One you’ve had a wee rest, Independence supporters should cheer themselves up by cutting through the media and party-political bullshit today. Two things will become clear.

First, in spite of the media’s and unionist politicians’ insistent attempts to read across from the SNP’s result to the state of support for independence in Scotland, independence continues to be the choice for almost, or actually, half of all Scots. This blogsite published this yesterday. And while the SNP got less voteshare and Scottish Labour more, this has been widely seen as the function of enthusiastic young Yes folk moving from SNP to Labour via Corbymania.

Perhaps those young folk will switch to No in due course. But that won’t become clear for some time and will depend upon how independence supporters act from now on. For the moment, it’s obvious that Labour has more independence supporters than ever. So as said yesterday, while it’s fair to assume pretty much all SNP voters (37% yesterday) are also independence supporters, it’s certainly going to be true that more Scottish Labour than last time (around a third) were and that likely means at least another 10% from there (27% yesterday). In other words, the figures for independence support really haven’t shifted for quite a long time, much as the media like to suggest otherwise.

Second, though, that means the independence campaign is from now on going to be less simply a matter of supporting the SNP and more about convincing people who may not vote SNP that independence will bring better public services and a better Scotland in general. If Scottish Labour thinks its new voters yesterday are going to immediately toe the line on unionism then they’re badly wrong. Unionism at the moment is of course a Tory government in league with sectarian Ulster Unionists – not a good look. But Corbyn’s UK Labour will be working hard to convince folk that the only way they can get this kind of radical politics is through them, not through a more ‘mainstream’ SNP. In time, this could indeed impact on Yes support amongst those folk. At the moment, such folk will believe there is a serious chance that Corbyn can indeed become prime minister later this year, and that is quite dangerous to the independence movement.

The SNP has lost its Tories now, of course. So it’ll be slipping to the left and that’ll help with independence. But it’ll need to spend much more time working out a narrative, with proper detail, about how independence can bring public benefit in Scotland in a way unionism can’t. This seems likely to lead to a referendum delay. And of course it will be difficult if Corbyn is indeed able to become prime minister in, say, a second election this year.

For now, though, the SNP remains overwhelmingly the most powerful party in Scotland and will have to decide whether it is truly a party of independence, or wants instead to concentrate holding on to power in a more devolved Scotland. It seems likely that the SNP’s new mass membership won’t allow the battle for independence to be given up: quite rightly since the odds are that we’re still facing years of Tory Brexit government.

Crucially, though, there’ll be an important role for Labour independence supporters. They’ll need to assert themselves against the presently unrepresentative Scottish party leadership and they’ll need to square working to help Corbyn at the UK level while continuing to believe that England remains a more Tory place where there will never now be the same opportunity for social justice as in an independent Scotland.

There’s a lot to play for. But then, there always has been, as independence supporters who’ve been so for a lot longer than me can attest.

Meanwhile, this weekend, just chill and observe the public spectacle of the June car-crash which is the May UK premiership. Britain’s a mess. Scotland can do a lot better.



25 Responses to Scottish Independence supporters should be cheery, but also accept that the game has changed somewhat
  1. With apologies to all commenters I haven’t read, & with warning I haven’t checked this in detail.

    My initial reaction on seeing results showing SNP vote drop & Tory increase was voter churn Lab to Con & SNP to Lab cos of Corbyn.

    There’s clearly also areas that historically were Tory.

    I wonder if there’s direct switch from some anti-EU pro Indy folk to make Brexit happen by voting Tory, which only took shape as prospect of Labour winning was promoted near to vote & after it they pivot again as not really Tories.

    Just a thought.

    • Thanks, Andy. These might be smaller trends, and I’m just looking through them in turn but so far it seems fairly clearly to be SNP folk moving to Tories and some, but not anywhere near as many, Corbyn enthusiasm moving younger folk SNP to Labour. I’ll post a thought or two shortly. My instinct is that the SNP can’t get those Tories back. The more significant battle ground will be that smaller, latter group.

  2. A proportion of Yes voters, enthused by Corbyn and voting Labour, have elected Tory MPs in places like Ochil & South Perthshire. And have delivered a Tory Government.

    Unfortunately the hard lessons of the 1980s and 1990s have been forgotten, or are perhaps unknown to the younger cohorts? Westminster elections under First Past the Post are tactical vote single constituency elections, as they have always been. If there is an early election tactical voting must be promoted

    The SNP have some thinking to do. But my initial thoughts are:

    1 We need to be much more aggressive in promoting the achievements of the Scottish Government, e.g. in actually having long delivered what Corbyn was promising;

    2 Move left, stop featherbedding farmers and fishermen and explicitly redirect resources to the working class

    3 engage the mass membership MUCH more – The prospectus Tommy Shepherd put forward in his Deputy Leadership campaign

    4 Explicitly promote single market membership via EFTA rather than the EU

    5 Spread the load in public appearences and get away from the over reliance on the First Minister. Fabulous as she is, that makes her a target, just as Alex was before her,

    6 Indyref 2. I don’t know.

    • That’s likely to have been a factor, as with everywhere else I imagine. But I think it’ll also be true that Tories who went to New Labour and kept Gordon Banks until 2015 in have gone back (esp in Crieff?) to the Tories made decent by Davidson. I think this constituency will be a very hard nut to crack for Labour and SNP.

  3. Thanks for this Eric .

    I felt terrible on the morning after the night before and was shocked Labour took Midlothian . MY ward

    But your right. We won the election and we will have a indi vote . We just have to show the doubters we can do better .

    But the main problem is getting the message out . The MSM and BBBc are a disgrace and blank SNP/Greens etc allowing ex unionists the mike to twist, spin and lie any of the benefits of indi .

    We need to silence the BBBC especially.

    until then i fear we are stuck to the rUK .

    Our children, disabled and unemployed will suffer for this .

    I am soo close to giving up .

    But after your article …… maybe …..

    Thank you again Eric . 🙂

  4. A complex election outcome, certainly, and one which will take a period of reflection to untangle. We will need more information about the voting data, demographics etc. The election, itself has not resolved anything. The situation is unstable and will continue to unravel even in the short term. And, once the Brexit negotiations get underway, there will be another dynamic.

    However, the 2014 referendum took place because there was an unexpected SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament. Westminster could not morally object to it, especially as they did not think YES would even come close.

    The fact that in the most recent Scottish parliamentary elections the SNP did not attain an overall majority, on pretty much the same vote as 2011, has been portrayed as an indication of no support for a second referendum and despite the fact that with the Greens, there is still a majority of seats for independence. This majority has attained the Scottish parliamentary majority for a second referendum.

    Whether it is advisable for YES, in the light of recent results to press for a second referendum soon is a moot point.

    I suspect that as several of the respondents above have indicated, support for independence is possibly pretty close to a majority, I doubt if Westminster would grant a Sewell motion, or, if it did, might change the rules so that 16/17 year olds cannot vote nor EU nationals. They would use an argument that the constitution, ultimately, is a Westminster matter since it is about the integrity of the UK, that it should be run ion the Westminster election rules. They might, too, add a ‘40% type criterion’.

    I do not mean this as a council of despair because people in other places and times have faced similar and greater obstacles.

    So, in the short term, accepting Mr Joyce’s view, that there is a majority taken across voters of SNP, Green , Labour, various left groups, and, indeed, Tory and Lib Dem and election abstainers, I do not think that this variegated group will get the opportunity to express their preference.

  5. Hi Eric,

    I was just wondering if there was a way for an independent body, to audit the membership of the Scottish Labour Party on their feelings towards “the Constitutional Question”.
    I feel that the party leadership has mandated a Unionist stance which is unnecessarily divisive for the members.
    I was solidly pro-independence but a Labour voter until the Labour leadership stood side-by-side with the Tories during the referendum.
    Whereas Independence remains an abiding cause of the SNP only in the vaguest of terms can Unionism be equated with the broader Labour Movement. If the Labour Party in Scotland can only be made to recognise that Social Justice and Scottish self-governance are not mutually exclusive then Labour could face the “Constitutional Question” as a matter of personal political will, and remove the whip for its members.


    • That’s the question of the moment, John. I think support for independence amongst Scottish Labour supporters will be presently over 40%. The most sensible position for Scottish Labour to take over a referendum is to be agnostic. But the leadership at the moment is too tied to ultra-unionism and won’t be prepared to reflect that. Probably needs a change of leadership to take advantage of the Corbynite stuff while continuing to allow room in the dialogue for independence.

  6. Perhaps a shade off-topic here (my apologies), but On the economy of an independent Scotland, why has nobody made more of a point about the benefits of having our own internal services, like HMRC, DVLA, HO, FO etc? As well as providing loads more jobs for Scots, think of the amount of money then retained in Scotland rather than being sent to UK coffers. Particularly DVLA revenue; consider the number of vehicles registered here and the various taxes gleaned from them. Got to be worth a look, surely?

  7. Then there was the poll from just before the election which asked indy questions in various scenarios. With another Tory govt at Westminster 15% of No voters said they would vote Yes.

    We urgently need another Scottish poll to discover if this has happened to gee Sturgeon up.

  8. Is it possible that some of those (Scottish) conservative votes were tactical ones?

    May & the conservatives are planning a Hard Brexit, which goes against Scotland’s expectations… By voting Tory, one ensures a Hard Brexit, which will (likely) be followed by economic & social issues… In the long run, harsh social environment & economic stress might benefit a Scottish Independence referendum…

    • It’s an interesting thought – that some Yes but anti-EU voters voted Tory. My instinct is not that many but I might be wrong. I hadn’t thought of that, tbh. Still thinking…..

  9. I agree Jim, EU residents and 16/17 year olds will have a huge impact if we get our chance after Brexit negotiations are finished

    • Yes, a crucial 2% to the total I reckon. Possibly a bit more if the split went better than 2-1.

  10. I enjoy your blog. Very good sense on the whole. Like this particular post, they often get me back on an even keel when I’m either over-elated or over-depressed.

    However, a wee technical point. When I look at the blog on an iPad, as I usually do, the font size is a bit small. So I try to zoom in, and it’s not allowed. I wonder if you could have a look at this, and either increase the font size or allow me to zoom in.

    • Ah, thanks for this Alison. I’ve been asked before and not got around to it…. I’ll insert a plug, or something! Bear with me and I’ll do it over w/e. best, eric

  11. Glad you made the point that Independence is about bringing public benefit. I feel the SNP don’t make this connection enough and have allowed the Unionists to push the trope about ‘getting on with the day job’ as though Independence is just some vanity project, disconnected to the real world. The SNP need to start challenging ‘day job’ statements more in order that people make the connection clearer.

  12. The one question Labour and Corbyn has no answer for is how to be rid of the Tories in Government deciding the future and undoing everything Lab has done previously. The election would be a temporary ‘fix’. Then England would decide again.
    We can ensure no Tory Gov in Scotland for at least many decades.

  13. Will be interesting to see how things turn out with the new Tory/DUP coalition. My prediction is: car crash. Particularly once they get round to having to sort out the Northern Irish Assembly.

  14. Many seem to have forgotten that a significant section of our electorate were excluded from voting in this election.
    EU citizens cannot vote in Westminster elections and probably that is why the Scottish Unionists made the election about independence alone.
    Doubt they would have risked it otherwise.
    I am pretty sure that most of these people would vote for the possibility of remaining as EU citizens with the right of residence in an independent Scotland.
    Of course the fact that the pound has tanked against the Euro means that many low paid migrants now find it more attractive to work in places like Spain but nonetheless those that remain would have had an impact.
    Once it becomes clear that leaving the EU on Tory terms is going to harm our economy and social fabric,many in Scotland will change their vote.
    Thanks Eric

    • Thanks, Jim. I didn’t factor that into the piece, for sure.

    • 16 & 17 year olds are also disenfranchised for WM elections.

      Many adults who were registered to vote are now disenfranchised (deliberately) since 2014 with the new registration rules. For many people (particularly youth and EU voters) the form filling is a barrier.

      When canvassing in this year’s elections we found many houses without any registered voters.

      • Yes, that’s a good point. Over 2% of indyref voters were be 16 or 17 and they turned out at 75%, higher than 18-24 year olds. And around 3.7% were EU nationals. Independence has a good lead in both groups, so if you assumed a 2-1 split this would add close to 2% to the over all indy vote.


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