Posted on August 14th, 2019
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
I’m in two minds about the idea of a new independence party being put forward by Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland. On the one hand, I can understand the desire to win more List seats in the Scottish Parliament in order to obtain a pro-Indy majority, but I do fear that this idea will result in a split in the Yes vote which could seriously backfire.
There is no doubt that many Yessers are dissatisfied with the very cautious approach being adopted by the SNP, especially its desire to abide by Westminster’s rules in its attempts to achieve independence. So far, that has got us precisely nowhere, while some of the policies the SNP are pushing, particularly on things like the growth Commission and the Trans Gender Act, are causing great concern among many voters. Of course, the fundamental issue of self-determination should not be influenced by individual policies, but the reality is that many voters see the SNP as promoting policies they do not agree with after they have given the Party their vote because there is no other genuine option for someone who supports independence.
We should not forget that Unionist voters have three major choices when marking their ballot paper as they can be assured that, whichever Party eventually wins a List seat, that will count as an anti-Indy vote. The SNP’s victory in so many Constituency seats means that they won very few List seats at the last Holyrood election, so altering the field to give Yessers a better chance of achieving a pro-Indy majority will be welcomed by many.
On the other hand, there is already a pro-Indy majority when the Green MSPs are taken into account. The Greens have, unfortunately, also managed to upset a lot of yessers with some of their actions, particularly in supporting the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act which, despite promises from Labour, has never been replaced by an alternative Bill, and the so-called Car Park Tax which was a green measure forced on the SNP in budget negotiations and which has provided the Tories with ammunition to attack the Scottish Government. To be fair, one cannot blame the greens for pushing their own agenda, but it is entirely possible that they will lose some of the support they gained in the last election. If that happens, where do Yessers put their List vote if it is going to be wasted due to the SNP winning so many Constituency seats?
And here we come to some important considerations. Analysis of the votes in recent elections suggests that if every person who voted SNP in the Constituency vote had also voted SNP in the List, the SNP would have won several more List seats and obtained a majority in the Parliament. There is also the consideration that there is no guarantee the SNP can win the same number of Constituency seats next time. If they fail to do that, and if the Yes vote is split between SNP and a new Wings Party, then we face the very real prospect of a Unionist Party picking up a List seat by default.
As I say, I’m torn on this issue. My feeling for a long time has been that Yessers should put all their support behind the SNP until Scotland becomes a normal country. After that, we should vote like citizens in a normal country, choosing whichever Party best matches our views. Yet there is a risk in that strategy because of the SNP’s apparent lack of ambition in pushing for independence, and many are starting to wonder just how long we must wait before we see IndyRef2.
The big question is whether another pro-Indy Party with, let’s face it, no real policies other than seeking independence, will help or hinder the cause. Quite frankly, I haven’t been able to make up my mind yet.
Let’s hope it does not become an issue in the long run. If IndyRef2 does come about, then there will hopefully be no need for an alternative Party to contest the next Holyrood election.