The SNP has lost a lot of excellent MPs, and Westminster will be poorer without them. Amongst them, my local MP – Kirsten Oswald – was a wonderful, hard-working MP who actually lived in the constituency, and her replacement is a young Tory who is unlikely to make a difference. It’s sad.
However, I’m not really surprised that the SNP had a bad election. You cannot tell the voters the election isn’t really about independence and then be surprised if they either stay at home or vote for a UK-wide party. I think many people in the SNP had convinced themselves that people were voting for them mainly because they liked their policies, when in reality they did so because they wanted independence soon. The rapper Loki’s tweet about his vote perhaps sums this up well:
I was sure I was going to vote SNP right up until I got in the booth. Then I just thought, 'fuck it'. For me, today isn't about indy.
— Loki (@lokiscottishrap) June 8, 2017
Last weekend’s independence march in Glasgow showed the appetite for independence is still there, but the SNP seemed afraid of embracing it. As a result, left-wingers swung back to Labour, right-wingers went to the Tories, and many Remain voters opted for the Lib Dems. And of course, many people stayed at home (turnout in Scotland was down from 71.1% to 66.4%).
During the first independence referendum, we mobilised the young and the non-voters. Corbyn learnt from that, and to great success. However, it appears that the SNP is forgetting the lesson. Being a bland, centralised, slightly-left-of-centre party simply doesn’t inspire people. As Wee Ginger Dug put it:
The truth is that the SNP campaign was weak, lacking in focus, and didn’t resonate with the electorate. There was no vision being given, no dream, too often it seemed that they were simply going through the motions. “Stronger for Scotland” isn’t a vision, isn’t a story. People need a story, and all the SNP offered was a soundbite. It’s not enough. We need to paint a picture of a better country, we need to tell its story and sing its songs and make it live in the imagination.
The SNP probably also needs to realise that it simply cannot appeal to its old North-East stronghold at the same time as the Central Belt. Aberdeenshire seems to be full of former SNP voters who voted Leave, and appealing to them means that the party needs to shift right and against the EU; however, if they do that, other voters will disappear.
Personally I believe the SNP should continue being a left-wing, pro-EU party and simply realise that it won’t ever get many votes in the North East again. However, others might prefer it to return to its roots, but then most of the Central Belt is likely to return to Labour and other parties. As I wrote back in September, discussing the next independence referendum, rather than the SNP:
[T]he potential problem for [ScotRef] is that you can’t create a successful coalition of [Yes–Leave, Yes–Remain and No–Remain]: As soon as you start appealing to the [No–Remainers], the [Yes–Leavers] will walk out in disgust, and vice versa. It’s already very clear that the [Yes–Leavers] are deeply unhappy about [ScotRef] being run on the basis of continued EU membership. On the other hand, if we focus too much on keeping the [Yes–Leavers] on board, we’ll be unable to appeal to the [No–Remainers].
Apparently some SNP people are already suggesting that ScotRef should be delayed. I think that would be disastrous. If the SNP stops pursuing independence, even more people will swing back to Unionist parties, and the activists will feel utterly demoralised.
We need to return to the happy, hopeful days of 2014, when we were inspiring so many people who had never been interested in politics before, and having a plan for independence in Europe has to be part of that.
One thought on “Election reflexions”
Where on earth do you get the idea that SNP is giving up on Independence?
You cannot keep supporters at fever pitch forever, and the party was in the midst of Local Council elections when the snap General elction was announced. Do you think that was by chance?
Is that why the three major Unionist parties ran a no second referendum on a joint “No Second Referendum” ticket?
Given that the meeting between our First Minister and Michel Barnier was swiftly followed by the downgrade of the First Minister position by the UK Prime Minister, do you really think that Theresa May thinks the SNP has given up on Independence or the EU?
Typically May lashed out without thinking of the consequences. In downgrading the FM and the Scottish Government she did not consider the impact upon the Scottish Conservatives and in particular Ruth Davidson. The deal with the DUP (especially considering that Stormont is not sitting) and the refusal to contenance anything similar for Scotland leaves the new Scottish Conservative MPs looking like total chumps.
It is, in my opinion a good time to let the idiot Brexiteer incompetents at Westminster have centre stage to make complete and utter fools of themselves. No matter how much the UK Government and their colleagues in the Tabloid Press spin, they cannot hide the truth forever.
The awful consequences are beginning to dawn on some vocal sectors – academia and manufacturing and agriculture. The bankers who already knew of the consequences are already leaving in substantial numbers. We are barely a month into the negotiations, and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of problems. We have a long way to go yet.
As Nicola said the referendum will be held when the consequences of Brexit are clear.
Patience, my friend, patience.