Monday 7 March 2016

Rising to the occasion

Even as the Holyrood election campaign is only gathering pace, we have already heard all manner of nonsense from representatives and supporters of the OPIPs (other pro-independence parties) as they are sent into a feeding frenzy by the almost totally illusory prospect of electoral prizes. Carolyn Leckie is to be congratulated on managing to avoid such nonsense right up to her final paragraph.

Not that the article was entirely without its puzzling aspects. Ms Leckie appears torn between a partisan urge to castigate the SNP administration for its supposed timidity in relation to Council Tax reform, and her entirely rational appreciation of the reasons for caution. As she points out, consensus is required if we are to find a lasting solution to the issue of funding local services. But even as she acknowledges this need, she is critical of the Scottish Government for failing to act on a consensus that she admits doesn't exists. That left me scratching my head.

The question we should be asking of the reforms announced by Nicola Sturgeon is not whether they are sufficient, but whether they are as much as could reasonably be expected under the circumstances. We know that they don't come anywhere close to fully addressing the issue. But that was never going to happen at this stage. Those who pretend that the SNP has missed an opportunity to pull a perfect new system out of the hat are either being extremely foolish, or deeply dishonest.

To her credit, Carolyn Leckie looks to have recognised that most of the attacks on the SNP's proposed tweaking of Council Tax are ill-founded. But she can't resist the temptation to have a dig which only looks the more gratuitous in light of the commendable pragmatism that characterises the bulk of her assessment. To say that the decision on Council Tax "casts a shadow of a doubt over the SNP’s stated goal of reducing economic inequality to Scandinavian levels" is plainly silly. That is a long-term goal that wasn't ever going to be achieved in the space of a single election manifesto. If anything, the SNP's willingness to at least 'do something' with the existing system bodes well for the prospect of more meaningful reform once the party - and Nicola Sturgeon - has secured a further mandate from the Scottish electorate.

Which brings us to that hugely disappointing final paragraph and the daft claim that,

"...we need a rainbow pro-independence parliament after May 5, with fresh, eloquent voices from Rise and the Green Party to remind everyone that the independence movement is multi-dimensional."

There is just so much self-serving fallaciousness crammed into that comment. Firstly, the possibility of any of the OPIPs winning seats is so vanishingly small as to be not worth considering. And what could they add to an SNP majority in any case? Eloquent voices? Perhaps! But they would be voices raised in support of policies that would either already find favour with an SNP administration in a position to implement them, or that would be beyond the reach of any administration.

Even if they could get elected - which is extremely doubtful - OPIP MSPs could only have a positive impact when supporting policies and actions that would be more effectively progressed by an SNP administration with an unchallengeable mandate. There are no circumstances in which even a number of OPIP MSPs could significantly influence an SNP administration even if said OPIP MSPs could somehow miraculously agree on a common position.

In terms of the constitutional question, what could the conditional support for independence of the OPIPs possibly add to an administration formed by a party which has an unconditional commitment to independence written into the very top of its constitution? None of the OPIPs is more dedicated to the restoration of Scotland's rightful constitutional status than the SNP. Mostly, they are less committed because their support is conditional on a particular policy agenda.

To whatever extent you may be treating your vote in May's election as a vote for independence, there is no way to express that preference more unequivocally than by voting SNP on both ballots. And, to the probably greater extent that you are voting for a competent administration, there is no way that denying either of your votes to the SNP can serve that end.

Another thing that Carolyn Leckie does not take into account is the way the British media would use whatever OPIP success might, by some remarkable happenstance, come to pass. The harsh reality is that OPIP MSPs would be entirely disregarded by a mainstream media capable only of portraying politics in terms of simplistic dichotomies such as that represented by the faux rivalry of the two main British parties. Media which, in any case, is only interested in perpetuating a caricature of the independence campaign being 'all about the SNP'.

The only exception to this blanking of OPIP MSPs would be those occasions when they said something that could be spun as anti-SNP and/or anti-independence. At which point said politicians would be splashed all over the front pages. With the distinct possibility that they would be encouraged to make further 'controversial' statements just so as to get some attention.

Thus, there is the very real possibility that those "eloquent voices from RISE and the Green Party" could have a decidedly negative impact on the closest thing to a progressive government that we can hope for at this time.

One final bit of foolishness from that fatally flawed final paragraph. Does Carolyn Leckie seriously suppose that we need to be reminded that "the independence movement is multi-dimensional"? Does she think we don't know that? Among the audience she is addressing there is surely not one of us who didn't spend the first referendum campaign working alongside others from different parties and none, united in our aspiration to bring our government home and create a better, fairer, greener Scotland.

Now, at least as much as then, we urgently need that same unity of purpose. Now, every bit as much as it did then, our purpose must be bent to a particular aim. Then, it was a Yes vote. Now, it is an SNP majority with the most powerful mandate achievable. Not for any partisan reasons but simply because that is the outcome which best serves our common cause.

The ultimate folly of that final paragraph is that it argues against the #BothVotesSNP strategy which will be most effective in achieving what we might safely assume to be Carolyn Leckie's long-term aims, in favour of some dubious short-term party political advantage. Surely now is the time to rise above such foolishness.


  1. Which of the OPIP triumvirate would she suggest voting for; Greens, with dubious independence credentials, who recently joined Labour in castigating the SNP for breaking a council tax pledge which wasn't in their manifesto; RISE, who have joined with Labour in blaming the SNP for council funding cuts, but who have precious little to say about the Tories cutting the SG budget; or Solidarity, recently expanded from a one-man band to the dizzying heights of a two-person band.

    It's funny that all three have a policy of taking votes from the SNP, but have little interest in targeting Labour, LibDems or Tories.

    1. That's the problem. I have no issue with their policies. But now is not the time to be competing with the SNP for votes. It simply doesn't serve anybody other than the British parties. Fortunately, increasing numbers of people are questioning the simplistic rhetoric about a "rainbow parliament". They are starting to realise it's not happening this time around. It's a task for the future.

  2. So basically the entire article can be summed up as;

    "Don't vote for anyone other than the SNP, as only they can be trusted"

    *Slow handclap*

    It reminds me of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, and look how well that worked out!

    "One final bit of foolishness from that fatally flawed final paragraph. Does Carolyn Leckie seriously suppose that we need to be reminded that "the independence movement is multi-dimensional"? Does she think we don't know that"

    Except of course when it comes to casting your vote!

    Yet again lardy Peters obsession with the constitution trumps any idea of plurality and democracy.

    However this is what marks out a true monomaniacal obsession.

    ROFL laughing at this though;

    "Those who pretend that the SNP has missed an opportunity to pull a perfect new system out of the hat are either being extremely foolish, or deeply dishonest."

    Yes what was the point of *demanding* those *Powers* if all you do is slavishly copy Osbornes budget?

    But never mind eh Peter?


    Slogans Not Policies...

    1. Congratulations on so completely failing to understand the point. Had you just put the crap about "Osbornes [sic] budget" right at the start then that would have made your prejudices clear.

      Your mind is evidently too firmly closed to appreciate this, but it is you who is demonstrating the partisan obsession. I am talking only about the practical, effective ways of achieving the objectives of a better, fairer, independent Scotland. You are still mired in the petty party sniping that so typifies the kind of politics that I and others hope to leave behind.

      Grown-ups know how important an SNP majority in May is. Mostly, it's grown-ups who vote. So I'm not too worried.

  3. Write out a hundred times: Scotland is not a socialist country...but it appears to contain quite a few social democrats!

    RISE operates from the fringe hall...and is destined to continue doing so. Its supporters won't like this but tax and spend starts with tax, which HAS to be collected from middle earners not millionaires. Why? Because so few millionaires exist whereas middle earners are rather numerous! On the basis that turkeys never vote for an early Christmas, numerous middle earners ain't going to vote RISE, regardless of the moral arguments.

    Anyway, the media will try to cloud the issue: votes for RISE will be painted as support for outmoded socialism, with its inefficiency and governmental cliques, and jobs for friends and family culture. As Green votes will be seen as anti-fracking, not pro-Indy.

    If you want indy, vote SNP. No ambiguity.

    (Gets off soap box.)