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!


Anonymous said...

I agree totally!
At our apres-election Branch Meeting there were 31 people present. 30 criticsed the SNP leadership and the campaign, with special attacks landing on Alex Salmond's desire to form an alliance with the Labourites. There was only 1 dissenting voice, and he is a Minister at Holyrood.
They are so far out of touch they are over the horizon.

Curley Bill

Key bored warrior. said...

Well written analysis of where we seem to be. I blogged a long time ago that the SNP were not street wise enough for Labour and were allowing them to get their lies out and not rebutting them. I listened with horror a while ago to a Radio 4 interview with Stewart Hosie and Anne Macguire, where Macguire was allowed to make the statement that Norways oil fund had been wiped out by the financial crisis. Which is just a straight forward down right lie, and it went out on the airwaves unchallenged. I think it comes from the SNPs people having a business background where Labour have a working class background and many of them have fought and clawed their way up through the Unions, where every thing including blows is fair game.

Nicola and Alex are good at rebutting the lies. Alex needs to stop his shouting in Holyrood and just give them the message in a calmer way. It does not help when the Presiding officer allows Gray to use un parliamentary language such as numpty, stupid and conman. Alex also needs to work on his presentation as he does smirk and look smug far too much. He also needs to stop his boasting like his 20 MPs and “dealt a mighty hand,” and ,”hung by a Scottish rope.” It just antagonises people.

The independence argument needs to be driven home harder and at every opportunity, going lite is just negative and stupid.

Anonymous said...

The SNP is nothing if it is not a PRO INDEPENDENCE party and proud of declaring that.

They have no clue about how to tackle Labour in West Central Scotland and until Sillars or someone like him for a pro independence credible "labour" party there the SNP is tilling forever barren ground.

Split the Labour vote in West Central Scotland and if the SNP can poach disaffected LibDems might just tilt it in the short term to independence

Anonymous said...

Sillars ----forms a pro independence

sorry 'bout the typo

Anonymous said...

Oh, and nice to see you back

Anonymous said...

aye the election was a bloody disgrace, who the hell organised the snp campaign, if they could not win one extra seat given the tidal wave of corruption and sleaze that has taken place then the snp have no chance. At my age now, I will never see an independent Scotland I will have been born lived and died in an occupied country.
Aye thanks snp, thanks a fukin million. !!!!!!!!!

Alex said...

Some very interesting points and in emails too!

Interesting to hear that the grass-roots is getting restless. I mean, the party needs a really good hard look at itself.

Yes, the SNP needs to be more streetwise! However it also has to think strategically. We need more than sound bites.

I'm glad to have expressed some of the thoughts and frustrations that many feel about the election. Let's try and get the message through that some big and independent (i.e. not New Labour) thinking needs to be done. Trying not to do anything wrong is not a political strategy for an independence movement.

A compliant grass-roots may suit some party apparatchiks but Scotland needs a strong nationalist voice right now so let's have a substantial debate about the way forward.

Thanks Bugger ;)

workinprogress said...

Best thing I've read on the subject for a while. The SNP is trying to be all things to all men and failing miserably in the attempt.

Dark Lochnagar said...

The SNP's campaign with the 'we are resisting the Westminster cuts' and the PPB of some twat walking up a mountain, 'high fiving' some of his mates and finally getting to the top to shout "Scotland" was cringing and crass to say the least. Why are the SNP afraid of the independence message. It is as if they are trying to creep into putting it to the Scottish people. And another thing, will Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon stop nodding their heads when they are making a point in a speech as if they are head butting someone. It looks bloody stupid.