Saturday 20 July 2024

The hinge on which Scottish history turns


It is not accidental that David Davis used parliamentary privilege to name Nicola Sturgeon’s former chief of staff Liz Lloyd as the source of the leak to the Daily Record about allegations against Alex Salmond. It is not accidental that he used parliamentary privilege, so the rest of us who are not in parliament must be careful. It is also not accidental that it was David Davis. To the credit of both Salmond and Davis are friends, willing to disagree about politics but able to like each other anyway. It makes Salmond a different sort of human being to Sturgeon. It is finally not accidental that Davis spoke now after the SNP were decisively defeated at the General Election. SNP power has kept a lid on everything, but that power continues to lessen and the lid continues to rise.

History has not yet been written about the SNP’s years in power. We still have to be careful in a way that history does not and all of the information that one day may be available to history is not available to us. We have advantages over history in that there are still living witnesses, but we have disadvantages too. But if history is one day to judge the moment when the SNP’s power began to decline it will be the moment that Nicola Sturgeon turned on Alex Salmond.

Many independence supporters are as hostile to the SNP as I am and they have more inside knowledge and more influence over the independence movement than I ever have had. While I may attack from without. They can attack from within. By far the best Trojan horse is Wings over Scotland.

We may disagree with Mr Campbell. We may sometimes have found ourselves the object of his ire. But we must also acknowledge that he has been the SNP’s best critic for many years now, providing the rest of us with information that we would otherwise not have and frequently writing well argued articles that have done far more to undermine support for the SNP than anything I have ever written.

It was not always so. During the independence campaign of 2014 the independence movement was united. Salmond led it, Sturgeon was an able deputy. It was for this reason support for independence grew from around 25% to 45%. Now it is back to 30%.

The independence movement split partly because of dissatisfaction over the SNP’s lack of progress towards independence, partly due to the perception that the SNP was insincere and that its politicians were more interested in self-advancement than achieving its goal. But most importantly of all was the attempt by the inner circle of the SNP to remove Alex Salmond.

The SNP Titanic was able to continue sailing for the next few years, but it was already holed below the waterline. It just needed enough water to seep in through the hole for the ship to sink.

It wasn’t merely that the independence movement was split that caused this, it was the fact that it became cynical and disillusioned. Doubts began to set in. Could the SNP really have set out to frame the great hero of 2014 who took the movement closer than it had ever thought possible?

It might have been possible to believe that Sturgeon was honestly trying to right the wrongs of her predecessor due to her concerns about #MeToo, feminism and women’s rights, but the fact that Salmond was acquitted despite there being ten witnesses against him, the fact that Sturgeon was evasive and could never remember and the fact that the Scottish government was determined not to release the relevant documents made Scots on both sides of the constitutional argument begin to find the whole thing corrupt.

When we discovered that Sturgeon could not define a woman and could not keep people with penises out of women’s prisons her feminist credentials began to appear less than an adequate  cause for her going after Salmond. So we looked for other reasons.

If Nicola Sturgeon used the power of the Scottish government and the civil service to attempt to unjustly convict Alex Salmond it would amount to one of the most scandalous corrupt incidents in Scottish history. It is quite clear that if Yes had won in 2014 there would have been no investigation against Salmond, nor indeed if he had remained leader of the SNP. No one attempted to have him investigated prior to the referendum.

The only thing that changed was that Nicola Sturgeon became leader and her husband Peter Murrel remained, despite Salmond’s advice, SNP chief executive. Power became concentrated with these two and some carefully chosen advisors.

Salmond lost his seat at Westminster in 2017 and suggested he might want to return to Holyrood. Sturgeon wanted to stop him.

But it’s not enough. Salmond was in no obvious way a threat to Sturgeon in 2017. Indeed he only became a threat after he was acquitted and naturally wanted to clear his name.

If there was a conspiracy against Alex Salmond where witnesses were gathered and persuaded to exaggerate, leaks were carefully made to the press because the more fronts Salmond is having to firefight on the better then it would be reasonable to assume that the conspirators feared that Salmond would stop them doing something that they otherwise could continue to do. What could that be?

There is another reason of course why independence supporters became so cynical and disillusioned with the SNP that they preferred to vote for Labour. The events of last year and the charging of Peter Murrell with embezzlement and the ongoing investigation into Sturgeon and the SNP Treasurer Colin Beattie all provided reasons for why former SNP supporters might decide that it was neither worth giving money to nor indeed voting for the SNP.

If I were an independence supporter who gave money to the supposedly ring-fenced campaign fund only to find that the money was all gone, but there was no independence, I would like everyone else have to presume that Murrell, Sturgeon and Beattie were innocent until proven guilty. I would like everyone else have to wait for the outcome of the investigation and any court cases. But I would not have to wait to lose my trust in the SNP.

Millions of independence supporters lost their trust in the SNP. They viewed it as uninterested in independence and more concerned with gathering material possessions and power than the interests of their supporters. And they were right. That is why the SNP lost all those seats.

There are two great mysteries in Scottish politics. Why did Sturgeon turn on Alex Salmond? Why did she resign?

If Sturgeon had been so concerned about Alex Salmond’s behaviour why did she not raise the issue in the years prior to the referendum. There was nothing stopping either her or anyone else from going to the police. Why wait?

But what did Alex Salmond do in the years between ceasing to be SNP leader and the leak to the Daily Record to make him such a threat that he had to be conspired against? Did Salmond’s knowledge of the party and his contacts mean that it was not safe to have him back at Holyrood where he might have been able to expose the corruption that had already started? Perhaps that is the reason.

Either Sturgeon knew that she would soon be arrested or she did not. If she did not know then why did she resign? There is no obvious explanation. But if she was told that she was soon to be arrested we can assume by the police, how can we trust the police to fairly investigate her? The police do not normally tell suspects they are about to be arrested as it gives the suspect the chance to destroy the evidence.

The leak to the Daily Record is the hinge on which modern Scottish history turns. This is the iceberg that sinks the SNP. But we still do not know why. We are prevented from delving too deeply by the courts and this may be most corrupt thing about Scotland of all.

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Thursday 18 July 2024

Pretendy separatists


Recently I noticed that I had got into trouble with the National again. A little while ago I wrote

If you think you are Scottish and not British, then please renounce your British citizenship & rip up your passport. You can then be deported from the UK as you won't have the right to live here. Alternatively, you can accept that you are indeed British or else be a hypocrite

Obviously, this is intended to be humorous. We struggle in the UK to deport anyone at all even those who arrive here illegally, so the idea that we could deport people who were born here and have lived here all their lives while committing no crimes is clearly not supposed to be taken seriously.

The National concludes

Unfortunately for Deans, it appears she's fighting a losing a battle. The latest census found that two-thirds of people in Scotland identify only as Scottish, not British. That's a lot of citizenships to renounce, Effie. You best get to work.

But it is not me that is fighting a losing battle. It’s you. I don’t need to get to work. The job has been done.

The point I was making was to point out the absurdity of people claiming to be Scottish and not British when clearly the vast majority are British whether they like it or not. To suppose that a British citizen is not British is to suppose that a square need not have four sides.

Nearly all Scots apart from those “new Scots” who have just arrived from Afghanistan, Syria, France or Chad are British citizens so how have we arrived at a situation where quite so many deny the truth? Perhaps it is like those people with penises denying that they are men.

It is indeed the case that the recent delayed census found that those with a Scottish only identity increased from 62.4% to 65.5% since 2011. While those with a British and Scottish identity decreased from 18.3% to 8.2%. The number of those with only a British identity increased from 8.4% to 13.9%. But what must be frightening for the National and indeed the SNP is that even with such demographics Scottish nationalism could not win the referendum and now has been decisively defeated at the General Election.

The SNP won just 30% of the vote at the election and there is no credible alternative route to independence than the SNP. It doesn’t matter if 100% of Scots tell polls that they want independence if they don’t vote for the only party that might make it happen.

By all means argue that the SNP must go and be replaced by a genuine independence party, but you have already tried that. If Alba is not that party what is? Three years after being formed Alba got 11,784 votes. Create a new party if you wish called Caledonia led by the ghost of Robert the Bruce, but it is not obvious that it will do better.

But the more devastating issue for Scottish nationalism is its almost unique failure to turn a separate identity into separatist votes.

Two thirds of Scots think they are only Scottish which is downright peculiar because there is no sovereign nation state called Scotland. We commonly call Scotland a country or even a nation, but it is clearly neither a country nor a nation in the way that Germany or France are these things. If it were, Scottish nationalists would not be seeking the independence which would grant Scotland that status.

So, although Scotland has never been a member of the EU, the United Nations, has no diplomatic relations and there are no Scottish citizens who have been issued with Scottish passports, two thirds of Scots deny that they have the identity of the place that gives them citizenship, and which represents them internationally. This is so peculiar that I struggle to find any comparison with anywhere else in the world. It is as if two thirds of people from Burgundy claimed that they were not French.

But despite this unique situation and despite the SNP being in control of education and despite “anyone but England” more than half of those Scots who think they are only Scottish voted in a British General Election and voted Labour because they wanted it to form the British government. Yet they claim to have no shared identity with anyone else outside Scotland who also voted for this government and view it as a foreign if not an occupying power.

Two thirds of Scots view themselves as already independent. If I am Scottish and not British, what else can I be? We don’t call people from the UK United Kingdomers, the word we use is British. So, denying that you are British is to deny that Scotland is part of the UK and perhaps to deny that the UK even exists or exists as a country.

The suffix land does not make a place a country as the examples of Maryland and Sunderland demonstrate. The fact that somewhere was once an independent country does not mean that it still is as the examples of Texas, Bavaria and numerous other places demonstrate. Yet the mere fact that Scotland was once a kingdom leads two thirds of Scots to conclude that people from England are not our fellow countrymen, we have no shared space and the country that unites us does not exist.

The Scottish not British identity that is held by two thirds of Scots is obviously false to the extent that it amounts to a collective mass delusion, but far from helping Scottish nationalism and the SNP reach its goal it hinders it.

I am forced to conclude that up to half of those Scots who lack any sort of British identity feel that Scotland is already independent, for which reason there is no reason to vote for it to become independent. You cannot become what you already are.

Given that Scotland has already achieved independence or perhaps has never lost it, there was no reason to vote Yes in the referendum of 2014 and no reason to vote SNP in the General election of 2024. Why risk all the trouble that actual independence would involve such as border controls and a new currency if you can happily maintain the fond illusion that Scotland is already independent because we have a separate football team and sometimes say words like “braw”.

The National appeals to a certain sort of Scottish nationalist who actually wants  Scotland to become a nation state like France, but the devastating message is that more than half of Scots who think of themselves as only Scottish are quite content with pretendy Scottish nationalism, pretendy independence and a pretendy identity that does not reflect any sort of reality.  It's all just pretendy separatism to go with a pretendy national identity.

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Sunday 14 July 2024

Making Trump great again


Donald Trump did not suddenly become a different person because he survived an assassination attempt. He did not become a better candidate. The flaws in his character will remain. But it is quite certain now that he has won the presidency. The shooting revealed a side of his character that will define the election and define it in his favour. Bravery and defiance.

Joe Biden is a decent man. A better man than Trump. But he has become weak, and it is quite clear now that he is unfit to lead anything let alone the free world.

Trump has all of the character flaws of George Patton, Ulysses Grant and Douglas MacArthur, but he is also the sort of man who would say “I intend to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer” and then do exactly that. Sometimes you need a leader with such flaws, though as Grant proved they often make poor presidents.

Trump is a poor loser. His response to losing the election in 2020 was disgraceful. Even if he sincerely believed that he had been robbed he should have used exclusively democratic and legal means to fight his cause. Democracy is above all about accepting defeat. Without that we are reduced to forms of tyranny and eventually fighting it out with clubs.

But sometimes it can be a virtue to be a poor loser. Grant, Patton and MacArthur were poor losers, for which reason they won in the end.

Trump is a womaniser. He has had numerous wives and numerous affairs. Rich and powerful men can behave that way. Ordinary men can’t though many wish they could. Trump transcends ordinariness and transcends the sexual morality that applies to everyone else. Our judgements barely touch him, they merely graze his ear like the bullet that would have killed someone else.

Trump is a criminal. He has been convicted by the courts. But criminal convictions only ruin those of us who have jobs that we could lose and reputations that are the foundations upon which we build our lives.

Being convicted doesn’t touch those of us who are below this for which reason a shop lifter doesn’t care at all if he is convicted. It also does not touch those of us who are above this. Napoleon gets away with his whiff of grapeshot on 13 Vendémiaire and Trump gets away with all the results of lawfare because everyone can see such trials for what they are.

Trump lacks judgement, but until the final year ruined by Covid his presidency was quite good. He did well domestically and in terms of foreign policy. Trump is willing to defy orthodoxy and that can be dangerous, but it also be effective.

Trump is an isolationist, and his instincts are protectionist. This puts him in the mainstream of American history. It is bad for a Europe that has relied too long on American might. It is bad for China, which has gained from free trade without reciprocating the deal, but it is not clear that it is bad for America.

Trump is certainly too old. It would be better by far if the contest was between too able governors in their forties or fifties, but the difference between Biden and Trump is not merely two years. If Biden had been shot in the ear it is unclear that he would have been even aware of it. Trump needed to be ushered off the stage by the FBI because he was shot, Biden frequently needs to be ushered off the stage when he has not been shot.

Trump’s thinking can at times be wild and his statements can be so provocative as to appear deranged. Inviting Russia to invade those NATO countries that don’t pay their way was just that. But while actually not making it any more likely that Russia would take him up on the invite, it did make it much more likely that those countries did pay their way.

The only way now that the Democrats can beat Trump is by jailing him, shooting him or ditching Biden. Whatever the Democrats have thrown at Trump he has become still stronger. So much so that he is now shaking his fist at them.

When general James Longstreet was wounded in the Wilderness in 1864 his first concern was to show his victorious troops that he was still alive. Trump’s instinct is the same. It makes it more likely that those troops will continue the battle and win it.

It is just possible that a competent Democrat candidate thirty or forty years younger than Trump could give him a contest, but even that is now too little and too late. The Democrats are going to be punished for pretending that Joe Biden was fit to lead in 2020 and still more so when it has become obvious even to those who hate Trump in 2024.

I would far rather have Ronald Reagan leading the free world in 2024. Trump could have a very good second term, but there are also great dangers in relying on a man whose character and judgement are so flawed.

But if you were on Omaha beach in June 1944, you would rather have a man who was brave and defiant than a man who thought he was in Oman.

If I had just survived someone shooting at my head, I would have been above all scared. My instinct would have been to cower and hide. Trump’s instinct was to shake his fist at the shooter and the world that has tried so hard to bring him down. In that if in nothing else he has touched what makes some leaders great.

He may just make America great again.

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Friday 12 July 2024

The right must unite


There is no use complaining about the British electoral system. We had a referendum on abolishing First Past the Post in 2011 and it won. You cannot reasonably argue for a second referendum if you argued against having a second referendum on Brexit or Scottish independence. Anyway, Labour is in charge now and it is unlikely to change a voting system that just gave it a landslide.

The purpose of democracy is to give voters a real choice and the opportunity to decisively get rid of a government it dislikes. We have just done so. There is no question that voters have given their verdict on the Conservative government of the past 14 years. The only question remaining is whether the Conservative Party will learn its lesson.

The failure of the Conservative government is that it gave rise to Reform. Voters on the right were so disappointed with Sunak that they were willing in their millions to vote for Reform knowing that it was unlikely to win many seats and knowing that the likely result was a Labour government. The right is split and won’t win another election until it finds a way to cease to be split.

I fear that the defeat of the Conservative Party was not bad enough. If it had won only fifty something seats or had come third to the Lib Dems, then the argument for change would have been unanswerable. But the same voices that were responsible for the defeat will now argue that the result was not that bad and more of the same is therefore required.

If that argument succeeds Reform will get stronger, the Conservatives will get weaker, and we will still have a Labour government after the next election.

The failure of the Conservative government was not that it was too right wing. If only we had been a little more like Labour or the Lib Dems, we would still be in power. But apart from a brief Liz Truss episode the Conservative government was so centrist it could easily be described as social democrat.

It was under a Conservative government that the size of the state increased, public spending increased, debt increased, taxes increased, woke ideology increased and mass migration increased. Remaining in the centre means that all these things continue to increase, moving towards the right means some of them may decrease.

There are three alternatives. Reform and the Conservatives could merge to form one new party. They could have an electoral pact with only one standing in the seat where it has the best chance of winning. Finally, the Conservative Party could change to the extent that Reform was no longer necessary. This would involve the Conservatives becoming a proper right-wing party, Thatcherite in its ideology and minus the Tory Wets who did their best to prevent Thatcher doing anything and finally got rid of her.

It is vital that the right in Britain stays mainstream. It must neither follow the Trump route nor the Le Pen route, not least because these involve protectionism and tend towards socialism as they move further to the right.

Human nature involves seeking the best for myself and my family, but it also involves wishing to live in a community where my neighbours and fellow countrymen are overwhelmingly like me. If that were not the case, we would never in history have formed countries at all.

If it is racist to wish to maintain the demographic makeup of a country and to oppose it changing radically, then this racism is shared by every country in the world at every period in history.

Socialism is contrary to human nature because it wants us to share our wages with strangers, but it makes still less sense to ask us to share our wages with strangers with whom we have nothing in common and who have no historical connection with this country. If I must do this then we may as well abolish countries, remove all borders and allow anyone from anywhere to move where they will. This is what the left wants.

The folly of the Conservative government was that it moved us further in this direction. It moved us leftwards.

But while we may reasonably seek to limit mass migration, we must not demonise those who seek to migrate. Trying to live somewhere with a better standard of living has been going on since time began, otherwise Angles and Saxons would not have migrated to Britain. But you cannot expect the Ancient Britons to welcome the invasion and to cooperate with it.

We must treat every British citizen the same, but we do have the right to control and limit who becomes a British citizen.

The difference between the right and the left is that the left wishes to change human nature to make us more willing to share with strangers and thus ready for socialism. This is the point of all the woke stuff. The right accepts human nature for what it is, which means that it is grounded in the profit motif and the fact that human beings first love their family and then a community of fellow countrymen who are similar to them and who share their values. This is why people are willing to fight for a country. It is because of a shared identity that has developed through history to form people who we care about more than those from other countries.

I may be willing for my taxes to pay for the health care of someone I have never met in Cornwall, but I am not willing for my taxes to pay for someone in New Zealand. Again, if I were we would cease to have countries.

The right needs to move towards protecting both the nation state and to allow its citizens to use these protections to earn wages for themselves and their families. There ought to be a limited welfare state and the guarantee that healthcare will be available to every citizen, because this is as much a part of creating the environment for prosperity as the rule of law and democracy.

Social stability is necessary for me to be able to conduct business, so it is reasonable that I pay something towards it. Try making a profit during a revolution.

But it is not the job of the state to solve all your problems, nor to provide you with a pleasant enough lifestyle where you don’t have to work, nor to share our nations wealth with people from other countries, nor to fight the battles of the whole world.

A party that is in favour of free market, small state economics and is willing to do what is necessary to limit mass migration will have sufficient support to defeat Labour at the next election, but both the Conservative Party and Reform have brand problems.

The Conservative party has failed to conserve and anyway to conserve is to look backwards while the job of politics is to make the future better.

Historically the Conservative Party and its predecessor the Tory Party has wished to conserve the divine right of kings, rotten boroughs and the right of only nobles and landowners to vote. It tried to first prevent poor men from voting and then all women from voting. It tried to conserve the British Empire and fought a losing battle to keep it, when it would have been better if we had stayed on our island and left the places we colonised alone so long as they did likewise.

The historical record of the Conservative Party is mixed and its allowing itself to be called “Tory” is toxic especially in Scotland. No one calls the Lib Dems “Whigs”.

The Tory brand means that the right is associated with conserving the wealth of rich people, when in fact the virtue of capitalism is that it enables the poor to join them, while the vice of socialism is that it brings everyone down to the same poor level.

The Conservative Party needs to finally ditch the Etonians and the posh in favour of ordinary people who have become successful not because of the school they went to but because of their own talents and effort.

The Reform brand’s main deficiency is that it keeps changing. First it was UKIP then the Brexit Party, then it was Reform. What all of these had in common was Farage and a right-wing populism that sometimes went too far.

There are people who are both put off by the Conservative brand and the Reform brand. The task for Reform is to ditch anyone who flirts with the far right. The task of the Conservative Party is to ditch the Remainers and the wets. You cannot appeal to everyone.

It would be especially beneficial in Scotland if there was a right-wing party with a new brand that can be disassociated with the Tories. Such a party should forbid the use of the word “Tory” on grounds of broadcast impartiality. But you cannot argue against separatism while wishing to create a separate Scottish party. That is merely the soft nationalism that blames the English for all our problems.

This soft nationalism extends to the Scottish Conservatives ascribing to the modern Scottish values of social democracy, collectivism and higher public spending, while the key to its revival is rediscovering the older Scottish values of thrift, working hard and Adam Smith.

The Scottish Conservatives have benefitted from the anti-SNP vote, but they are likely to benefit less from this in the future. It won’t be enough to be the anti-independence party if that issue is down to 9 MPs.

Instead, the right in Scotland must come up with a distinctive vision that seeks to shrink the state, lower taxes and make the UK more united by treating every UK citizen as primarily British and only secondarily from each of the UK’s regions.

The right must unite, and it will not do so by means of separating. This is the danger of Reform. The lesson of the Reformation is this. Once you go down the route of schism you first get the Protestant Church, but eventually the Church of Scotland splits into the Free Church and eventually the Free Church splits too. Finally, you are arguing amongst yourself about infant baptism and bishops and you split on the most trivial of issues. After that no one believes in Christianity and no one goes to church.

The group of voters attracted to Reform are not going away. They have been here since the Conservative Party ditched Thatcher. The merger can happen in any number of ways, but it must involve real change on the part of the Conservative Party.

The threat of a Labour government did not work this time and it is doubtful it will work next time so long as the Conservative Party does not offer a genuine alternative to social democracy. Offer that and either a new united party of the right may emerge, or Reform may decide that it no longer needs to be separate.

But above all the right must cease to be Tory. We are not toffs, landowners or Jacobites. We are ordinary people who recognise that the way to prosperity for every British person is through free market economics and the only way to maintain and defend the character of our nation state is to defend its borders and limit migration.  

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Sunday 7 July 2024

The next task is to defeat the SNP at Holyrood


Scotland has decisively defeated the SNP in the General Election. There are now 37 Labour MPs and only 9 SNP MPs, but although those 37 MPs may do great things in London and may influence how the UK is governed in all sorts of ways, they will have next to no influence on Scotland.

Labour came up with the ruse of the Scottish parliament as an antidote to Scotland voting Labour and getting a Conservative government. It was a sort of consolation prize and a concession to the soft nationalism that is still the norm in Scotland. But from the Labour point of view the Scottish parliament never had much point if Labour won a general election and it still more has no point if Labour won a General Election, but the SNP remained in power in Scotland.

Despite winning only 9 seats and despite all the other independence parties winning zero seats there is still an independence majority at Holyrood. There is still an SNP First Minister, and the SNP still has absolute control over health, education and much else. When the Labour government rules on most issues we will rapidly discover that it is actually ruling only in England. It’s like during the pandemic whatever rules Boris Johnson’s government came up with didn’t apply in Scotland. Well, nothing much has changed.

There is an absurdity in a party that has just been decisively defeated in Scotland still being in charge. The SNP always talk of a democratic deficit, but this isn’t democracy at all. Scottish voters have just said that we don’t want to be ruled by John Swinney, we don’t much want independence and we are as sick of the SNP as the UK on the whole is sick of the Tories, but still when Holyrood gets back to work it will be just like it was before the election.

So, although the decisive battle has been fought as Scotland has rejected independence twice now, we still need to chase not so bonnie John Swinney through the heather, sink Flora MacDonald’s boat as she takes him over the sea to Skye and make sure that Scottish nationalism returns to its traditional role of also rans, others and eccentrics.

There is now the possibility of a Labour government in the Scottish parliament in coalition with the Lib Dems and perhaps cooperating with other Pro UK parties to form a Pro UK majority. No Pro UK party must ever work with the SNP or keep it in power. That is the lesson of the past decades.

Once there is a Pro UK majority in the Scottish parliament as well as a Pro UK majority at Westminster, it will be possible for the first time in decades for a Scottish government to work constructively with the British government for the good of all. It will be possible to coordinate policy and more importantly it will be possible to thoroughly deal with the inherent nationalist bias in the civil service in Scotland and to investigate and prosecute any and every misuse of power both by the SNP and the civil service.

I want to know exactly what has been going on. I want a public inquiry with a judge with the power to force Salmond and Sturgeon to tell the truth or else be in contempt of court.

Independence supporters are in a worse place than they realise because with the decline in support for the SNP shown at the General Election the arithmetic of the Scottish parliamentary election begins to work against it.

In 2021 the SNP won 47.7% of the vote for the Scottish parliament, this meant that independence supporters could in theory use their second list seat vote for any other independence party like the Greens or Alba without worrying that it would cost the SNP any seats. This is why we ended up with the Greens in government even though this party is incapable of winning any constituency in Scotland. If more independence supporters had voted for Alba with their second vote it might have been possible to have a still greater independence majority. But unfortunately for independence supporters that moment has passed.

With the SNP now at around 30% it will no longer be guaranteed to win most of its seats at the constituency level. Look it just now won only 9. It will therefore require second votes to make up the difference on the list level. The rational for Alba and the Greens as parties that take second SNP votes has therefore ceased.

The key to maximising Pro UK seats in Scotland is not merely to use the just past General Election as a guide to how to vote in each constituency but also to use the second vote more wisely.

The electoral system that benefited independence supporters who voted for a different party with their list vote can now benefit Pro UK supporters who vote for the party most likely to win in their constituency and a different party with the list vote.

Labour, Scottish Conservatives and Lib Dems will tell you to use both votes for them, but to maximise Pro UK seats it would often be beneficial to vote for someone else with the second vote.

Labour will win most of the constituencies. Look it just won 37. So, it would make sense if Labour voters or those voting Labour tactically used their second vote for another Pro UK party.

At some point it should be possible for someone with better arithmetic than me to come up with a guide for each seat in Scotland telling Pro UK voters how best to maximise Pro UK seats by using each of their votes in a particular way.

I have no hope of abolishing the Scottish parliament now that Labour is in government, but we can at least neutralise it and have it cease being a base from which Scottish nationalists can manoeuvre.

Unfortunately for Scottish nationalists disappointed rightly with the performance of the SNP there is no obvious alternative route to independence. Alba won 11,784 which is less than the Yorkshire Party which won 17,227 campaigning perhaps for independence for Yorkshire or else free Yorkie bars.

There is still lots of theoretical support for Scottish independence and 30% of Scots are still willing to vote for the SNP, but that is half of the 60% that Scottish nationalism would need to seriously put pressure on a British government.

Sorry dear Scottish nationalists you don’t have the numbers. All your marching merely demonstrates that yours is a minority view and that it is declining. If you are disappointed by the General Election result expect the Scottish parliament result to be still worse.

You were so close weren’t you. There were polls during the pandemic that put you within touching distance of 60% and now look where you are.  Plot away dear friends, rage, rage at the dying of your dream. Wake up it has become your nightmare.

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Friday 5 July 2024

Rub SNP noses in defeat


If the price that we needed to pay for the SNP to be reduced to a handful of MPs was a Labour government with a large majority, it was a price worth paying. I am more optimistic than some people about Labour, but whatever Labour does and however long it rules, it will be temporary. What the SNP was trying to do since 2011 would have been permanent. The UK would have been broken up and that would have been final. That is what we were fighting for all these years. That is the victory that we have just achieved.

When Labour used to win nearly all of the seats in Scotland, it did not gather them together in front of the Forth Railway bridge. Nor did it claim that if it won more than 50% of the votes in Scotland it would give it a mandate for anything. There was an arrogance about the SNP when it was at its peak that deserved the fall that has now taken place, not only a fall in the number of its seats, but a fall that amounts to a trip and lying face down in the sharn [dung].

The task for us is not to be conciliatory as people like me tried to be after victory in 2014, but rather to grind that SNP face into the dung so that it fully tastes it and until it admits the scale of its defeat.

It has been a long fight for those of us who have been there since the beginning. It felt like a long campaign in September 2014, but the result although decisive needed to be by 20-30% rather than 10%. There was still hope for Scottish nationalism and so we had to endure ten years of talking about nothing but Scottish independence, marches in fancy dress and SNP misrule. I have a sense of relief, but also a sense of exhaustion. But it was worth it.

The scale of the SNP’s defeat means that there is now every chance that it can be defeated at Holyrood too. If this is VE day, that will be VJ day. All that will be left will be a lone piper dressed up as a Jacobite somewhere in the jungle singing about sending someone homeward to think again, when it is really he that will need to think again if indeed he is still capable of thinking at all.

Was it really sometime in 2022 that Nicola Sturgeon put forward the idea of the General Election being a de facto referendum on independence? Did we really spend the past couple of years modifying this by claiming that the SNP would be able to negotiate independence if it won a majority of seats in Scotland and then merely if it won more than any other party? There were still mutterings of subversive talk of a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) as recently as a few months ago.

Well, the SNP cannot unsay what has already been said. To have a de facto referendum on any terms there has to be the concept of winning it and also the concept of losing it. The SNP has lost by any measure and so it has had its second referendum. The only unilateral declaration required from the SNP is let me up from the dung I surrender.

I wonder if there will be any more marches. Scottish nationalism is going to have to come to terms with this and that will be psychologically difficult for many. When you have told others for so long that independence is inevitable it will be tough to take to realise that it will not happen in your lifetime, probably not in your grandchildren’s lifetimes and more than likely not at all.

There were moments of genuine danger in the past decade. The level of support for the SNP looked permanent and a second referendum if it had occurred would have been a coin toss at best for the Pro UK side. Too many in England were willing to tell us how wonderful Nicola Sturgeon was not realising that she cared about Remain only insofar as it would destroy the UK, too few in Scotland were willing to make any argument against the SNP.

There was genuine fear of the consequences of disagreeing with the SNP. We must get to the bottom of SNP corruption and intimidation and never ever let it happen again. Labour’s eventual task will be to fully investigate SNP misrule in Scotland.

 I never foresaw this moment. It looked like trench warfare forever. But then there was the unexpected breakthrough.

The oddest thing is that we still don’t really know what caused Sturgeon to resign nor indeed what caused the SNP’s support to fall so far so fast. I can point to scandal. I can point to Humza Yousaf being more concerned about what was happening in Gaza than in Scotland. I can point to John Swinney being no better than he was when he last led the SNP only this time having less hair. But none of it is enough to fully explain the steepness of the decline.

If you had predicted this result two years ago, I would have told you it was impossible.

I think it was really that the moment passed. The independence referendum caused Scottish nationalism to reach a peak that it had not reached before in the past three hundred years. It blew like one of those gales in November that blows down all the trees, but then the moment passed.

If Scotland were going to achieve independence it would have done so in the past ten years. The fact that it has not means that it will not. We have returned to the norm of voting Labour. There is no longer any need to complain that Scotland voted for Labour but got a Tory government, which was the root of the soft nationalism that gave us the Scottish parliament, and which eventually gave us the hard nationalism that almost destroyed the UK.

If the SNP is wise, it will admit that independence is not happening, cease talking about it and devote itself instead to improving Scotland by cooperating with the British government and by focussing its attention on improving the lives of Scots rather than turning our neighbours into foreigners. If so, it may still have the political role of trying to get the best for Scotland.

But I doubt that the SNP will be able to concede defeat for which reason it will end up like one of those Jacobites toasting the king oer the water long after he is dead.

The root of the problem was and still is that too many Scots fail to have an identity that matches their passport. This has now become more of a problem in Wales, Northern Ireland and England too. This is the soft nationalism that thinks that it is unfair if Scotland votes to Remain, but the UK votes to Leave or that it is undemocratic if Scots vote one way but the UK votes another.

The UK almost alone in the world has subnational nationalism because we persist in maintaining that the parts of the UK are countries in the same way that France or Germany are countries. This is intellectually incoherent. It would make the UK some sort of confederation. It is simply ignorant to suppose that it is.

 The key is to admit that the word “country” can be used in different senses and that Scotland has not been a country in the sense that the word is usually used since 1707 and Wales has not been a country since it was conquered and then merged with England in the Middle Ages. Playing international football is an oddity but it does not change this.

The only way to defeat hard nationalism finally is to defeat the soft nationalism that causes it. The hope is that Labour does something to make the UK more united, more like France, Germany and the United States where people don’t think that the formerly independent countries that make up these states are still countries and don’t unless they are nutters want them to be independent again.

This has been a devastating defeat for the SNP. The UK briefly was threatened more by Alex Salmond and then by Nicola Sturgeon than either the Kaiser or the Führer, but now it is as if we have reached 1945 again and with it safety. There will like then be a Labour government, but it won’t be forever.

I am worn out and will need to find new topics to write about but will do so for as long as people want to read what I write and encourage me to do so. Lately I have been getting fewer readers than normal, which is disappointing when the only object of writing is to be read.

Enjoy the moment. Whatever else happens in the next few years at least we will be able to look back on this moment. Rejoice. Rejoice.  

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