Well first things first. Despite the spin you’ll hear in the media from anti-independence parties and their supporters, the SNP won this election. It won decisively and handsomely. Scotland has chosen a majority Green and SNP pro-independence Parliament elected with an unambiguous mandate to deliver another independence referendum within the term of this new Parliament.
There’s now going to be a huge constitutional battle between the Scottish Parliament and the Conservative government over Scotland’s right to hold another independence referendum within the term of this Scottish parliament. As supporters of independence we now need to get behind our parliament in asserting the need for the democratic choices of the people of Scotland to be respected. We also need to recognise that this election has proven that a large number of people in this country have yet to be persuaded that independence is the way ahead. The task over the months and weeks ahead is to assert the democratic right of the people of Scotland to another referendum and to reach out to those still unsure and undecided and to persuade them of the need for independence.
The parties that got hammered in the Scottish elections are claiming that the party which beat them by 20% hasn’t got a mandate to implement its manifesto because it did not win an outright majority in an electoral system designed to make outright majorities next to impossible. Irrespective of what you think about independence, this is an extremely dangerous precedent for our democracy. It’s deeply misleading to present the possibility of an astonishingly rare outright majority within a proportional system by using the language and expectations of first past the post. Legitimacy in Holyrood comes from multiple parties coming together to form a majority. That’s how our electoral system is supposed to work, and between them the pro-independence SNP and Greens have achieved that majority. To deny their legitimacy to implement their mandate is to deny democracy itself. In 2015 David Cameron’s Conservatives won the UK election with a manifesto commitment to hold a Brexit Referendum. They went on to deliver on that pledge. They did so having won 36.9% of the vote. The SNP and the Greens stood on a platform of support for another referendum. They won. Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems stood on a platform of opposition to another referendum. They lost.
I’ve had a few weeks to recover, rest and reflect. I’m slowly recovering, but the reality is that there’s a very high chance that I will be left with permanent or at least long term damage from the stroke. It’s highly likely that sensation and full movement will never return to my left hand side and I am unlikely ever to regain the dexterity I used to have in my dominant hand. Fatigue continues to be a serious problem. I have constant pain in my left leg ,arm and shoulder. Every day is a battle against debilitating exhaustion and I’ve had to learn the hard way what my new – and restricted – limits are. If I overdo things, as I did as this election campaign began, I hit a brick wall. So with all this in mind I’ve made some decisions about the future of this blog and my continuing involvement in the independence movement.
As regular readers of this blog know, I never bought into the narrative that Alba was pushing. However I am surprised by how poorly they performed. Many believed that the new party was merely a personal vehicle for Alex Salmond to get revenge on Nicola Sturgeon. Whether that was a fair assessment or not, it meant that Alba was always going to struggle to get SNP supporters on board. Its difficulties in establishing itself as a broad church indy party which could attract wide support were compounded by some of the party’s supporters who took to promoting homophobic and transphobic scare stories online. These two factors made Alba toxic in the eyes of many. I never expected the party to help win a supermajority, but I did think that it might pick up a seat or two.
We’ve now had two Scottish elections where a new pro-independence party has called on its supporters to vote tactically on the list. Rise in 2016 and now Alba. Both attempts failed to produce a single MSP. Perhaps now we can agree that tactical voting on the list is fraught with difficulty and more likely than not to fail. The only successful tactical voting in Scottish elections is that used by unionists in the first past the post system used in the constituencies and that only has success because the anti-independence vote is split between three main parties.
It should be clear by now that scaremongering about Scotland’s tiny minority of transgender people or making the outrageously homophobic claim that the leading gay rights organisation in the country is secretly campaigning to reduce the age of consent to ten and to legalise paedophilia are not vote winners in modern Scotland. That’s a testament to the maturity of the people of Scotland. Opposition to gender recognition is a topic which consumes and obsesses some people online – but it does not have the traction among the wider public that people in the so-called “gender critical” social media bubble think it does.
I’m glad that the bigoted scaremongering found no traction amongst the wider public, however the vast majority of ordinary Alba supporters are not bigots and were simply frustrated at what they felt was a lack of progress towards independence. Alba’s failure is not something to gloat about. We need to put the divisions behind us and unite around making the case for independence. The real battle we face is with Westminster, not with one another.
I’ll be honest, I came very close to packing it all in. I have been battling ill health, and battling British nationalists, that’s more than enough for anyone. For a long time I have been ploughing a lonely furrow as one of the few indy bloggers from 2014 who is still focused on supporting the largest pro-independence party ,on making the case for independence and on attacking the parties of British nationalism, and ultimately that is why I have decided to keep going.
Sadly I have no confidence that certain of Alba’s online supporters will cease their attacks on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. They will continue to undermine the Scottish government and the case for independence. The results of this election prove that there are still large numbers of people in Scotland who are unconvinced about independence. The reason the new Scottish Parliament contains a significant number of unionist MSPs is not – as certain Alba apologists claim, because of voting SNP 1 & 2, it’s because a significant number of people in Scotland voted for them. It really is that simple. Those people who still back anti-independence parties need to be wooed and persuaded. There needs to be a forum for those of us who seek to articulate arguments that can cut through to them.
Someone needs to make the arguments that will reassure and persuade the soft noes and undecideds – that was, and shall continue to be – the focus of this blog. I do not believe the conspiracy theorists who claim that Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t really want another referendum. There will be another referendum within the term of this new Parliament. The job of this blog is to help to ensure that we win independence at that referendum when it inevitably occurs. Nicola Sturgeon has already told the media that she will go ahead with legislation for a second referendum and Boris Johnson will have to go the Supreme Court if he wants to stop her.
However I cannot keep going as I did before. Instead of trying to blog every day, the frequency of new posts will have to be significantly reduced. In the months ahead I intend to aim for two posts per week instead of trying to post a new piece every day. That’s as much as my health will allow.
Even when covid restrictions are fully lifted, I will no longer be doing any public speaking events. There are two main reasons for this, firstly, I can’t drive any more, so getting to venues is now a lot harder. Equally my walking is still very restricted and I cannot stand for any length of time. Before I can drive again I need a specialised assessment which my occupational therapist has referred me for, although there is a long waiting list and it will be many months before I am seen and assessed. However more importantly I no longer have the strength or the stamina for standing in front of a crowd of people for an hour or more and effectively performing.
For some time I’ve been working on a series of pieces each of which tackle some of the main topics which are likely to be an issue in the independence campaign – issues like the border, currency, EU membership, and many others. Work on these was disrupted due to the stroke but over the coming weeks I’ll be revising them, bringing them up to date and publishing them on this blog.
Now let’s get back to the job of making the case for independence, of healing our movement and winning back Scotland’s rightful place among the independent nations of the world.
This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.
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