Tearing the veil
from the ‘YeSNP’
‘Yes Scotland’ is,
in theory, a broad-based, non-party campaign for the breakup of the UK – a place
where people from all parties, and none, can come together to pursue the dream
of an independent Scotland. It is a completely different thing to the SNP.
Really it is.
That assertion has
always seemed a little dubious. Even if you accept the Yes campaign at face
value – and as we’ve seen, there’s every reason not to do that – the SNP always
feels a bit like the Russia to Yes Scotland’s Soviet Union.
graphic from FB campaign page ‘Vote No 2014’ shows, the SNP’s erstwhile
allies (the Scottish Socialists and the Scottish Greens) are real minnows. That
is probably why, as this
second graphic illustrates, so much of Yes Scotland’s funding, staff, and
policy positions are the SNP’s.
(Looking at the
first image, any theories as to the cause of the disparity between Scottish
Conservative local/devolved performance (substantially stronger than the
Liberal Democrats) and the poor Westminster performance?)
Yet that’s not a huge
deal – it’s not a surprise that the SNP are such an overwhelming force in the
separatist campaign, and it seems unlikely that people minded to vote for independence
will mind all that much, hard-core SSP/Green members aside. At least the SSP
and Greens, small as they are, are genuinely separatist allies. It’s not as if
the SNP are actually pretending to be members of other parties to artificially
inflate the perceived breadth of their coalition…
Independence’ an SNP front
In the aftermath of
Falkirk, stories of the Labour Party being infiltrated are a lot less
surprising than they might have been not long ago. Even so, the unfolding story
of Labour for Independence (LFI) is astonishing.
The Yes campaign
have made quite a fuss over ‘Labour for Indy’, a group which purports to be a
band of Labour voters and members who happen to oppose the party’s ironclad
unionism. It apparently demonstrated splits in the Labour Party and that their
vital voters were open to the Yes message.
Yet thanks to some
solid journalism from Euan McColm and the Herald newspaper, it appears the
whole thing may be an SNP sock puppet.
First, there was
the uncomfortable revelation that most of the people standing behind ‘Labour
for Indy’ banners in promotional literature were, in fact, paid-up and
sometimes prominent members of the SNP. The golden rule – as demonstrated here
– appeared to be that so long as you had one non-SNP member somewhere in the
middle, the rest were just some sort of supporting cast.
Elements of the Yes
camp mooted that this was simply a coincidence – that a couple of lonely separatist
Labour member were each wandering about, alone with a giant banner, and local
SNP activists posed for photographs as a comradely gesture. Nothing untoward
about that, Yes Scotland being the paragon of pluralism that it is.
Yet the plot
continued to thicken. More evidence emerged of SNP members sourcing and
distributing Labour for Independence leaflets and even manning
an LFI stall. Meanwhile some of the group’s paid-up Labour members – a commodity
with which it is not well endowed – turned out to be people who had very
recently resigned from the SNP in order to agitate for independence inside
An SNP spokesman
insisted that the whole story merely highlighted that there are ‘card carrying’
members of the Labour Party preparing to vote Yes in 2014. If the present
evidence is anything to go by, most of them haven’t had those cards very long.
Sinn Fein Mayor of
Belfast cuts short engagement after being ‘jostled’ by loyalists
Community tensions in
Northern Ireland showed themselves once against as the Lord Mayor of Belfast, a
member of Sinn Fein, was mobbed
by loyalists at the re-opening of a park inWoodvale, a deeply unionist part
of the city.
Nine members of the
PSNI were injured in the clash and the mayor, Mairtin O Muilleoir, was taken
briefly to hospital.
As the News Letter
reports, city officials in Belfast have increasingly started to attend events
of both communities in recent years, in a marked sign of progress from the
Troubles, and the Woodvale incident marks a depressing step backwards in that
regard. Yet the complaint of the Woodvale protesters – that SF is waging a ‘cultural
war’ against their symbols and identity – is one that is deeply felt, especially
since last year’s flag protests, and not confined to the riotous loyalist
It will be
interesting to see if, and how, O Muilleoir attempts to reach out to those
areas of his city so deeply distrustful of him.
All three main
parties lose in Anglesey by-election
Last week, I wrote
about the upcoming by-election in the Welsh Assembly seat of Ynys Mon, which
corresponds exactly with the isle of Anglesey, to those who are not
sufficiently familiar with the Welsh language or Welsh constituencies. Now the results are in,
and they are most disheartening for all three of the main parties.
For Labour, it
simply need be said the Plaid Cymru held the seat, thus denying Carwyn Jones’
devolved administration an overall majority in the Assembly. Worse still, from
the point of view of Labour’s bid to hold the corresponding Westminster seat in
2015, the nationalist majority has more than tripled, from just under 3,000 to
over 9,000 votes.
It’s also dire news
for the Conservatives. That 3,000 Plaid majority in 2011 was not over Labour
but over us. One year into the Coalition, with cuts biting, we pulled a solid
second in this seat with almost 30 per cent of the vote. Last week our share
slumped to just 8.5 per cent, with UKIP breaking into the seat with 14.3 per
cent (despite this, the combined Conservative/UKIP vote was well down on the
Conservative 2011 vote).
And the Liberal
Democrats? The BBC summed up their performance thus: “the Liberal Democrats
lost their deposit while being beaten into last place by Socialist Labour”. The
Socialist Labour Party is led by Arthur Scargill. Enough said.
recent article in ConHome’s ‘Majority’ section is entitled “Why our Party
is making progress in Wales”. Hopefully someone better informed on the
specifics of the campaign will tell us why we’re seeing the opposite in Ynys