Monday, 14 November 2011

Convincing Argument - Third Time Lucky?

Support for the Union, as things stand, significantly outweighs that for full independence, but support for increased powers in turn outweighs the status quo.

The unionist parties in Scotland - or as I like to describe them, the Unionist Underground (thanks to a certain Mr Gray and a takeaway for the idea) - seem hell bent on toppling Alex Salmond. To date, the most they've managed is a small flesh wound when Alex tried to cover up information using the courts (and he's playing with fire over Europe in a similar fashion).

They thinking that by removing Salmond, the SNP's dream of independence will be over. That may be a false assumption. It would take a major scandal to topple him, and he's been around long enough that any skeletons in the closet would have appeared by now. But Sturgeon and Russell could carry the party provided Alex Neil keeps his mouth shut.

In addition to this, the Unionist Underground have opposed nearly every SNP policy and bill just through sheer bloody-mindness. And people have seen this. Where is the effective opposition? You don't necessarily need a leader with great oratory skills and confidence - there are those who thing Big Eck is a bit too smug - but you most certainly need a coherent and disciplined opposition.

Their cause is not helped by the current Westminster government, made up of one and a bit parties, neither of whom achieved anything much in Scotland. Then you have a Labour leader who appears like a Tory who got off at the wrong political bus stop, and has little in common with Labour voters let alone Scotland.

So, like the Nationalists, the Unionists are unable to provide a convincing argument for their political aims and beliefs.


  1. Re your earlier post:

    "To date, the defence of the status quo has been incoherent, disorganised and a mixture of fact, semi-fact and pure fantasy."

    And by the same token I suspect the public think that the arguments for independence have been a mixture of fact, semi-fact and pure fantasty.

    Which in turn is why support for the Union remains stubbornly solid (from the perspective of the Nationalists). The public might not love it, and know it has lots of faults, but in the final analysis it isn't bad enough that they just have to get rid of it, particularly when the alternative is something of an unknown quantity.

    It's a bit like the old class thing - the hoi polloi might not like the bankers, the system and capitalism generally, but at the end of the day they know that it's done good things for them (house, holidays, iPod etc) so rather than risk it all they put up with its foibles and crises - things could be a lot worse.

    Or more prosaically, a bit like mobile phone contracts - so many ifs and buts, but you know that an ostensibly tempting deal might turn out to be worse than what you have (more minutes and shiny new phone, but crap coverage and stuck with it for 24 months, for example).

    Thus for good or ill risk aversion and the status quo wins.

    Great balanced posts by the way - prefer this to your more humour-driven efforts. Not that I'm denigrating your sense of humour, it's just that I kind of lost mine a few years ago!!

  2. "Support for the Union, as things stand, significantly outweighs that for full independence"

    It does? The last poll I saw on a two-option referendum saw independence narrowly ahead, and the last one on a three-option referendum saw all three options basically neck-and-neck. The truth is - and has been for some considerable time - that if people are asked an honest question the numbers are too close to call, particularly factoring in the usually large number of undecideds.

    As Scottish Left Review noted last week, very few people are visibly being turned around from independence to the Union, while considerably more are moving in the other direction. The young are more pro-independence than the old. The trends are clear. I just don't see the evidence for your assertion.

  3. Thanks Stuart - I go for the humour when I'm tired or in a stupid mood!

    RevStu - I just reread my post, and I could have worded it better. The yes/no argument is basically split down the middle, but when you add in the third option, then it becomes a bit clearer. I simply did what the parties do, in that you add the middle group to whatever side you choose. So, as Alex said, two thirds of people support more powers. However, by the same token, two thirds of people do not support full independence, which I think would be fairer. But personally I don't trust opinion polls one bit. I'm an analyst by profession and opinion polls simply do not have the volume of responses required. I wish the politicians would concentrate on promoting their policies rather than getting all excited over a minor poll.