Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SNP Civil War?

How much does this Scotsman headline rankle?

David Cameron: Britain is bankrupt and broke

Why wasn't this Alex Salmond's pronouncement?

Naturally the Tories are going to splash on the state of Britain's finances. They are in a total mess and Britain is indeed bankrupt. This is a fact that I've blogged about incessantly and before my blog I banged on about it in the comment section of The Scotsman. Nationalists for a generation and more have had to argue how Scotland would finance itself independently of Britain's fantasy largesse. I spent many months trying to turn the argument around; the Union is financially bust so why should oil rich Scotland not get out? After a while Gordon Wilson urged the SNP to roll-out a 'Bankrupt Britain' campaign. All to no avail. And here we are after the election with the Tories capitalising on the fact.

Before the election a 'Bankrupt Britain' campaign could have given the SNP serious ammo. To start with the idea that the SNP have been remiss economically. The answer was always simple: Labour have destroyed the economy and so the SNP have not been able to do much about it and have had to reverse manifesto pledges into the bargain. The case for an independent economy was there to be made. Crucially it wasn't. Now the economic realities are hitting home the case of 'Bankrupt Britain' would have shown the SNP to have been right all along. The nationalists would have saved votes and now won the argument. Roll on Holyrood.

Not a whiff of it - nothing. An abject failure of serious strategy is what the SNP is guilty of. It's not a serious crime though as long as it learns from its mistakes. Let it be clear though that many rank and file members of the party are not happy with the leadership's lack of direction and nous.

It must not happen again. The cat is out the bag. Labour will be painted as having destoyed the UK economy. The SNP must now argue that Scotland must not go down with the Titanic. A 'Bankrupt Britain' campaign is still its best strategy. It would have had more power and resonance if they'd argued it before the Westminster election but we have to run with it anyway.

There is an opportunity to show that Labour lost because of English votes, that Labour was as bad if not worse than the Tories anyway but more importantly that 'Bankrupt Britain' is not a serious option for Scotland anymore either politically or economically.

The SNP are missing an open goal here and who knows why? Will the leadership venture out of the Holyrood tea-room?

There's a year before the next Holyrood election. What nationalists need to know now is whether the party's ambition goes beyond simply getting re-elected at Holyrood and if independence is still the party's principle goal.

If 'yes' and 'no' then we nationalists simply must forget the SNP as a vehicle for independence or go through the pain of a party civil war. And what a mighty shame taking those paths would be!

Can we have our 'Bankrupt Britain' campaign now please?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DevoNats - How the election was lost

A lot has been written about the election and some of it is penetrating insight. Unfortunately, a very small small 'some of it'. From the point of view there are only two real observations to make 1) Nothing significant will change, and 2) The soft SNP vote melted away like snaw aff a dyke.

I'll draw my attention to the latter.

It is time for those who argued for 'peddling better devolution' instead of 'independence' to answer for the miserable election result!

The SNP has failed to capitalise on a mountain of goodwill it built up over many years. After the Holyrood election the opportunity existed to bring many who were demoralised by the British reality into the independence fold. Many were ripe for conversion and looking for inspiration.

What was required? A substantial debate on how their future in an independent Scotland would affect war, nuclear waste, nuclear weapons and nuclear economics. What did they get? Reactionary New Labour nonsense on minimum alcohal pricing and arrid mumbling about budget cuts.

For those of us who argued time and time again that we should be setting out the independence stall it was no surprise to see the soft SNP vote vanish. Tea and biscuits nationalists banged on about not upsetting the 'pro SNP' but not yet 'independence' voters. Well, they were treated like fools and they voted with their feet.

And not a hint of remorse from the 'independence light' brigade is set forth! Momentum has been thrown away and is lost for who knows how long. The problem with the DevoNats is that they have a short memory so they've already forgotten their 'strategy' and will likely waste our time with it all over again next time.

I never understood those who could 'take or leave' independence. It's like agnosticism. I mean some people will have vociferous arguments and be absolutely certain of their opinion on the best types of beer, the best football striker or mobile phone but when it comes to whether or not there's a god they can't make their mind up. Trivia good, substance bad = New Labour programming.

And so when we come to the subject of our nation's dignity and destiny we're told that it's kind of like pepsi v coke, not much of a difference.

If that's the message the SNP pumps out then is it any surprise their 'local champions' haven't been sent anywhere?

Labour knew that the SNP didn't have the cohones to argue the independence cause. In so doing the SNP have taken some of the wrap for Labour's destruction of the UK economy in Scotland. And the SNP allowed Labour to paint them as irrelevant - a cruel hoax but one the SNP made possible. The SNP could have prepared the ground well in advance and made the case that Labour was irrelevant as the election would be decided in England and that only independence lends the Scottish vote the efficacy that a nation normally has. Instead of arguing that the UK economy had been trashed and so they have to make cuts because of UK economic insanity they played along hoping to capitalise on the cuts whilst playing the 'sound manager' ala Bradford and Bingly nationalism. The chance to make the case that Labour is no different from the Tories and that London government will mean economic decline was lost.

And is lost. If the SNP had fought on an alternative vision people would now have something tangeable to turn to at the Holyrood election. When the cuts come and economy gets worse people would remember that the SNP warned them and many Scots would have felt they'd made a mistake voting Labour. Instead? Nothing.

All in all it was trivial and insipid. The SNP have been hiding somewhere in Holyrood enjoying the trappings of government. The DevoNats arguement that you should attract people to the party and not its cause won the day. The consequence is that we now have a movement afraid of losing jobs and largely unconcerned about the cause of independence.

In an age where politics has been reduced to a reality tv show the people wanted to rescue back their democracy. The SNP did not offer that opportunity.

Those who argued for soft-peddling should have learned their lesson in this election. Politics for grown ups is not about sound bites - it's about the real aspirations of people with real lives and those of future generations. These things are not a video game boys and girls.

The case that the people are not convinced about independence so should be left alone is farcical. If Scots remain unconvinced then the task is to convince them..

In the absence of substance Labour hung on to their jobs at the expense of our nation's wellbeing. Their rhetoric was never pre-empted. The nationalist voice was timid and easily silenced. Labour had nothing to say, nothing. They are an empty party and yet in the midst of a UK economic and political meltdown the SNP made no gains. Worse the ground wasn't laid for the future.

Time for the DevoNats to answer for their failure. Or better, recognise it and make sure it doesn't happen again. Do it before the ground shifts below your feet!