Like others I tend to distinguish between online political campaigning or activism and the offline pounding of pavements and the knocking of doors that comes with “real” politics. Some of course would argue that in this interconnected and multiplatform age internet lobbying has become a sort of virtual door knocking and would point to the disruptive importance of technology in the UK Brexit referendum and the US presidential election of 2016. However there is a line between partisan reporting or activism designed to influence the outcome of a vote and actually competing for votes in the first place. And that is the line the Scottish publisher Stuart Campbell of the influential website Wings Over Scotland is seeking to cross with his hints during a recent press interview about the possibility of launching a new pro-independence party to stand at elections for the regional parliament in Edinburgh.
The forthright and occasionally contrarian writer has been the focus of much debate and controversy in Scotland, partly driven by the animosity of the country’s dominant pro-union camp towards his blog, partly driven by the envy of the mainstream Scottish press which has expressed irritation at the large readership WOS has accrued over the last several years. (Aside from The National, a relatively new title, most of the major newspapers in Scotland are on their last legs or are functioning as frontpage proxies for London-based publications.) As a result, the speculation that a Wings Over Scotland-branded party might contest the regional list-system for Holyrood has drawn much adverse comment, not just in unionist circles but also among supporters of the governing Scottish National Party. The Green Party in particular, which relies on the party-list system to have any substantive representation, has been particularly vocal, worried that a WOS grouping might push it to one side, though the Greens play to a somewhat different demographic than that of the average WOS reader.
So far all the talk about an imminent Wings Over Scotland party is just that: talk. However given some of the testy opinions expressed by Stuart Campbell during interviews and via his writing I suspect that any possible electoral venture featuring his branding will be broadly centrist and mildly populist in nature, perhaps featuring some opposition to what he perceives as far-left or ultra-progressive touchstone issues like feminism or language rights. Which smacks a little of the Faragist way of doing politics.
I’ve read a lot of contradictory things about Scottish Independence and its support.
One claim I’ve heard is that most Scots want a very different (more liberal) society than they can really get as part of The UK(even with Devolution). Unless they English vote becomes notably friendlier to such policies than seems likely in the foreseeable future.
The other claim is that The English read this as much more about hatred of them than is actually the case.
I’ve also heard claims that the Iraq War was a factor at tipping more English towards Brexit and more Scors to the SNP.
(Even having protested that one partly due to risks of long term
consequences, I never saw anything like that coming.)
The other claim I’ve heard is that the Scots “disproportionately participated” in ruling the British Empire. In addition to wondering how that was measured, it raises a question. Why WAS the level of maltreatment, hatred, bigotry towards Ireland and Irish people so much worse than was the case with Scotland and Scottish people? The language and culture are very similar.
If Brexit becomes a true disaster and Scotland leaves, it is hard to
imagine what sort of country England will eventually be.
Very difficult to see exactly how in real terms it would differ from the SNP – are the feminist/language rights aspects that exercise him likely to do so for most pro-independence folk? Difficult to believe that is the case.
Interesting you mention Farage – it smacks a bit of a need by SC to seem relevant which is a pity because the niche he’s found isn’t unuseful in itself.
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The rationale for an Independence List seat party as suggested by Stuart Campbell makes much sense.
The election of MSPs to the Scottish Parliament is a combination of constituency and list seats. First vote constituency MSP ( FPTP) with a second vote for.a list MSP.( PR D’Honde )
In total therefore 73 constituency seats and 56 list seats, giving 129 in total.
The design of the Scottish Parliament voting system is the exact opposite of Westminster s first past the post system in that the list D’Honde system acts against parties who do well in FPTP.
Very much intended to ensure that no party secures an overall majority one can see why Westminster set it up that way.
And so at the last parliamentary election where the SNP did very well in the constituency with just under 50% of the vote, the subsequent list vote of 38% delivered only 4 out of 56 available seats. ( or 7% of list seats for 38% )
And it is in the list seats that Stuart Campbell’s proposed party would have a huge impact.
Voting SNP one and two does not maximise the independence vote. Doing well in FPTP acts against against the list vote – ergo 7% for 38%.
However, if instead of voting SNP one and two the second vote was given to Campbell’s Wings Party that same vote would deliver around 20 seats – thereby delivering an independence super majority in the Scottish Parliament.
A tantalising prospect and something that SNP voters and others supporting independence could understand.
Indeed, consider such a party endorsed by Alex Salmond ( who could incidentally stand as a list MSP ) and you can understand why the establishment hate both of them – and why both Salmond and Campbell have been the subject of intense police interest in trying to discredit them both. ( Salmond recently won his civil case ( and £502,000) against the SG for their biased allegations against him. Campbell’s charges were dropped after his arrest – and with Salmond confidently expecting his charges to be exposed as a fit up – one can see how the establishment’s dark deeds may play against them.
In the meantime, with rumours suggesting that a Westminster election is just about to be called, opinion poll analysis suggests that with independence vote now at over 50% the SNP are poised to secure around 53 out of 59 Westminster seats – with a Tory free Scotland.
So with super majority of SNP members in Westminster, super majority of SNP / Independence members in Hollywood, majority of SNP MEPs at least whilst we are still in the EU and SNP control of most of the Scottish Councils – the Better Together – Scotland in Union messages don’t appear to be working out too well
And with that you can see how the dirty tricks brigade are starting to play .a bigger and bigger role in undermining democracy in Scotland.
No country has ever left the clutches of the UK democratically.
Maybe Scotland will be the first?
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Very interesting analysis. I kind of see your point re maximisation of the independence vote. Still, any Campbell party would still only be marginally different to the SNP. Is there even space for such an entity to grow?
You go to all the trouble of thinking this through, writing it up in a cogent form, then the feckers throw a constitutional crisis into the works.
Did Johnson just end the monarchy?