By Rab Bruce’s Spider

It’s interesting that the Independence for Scotland Party (ISP) is receiving very little publicity from the mainstream media while Dave Thompson’s Alliance for Independence is receiving much greater coverage. This could be because the media hacks are in a bubble where only the actions of former MSPs are considered, but given the way the media usually operates, it could suggest that they view the Alliance as something that will harm the SNP, while they know the purpose of the ISP is to boost support for independence.

I have said before that the biggest problems for ISP will be getting their message out to the wider public. They need a lot of money to pay for advertising, and they need some very high profile candidates who will force the media to pay attention. So far, neither has been evident. Of course, they could gain media coverage by being openly critical of the SNP, but too much of that will only create a greater split in the Yes movement, and may well deter some people from voting for them.

One thing the commentary so far is showing is that the Unionists will not consider votes for the ISP as evidence of support for independence. Despite the fact that supporters of the three main Unionist Parties have fairly evidently played the electoral system in the past, any such voting shenanigans by Yessers will apparently render such votes meaningless. This is despite ISP having produced their own policies which differ from those of the SNP in some key areas. But the Unionists will continue to push the line that only an SNP majority in Holyrood will provide any proof that the people of Scotland want their nation to become a normal, self-governing country. Sadly, the SNP appear to be going along with this line of argument in spite of the well known fact that gaining a majority is almost impossible. The polls may indicate that such a feat is on the cards next year, but it must be said that it will require a considerable slice of good fortune if the trick they accomplished in 2011 is to be repeated.

A big question must be whether the Unionists could stick to the argument that having a super-majority of pro-Indy MSPs is somehow invalid because a new Party arrived on the scene to scoop up Yes voters. The Tories, of course, can argue black is white and the media will probably go along with them, and whatever your thoughts on whether voting for the ISP (or any other pro-Indy List Party) might be, we cannot ignore the fact that the media continue to hold big sway over the wider public. If they say the result of the election is flawed because voters played the system, then many will believe it. Whatever the rights or wrongs, overcoming that hurdle will not be easy unless there are some heavyweight candidates who can argue the case in such a way that the media cannot ignore them.

Putting that issue aside, there is still a long way to go before the elections, but many Yes supporters will be in a quandary. They know how the D’Honte voting system works, and they know that many votes for the SNP on the list are wasted. From that point of view, having another choice on the List could considerably help. On the other hand, some people have produced calculations suggesting that the ISP could remove SNP and Green MSPs rather than their Unionist targets. This is definitely something the ISP will need to take careful account of when deciding where to put up candidates.

What some in the SNP do not appear to realise is that many of the people who have voted for them in recent elections are far more interested in gaining independence than in keeping the SNP in power. For those people, a vote for the ISP must be a great temptation because the SNP seem content to win elections then find some excuse or other to do nothing to bring independence any closer. Now, Covid19 is certainly what any Government should be concentrating on tackling, but the reality is that the Tories have not stopped Brexit nor the Power grab. By putting independence on the back burner for what could be several more years, the SNP are playing into the Tories’ hands. Concentrating on Covid19 might be the moral thing to do, but the Tories don’t do morality, and while the long, cautious approach to gaining support for Indy may be starting to bear fruit, the Tories may not allow us enough time for it to bring about the solution we need. This is the fundamental reason why many Yessers are in favour of the idea of an alternative pro-Indy Party, be it ISP or whoever.

Yet if the ISP stand in regions where they could remove other pro-Indy MSPs, they will harm their own cause. And if they don’t get enough public attention, they won’t gather enough votes at all while reducing the SNP vote even further.

So it’s a tricky decision, and it’s one I remain undecided on. For the moment, though, I am intrigued by the way the media has responded to the ISP. The fact they are being blanked suggests they might be onto something.