Learning lessons

At the time Yes Scotland was set up, I wholly approved of the separation of the SNP and the rest of the Yes movement. I have been forced to reconsider in the light of subsequent developments. Not that I’m saying it was a mistake. At the time, it seemed like the sensible thing to do. And it was probably necessary. Then!

But this is now. The next independence referendum campaign WILL NOT be simply a rerun of the first one. We have the benefit of experience now. It would be stupid not to take advantage of what we have learned – both from our own campaign and from the anti-independence effort. They won. something they did was effective. Let’s learn from that.

With hindsight we can see that the, sometimes very forceful, shunning of the SNP by the rest of the Yes campaign played right into the British establishment’s demonising of the party. Because independence is inevitably and irrevocably associated with the SNP, we were effectively asking people to vote for them in one breath and saying we wanted nothing to do with them in the next.

Separating the SNP and the Yes movement was a mistake. It created a weak spot which the British state – ever the masters of divide and rule – were able to take advantage of. With many on the Yes side showing themselves all too willing to be used.

We must not make the same mistake again. The entire Yes campaign must embrace the SNP, not as a political party, but as the de facto political arm of the independence movement.

The British nationalists will attack the SNP because they know that this is the most effective way to undermine the whole independence movement. As they did before, they will completely ignore the other pro-independence parties (OPIP) and organisations such as Labour for Independence and Women for Independence unless and until they can be used against the SNP. They will completely disregard everything people like Patrick Harvie say unless and until they say something that can be spun as a ‘blow’ to Nicola Sturgeon.

That’s realpolitik. We may not like it. But we’re not going to change it. Certainly not in time for the coming campaign.

Learning the lessons from all of this we must present a united front. Instead of joining in with the anti-SNP rhetoric, everybody in the Yes campaign should be defending the SNP to the very best of their ability. And if they can’t, then they should just keep quiet. It simply makes no sense to damage the tool you need to get the job done.

A lot of people don’t like to hear this. Even as I write it, I’m not comfortable with it myself. In normal circumstances this kind of ‘devotion’ to a political party would be anathema to me. But these are not normal circumstances. So I urge everyone who is unequivocally and unconditionally committed to the cause of independence to avoid the customary knee-jerk reaction and just think about what I’m saying. If bringing our government home is important – which it certainly is – then it is surely worth the relatively small effort – sacrifice, if you will – of putting aside personal animosities, policy agendas and partisan loyalties for a year or so in order to win the prize.


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About Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer. None of my attitudes are immutable. None of my conclusions are final. None of my opinions are humble.
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3 Responses to Learning lessons

  1. Hugh Wallace says:

    I’m glad you added that bit about being uncomfortable at the end, because that is how I feel too, but I think you are correct in your message. I thought the strength of the last campaign was the distance between Yes & SNP (I don’t think it lost us the referendum & I think if it had all been SNP we might have lost by a bigger margin) but so many of the better independent Yes campaigners (I modestly include myself in that number) joined the party in 2014 that something needs to be different this time. This article has made me rethink my strategy for being involved next time round…

    The one caveat I would add is that during a one-to-one conversation with a voter, campaigners should be honest about their own feelings about the SNP while pointing out that independence is a necessity & that the SNP is the best means available to achieve that end. In a public forum however, the message needs to be simpler & clearer & pro-SNP to allow fewer chinks the armour for the unionist side to exploit.

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  2. Here’s hoping Peter. 😃😃😃😃😃
    Though I also think the absence of any national broadcasting channels are a huge problem, as debunking the smears, personal attacks and blatant lying needs to be properly addressed.
    There is also an issue of fraudulent postal voting, true exit polls and proper regulation( I personally favour Icelandic referees).
    Another major issue is Purdah not being respected-the notorious VOW being the greatest abuse of this and not a bit of this was ever really challenged.
    Until these major faults can be sorted I feel the Indyrefw will have to wait.

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  3. Mary Goodall says:

    We must not allow these English MPs to come up to Scotland to ask Scotland to stay in the union. We also must be aware of the N/Irish Orange Order that beat up the Scottish youth in the Square. With there Union Jacks. We must have exit polls. I was shocked that we did not. Also the women at one of the Counts was Labour anti Scotland made it very plain . No matter what we did or said she ignored our complaints regarding the counting. We need proper international people that are not linked to Westminster and its Corruption.

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