Tuesday 19 January 2016

Do we need an alternative to the alternative media?

This piece from Wee Ginger Dug is by no means the first article I've come across that seeks to minimise the debate around the issue of 'tactical' voting and disparage those who actually understand what that debate is about. No doubt this patronising mocking of pro-independence activists will delight those "Yooneristas" every bit as much as the serious debate which they are happy to have portrayed as a petty and pointless social media squabble.
The shallow misapprehension evident in all of these efforts to diminish and mock is that the irksome point in recent exchanges on the matter - some admittedly quite heated - is conflict over the advisability and feasibility of tactical voting. While there is certainly disagreement on that count, this is not the real bone of contention. Nobody, I think, is hugely exercised by the discussion itself. Wrong headed as the effort to take from the SNP list votes that may be required in order to secure another pro-independence majority government, nobody is seriously questioning the right of true believers to try and make that argument.
Few, if any, even object to the fact that this is no more than a self-serving vote-grabbing effort by the OPIPs (other pro-independence parties) - and particularly the ramshackle coalition of leftist cliques calling itself RISE. That's just politics. Many observers are impressed almost to the point of fleeting respect that these fractious factional ferrets have been sufficiently sedated by the remote prospect of a place in parliament to temporarily occupy the same sack.
None of this is what has ignited such anger as there may be. That has been provoked, not by discussion of the merits and demerits of various 'cunning plans' to circumvent the d'Hondt system, but by the tactics being used by some of those trying to sell the idea that voters can be directed and coordinated en masse so as to achieve a specified electoral outcome.
In reality, it's not about 'tactical' voting at all. It's about the direction taken by certain sections of the alternative media which, in the eyes of many, have become mouthpieces for partisan interests in very much the same way as the Daily Record is, to all intents and purposes, the house organ of British Labour in Scotland.
Those of us who recognise the crucial role that alternative media have in the independence movement have very good reason to be disappointed and deeply concerned by this development. It is not enough that pro-independence blogs and news websites should be able to boast of their huge following. It's not only a matter of numbers. What alternative media requires in order to be an effective counter to the British establishment's propaganda machine is credibility. It's no good just competing on the basis of unique visitors versus total readership. Alternative media must acquire the authority that is rapidly seeping away from the 'quality' print media.. They need to win the trust that the broadcast media (BBC) has squandered. This will not be achieved by emulating their methods and behaviour.
It is right that people should speak out about standards in the alternative media just as they do about the mainstream media. This is not a trivial matter.


  1. Why was it necessary to disparage all other pro-independence perspectives in order to make your point about how the d'Hondt system works.

    1. Read more slowly. I wasn't disparaging "other pro-independence perspectives". I was disparaging attempts to fool people into embracing a bit of obvious electoral folly. More to the point, I was condemning the methods used by these snake-oil salespersons.

      I'm extremely dubious, in any case, about the concept of "other pro-independence perspectives". There is only one independence. Just as there is only one path to independence on an acceptable time-scale, i.e. one that pre-empts the crippling of Scotland's economy and the neutering of our democratic institutions and the savaging of our public services.

      If you are suggesting that there might be some route to independence on such a time-scale that doesn't crucially depend on electing a majority SNP government, then I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that we'd love to hear more of your cunning plan.

      More probably, you are referring, not to "other pro-independence perspectives" but to other post-independence objectives. The problem with that, as I'm rather embarrassed to be obliged to explain, is that such post-independence objectives are, themselves, crucially dependent on securing independence. Which, in turn, is crucially dependent on...

      Starting to get it now?

    2. "There is only one independence" - indeed so Peter, but there is more than one way to achieving this. For instance the indy movement in Catalonia embraces a number of parties and over the entire political spectrum from right to left. Our movement is dominated by the SNP, a fact I do not use as criticism as the only criterion should be, surely, "does it work"? To date the SNP has worked, for one can only admire securing the 2014 referendum and the 45% vote in favour which seemed a mirage even three years earlier.
      But, when we look at next May, the likelihood is that there will be a strong showing by the SNP in the constituency vote. Yes, we can argue about just how many constituency seats , but most of the seats to be won are from Labour and last May they lost all but one of their Scottish seats to the SNP and continue to be something like 30% ahead in the polls. To the degree this comes about, though, it puts them at a disadvantage in the regional list, almost how well they poll there. That is how deHondt works. So the question is, should we just go along with the system, vote SNPx2 in the knowledge that the likelihood is that Dugdale and Davidson will get back via the Regional list, as they always have. This will give us basically the same Parliament as the last one, with the same quality of debate, a quality I have seen surpassed even at an OF game.
      Or do we look to create Jim Sillars' independence parliament, with an SNP majority, largely if not exclusively from constituency seats and an opposition dominated by (for we will never entirely be rid of the Unionist parties) representatives of an organization committed to independence as strongly as the SNP but pursuing slightly different policies, holding its own views on the best strategy for indyref2 and on the possibilities in an independent Scotland. The debate in that Parliament would still be vigorous Peter, but it would be positive - about how best to take the country forward, including to another referendum and independence, as well as debating the possibilities of independence.
      Just for the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting RISE or Greens or any other political entity, but the coalition of interests that surrounded Yes, without the SNP but pursuing the same end. If you like a coalition of the other indy parties + those of us of no party. This cant be done by next May, and is a substantial undertaking, but it is possible

    3. This is not Catalonia. We have to work within our own political reality if we are to have any realistic prospect of changing that reality.

      The pernicious nonsense about a miraculous pick 'n' mix parliament has been comprehensively dealt with elsewhere. I see no need to rehearse all the factual and reasoned argument yet again here. Especially for the benefit of someone who is clearly aware of the fallacies of the 'tactical voting' dogma, but chooses to be a true believer regardless.

      In you final paragraph you acknowledge just one of the fatal flaws in your own argument. But, inexplicably, you treat it as a strength instead of a weakness. Here in the real world, the "coalition" of which you speak simply does not exists. In order to make their fantastical 'tactical voting' plan look even vaguely credible its proponents have to pretend that all the various OPIPs (other pro-independence parties) are a single entity. All their hugely dubious calculations crucially depend on there being the single 'super-party' to which voters can be directed by some process that appears to involve the wand-waving intervention of Harry Potter and his chums.

      You have already explained to yourself why the magic scheme won't work. All you need to do is listen to yourself.

  2. "Many observers are impressed almost to the point of fleeting respect that these fractious factional ferrets have been sufficiently sedated by the remote prospect of a place in parliament to temporarily occupy the same sack."

    You have excelled yourself, sir.

    SNP 1 & 2

  3. Just between the two of us, I rather enjoyed that one myself. ;)

  4. But not as much as I enjoyed this;

    "SNP loyalists don’t quite know how to handle RISE so have gone with their strengths and lashed out. (Upon hearing that there were other parties, GA Ponsonby wept that he had not yet denounced them.) Lending your second vote to one of the smaller parties, they warn darkly, will only help more Unionists escape the justice of the Scottish people.

    Crucially for a political strategy devised by and for furious middle aged men who spend their evenings in their Y-fronts typing “BIAS!!!!” under every Herald article, it has a hashtag.

    #BothVotesSNP is where frustrated extremism meets low-level neddery. It's as if residents of The Scheme joined ISIS but stuck to handing out leaflets down the precinct on Saturday afternoons instead of flying out to Raqqa."

    Somehow the image of a furious middle aged man typing 'BIAS' under every Herald article, sat there in his Y fronts (XXXXXL size) bought you to mind Peter....

    I can't imagine why...

    1. Daisley is just another mercenary hack peddling the caricature of the SNP that suits the British establishment. The only people who take him seriously are those gullible enough to have bought into this caricature.

  5. Some think of Scotland as a socialist nation, presumably since MSM paints anyone that it wishes to demonise as a "socialist".

    In my humble experience at the sharp end of Scottish society, it is actually social democratic!

    Those in their fringe halls talking of state provision haven't yet been quizzed on their methods. I wonder why?

    Could it be because their possible candidacy for the Scottish Parliament would suit Westminster fine. Subtext: an Indy Scotland would be a high tax, low productivity state, with governance cliques etc? A vision that many will find a tad scary?!

    Westminster is hoping for a minority SNP gov in order to restore the perceived natural balance.

    You know what?

    I'll vote for a fair and balanced Scotland, I'm voting SNP twice. That'll give Westminster the shitters and help bring about an Indy Scotland.

    RISE can remain in their fringe halls.

    1. There may well be a place in Scotland's politics for RISE. But their time is not yet. As you say, in present circumstances success for RISE can only be achieved at the cost of giving the British establishment what it wants.