A month of being wooed

Bad language – and taste – alerts for 3, 16, and 21 May if you care about those sorts of things. A separate post on the home page explains what the month’s all about. Comments are enabled at the bottom of this page together with all those buttons you can click to Like or Share.

31 May

Well, today’s the last day of my month of being wooed by the SNP and it looks as if it’s going out with a whimper rather than a bang, which in one sense suits me fine.

Yesterday I speculated that SNP MP Tommy Sheppard might be lining up a bid to either head up the summer’s navel gazing and wooing, or even to replace Stewart Hosie as depute leader of the party. I also said he seemed to be ‘a genial enough cove.’ I was obviously not on the ball.

Today’s Daily Record goes so far as to describe him as ‘frontrunner’ for the deputy leadership. Oh dear, that sort of comment can kill an early bid for high office stone dead. There can’t be many long and faithful servants of the party fancying their own chances who enjoy hearing that about a new kid on the block.

The other revelation in the Record, as well a number of other places today, is that Sheppard may not be the ‘genial enough cove’ I characterised him as. It turns out that his article, which I confess to not reading closely enough yesterday, includes these words:

The demographics are with us on this journey. One of the most important groups of people who rejected independence were the over-60s … But time moves on. Memories fade and people die.

He’s not the first nationalist to have linked the chances of separation to the death of older people, but he is one of the more prominent. I think there are some fundamental flaws in his argument, but that’s for another time and another place. For now, let’s just leave the thought sticking to the wall as a more fitting end than Sheppard would realise to his party’s (non-)preparations to convince the majority of their fellow citizens that that’s the sort of Scotland they might want to live in.

[I have also done a round-up of what I’ve learnt about the SNP’S summer of lurve, as I’ve seen others describe it]

30 May

An interesting article in The National today:

sheppard on indyref2

I didn’t need to read it because the author himself Tommy Sheppard has put a longer version on his website. Ex-SNP MSP Marco Biagi tweeted I take it @tommysheppardmp is running for SNP Depute Leader then. Hmm, controversial. Or bitchy.

My thought was that he’s lining up a bid to head up the summer of love and re-evaluation of what went wrong with indyref and how they can do better next time.

He seems a genial enough cove compared with many in the party and hasn’t blocked me on Twitter (yet). Perhaps he’s even genial enough, as his article says, to win over some ‘open minds,’ although like many he can’t avoid the metaphor of warfare when he talks of ‘targetting’ those minds.

But you have to be more than a genial cove to do this sort of stuff – the evaluation/wooing and the deputy leadership both. This is a man who as of today has been in the SNP for less than two years and has enjoyed elected office under their banner for a mere 55 weeks. I choose my words carefully because he has been an elected politician before – as a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Hackney a quarter of a century ago. I could tell you some stories about the political shenanigans there in that era but who knows if or how he was involved in them.

I can’t believe he’s the man for either of the two roles mentioned here. But intriguingly little SNP MPs/MSPs do is spontaneous, unless you count the loonball fringe which Sheppard clearly isn’t a member of. So who put him up to the article and why?

28 May

With the end of the month looming I have to admit I’m running out of energy for tracking the SNP’s wooing of No voters. Basically, nothing’s changed. Except things have got worse for the SNP during May (I’ll come to that in my round-up of the month in a few days time). I’ve avoided posting the usual rubbish emanating from ordinary SNP members, like the guy who tweeted the other day that the judge in charge of the shambolic indy camp case – shambolic because the campers don’t know their legal arse from their elbow – better watch himself because he was only administering people’s justice in a people’s court and could be disposed of.

So today I just bring you a minor but continuing irritation:

snp eu wishart

I’ll forgive Pete the ‘got’ when he means ‘for.’ Easily done. I’ll even ignore the easy jibe that this must be the SNP Perth youth wing out on force (No you won’t – Ed.). But I won’t forgive him his continued posturing about the constitutional settlement we have. Scotland, as he well knows, is not a member of the EU. The UK is.

As for Salmond and his ‘indyref2 in two years if the EU vote is in favour of leaving’ (BBC TV debate this last week) I merely refer you to his long track record of successful prediction, from the celtic tigers and RBS to indyref1.

26 May

The first minister made her statement to parliament yesterday about her government’s proposals for the next five years. It was 4,654 words long precisely. This is the sum total of what she said about independence:

As members will expect, we will also continue to build the case for Scotland to become an independent nation—a position that is backed by a majority of members of the Scottish Parliament across this chamber. Of course, we know that Scotland will become independent only if and when a majority of the people are persuaded of our case.

For those that like sums, that’s 1.3% of the speech about separation, the whole reason for the SNP’s existence. She also said

our [SNP] manifesto was my job application … Now, it is our blueprint for delivery

The manifesto was a little more specific:

We will undertake new work, starting this summer, with the aim of persuading a clear majority of people in Scotland that independence is the best future for our country (p.9) … We will listen to the concerns of people who voted No in  2014 and seek to address them. The case we make will be relevant to the complex world we live in today (p.24).

Of course, it’s right that a programme for government should not include what is essentially a party political campaign. But you can’t help noticing how the commitment in her ‘blueprint for delivery’ has already been watered down. Given the numbers – her minority government, the proportion of the electorate voting for the SNP, the continued lack of a clear majority for independence in opinion polls – she is wise to do so.

Taking all this with Stewart Hosie’s departure from the deputy leadership and from the summer ‘wooing’ campaign we must really wonder what is left of it. There can’t be many more nails needed in the coffin to allow its decent burial before we all go off for a hopefully non-political summer.

I didn’t expect an answer to the question I asked her on 24 May (below) but I think it’s starting to answer itself.

24 May

summer indy review question

After yesterday’s speculation this seems a fair question, no? I’ll report any answer and include it in my round-up at the end of my month of being wooed.

I am by nature an optimist.

23 May

My wee heart skipped a beat when I saw this tweet from respected Daily Record journalist David Clegg:

clegg on wooing summer

Had I been had all along? Was the ‘summer indy drive’ a figment of my imagination? Then I remembered another tweet, one I’d posted here on 12 May. Here it is again to save you scrolling down:

hosie campaign

Phew. So it was real (I use the word loosely). Unless of course not only had I been had but the now ex-deputy leader of the SNP had also been had. Perhaps word had already leaked to the hierarchy that he was, erm, taking rather too much advantage of the pleasures offered by the metropolis, and he was being set up for failure.

That way we’d have the win-win situation that may actually have come about. The SNP generally and Nicola Sturgeon specifically would have that excuse Clegg finds for ‘kicking indyref2 into the long grass.’  And evil Britnat yoon blah-di-blah-di-blahs like me would have the satisfaction of knowing that, however it came about, a sham review was not going to happen after all.

Except of course it might. Delayed, transformed, under new leadership certainly but still staggering on, perhaps an autumn or even winter wooing. I expect we’ll find out eventually. Meantime, if you’d followed the link in Hosie’s tweet, you’d have found a page on the SNP web site urging you to sign the ‘pledge.’ No not that one, but a generalised load of waffle about independence. Pity you can’t put in Freedom of Information requests to political parties. i’d love to know how many mugs, sorry, patriots have signed up for the charade.

22 May

Update – today’s note was written before Stewart Hosie announced his resignation as SNP depute leader. The published exchange of letters with Nicola Sturgeon makes no mention  of his leadership of the summer review. The implication, however, seems obvious. We await a new name.

Breaking news from Scotland’s favourite Sunday paper, the Sunday Post:

… It has been widely tipped that Mr Hosie will now be stripped of responsibility for leading an SNP summer offensive to convince No voting Scots of the benefits of independence. A party source told The Sunday Post: ‘He’s toast, Sturgeon’s rightly furious and it’s really hard to see him staying on in his current role’ … One senior party figure told The Sunday Post: ‘The problem for Nicola is whether Stewart has the political credibility to take this on. The media will keep mentioning it and that will undermine him.’ An SNP MSP said: ‘This has gone down like a lead balloon in the party as you can imagine, especially given its implications for the top hierarchy… You can’t have him fronting the independence drive if we’re getting into discussions about trust.’

21 May

A busy day today with non-blog stuff so just a random round up of some tweets I saw that seem to me to be relevant to what this page is about.

I note your article on the Audit Scotland report on Common Agricultural Payments (CAP) and the remarkable quotes from John Swinney claiming the faults were ‘simply a price [farmers] were willing to pay’. This is a quite astounding display of arrogance …’ (a letter published in The Herald attached to a tweet)

To govern again, Labour must do a deal with the SNP and focus on England [No!]

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has accused the party’s leadership of living in ‘a parallel universe’ by campaigning to remain in the EU while wanting out of the UK (newspaper article attached to a tweet that notes ‘the glaring conradictions within the SNP. Shame their parliamentarians are too scared to speak up’)

Alex Salmond sparked anger today after predicting a vote to leave the EU could trigger another independence referendum within two years (newspaper article attached to a tweet)

Raging SNP supporter Conrad Procter, 40, confronted Labour activists with [a chainsaw] during last year’s General Election campaign. Procter yelled, ‘Get out of here Red Tories! F*** off. No-one wants to hear from you here … I’ll cut your f****** head off.’ Verdict: guilty (Scottish Sun)

You are blocked from following @PeteWishart and viewing @PeteWishart’s tweets

and (spot the ambiguity if you will)

Has Hosie started the summer push yet?

Acknowledgements: @YesBloopers, @FraserWhyte81, @davidtorrance, @AgentP22, @JamesAMcC  @BrianSpanner1

20 May

My Month of being wooed has thrown up an example almost every day of why the SNP’s summer wooing is unlikely to make much impact on the majority of the electorate unconvinced by the case for independence.

Today, or more accurately from 18 May, comes a more cerebral analysis of why this is so – from nationalist writer Gerry Hassan in an article in the Scottish Review entitled Peak Nat? The party that stopped speaking to the nation. He, and the Review, will perhaps forgive me if I quote extensively from it:

The aftermath of the indyref saw both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon fail to speak to the nation, and understand the motivations of the 55% majority. Both, in the immediate days after the indyref, continually spoke to and congratulated the 45% who lost – thus appearing as party leaders, not national leaders. To this day, no proper post-indyref post-mortem has occurred, analysing why No won, two million voters proved immune to the Yes case, and addressing how the contradictions and limitations of the 2014 indy offer can be transcended.

That is about as plain a statement as you can get from a thoughtful nationalist. The logic of what he sets out elsewhere in his article would be uncomfortable for those of us who believe we are ‘better together’ but that’s another story. Interestingly Hassan mentions the SNP summer review nowhere in his article. My guess is that he’s as cynical about it as me.

As he says elsewhere in the article

Historical determinism with its ‘Hegel for Dummies’ is always dangerous, when people think the future is inherently theirs – leading to all sorts of over-reach and contempt for others.

That seems to me a pretty accurate statement of where the the SNP is at just now. The chance of that changing soon? Less than zero.

19 May

I’ve no doubt that John Mason SNP MSP is a decent man in many ways and (to give credit where it’s due) he hasn’t blocked me on Twitter unlike many of his fellow SNP politicians. Which of course is why I’m able to see his tweets when he’s especially and offensively wrong, for example

john mason nation 1

john mason nation 2

Here we have him saying, first, that Britain is an ‘artificial construct’ of nations. Plenty of people on Twitter engaged him in debate about that, the thrust of their (correct) argument being to list what seemed like innumerable other states that were ‘artificial constructs.’ As it happens, I set down my own thoughts on the subject of states made up of other nations and diverse groups during the Scottish referendum campaign, anticipating exactly the sort of view John Mason articulates.

Having got that, in my view, wrong, he then compounds his offense by saying he’s ‘anti-British.’ Many things could be said about that. But from the point of view of the SNP trying to win me over to separation, what a daft thing to come out with. My identity is substantially British, as is that of many Scots, so he’s really saying he’s against what we believe in and by extension ‘against’ us.

We haven’t heard if Stewart Hosie is to be replaced for the SNP summer wooing of No voters. But someone, him or his replacement, should have a quiet word with Mr Mason to explain why it’s counter-productive to attack one of the core beliefs of the people you’re trying to win over.

18 May

hosie review role questioned

You heard it here first, folks (see yesterday’s entry) albeit with more temperate language than the supposedly-indy-leaning Herald‘s ‘love triangle revelation.’ Should online suggestions come to pass that Messrs Wishart or Monaghan (q.v. many posts in this blog) might be anointed to lead the wooing, then we’ll know the SNP is finally done for.

I assume we’ll hear soon which fine mind and conciliatory figure is landed with the increasingly hopeless task of carrying out the review.

Advice to the SNP – get on and try to govern the country using your devolved powers at Holyrood. Don’t forget you’re a minority administration now and don’t faff around with doomed exercises that will lead nowhere.

17 May

News broke late yesterday that SNP MPs Stewart Hosie and Angus MacNeil have ‘split from wives over alleged affairs with same woman’ as the Daily Telegraph put it. No doubt they will be castigated/ridiculed/condemned etc. etc. for what they’ve been up to. Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser perhaps hit the right tone when he tweeted ‘So there are Scottish MPs at Westminster sleeping with women other than their wives. In other news, gentleman in Vatican is Roman Catholic,’ i.e. this stuff happens.

The only reason I mention it here is whether any of this will impact on the SNP’s summer ‘campaign’ to build a better case for separation and all that goes with it.

Angus McNeil’s probably regarded as a lost cause by the SNP in many ways, his saving grace that he at least keeps winning the Western Isles Commons seat. But Hosie is another matter – deputy leader of the party and of their Westminster group. His now estranged wife has been a cabinet secretary (I’m not sure as I write of the current situation post-election), I’ve seen them described as an SNP ‘power couple,’ and the media say she is close to Nicola Sturgeon.

I imagine that for every red-blooded macho nationalist (there must be some) saying privately ‘Good on you, Stewie boy’ there’ll be a strong countervailing and sometimes feminist tendency tut-tutting at what’s been going on. His credibility to head up this exercise had always seen shaky to me for other reasons. Could the current revelations be the final nail in the coffin of his leadership of the summer crusade? And if so, does the whole thing get delayed while an equally charismatic but maybe more conciliatory figure takes over?

If he staggers on and if there’s a genuine reaching out to ‘No voters’ (unlikely but you never know) I suspect he may be in for some ribaldry and even greater scepticism than would have been predictable twenty-four hours go.

I hate that ticking clock (‘Tick-tock …’) that some people affect on Twitter to disparage an opponent’s case but on this occasion it might be appropriate.

16 May

Bell and britnats

Well, it’s a question I suppose, although not one I’d ask. And not one I’d ask if I was looking to get the ‘shites’ on side for indy within the next month or two. We’re often told context is everything and you may ask about the context of the conversation Mr Bell was having that prompted this. I couldn’t see anything offensive in the tweet he was responding to so I guess this is the way he thinks and speaks. Who is he? Oh, just another SNP member …

Bell and Sturgeon

13 May

I don’t really want to make this a Hosie-fest (see yesterday’s entry) though there’s every reason to do so, what with the Major himself being i/c the summer campaign to crush, sorry that’s woo, the recalcitrant majority of the population that hasn’t seen the light.

hosie on election stats

This appeared on Twitter yesterday (tedious as it is for me to keep reminding you, I’m usually a bit late catching up the man’s doings since he’s blocked me and I rely on seeing other people’s re-tweets of his comments).

The graph’s not here for a discourse on electoral statistics. I assume the figures are correct although as others have pointed out already they only show number of constituency seats achieved by each party at Holyrood since devolution in 1999. What they don’t show is the percentage of votes the SNP gained in those contests (shown here for 2016) or the much lower proportion of votes and seats the party gained in the regional list contests. Well, I guess all parties present the facts to be favourable to themselves and unfavourable to their opponents.

The point of including the tweet here is to ask, rhetorically, what the heck is he doing? Surely all his efforts in the run up to the summer campaign should be devoted to planning for the work needed to understand the 2014 referendum failure, develop the new case, and reach out to the No voters we were told the campaign’s all about?

Sadly, today’s tweet together with yesterday’s solid evidence shows that this is as much about PR as anything else, and about giving party members the illusion of progress while knowing they’re not going to get another bite at the independence cherry for a long time.

They also show that the SNP leopard can’t change its yellow spots. The air of triumphalism that accompanies every favourable election result (even those that aren’t) won’t wash for those of us not already amongst the faithful. It’s distasteful, counter-productive (although that’s not my problem) and provides further evidence that the summer campaign will not change the fundamentals of Scottish politics.

12 May

The gift that goes on giving. My cup overfloweth.

Yesterday was a struggle. I couldn’t see anything obvious that proved the SNP were still wooing me, ineptly or otherwise. Had they gone for a nap before today’s Holyrood swearing in? Or maybe I’d been wrong and they were just getting ready to really be nice to me. Then this, only seen today because as I’ve said before the wooer-in-chief, the reacher-out-to-No-voters has blocked me:

hosie campaign

Bingo! The campaign to overcome the deficiencies of the last indy attempt, find new arguments, and win me over has begun.

But hold on. What’s this? It’s about ‘joining a campaign to build a majority’? Whoa, that doesn’t seem to be what I was sold. Surely this isn’t a case for the Advertising Standards Authority? Perhaps the link to their website will help assuage my cynicism:

campaign pledge

How I wish the names of the people involved were different. Because then I could recycle the old Heseltine joke – ‘It’s not Blair’s. It’s not Brown’s. It’s Balls!’

Because this is certainly balls. It’s not research or reaching out after all. They’re looking for ‘pledges’. It’s just a grubby and doomed attempt at a PR campaign.

And who’s going to ‘pledge’? SNP members and a passing selection of the otherwise already committed. If you press their ‘Pledge’ button you’ll see one of the options is ‘Send me updates’. In other words you can pledge and not even get updates. No contribution to the new thinking, no focus group membership, not even a ‘be nice to a No-ser’ commitment required.

I’ll lay odds that somewhere along the way they’ll announce triumphantly how many people have pledged their support. A humungous number will be cited, to be followed by an even larger target and then silence (anyone remember the indyref ‘million signatures’ campaign?).

I am accused on occasion of hating the SNP. People who do that don’t know me and fail to understand what hatred really is. But by God, I do despise some of the things they do and this is one of them.

With today’s update I feel I can almost give up any comment on being wooed for the rest of the month. I feel a case is proven. But I know more evidence will emerge and I’ll keep plugging away.

10 May

gordon macdonald on bbc

Here’s a new SNP MSP. His tweet yesterday morning, which I only saw today, referred to the SNP government’s Scots language policy and tells us two things.

First, the lesser, that he thinks part of his job is to send tetchy messages to BBC presenters (on BBC Radio Scotland in this case) as if he were still a keyboard warrior instead of one of our national legislators. On this count, at least start with some dignity, man, even if it gets all tribal in the chamber once you start your real work.

Second, and the greater thing, it tells us that he clearly thinks part of the job of, in his words, a ‘state broadcaster’ is to promote government policies. That is crystal clear from his words. I’m sure that if, heaven forfend, they get their way and the SNP wrest more control of broadcasting to Scotland that will be part of the job of their Scottish Broadcasting Corporation.

We know the Macdonald guy wasn’t directly addressing the great SNP summer love-in that is to be perpetrated upon us. But don’t they see why this sort of garbage makes the majority of the Scottish electorate uber-suspicious of nationalism and the SNP?

More recovery work to do here, Mr Hosie.

9 May

I knew I was going to have to get Angus McNeil in here somewhere. I knew he would spring forward to volunteer and on Day 9 I have not been disappointed.

MacNeil on Thatcher

Aficionados of Angus will know that this is not untypical. He’s been tweeting this sort of stuff for years, usually when he’s cross, upset or (I speculate and will remove this reference immediately if requested) in his cups.

But here we have that delicate question of political timing. Isn’t his colleague Hosie S. supposed to be wooing all us No voters over to the cause during the summer? Good luck, Stewart. With friends like this etc. etc.

I see that on the same day, today, the SNP has tweeted ‘Nicola Sturgeon: Tories won barely 20% of the vote – cannot now act as a road block to the will of the Scottish people.’

Apart from the fact that the two branches of our premier regional party can’t get their statistics to line up, isn’t this all a bit weird? And isn’t it a bit weird that the leader of a party that polled a minority, 46.5%, of votes on a turnout of 55.6% i.e. 25.9% of the total electorate, presumes to lecture another party leader about the ‘will of the Scottish people’ (where have I heard that before?). The will of the Scottish people last week was to either vote against the SNP or stay home because they couldn’t b***** well care less about separation.

I could rant about this pair for a lot longer but I think my point is made. It’s a b*****, sorry bloody, funny way to act when you’re trying to win friends and influence people.

Round 10 tomorrow. I doubt if I’ll lack material.

7 May

My weekend was spent in the East Neuk of Fife and although I tried to keep up with the fallout from the Holyrood election result my reason for being there –a family birthday – did not allow time or space to keep close tabs on what might be relevant to a month of being wooed by the SNP.

Of course, whatever they say (and the first minister apparently has said it will go ahead) a summer campaign to remedy the deficiencies of their previous case for separation, find new arguments, and bring the likes of me round to them, surely has to have a different tone than it might have had.

Before I headed for Fife I just managed to find time for a blog post on the fundamental statistics of the election result – the fact that on a turnout of 56%, the SNP got 47% (i.e. a minority) of the votes cast in the constituency ballots, and that represented only 27% of the entire electorate. More detailed analyses than mine I’ve seen show how they lost ground over whole swathes of the country. They will now have to govern as a minority administration.

Crossing the Tay on a Friday morning and spending all my weekend in the North East Fife constituency led to me to look for the outward signs of political engagement. And they boiled down to one thing – SNP and related paraphernalia, with not a sign of any other party’s presence. A typical although extreme example was a small suburban garden in St Andrews which sported not only a giant yellow and black banner hammered into the ground with the name of their local candidate, the obligatory logo and the exhortation ‘Both votes SNP’ but also saltire and lion rampant flags on those impossibly tall ‘whiplash’ poles nationalists seem to favour.

I mention all this because you may have seen the North East Fife constituency result – it was taken back from the SNP incumbent by Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

And a lesson lies in that contrast. He who shouts loudest, longest and most triumphantly may not necessarily be in the majority. In a phrase which I suspect will need explanation in a few years’ time my St Andrews garden was but one example of what we should now call the typical SNP activist – ‘Shouty McShoutface.’

Even three days after the election I’m seriously wondering whether the SNP will have the gall to go ahead with their ‘new case for indy’ campaign. One thing is for sure: no case now is going to lead to another referendum within the five years of this Holyrood parliament.

5 May

Day 5 of being wooed by the SNP. I’ve done my civic duty, cast my vote and, at least in my neck of the woods, all is calm. Which is how I like it on an election day. A time for reflection that democracy, tetchy as it often seems, is the least bad of any system of government known to humankind, as Churchill didn’t quite say.

So until the close of poll tonight I wouldn’t expect there to be any significant Scottish political news to report. And that gives me the chance to consider the man who’s going to lead the SNP’s summer campaign to review where they went wrong with their case for independence, to work out how they could overcome its deficiencies, and to transform No voters into supporters of separation.

It’s a hell of a task and I wonder if Stewart Hosie’s up to it. Here he is (at least as I write – these things have a habit of disappearing from the web after a while) being interviewed this week by Andrew Neil about the SNP’s education policies and performance.

On 20 April Nicol Sturgeon said that ‘closing the attainment gap in education would form “the defining mission” of her next government if she is returned to power.’ So you might expect Hosie to have a firm grip on the subject and to come to his interview well-briefed.

You’ll draw your own conclusion about his performance. The person who uploaded it to YouTube certainly did. My judgement, couched in more moderate language, is not hugely different. It’s worse than poor. If you then think of that capability applied to a whole range of larger issues past and future and the psychology needed to woo No voters to the SNP case, it looks like a nail in the coffin of a review that hasn’t even begun.

Unless there’s another agenda at play here. Which with the nationalists is always a possibility.

No Thanks! is on hols for a few days so will not be available to be wooed by anyone until next week. I’ll try and play catch-up on Monday.

4 May

ash denhm london masters

It’s probably unfair to pick on any politician the day before an election, when they’re all flush with adrenalin and last minute vote-hunting. But who said it’s anything to do with fairness? (Remember the promise of once in a generation/lifetime?)

So on Day 4 of my month of being wooed by the SNP, I bring you their candidate for Edinburgh Eastern – Ash Denham, campaigner for all that’s good about the SNP including (another tweet today), ‘I’m proud that Scotland has free University education.’

Sorry, I’ll start that again – Ash Regan-Denham, who sends her kids to private school and presumably thinks a double-barrelled surname is too posh for electoral purposes. Mind you, she presumably either is or will be another less-than-poverty-stricken middle class parent who gets her kids to uni free of charge. Perhaps she’s not heard that despite ‘no fees’, Scotland has the lowest percentage for the four UK home countries of young people from poor backgrounds going onto higher education.

Anyhow I’m not here to bitch about that today. My purpose is to highlight her fantasy that all political parties apart from the SNP have ‘London masters’ and only the SNP ‘put Scotland first.’

This is the crudest sort of sloganeering and grievance chimpery that means nothing. Since Ms Regan-Denham is presumably quite bright (she is or was the head of campaigns and advocacy for separatist outfit Common Weal) she must know this.

Now cast your mind forward to this summer and the Hosie-led campaign to persuade the majority of Scots who don’t want separation that they really do. How’s that sort of language going to play? I’d certainly listen to a case that proves the sentiment although I don’t for one moment believe one can be conjured up. But if you start with the presumption that I and all the other people who want to maintain the union have been duped into bowing down to ‘London masters’ and don’t put Scotland first, you’re not going to get very far.

Another little conundrum for Mr H to solve.

3 May

I’m hoping the main thrust of my month of being wooed will be, as I said yesterday, the luminaries of the SNP. Most political parties have some foot soldiers or sympathisers who are a bit loopy and it’s not fair to characterise the whole organisation from the occasional random fool.

Today, however, I’m making an exception. Because sometimes the occasional random fool tells you something more fundamental about a political party. Here’s the man I mean.

john mallan fb

Until I saw this repugnant message, posted on historian Neil Oliver’s Facebook page, I’d never heard of Mr Mallan. I haven’t seen proof that he’s an SNP member but his sympathy for and roots into the party seem to go deep. Consider.

  • His late father Peter was an SNP member and parliamentary candidate in 1982
  • John is a ‘professional singer and violinist’ whose performance was praised by James Dornan SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart in 2014 (‘what a room full of talent’ – Dornan seems to have blocked me on Twitter. Another one. What a surprise)
  • He entertained the Eastwood SNP Burns supper this year with ‘some brilliant singing’ (branch Twitter account)
  • He posts many photos of the SNP logo and memorabilia, like a mound of ‘Both votes SNP’ badges
  • He posted a message in 2013 on the SNP’s Facebook page about Nicola Sturgeon – ‘Mother Scotland’s loyal and adoring daughter and our beautifully patriotic sister’
  • Perhaps most disturbingly, on 29 September 2015 he posted a photo on Facebook that appears to show himself holding a firearm indoors with the caption ‘My wee pocket panzer. Lol.’

They say you know a person by their friends. There also comes a time when you need to distance yourself from some of your friends. Remember, the SNP want to make friends with the likes of me and I’m afraid John and I wouldn’t get on. It’d be nice to think the SNP monitor this sort of stuff, check if he’s a member and quietly return his subscription. And no more branch gigs.

2 May

I don’t know if my month of being wooed is going to throw up a statement every day by an SNP luminary showing how they’re limbering up to convince me over the summer that indy’s exactly what I need. But day 2 has already delivered a couple of small nuggets from the luminous-most luminary, Queen Nicola herself.

Nicola Sturgeon was given a bit of a hard time on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, in the slot after the 8 a.m. news reserved for the day’s main political interview.

As usual, John Humphries was taking no hostages. [Note for passing nationalists: not an MSM plot, it’s what he does with all politicians] He challenged Sturgeon on a number of sensitive – for the SNP – subjects, not least education, which the FM assured Humphries was ‘the defining mission of my government.’

Let’s put on one side for the moment that after nine years in power the SNP record on education is at best mediocre.

I was intrigued by the idea that education would be the mission. She did claim Thursday’s ‘not about independence’ and when pushed on a second referendum told Humphries he was obsessed by the subject. This after months of talking about it (for example here) and last Sunday Herald’s headline – ‘Sturgeon: I will lead Scotland to independence.’

Of course, separation is the mission of the SNP. Anyone in doubt need only check clause 2 of their constitution – ‘The aims of the party shall be independence for Scotland … ‘

Humphries was right to push her on the consequences of a ‘neverendum,’ which he aptly described as ‘The realm of the absurd.’

And that’s not a bad point to end this second day in my month of being wooed by the SNP. The SNP leader’s comments reported here add nothing new to what we already know. But that’s a useful scene-setter to see if anything new emerges to win the majority of Scots over who still don’t want separation after years of agitation and propaganda. We are, I suspect, indeed in the realm of the absurd.

1 May

Towards the end of April 2016 first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced

a summer initiative targetting No voters across the country in a major drive to put the case for Scottish independence to the electorate (The National 25 April).

According to The National the initiative will

assess the merits and shortcomings of the 2014 independence campaign as well as come up with cogent responses to questions on issues such as what currency an independent Scotland would use, its membership of the European Union and its economy.

That’s good – from an SNP point of view – because those issues were a substantial part of the failure of the party’s case for separation.

The purpose of this page about ‘a month of being wooed’ is not to examine how the SNP’s proposals meet those issues – challenge enough for them – but to keep tabs on the other aspect of the initiative, ‘targeting No voters across the country.’ If anything, the SNP’s approach to the majority of people who voted against separation was and remains even more severely flawed than their substantive case for leaving the UK.

Time and again we see examples from throughout the party of how they faid to understand or even seek to understand those who want to remain with the other countries of the UK.

The other major reason they may struggle with the campaign (apart from the fact that it happens over summer when most of us want to escape politics) is the fact that leadership of it has been passed to Stewart Hosie MP, who is not best known for an open and conciliatory approach to his opponents, Here he responds on Twitter a few days ago:

hosie for 1 May 2016The first thing he needs to lose is the conceit that criticising his party is ‘talking Scotland down.’ The second is his ability to alienate members of both the largest opposition parties in Scotland at one fell swoop by claiming they were joined at the hip, when he knows fine well they merely worked together (sort of) for one particular aim they shared. And another thing he could lose is his tendency to block people like me on Twitter who have been mildly critical of him. Difficult to target me if he can’t see me.

Oh and while we’re at it, they should remember that language is important.  A target is something you shoot. If the concept of ‘targetting’ me is central to their campaign they are unlikely to succeed.

The Month of being wooed will plot how Mr Hosie and other leading SNP politicians/members behave towards ‘No voters’ during May, online, in the media and elsewhere. If they can’t get that right before their summer campaign starts it’s doomed. We shall see.

3 Responses to A month of being wooed

  1. wujeanty says:

    Something strikes me when watching Stewart Hosie’s interview with Andrew Neil: if I were a bigshot in the SNP (and thus, I would presume, a fanatic to whom ‘independence’ was the only thing that mattered in my life), I would be trying to run education in Scotland into the ground, the idea being that in around ten or twenty years I would have produced enough electoral fodder manipulatable enough to deliver independence.

    Of course, I couldn’t pursue this policy overtly – if I did, even in the intellectual wasteland of 21st Century Scotland, I would be unable to garner sufficient votes to gain power. But what I would do would be things like cutting spending on everything other than universities; introducing a dumbed-down curriculum; teaching the Scots ‘language’ in schools; making teachers double up as state guardians so that they have less time to teach; fomenting strikes by the teachers’ unions; and, most simply of all, appointing as education secretary someone who couldn’t possibly be up to the job.

    I guess we just have to thank God that the SNP aren’t as fanatical or ruthless as I would be in their shoes, and that the ‘Named Person’ scheme is not some Machiavellian sleight of hand designed to cripple our education system for just long enough to deliver the votes needed for independence.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. leopold1904 says:

    Great stuff Roger.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Pledge” – the pseudo-religious politics of moral and emotional blackmail.

    And “build (a majority for) Independence” – the fake-sweat-of-labour language of Stalinism. “Building socialism” comes straight from the 1930s & 1950s. It has the same supposedly grassroots, but actually top-down “dirigiste” structure and ethically hollow core as the state’s strategies in the days of Uncle Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

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