Didn’t I tell you?

Telt ye! It was all so predictable. The fact that Amateurs for Independence launched this exercise in futility apparently without taking account of the fact they were never going to persuade established parties to “unite” with them demonstrates just how ill-thought-out the entire exercise is. Just one of the problems with the Cult of the Cunning Plan was always that we would inevitably end up with some unknown number of ‘parties’ all vying with each other to see who could take the most votes away from the SNP and the Scottish Greens. The parties that have kept the Brits out of power for 14 years. The parties responsible for giving us a pro-independence Parliament. It’s easy enough to see why Dave Thompson might think this was a good idea. It’s difficult to understand why anyone else was taken in by the slick but vacuous sales patter.

If I had entertained any doubts that Acronym for Independence was never going to lure the established parties into their web, those doubts were very effectively dispelled when I was treated to the unedifying spectacle of their representatives participating in an online debate a few weeks ago. Dave Thompson sounded like a cross between a game-show host and Tony Blair on speed. Sloganese is a language totally unsuited to conversation. To be fair, there may have been some content mixed in with the looping string of glib catch-phrases, but my ears went numb after about a minute so I would have missed it.

The representative of the Greens must have got her dates mixed up as she seemed to think she was doing a party political broadcast. But at least she actually said something – even if it was all jarringly out of place in what was supposed to be a discussion on the subject of the Holyrood voting system.

The representative of ISP hadn’t been invited but turned up anyway. What I remember most about listening to him and the other two squabbling was thinking they sounded just like the three British parties in Scotland used to sound before they all found a shared interest in preserving the Union at any cost to the people of Scotland. All they squabble about now is who hates the SNP most.

There was never going to be any Alliance for Independence. The ‘Alliance’ bit of that was floating face down even before the British Electoral Commission confiscated its water wings. The ‘competitiveness’ of the participants in that debate clearly precluded the possibility of any lasting relationship.

We have ended up where the more healthily sceptical among us always supposed we would. It now appears that there will be at least two separate factions of the Cult of the Cunning Plan contesting the regional part of next year’s Scottish Parliament election. There may be others that have yet to appear on my radar. There may be others still gestating somewhere on the fringes of Scottish politics. Two is already one too many for the cunning plan to work. The fear is that it may be two too many for the SNP/Greens arrangement to do what it has been doing for the past 14 years.

Among the many fantastical claims and lurid promises made by the Cult of the Cunning plan is the oft-repeated guarantee that it won’t do any harm. Call me a cynical old so-and-so, but if the lady selling me a new television keeps assuring me that it won’t burst into flames as we watch some Polish police procedural series on Netflix, I grow increasingly concerned that should I purchase this TV then there is a very real chance that it might burst into flames as we watch some Polish police procedural series on Netflix. Perverse? Perhaps! But I’m only human and inclined to the same wary tendencies that kept my ancestors alive long enough to become my ancestors.

The reality is that the Cult of the Cunning Plan poses a genuine threat to the SNP/Greens arrangement which has kept Scotland’s cause alive for 14 years. OK! OK! I know it has been in a politically-induced coma for the last six years! But at least it’s alive! It can be reactivated at any time. But not if those bent on killing Scotland’s cause get anywhere near the life-support machine. The SNP/Greens arrangement has been very effective in keeping the murderous Brits away from the switch. And the arrangement looks secure for the 2021 election. It is certainly not threatened by any or all of the British parties that squat in Scotland’s Parliament like malignant cuckoos. (I know I’ve used that one before. But I like it. Who’s writing this thing anyway!?)

The main threat to the SNP/Greens arrangement comes not from the British parties but from Alphabet for Independence and the various parts of that hoped-for alliance that was never actually on the cards. I defer to pretty much everyone when it comes to the crunching of numbers. But while I may be no John Curtice, I can handle basic arithmetic with a certain degree of confidence. It is especially gratifying, therefore, that my conclusions have been confirmed by people for whom psephology is more than a spelling challenge.

To explain it so that even I can understand, the danger is that the Cult of the Cunning Plan might take enough list votes to deprive the SNP and/or Scottish Greens of seats but not enough to take any seats themselves; thus putting in jeopardy the arrangement which keeps Scotland’s cause alive. Obviously, the risk increases the more separate factions there are bickering over whatever share of the vote falls to the Cult of the Cunning Plan.

There is an effective, informal threshold for gaining seats on the regional ballot. A point below which the chances of gaining a seat disappear more quickly than George Galloway’s dignity. A process which makes ‘snaw aff a dyke’ look sluggardly. That point sits at around 6%. Which also happens to be the most generous upper limit to the share of the vote for the Cult of the Cunning Plan that is considered realistic by people who don’t do powerful drugs. What this means is that if a single faction of the Cult of the Cunning Plan were to break through that threshold they might be rewarded with a seat which might compensate to some extent for any seats lost by the SNP and/or Greens due to the Cult of the Cunning Plan taking votes from them. But if that 6% is divided between or among two or more factions then the chances of any of them winning a seat fade to black, while the chances of SNP and or Scottish Greens seats being lost remains the same.

That noise you hear is James Kelly (SCOT goes POP!) rolling his eyes at my explanation. But I don’t think he’d disagree with the essence of it. The difference is he’d be able to show his working.

Now we have it confirmed that nobody is rallying to the Anything beginning with ‘A’ for Independence banner, that should be an end to the distracting sideshow put on by the Cult of the Cunning Plan. But I predict that it won’t be. I’ll be back in a week or two with my own catch-phrase. Telt ye!


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30 thoughts on “Didn’t I tell you?

  1. The most successful political party in British history are the British Tories. They have arguments and fights but they NEVER split. EVER.

    In the last 250 years they have seen off the Whigs. The British Liberals have come and gone. So have the British Social Democratic Party (born 1981, died 1987). The British Labour Party has been hollowed out over the past 100 years, so much so that its founder (not Sir) Keir Hardie wouldn’t recognise them if he were around today.

    Even the SNP have had their wobbles – the ’79 Group (including one Alex Salmond) were expelled in the early 80s and spent the next 10 years recovering from the near death experience.

    RISE (& Fall) came (and went) in 2016 – blink and you missed them. Now we have the Scottish Independence Magic Parties (SCIMP).

    I’m 58 years old. I’m selfish. I want to live to see Scotland returned to normal nation state status. SCIMP etc are doing their level best to deny me my ambition.

    As the old song goes in a different context: when will they ever learn?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are absolutely right about the Tories’ capacity for unity when it’s needed. The closest there’s been to a ‘split’ that might actually harm the party’s chances of staying in charge is Brexit. Even that didn’t stop them winning elections.

      I have heard it said that the British Tories only lose elections when they don’t want to win them. When the calculation is that being in government is going to do major harm to their partners in the Great British Two-party Tango. I myself have often remarked that you can vote the British Tories out of office but you can never vote them out of power. The British state is a Tory state.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. British state is indeed a ‘Tory’ state. In more ways than one. It now has full internationally recognised outlaw and pariah status as a result of its breaking of the Treaty of Union, Good Friday Agreement and EU Withdrawal Agreement.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Most (all) of the listed ‘other’ parties are all about proposing and supporting ideas. Tories don’t split because their reason for existence is Pound Notes. Nothing complicated. Nothing to argue over. All they ever need do is seek domination and control the many flows of Pound Notes.

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  2. The nadir is when you come across those claiming to be independence supporters tweeting clips of Ruth Davidson attacking the SNP, not because they have become Tory supporters but because they believe they can damage the SNP and a few list seats will fall to their new beaus.

    The problem is when you set out to damage a party it may be more than list seats that become endangered if the attacks take legs. They will eat themselves rather than give up on the cause they see as more important than independence. For some it seems no more than revenge as they believe they have been slighted by the SNP and their ego can’t take that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think of it in terms of bollocks , I will contine to vote SNP one and two as to do anything other would be like asking passersby to kick me in the bollocks that would of course hurt so i’m not about to inflict pain on myself . So one and that’ll do .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mmm, since I’m happy enough to post in criticism of various points on his blogs, I guess I should post a comment to say I totally agree with this post.

    But I won’t bother 🙂

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  5. I am still of the opinion we do need another political Party for Independence, for as we have seen, SNP has badly let Scotland down in that regard.
    However, or rather I should say “but…..” and it is a big, big BUT, it will only work the way some of us would like it to work, if it is one united and reasonably sensible group with a serious outlook. Not one of the recent political creations have been any of that.
    I am not impressed with anything to date.
    It remains to be seen if something half decent does turn up. Tho time is running out for it, just as time is running out for Scotland, and it has to be said, for SNP.
    For if the Leadership keep to their failed path, then it is Scotland that pays the price of their inaction.
    Independence supporters can’t keep being told to vote SNP, only to get nothing back.
    Yes, stopping the anti Scottish groups getting power in Edinburgh is a necessity, but getting Independence is also a necessity.
    Doing nothing is not an option anymore.
    No one under estimates the dangers of numerous, or even 2 other “List Parties”, but the Greens have been a major disappointment these past few years, and many have been put off voting for them.
    The idea of having another group in favor of Independence cannot be ruled out entirely.
    How it pans out the next few months remain to be seen.

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    1. Put a number on it. The number of years it might take for “another political Party for Independence” to get to where the SNP is now in terms of the effective political power it can deliver. It’s not going to happen before next year’s election. Then there’s five years before the next election. While nobody can say it’s impossible for a party to go from zero to party of government in one election, it’s hardly the kind of miraculous occurrence you’d want to stake your future on.

      Five years from now is almost certainly too late. So there’s hardly any point in calculating beyond the 2021 election. But when I did this exercise some time ago I ended up with a figure of 25 years. That’s five elections for “another political Party for Independence” to be in a position to do what the SNP could do NOW if we forced it to. So why the fuck are we even talking about “another political Party for Independence”?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Much of this stems from the silence from the SNP on what their Indy plans are. On gaining Independence it’s possible that the SNP might implode as MPs go off and form other parties to pursue their political persuasions be it socialist right wing or whatever. I can’t stop wondering – could it be that many SNP MPs are fearful that they will lose their job and ability to pay their mortgage and so are put off chasing Independence. Look at Margaret Ferrier who hasn’t resigned. You have to think it could be down to the dollar. As Independence is even bigger than Scotland winning the World Cup – and that’s saying something – should we put some form of safety net for MPs if they do lose their job should the SNP breakup. The SNP’s raison d’etre is obtaining Independence and once achieved what is there left? I throw this in as I’m bemused why the SNP seem to have stalled in pursuing Indy.

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    1. Many wonder along those exact same lines.
      As for MPs and what they do after Independence, I am in favor of them being he first group to forming a Scottish Senate (,2nd Parliamentary chamber) kind of thing. That is one idea with considering.

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      1. With regard to the comments from Gordon and Jim, I am in favour of reddin oot the dross that sits amongst the SNP contingent at both Westminster and Holyrood . Why should we be concerning ourselves about their welfare post Independence? Had they being carrying out what they were elected to do on behalf of the Scottish populace the Westminster brigade should have made themselves redundant in any event.

        Our concern should be that the cushie billet which for the most part party politics in Scotland has become has attracted the wrong calibre of candidate towards particularly the SNP and really until that is resolved progress towards Independence will continue to falter. From this it has to be that pro Independence seeking activists from within the SNP GAIN SOME CONTROL over the vetting and selection of candidates presenting for the 2021 Holyrood elections. Conviction to an Independent Scotland must be the overriding prerequisite over some misplaced allegiance to an ill conceived cult.
        .
        Jim makes reference to Margaret Ferrier who undoubtedly made a major error of judgement regarding her travel arrangements. Ms Ferrier for all her faults was unfortunately not in tune with the luvvie clique within the party and therefore her fate of being thrown to the Pirhanas is not unsurprising. When that paradigm of virtue Mhairi Black, aye that’s right the one who took her drag queen pal to meet the primary school weans, gets a prime slot in the National to outpour her lividness a grim sense of perspective becomes apparent.

        Not a peep did we hear from her or her illustrious leaders when Charlie Rothesay or is it Wales, no it must be Cornwall, broke national lockdown rules and brought his entourage to Scotland and gained access to services that were denied frontline workers. I can’t recall Ian Blackford, nor for that matter, Nicola Sturgeon calling for the bold Charles to be sacked and relieved of his pension and his allowance from the State, nor will we ever be likely to.

        If the prevailing consensus be that the SNP as a political party must retain the sole bragging rights in the quest for Independence then there should be no surprises that on their current record they have fallen way short of where we need to be and are involuntarily inviting electoral challenge.

        WAKEN UP SNP TIME IS NOT ON SCOTLAND’S SIDE!

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    2. It is probably 30 years since independence was the SNP’s sole raison d’etre was restoring Scotland’s independence. It has been the party of government for almost half that time. It was the party of opposition and the party of government in waiting prior to that. The SNP has two raisons d’etre. Neither can be discounted.

      The idea that a political party might “implode” at the moment of its greatest success is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Obviously, the party will change after independence. But it will still be the party of government. As things stand, the ONLY viable party of government Scotland has. If SNP politicians are as avaricious and personally ambitious as you imply, why the fuck would they walk away from an all but guaranteed meal-ticket?

      Liked by 1 person

    3. The SNP are “silent on their Indy plans” because;

      (a) to broadcast any specific plans up to a year in advance of implementing them would be a gift to your opponents they are unlikely to pass up when it comes to countering them. Sun Tzu would be spinning in his grave at the thought of it.

      (b) to commit to any specific plans up to a year in advance of when you “might” have to implement them is pointless when you have no idea of the political/social landscape (ie battlefield) you will have to fight on. Sun Tzu would now be spinning so fast he could power Beijing with this added “strategic error”.

      (c) the best way to ensure victory is to convince your supporters that victory is not only possible but inevitable. Even more importantly, convincing your opponents of that. That is the situation the SNPs patience has led us to (Sun Tzu slows his rotational motion).

      The SNP, contrary to the opinions of various impatient bloggers, have not sidelined independence. They have just acknowledged the reality that, up until now, there was no realistic chance of achieving it. Six years may seem like an inordinate length of time to wait for some, but it is still one year less than it took for an Indy ref to materialise in Salmond’s time in charge, and about four years less than he actually intended …. even that was tentative.

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      1. (a) Bullshit! There is not an infinite number of options open to Nicola Sturgeon. None of the options she has will be a mystery to those “opponents”.

        (b) Straw man! Nobody is talking about specific or detailed plans. Merely enough of an outline to make it clear that there is a plan. As things stand, there is absolutely no reason to believe that any plan exists beyond requesting a Section 30 order.

        (c) Illogical! How can anybody believe that victory is either possible or inevitab;e if they aren’t first persuaded that there is a process by which that victory can be secured?

        This is 21st century politics! It is NOT a medieval Japanese war!

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      2. I respectfully disagree.

        (a) there may be a limited number of options (though “events” can make that number fluid) but to give your opponents up to a year’s notice of your specific intentions would be madness. They’d be on the high ground before you even made it to the battlefield. Best to keep them guessing right up until battle is joined.

        (b) there is an outline plan. It is to begin the process of independence once an outright majority is achieved at Holyrood with an S30 being the first port of call. If that S30 is denied then, as you say, there are other options (see above). With a majority in Holyrood, elected on an independence mandate by a majority of the popln, a deluded English establishment/govt/electorate fed up with the “Scottish question” and the inevitable international pressure it would bring on the Westminster govt to address it …. who knows what options might open up? Certainly not you, me or the Rev. Events!

        (c) not true. Troops with an inherent belief in the inevitability of victory matched against forces convinced of the inevitability of defeat do not need to know what even the broad plan is. They only need confidence and trust in the command. Sadly, that is being undermined by tin foil hat wearing, impatient, malcontents intent on catastrophic sabotage on the eve of battle.

        It may not be medieval Japan, but the principles remain the same. Let’s hope Unionists are as dismissive as you are of that fact.

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      3. Repeating nonsense doesn’t make it any less nonsensical. But it does let you avoid addressing the point.

        I must find a way of marking the dullards whose half-arsed drivel is best ignored.

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  7. How I envy the Greens. They can vote SNP on the fptp and Green on the list. They thus gain an SNP Government which they can influence to supporting their policies. How sad that if I wish to support a list party that is more liberal in policy to achieve the same for my political leanings, I am obviously a moron.

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    1. What makes you a moron is imagining the list party can do anything effective to restore Scotland’s independence. What makes you a moron is imagining that you can have both a situation in which the SNP administration is so weak that it can be blackmailed by your list party but strong enough to confront the British state. What makes you a moron is your abject failure to think it through.

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      1. What makes you a moron is imagining that the SNP will deliver independence in the absence of a rival in the polls.

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      2. But the people you are aiding and abetting claim that they are not rivals to the SNP. They claim that they aren’t competing with the SNP at all. And in one sense they are right. The SNP is sitting somewhere close to 50% in the polls. The cunning plan cults aren’t even showing as a blip. What makes you a moron is imagining that this is rivalry.

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    2. The Greens are the exception in this vote splitting scenario. Green voters have, in essence, been “lending” their votes to the SNP in the constituencies while voting for their preferred party in the regional lists. A perfectly natural and democratic thing to do in their situation.

      What these pro-indy pop-ups would be doing is taking SNP votes from the SNP, further depressing the SNP regional vote, with potentially catastrophic consequences for both the SNP and the cause of Scottish independence.

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  8. I’m trying to work out why we’ve stood still these last 6 years. This side of Indy the SNP are the only show in town Every SNP MP’s job is safe. Post Indy we could have lots of Scottish Parties. Socialists Greens etc etc. Suddenly SNP wouldn’t be the only show in town. Suddenly an MP’s job with the SNP isn’t as secure as they’d like it to be whereas if they can put off Indy so much the better. Maybe lots of our SNP MPs are thinking along these lines. I hope that’s definitely not the case but these very MPs are our ticket to freedom. The Leadership has only considered S30 approach which pretty much everyone agrees is destined to fail. Yet only a handful of SNP MPs appear to be willing to challenge the Leadership’s doomed approach. Why are the rest so silent on the issue? Job Security issues perhaps? I don’t know but right now NS isn’t being challenged from within her party on the issue of Independence and I don’t know why.
    Peter keep up the good work. It’s all about getting over the line. I hope this forthcoming conference galvanises the campaign and we become the unstoppable force that we are totally capable of becoming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know you won’t be offended if I say you’re only repeating what everybody else is saying, Jim. I hear precisely the same thing almost word for word, several times a day, day in and day out. It’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing. It’s a bad thing because it expresses a frustration that should not have been allowed to develop into the anger and – probably worse – resignation that has become so generalised among Yes activists. It’s a good thing because so many people are no speaking out about that frustration and anger and fear about where we’re headed. If the strength of those numbers can only be harnessed then there is still a chance for us.

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  9. Spot on Peter. The Yes Movement is a big asset. Let’s utilise all options to so we get our voice heard LOUD AND CLEAR at the Conference.

    Liked by 1 person

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