It’s the local elections tomorrow, and as with every election in Scotland over the past few years, it will be used as a proxy referendum on support for independence. However the anti-independence media and parties will as always ignore votes cast for pro-independence parties other than the SNP when they try to spin the results afterwards. We saw this very clearly after last year’s Holyrood election when the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems tried to build a narrative, with the support of Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media that the current Scottish Parliament does not in fact have a mandate for a second independence referendum because the SNP narrowly failed to win an outright majority in their own right in a Parliament which uses a voting system deliberately designed by Labour and the Lib Dems to produce minority governments which must govern in coalition with, or with the support of, other parties.
The Conservatives have been assiduous in promoting this false narrative, and ignore the fact that the SNP is not the only pro-independence party represented in Holyrood and elected on a manifesto commitment to a second independence referendum, and the SNP was not the only party on the ballot paper which promised another independence referendum if it was elected. The current Scottish Parliament holds the greatest pro-independence majority in the history of the devolved parliament, a majority made up of SNP and Green MSPs, both parties which figured an explicit and unequivocal commitment to a second independence referendum prominently in their Holyrood manifestos. However the Greens’ support for another independence referendum is discounted in the anti-independence narrative of the Conservatives, while the votes cast for those pro-independence parties, such as Alba or the SSP, which failed to get any of their candidates elected might as well not exist as far as the anti-independence media spin of the Tories and their Labour and Lib Dem fellow travellers is concerned.
Note the double standard at play here, opponents of independence would never say that votes cast or candidates elected for just the Conservatives alone is an effective proxy for gauging support for opposition to independence. They naturally want to count the votes of all MSPs from parties opposing another referendum when it comes to justifying their opposition to it, and democracy demands that they are right to do so. However democracy equally demands that the votes of all MSPs from parties supporting another referendum count too, but the false story that we are told is that it’s only the SNP’s representation which matters.
If the SNP does poorly in tomorrow’s election, the media and anti-independence narrative will be that Scotland has turned its back on independence. This will still be the story that they try to spin us even if the Greens, Alba, or any of the other pro-independence parties do spectacularly well. A catastrophe for the Conservatives however, will be explained away as due to temporary and transitory factors such as the lying and law breaking leadership of Boris Johnson, factors which the Conservatives will claim that they will remedy by electing another entitled lying charlatan as their leader.
What the Conservatives most certainly will never acknowledge is that a drop in support for them could due to a widespread loss of faith in the Westminster system, this is of course because they are the party which has single-handedly done the most – by quite some considerable margin – to undermine any residual trust in the institutions of the British state, and they will never admit that the reason the UK is broken is because they were the ones who broke it.
However if the SNP does well, then the spin will be that people are voting according to other issues and that the electoral dominance of a pro-independence party has nothing at all to do with support for independence.
Nevertheless it is vital for independence and for hopes of a second independence referendum that pro-independence parties in general, and the SNP in particular, do well in tomorrow’s vote. The British state and the parties of British nationalism, whether or not they admit to their British nationalism (and they generally don’t) know that their positive case for the UK is very poor and gets even poorer with every new Westminster scandal so they have a difficult time in making new converts to their cause. Instead they are engaged in a campaign of attrition, hoping to exhaust, demoralise and divide support for Scottish independence and by doing so weaken and hollow out support for independence from within.
As I remarked in a previous blog post, it is clear from the results of recent elections in Scotland that the opinions of political bloggers, myself included, have very little impact on the outcome of the vote, we generally write for readerships who are already politically engaged and who as such have already made up their own minds about which parties they are inclined to vote for. Bloggers such as myself do not influence the electoral choices that will be made but rather help to validate the electoral choices that have already been made.
I already have my own opinions about which are my preferred parties in tomorrow’s vote, and I have no doubt that you do too. There is only one pro-independence candidate, the SNP candidate, standing in my ward and he will be getting my first preference vote. I will give my second preference to a local independent candidate who I understand is neutral on the subject of Scottish independence, or at least is not rabidly opposed to it. The Conservative will be ranked last.
For everyone else. all I will say is to repeat my previous advice that as an independence supporter the best way to get the best outcome for Scottish independence is to rank pro-independence candidates first, in your own chosen order of preference, and to ensure that you rank them above candidates who oppose independence, then to rank the Conservatives and other rabid British nationalists last of all. Local circumstances will of course make a difference here. You may have a local Labour candidate who is sympathetic to the idea of another independence referendum, or the Labour candidate may be as much of a British nationalist frother as the Conservatives. You will have to make your own decisions based on local knowledge and local candidates.
However the ideal result will be to give the Tories an electoral drubbing and to wrest councils out of their clutches. We will find out after tomorrow. Our biggest enemy is apathy, so it is vital to get out the vote.
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