A vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP


 Photo take in shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur, May 2013 © Joe Lafferty

A few people have asked me since I got my photo taken with Nicola Sturgeon if I’ve joined the SNP. No, I haven’t joined the SNP! I do admire Nicola and think she is a formidable politician. And there are a number of SNP policies I have disagreed with, some very strongly.

I’m a businessman who works in Scotland and Internationally. I’ve never been a member any political party, and I’ve never been actively involved in any ‘political’ campaign in my life before.

My journey to yes has been a gradual one over the past 18 months. I intend to write about this in a separate article. But my point in this short post is to clarify what seems to be a common misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding? That if you vote YES you are voting for the SNP.  Let me make it clear – your vote in September is not a general election, or a Scottish parliament election. No party or party leader will be on the ballot paper – it is a simple choice. It’s your once in a lifetime opportunity to respond to a simple and yet profound question. Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

Let’s imagine a YES…

for a moment, please indulge me…

The bickering stops. Now every Scottish based politician will be seeking Scotland’s interest, not the interests of their party HQ in London. Perhaps some London MPs will resign before ‘Independence Day’ to work in Scotland, perhaps others will stay in Westminster to help the transition.

There will be a seismic shift in Scottish Politics.

Labour will be free of the UK labour party. For many this will be traumatic, for others this will be liberating. How well Labour as a party manages this transition will be critical to their influence moving forward. I hope they manage this well. I for one would love to see people of the calibre of Douglas Alexander in the heart of Scottish Politics.

There will be a renaissance in Centre Right politics as the Tories will find their own Scottish Conservative voice. A voice that is different, distinct and relevant to Scotland. A number of my friends are Centre Right, and some of the courageous ones admit to voting Tory! I’ll be glad to hear this voice strong and clear in a Scottish Parliment. Annabel Goldie’s performance in the recent Question Time showed what a thoughtful and considerate politician she is.

New parties are likely to emerge, for example the Radical Independence Movement is a loose alignment of various left wing groupings. Which of these may flourish or align I wonder?

Young people are much more involved in the debate because of the referendum, a good number politically engaged when before they were apathetic or atheistic (as Russell Brand is) towards democracy. The National Collective group is very interesting – creative (mostly young) people for Scottish Independence have made being interested, engaged and active in politics cool.

What about the SNP? Will they disband as they have achieved their objective? I think this is unlikely. Politicians never like to let go of power! With the white paper the SNP have outlined their ‘manifesto’ – and hearing Nicola Sturgeon speak last night in Dundee, it seems clear to me that the SNP will seek to continue and occupy the Centre Left ground in a future Scottish Parliment. ‘The SNP is a broad church’ Nicola said last night, and she went on to say while she is centre left there are other centre right voices within the SNP. Her summary was that together the SNP is ’socially democratic’

Will they be able to hold this mix together over a long period of time? Who knows. I do wonder if difference will emerge downstream that will lead to defections and a fragmentation of what we know now as the SNP.

Let’s take a step back for a moment. Remember the SNP’s election victory in 2011? In a system that was DESIGNED to prevent an overall majority using PR, the SNP managed in 2011 to get an outright majority. How did that happen? Was that a vote for independence? No – for me, I voted SNP not out of support to Alex Salmond, but because of Labour’s poor track record…  I think this is common. And the SNP articulated a positive vision for Scotland, in sharp contrast to the other parties in the election. However, if there had been a referendum on independence on that day in 2011, I would have voted NO.

So, still playing with the idea we have a YES in 2014, in the election in 2106, I think it is highly unlikely the SNP will achieve the same kind of majority they have now. I imagine they will still be powerful because they have the momentum, and may seek to form a minority government, but they will have to balance out their policies along with other groupings in the Scottish Parliment. How the vote goes across all the parties (and no parties as there are a number of independents in the Scottish Parliament) will depend to a degree how effectively the ‘old’ parities of Tory and Labour are able to transition and realign post the YES vote.

Whatever happens, in 2016, we will get the Government WE vote for. So who will lead an independent Scotland? I guess that’s down to you and me, and the rest of the voting population of Scotland…

Our opportunity to create a fairer, more democratic and prosperous Scotland

I was one of the winners of the #14Zero competition run by Creative Stirling to summarise in a tweet your thoughts and feelings post independence.  The photo below shows the print of my winning tweet – the full 140 characters said…

a momentous choice
     without bloodshed or revolution
can we negotiate the fraught narrows of independence
     and enter the ocean of possibility

We are entering the ‘fraught narrows’ for sure – this debate is stirring lots of emotion – fear, passion, anger… and will continue to do so right up till the last moment… but, independence is not an end in itself, it is just a beginning…

It is our opportunity to create a fairer, more democratic and prosperous Scotland.

Post Independence Tweet Printed

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2 comments… add one

  • There are centre right voices emerging which makes the a very exciting time of change. The Scottish Democratic Alliance is one. Have a look see: http://scottishdemocraticalliance.org/

  • thanks for your comment Michael,
    good to see a number of groupings finding their voice!
    for me, despite the bunfighting, this has been a real positive of the Referendum. As my friend Gerry Hassan says:

    ‘Rather than say, ‘Another Scotland is possible’, it would be more accurate to say, ‘A different Scotland is happening’. We just do not yet fully know the shape of that Scotland, who will emerge as the winners and losers, and the scale and form of the greater self-government.’

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