t support Plaid Cymru must be about as rare in Wales as dragons.  

One of the ways the SNP have set about trying to pretend that a vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP is by erecting a curtain between themselves and the independence campaign. This curtain is called Yes Scotland. But it’s rather like in the Wizard of Oz; in the end we find out who’s pulling the levers. Let’s look at who makes up Yes Scotland. The political parties that support Yes Scotland are the SNP, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity. The Scottish Socialists won 0.4 % in the last Holyrood election, Solidarity won 0.14 %, while the Greens won 4.4 % up from the 0.7% they had won at the previous General election.  By any normal standard these are minor parties. They have no chance of forming a government either in Scotland or the UK. Moreover even they realise that Yes Scotland is a front for the SNP.  Mr Harvie the Greens leader has described it as "entirely an SNP vehicle."

Naturally lots of people who previously have voted for other parties will vote Yes. But on what basis are they voting Yes? I assume it must be on the basis that they believe what is contained in the White Paper, Scotland’s Future. But who wrote Scotland’s Future? It was the Scottish Government which is made up exclusively of SNP members of the Scottish parliament. They are not in coalition with anyone as they won an absolute majority. Scotland’s Future is full of SNP policies many of them not shared by other parties and certainly not by other major parties. So clearly if I were to vote for Scotland’s Future, I would be voting for the SNP. It’s their manifesto after all. To suggest that someone can support a manifesto without supporting the party that wrote it is ludicrous.

When I was growing up in Scotland everyone knew which party supported independence. I can remember when they were a tiny party, but then they found their defining slogan “It’s Scotland’s oil” and they gradually became more popular. I remember when they opposed the Scottish Constitutional Convention and were against devolution because it wasn’t what they wanted. People who supported independence voted for the SNP, people who didn’t voted for Labour, the Liberals or the Conservatives.  The only party that has campaigned for independence for all of my life is the SNP. But now suddenly when there’s a referendum I’m supposed to believe that voting for independence is not a vote for the SNP? Well I’m sorry. I can see through the curtain. I know who’s pulling the levers.

Imagine if there were a policy that the Conservatives had which no other major party shared. Suppose, for instance, that they proposed reunification with the USA so that Britain would become the 51st State. Well let’s say they put it to a referendum with the question “Should Britain become the 51st state of the Union?” and imagine if the Conservatives campaigned for a Yes vote? Imagine if they had campaigned for this for years, but that Labour, the Liberals and the SNP had always opposed them. Well would it not be reasonable under these circumstances to say that a Yes vote would be a vote for the Conservatives? After all they would be the party in government; they would be the party that had always wanted to join the USA. Would it cease to be a vote for the Tories because a few tiny parties decided that they wanted to play the role of полезные дураки [useful fools]? Would it cease to be a vote for the Tories even though they admitted that in future USA elections they might not win?

Independence is the core policy of the SNP. It is the reason the party exists. Indeed the goal of independence is the only reason the SNP has existed since its beginning. In many ways it would be more accurate to describe the SNP as the Scottish Independence Party (SCOTIP). Anyone voting for independence who thinks they are not also voting for the SNP is deluding themselves.