Monday, 16 May 2011

The end of the Party

One of the brightest sights in the known universe is the death throes of a star. Celestial giants of sufficient mass (say eight times that of our own sun) can end their stellar lives in a conflagration of brilliance and ferocious energy. The supernova is a spectacular apex of nuclear fusion and explosion that signals the beginning of the end and offers a quite beautiful demonstration of the axiom: going out with a bang.

At around 1.45am on Friday the 6th May 2011, the SNP went nova.

The founding fathers of Scotland’s constitutional convention, the framers of devolution, settled on an electoral system that was designed to lend itself to consensus and compromise by ensuring the near impossibility of an overall majority. On polling day, the SNP beat the system and got exactly that. They may come to regret that success for a generation.

Any way you slice it the SNP manifesto and its architects now represent the Alpha and the Omega for all that will happen over the next 5 years of this parliamentary session. No longer can they point to the limitations of minority government to excuse their short comings in office and whilst they can blame Westminster for the size of the cake that is given to Scotland, they alone shall be judged on how that cake is sliced. With 'austerity' and 'shortage' as the watchwords of the fiscal future, it isn’t going to be pretty.

Cakes and cuts aside, the 600lb gorilla in the wings for the Nats is what to do about the Promised Land. Even the most deluded of nationalist drones, can’t fail to see that the good will and trust invested in them by the Scottish People in May does not come with a commensurate surge in support for independence. Far from it. A YouGov poll last week put support for independence at just 29%, sober reading for the phalanx of newly elected Nat MSPs.

The major problem for the SNP will come when that question has been put to the people. Whatever the answer, the formidable discipline that the SNP have shown, will surely begin to dissolve as the factions begin to surface once again now that there is no longer the greater good of the independence project to keep them focussed and in line. Indeed, the cracks have already started to appear in the shape of a grass roots kick-back against the notion of 'independence-lite', developed by pragmatic SNP grandees who aren't blind to where the Scottish people are on this issue.

People forget just how riven the SNP can be. Shortly after the millennium the SNP were on the verge of meltdown. Open warfare between factions loyal to Swinney, Cunningham and Sturgeon threatened to tear the party asunder until the king over the water finally returned from retirement at Westminster to knock a few heads together.

Since Salmond reclaimed the nationalist throne, he has been able to keep his troops in absolute check (not a single rebellion in the past 4 years) by suggesting that the ‘ultimate prize’ would be jeopardised should the SNP show anything other than absolute unity. Without that carrot, and with having to carry the can for all that goes wrong over the next 5 years, the SNP will begin to turn on itself once again. The sizeable base of floating voters that now exists in Scotland will then drift down stream from the SNP and it may never return.


  1. The nationalist thrown, surely you mean throne in that final paragraph

  2. The Nats will be able to point to the austerity measures for their 'shortcomings' in the coming years Alex. Do you not think so? I have little doubt they will catch some flak as an overall majority, how much is hard to predict at this stage. ALL political parties are riven with factions, that is the nature of politics it seems.

    On the point of independence, do you not also think that the coming austerity measures may stregthen Salmond's hand in this? And this is why he is so keen to wait until 2015?

  3. Rather than fantasising about the demise of the SNP I reckon your time might be better spent thinking about the massive decline of the Liberal Democrats and how the ultimate destruction of the party can be avoided.

    The Tories will have a big influence on the futures for both parties:

    If the nasty Tories continue with their cuts, unfairness agenda and economic favouritism for the rich, the bankers London & the South East then the Scottish electorate may well react against this by voting to sever ties with England and the nasty party for good.

    If the Liberals do not learn their lessons from the local and regional elections and continue to act as enablers for the nasty party the electorate north and south of the border are sure to give them another kicking.

  4. In the right place a supernova will create the conditions of many new stars.

    The SNP have certainly gone Nova, but will it be death or the start of something completely new?

  5. Well said Alex! You keep watching those nasty nationalists, keep a close eye on them, I'll do the bar graphs.

  6. Welcome to the blogosphere.

    I like the blog design and name :)


  7. I don't think the Nats are nasty, in fact I take my hat off to them for what they have achieved in their stonking re-election. Given how far to the right Labour had lurched; (carry a knife-go to jail etc)and as a voluntary sector lobbyist in the children and young people's sector, I am actually quite relaxed that in this session, we have a government with a more progressive attitude towards support for early years and how we tackle things like anti-social behaviour. I may disagree with the SNP on a great many issues, but at least on issues of social justice, unlike the Labour party, they don't let the Daily Mail dictate policy direction.

  8. Will the LibDems survive until the referendum or will they have been sucked into the black hole of there own making never to be seen again. From M Moore pushing the damaging Scotland bill and D Alexander plundering Scottish jobs all for a 1p per litre from an endangered species angle there loss will not be missed by the voter.

  9. Robbie Rowantree17 May 2011 at 03:19

    Ah Cynical Highlander, no Diogenes you, unless of course you are a true cynic "other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them."



  10. I don't pretend to know any more than anyone else on any of these issues, but your prose is erudite and your imagery elegant. My one suggestion would be that you change the text colour of the blog. I found that in order to read it without straining my eyes I had to highlight the text. A simpler solution would be to use a lighter colour.

    Peace go with you brother.

  11. This just sounds like more of the same reactionary, negative drivel that people voted against in their droves on the 5th May. The SNP got a historic result, and your party came within a few hundred votes of not even having enough MSPs to have a seat on the Parliamentary Bureau. Rather than spouting off your theories about the inner workings of a party you are not a member of, do you not think it would be a better use of your time to concentrate on what went so horribly wrong for your own party? Or are you content to do what you accuse the SNP of doing and blame it all on Westminster, like Tavish started trying to do towards the end of his disastrous campaign?

    You can claim that the SNP used minority government as an excuse, but it's a fact that parliamentary arithmetic forced through the trams, blocked the large retailer levy, blocked minimum alcohol pricing, blocked any attempt to replace council tax with LIT, and made any attempt to even begin to introduce a referendum on independence and increased powers completely pointless. Besides, anything you throw at the SNP can be thrown back at the Lib Dems tenfold - why exactly did your party abandon the idea of abolishing tuition fees at Westminster again?

    Naval-gazing has such negative connotations, but in the case of your party, it's essential for your survival. Rather than just hitting out at others because of your disappointment at the election (particularly in Edinburgh South), ask questions of your own party and figure out why you performed so terribly. Then, and only then, do you have the right to speculate on when other parties will join you on the scrapheap.

  12. Oh, and as for this: "Even the most deluded of nationalist drones, can’t fail to see that the good will and trust invested in them by the Scottish People in May does not come with a commensurate surge in support for independence."

    I think you'll find only the most deluded of "nationalist drones" (and perhaps not even they) are under any impression that people were voting for independence on 5th May. What they did vote for was the only mainstream party whose manifesto stated they want to give the electorate the chance to hear the debate for independence, and then vote accordingly. SNP supporters are excited that the question will finally be asked, but they are not stupid enough to think the job has been done and independence is now a certainty. The only people who are equating the result with independence itself are unionists like yourself, who are desperate to let people know that although they voted for the "wrong" party, they still have a chance to redeem themselves by opposing independence.

    Having said that, it's interesting to quote the words of one Tavish Scott, just two weeks ago: "a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence." Hmmm, bet he's glad now that everyone knew he was talking nonsense, eh?

    Oh, and put your faith in opinion polls all you like - just remember what they were saying at the start of the year about the SNP's chances of even remaining as the biggest party, and also remember that not even the most generous polls came close to predicting the final outcome of the election. I'm not saying that means anything in terms of the independence question, but it's certainly something to think about, especially when a great many people are open to the arguments.

  13. My overwhelming impression is that although well written this is simply a poor attempt at propaganda and SNP bashing.

    I was all geared up to address many of the points you have made (I am a nationalist), but others seem to have done so very articulately already meaning there is no need for further input really.

    In short, concentrate on why the Lib Dems took a tanking, not on what you imagine may happen to the SNP.

    It is the Lib Dem voters who have... drifted downstream, perhaps never to return, I certainly hope not while they continue to support the Conservatives.