Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Only the SNP can deliver independence

A very quick note.

The above is a line I've heard a lot as SNP members demand that socialists refrain from voting socialist, and ecologists refrain from voting Green, instead, giving both votes to the National party. 

Now, I've no problem at all with Nationalists explaining their policies and manifesto and outlining why, point-for-point, it's better than a socialist or Green manifesto. That's the whole point of political activism. 

But I'd urge SNP people to take a step back and realise what the sense of entitlement that many of them - and I'd qualify that by saying I've not seen that entitlement from any pre-indyref SNP activist, or any SNP elected member or candidate - display did for Scottish Labour. 

You don't have the right to every Yes vote. When you talk of "splitting the SNP vote" or "splitting the independence vote", you alienate people. The National party does not own Yes voters. I didn't spend years of my life working for independence, trudging the streets of Glasgow until the sweat dripped off me, allowing my home to be used as storage space and putting people up, to be told that I'm owned by the SNP and that my vote is your right. 

I may very well vote SNP. I think, on the whole, they have been a competent government, and I am friendly with many people in the party. I count a couple of their MPs amongst my friends, and know them to work hard in the service of our land, and of independence. I was, for a short time, a member of the SNP. (I know this, because whenever I criticise Rise, I'm reminded of it). However, I vote in Pollok, where the SNP candidate is committed to the continuation of the Soccer Act - the single biggest assault on civil rights in the history of devolution. So I may not vote SNP. 

Should I choose to vote SNP, I will do so because I consider, on the whole, the Nationalists to be worth my vote. Not because I'm guilt-tripped into it. And not because you own me or my vote.

I will not vote SNP on the List. I intend to vote Green, because I think Patrick Harvie is an asset to the independence cause, and it is important to have that cause represented by voices from more than one party. 

Having spent time on platforms with Green members, urging people to vote Yes, I certainly do not feel that my Green vote is a vote for the Union. If the Greens are Unionist sleepers, then they expended a hell of a lot of energy in their subterfutage and frankly deserve a place in Holyrood in reward for it (for the same reason, when I lived 3-up in Glasgow, I always left my windows open in the view that if a burglar put that much effort in, they deserved my collection of beer bottle labels and currency from socialist countries).

I spent months telling people on the doorsteps "a Yes vote is a vote for independence, not a vote for the SNP". I believe that still to be true. The reverse is also true - not every vote for independence must go through the SNP. 

A vote for the Green party - or even the few hundred who will vote for Rise - is no less a valid vote for independence than one for the National party. And this is not a referendum on independence. We had one 16 months ago. We lost. This is an election on who runs the devolved government. 

I saw someone on Twitter today telling a Rise activist and candidate who I know personally, and who I know to have worked tirelessly for a Yes vote, that they have no right to stand against the SNP. Now, I've no more intention of voting for Rise than I have of scooping my eyes out with a rusty teaspoon and feeding them to the Doberman next door, but this is a nonsense. 

The Greens and Rise have every right to stand for election, to seek to influence the government of Scotland for the next five years. I hope Rise do not return any MSPs, but I certainly don't doubt their legitimacy to stand for election. 

I'd make a couple of observation to the SNP zealots: the SNP has been in government for almost a decade, for over 3.000 days. We're still in the Union. The Yes campaign was faltering badly until the Greens joined, and RIC emerged. Would it have got to 45% without us? I don't believe so. 

And after two observations, perhaps one question. If the SNP is the only way to independence, will its manifesto for May contain an unconditional commitment to a referendum on the subject as it did in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011? 

I don't believe it should. In fact, I believe a new referendum without a significant change in circumstances would be an unforgivable insult to democracy and to the people of Scotland. It would be saying "ahh, you're stupid. Vote again. Vote the right way this time". 

But if there isn't a commitment to a referendum in the fifth parliament, how do you square that with the line that only a vote for the SNP to govern in the fifth parliament will bring independence?

There are no "wasted votes" if you vote for what you believe in. If you think the SNP will make the best government, vote SNP twice, and do it proudly. If you think the SNP government is best challenged from a pro-independence view with an ecologistical, left-wing tinge, vote Green. If you feel insert policy after decision made then you should vote for Rise. But don't feel ashamed of how you vote. 

Unless you vote Labour.


  1. "Unless you vote Labour." Good one.

    Vote for whomever you want, I'm a SNP member have been, on and off, since the 90's, but the party owns no ones vote, it must be earned.

  2. Isn't this slightly back to front? From what I've seen, this has arisen not from the SNP dissing the smaller parties, but rather from the latter canvassing for the intended votes of supporters of the former - and on an extrapolation of the electoral probabilities that are, at best, optimistic, and at worst both misleading and threatening to the prospects of the SNP achieving an overall majority. In those circumstances, it hardly seems 'entitlement' to make the case that this is not a great idea, and runs counter to the purpose of achieving a 2nd referendum. For that to happen, the SNP need to have a solid majority: anything less, no matter what the make up of the rest of the parliament, will not carry public opinion in rUK, and without that it stands no chance.