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ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

Despite the SNP winning most seats in Scotland, it was a disappointing night for supporters with big names losing their seats.

Smaller factors include that the SNP always performs worse in UK elections; that Labour and Tory take most of the media air time due to their UK-wide appeal; the SNP has been the largest party in Scotland for ten years now which makes it difficult to retain support; that we couldn’t repeat the perfect storm of 2015; and that the party machinery has been running on fumes for a while now.

However, the biggest factor has been that the SNP isn’t doing enough. We aren’t doing enough on our message. On policy. On organisation.

Activists may be tired, but it’s the party’s job to inspire them to get out and campaign. This campaign has been lacking in narrative making it difficult to inspire activists and voters alike.

The Tories’ key message was: strong and stable leadership for Brexit. Labour: for the many not the few with a radical manifesto. The SNP: stronger for Scotland. What that means is Scotref, membership of the EU and social democracy. Not only do these cut along three separate lines of class politics, independence and EU membership limiting the appeal you can have to the electorate, it doesn’t help that our narrative wasn’t particularly clear or inspiring.

There were many policies included in the Labour manifesto that were either already Scottish Government policy or in the SNP manifesto e.g. free tuition and a living wage. These weren’t communicated properly. Literature was unfocussed, vague and empty while Labour put it to the forefront.

 But there were also policies that weren’t in the SNP manifesto like nationalising energy provisions and workers’ right to own. More radical policies swayed some to opt for Labour. This saw Labour gain seats in their ex-central-belt-heartlands and brought them extremely close to taking those they didn’t.

The election has pointed to a realignment for the SNP heartlands from the North East to the central belt. The SNP has become Scotland’s party of social justice which appeals more to urbanised areas than rural ones. The Tories’ victories in wealthier rural areas is a continuation of their hardline unionism and right wing politics.

The SNP can never repeat 2015. We can’t pretend that we can continue to be all things to all people in hope of taking so many seats. In doing so, we sell out our vision for an independent Scotland in favour of a centre-left stance in an increasingly polarised political landscape.

Angus Robertson’s claim during the Depute Leader contest that we have to appeal to rural views has not worked. We need a manifesto that is going to represent members and not pander for votes in areas now unwinnable.

It wasn’t so much Corbyn that benefited Labour, it was the ideals he represented – just like independence. As a party, we need to focus again on what our purpose is. Why we want independence. Why we joined the party. What our Scotland looks like. And for decades, it has been rooted in radical social change and bold actions.

SLAB will try to spin this as a win for unionism without accepting the fact that it was Corbyn and his radical policies that inspired pro-indy supporters and, according Ashcroft polling, 12% of those who voted SNP in 2015 to vote for Labour this time.

While many who voted Labour, indeed some of their candidates, back independence, Scotref has to be on the backburner for now. As does the party’s romance with the EU which is damaging support in what is supposed to be the core voter base. Any canvasser can tell you that voters are being deterred.

 We have the unusual luxury of having time to rest and for introspection. Members and officials should be turning our attention to policy and our organisational structures to create a real grassroots movement that will appeal to the masses that will allow us to potentially bounce back.

Members must have a bigger say on decisions and policy and we have to see radical action from the Scottish Government with the powers we have while making a core part of our Westminster campaign to bring greater powers to Scotland. There is a mandate for this and can only benefit the case for independence as it has done in the past.

This has been the wakeup call the party has needed and what many have been calling for for years. Will we hit snooze or wake up and smell the socialism?

Rory Steel

SNP Youth Vice Convener and SNP Socialists Convene

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Election 2017: Some Afterthoughts

Well, who saw that coming? Maybe Prof. John Curtice, but that’s not the point.

After the dust is settling on the Conservative disaster that was the General Election, I have a few thoughts on the challenging situation they, and by extension, we, find ourselves in.

Let’s firstly go to the rather horrendous thought of a Conservative-DUP coalition, whether formal, or informal, and some of the implications for Northern Ireland, before turning to the political difficulties.

Northern Ireland has for most of this year been without a Legislative Assembly or Executive. Power-sharing talks collapsed in January, 5 months ago, and since then there has been no agreement between the Republican Sinn Fein Party and the Unionist DUP, as per the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Now, as talks go on, the role of the UK Government is to serve as an impartial, neutral mediator to facilitate talks. If the Conservatives form a Government with the support of the DUP, however informal, then their role as neutral arbiters is… well, non-existent really. I do not mean to insinuate what the people of Northern Ireland might do in response to this given the polarisation in their politics, but it can’t be good for the situation, any which way you look at it. For an expert analysis of this situation, I suggest you read Siobhan Fenton of the Independent, or follow her on Twitter for running commentary (@SiobhanFenton). Northern Ireland is a country that needs governing, and this move will condemn it to direct rule, the implications of which are equally troubling.

The political implications of a Tory-DUP coalition, notwithstanding the Northern Irish situations, are also ominous. Firstly, there are many Conservatives who would plainly be opposed, such as Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve, and Nicky Morgan, the latter of which gave an interview condemning the DUP stance on LTBTQ+ rights. This spells trouble for an already fragile majority, and an even more fragile Prime Minister. Not to mention the fact Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative Leader, took to Twitter yesterday to have a subtle dig at the DUP-Tory alliance. The Scottish Conservative votes are ones May cannot afford to alienate; if they were to rebel, May would possess only 305 seats, so even with DUP support, she is well short of a majority. Not to mention the fact many moderate Conservative voters would be repulsed at the idea of the DUP in power. Consequently, a deal with the DUP could be the undoing of May and her party.

Having said this, she simply cannot afford to Govern without them. Without a majority, she won’t be able to do much of what she promised, which will annoy her party even more than they already are. If she fails in her legislative agenda due to not having a majority, she goes, and then we’re left with Boris as PM. Even so, without a majority, it wouldn’t matter who led the Conservatives, they can’t hold onto power without support, bottom line.

Essentially what I’m saying is that with or without the DUP, Theresa May and the Conservatives are in an unwinnable situation, they cannot govern either way. Let’s be honest, who else will go into coalition with them? The fragile nature of this Parliament means it is unlikely to last 5 years. With Brexit negotiations fast approaching that bodes ill for the nation. If the Conservatives truly care about making this a better Britain, the only right and sensible options they posses are to call yet another election now, or to step aside, and let the other side have a go for now, and work together on Brexit, calling another election after negotiations conclude. We simply cannot go on like this.

Even if the Tories cling stubbornly to power, May is finished as their leader. She gambled thinking she would win a landslide, and lost her majority in the end. It is as if your mother gave you a row for not paying attention then proceeded to walk into a lamppost; there’s a delicious note of schadenfreude about it.

On a final and positive note, Labour have surged in England and Wales, a Survation Poll taken on the 10th of June putting Labour 6 points ahead of the Tories on 45 points, while SNP support remains steady in Scotland, if somewhat deflated from the high of 2015. Theoretically, if there were another election soon, a progressive coalition is not beyond reach. I for one am deprived of hope in our present political circumstance, and maybe, just maybe, a progressive coalition is exactly what we all need right now, to give all us a little hope.

I hope that you have managed to reset your sleeping pattern and recover after Thursday, you might be needing the energy again soon!

Ross Wilson

LLB Student

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Making Sense of the General Election

Once again the indomitable John Curtice and his exit poll teams hit the nail on the head. Leaving members from all the major parties doubting the exit polls findings until the results started flooding in. The people of the UK had once again defied expectations and denied the conservatives the majority which had been predicted by the majority of polls and pundits. Those fed up with Theresa May’s robotic repetition of ‘Strong and Stable’ instead of anything approaching coherent policies decided to send a strong message and deprive her of the one thing she had called for in this election, a majority.

Those fed up with Theresa May’s robotic repetition of ‘Strong and Stable’ instead of anything approaching coherent policies decided to send a strong message and deprive her of the one thing she had called for in this election, a majority. In England, this took the form of a huge surge for Labour across the country and Scotland was not immune to this with Labour seeing results, unlike anything they’ve seen since the independence referendum. A result that was achieved through a Corbyn bounce in support in spite of the hard-core unionism of Scottish Labour, despite what many of their terribly unsuccessful ‘leading light’s would have folk believe. Even with this bounce, Scottish Labour came a sad third place again behind the Tories. Likely in no small part to their relentless singing of the Tory ‘no surrender to another referendum’ hymn sheet.

The SNP had another historic night – not quite managing to reach the heady heights of 2015 when they took 95% of the seats in Scotland – winning a comfortable majority of seats in Scotland and showing once again that the people of Scotland trust them to represent the country in Westminster. Of course, big names like Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson will be missed (for however long they are out of the game) but this doesn’t come close to detracting from what is the parties 2nd best performance in its history, quite an improvement from the 6 seats they had heading in to the General Election in 2015. This election is historic but shouldn’t be confused for something it isn’t, namely a referendum on having an independence referendum (which would have been won by the SNP). What this election is is a vote of no confidence in Theresa May and her ideological Hard Brexit obsession and all good

This election is historic but shouldn’t be confused for something it isn’t, namely a referendum on having an independence referendum (which would have been won by the SNP). What this election is is a vote of no confidence in Theresa May and her ideological Hard Brexit obsession and all good democratics across these islands should commit themselves to fighting against it and for a different progressive vision. @alexkerr3 SNP Youth Glasgow Convener

@alexkerr3 SNP Youth Glasgow Convener

SNP Youth Glasgow Convener

The best result of the general election for pro-Europeans? A hung parliament.

For pro-Europeans, or for soft Eurosceptics who do not desire complete economic collapse, the general election can be said to be marked by two surprises. One is the relative irrelevance of Brexit as a topic to the election debate – while it does constantly come up as an argument along the lines of “who do you trust to conduct negotiations with the EU more?”, it also appears to have hardly if at all affected voting patterns aside from the UKIP meltdown.

Another is, of course, the way the two main parties’ policies on Europe both seem to ignore existing reality. On the one hand, you have the Tory “have our cake and eat it” delusion, which is based on threatening Europe until the EU concedes giving in on its most basic principle, which is that the Four Freedoms are inalienable and if you want access to the EU Single Market, you have to accept EU freedom of movement and a customs union. On the other hand, you have Labour’s policy – or rather, a wonky and confusing absence thereof – which simultaneously contains a pledge to end freedom of movement, a pledge to protect the rights of EU nationals, and only a single reference to the Single Market and Labour’s policy on it at all, which sounds as follows: “We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union.” The key word in this pledge, of course, is “retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union” – by including that important word, Labour does implicitly admit the impossibility of negotiating complete, EFTA-style access to the Single Market, without accepting freedom of movement – which they already reject.

A finer eye might note that this basically means that neither Labour nor the Tories commit to single market membership. Both primary parties of British politics have functionally ruled out making Britain a member of EFTA or something along those lines. Basically, people in the UK get a choice between a hard Brexit perpetrated by people who will also ruin the UK’s relationship with Europe, and a hard Brexit perpetrated by those who will be slightly politer and cooperative about it and won’t insult Jean-Claude Juncker on the way out.

That is, that would be the choice if we lived in a two-party system. But, and as difficult as this is for some Labour and Tory supporters both to accept, we don’t.

The current prediction is that if the Tories do lose, what they will lose to is not a Labour victory outright, but a hung parliament. And in fact, in that eventuality lies our primary hope. Actual commitments to Single Market membership, with continued participation in everything that comes as a side effect of it, have been made by all the real third parties in this election: the SNP, the Greens (both the separate Scottish and English & Welsh parties), Plaid Cymru, and the Lib Dems. If there is a strong raft of MPs elected from these third parties, in particular the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru (as the Lib Dems have functionally ruled out supporting Corbyn’s government) these parties can hedge their support of a Labour government on an explicit pledge to seek Single Market membership in an EFTA-style arrangement. Labour would not refuse, as to do so would be to functionally rule out being in power and, seeing as the SNP, Greens and PC will never back a Tory government – both for their vast disagreements and because such a decision would be political suicide for them of a grand scale – functionally prevent the formation of any government, forcing Parliament to dissolve itself again and call a second election. This, in turn, Labour would be hard-pressed to avoid as with the current level of voter fatigue a second election would almost definitely mean Labour losses and a Tory return to power.

If we want a UK that does not leave the European Single Market, if we want reasonable policy on Brexit, the only thing we can do is vote SNP, Green or Plaid Cymru in any seat that these parties either currently hold or have a viable chance of winning – that is, anywhere in Scotland in the case of the SNP, and anywhere where the other two parties come first or second outside of Scotland. In any seat in England or Wales where such a vote would let the Tories in by the back door, that is certainly foolish, and feel free to vote Labour in those. But if Europe is your primary concern, we need a hung parliament, not a majority for either of the two main parties, as alone neither of them has a working strategy for Brexit remotely within the pale of realism. We need a strong pro-European contingent to be Labour’s conscience.

Left-wing unionist tactical voting for the Tories to stop indyref2 is madness. Here’s why.

It feels ridiculous to even stick a “here’s why” onto the end of that title. These things, you’d think, are so self-obvious they do not have to be explained, and in any election up until now, they would be. But unfortunately, I have literally no choice but to talk about this.

If you’re a Labour or Lib Dem or CPGB-ML supporter who is vehemently against independence, you, sitting squarely in the targeting computer of Ruth Davidson’s “NO TO A SECOND REFERENDUM” electoral laser cannon, will by now quite possibly have given a thought to voting Tory to Keep the SNP Out™, especially if you live in a rural area. In fact, Ruth Davidson has personally appealed to you to do so, and Ian Murray, Scottish Labour’s last remaining Westminster MP, has as well. Now I don’t expect you to listen to me much – full disclosure, I am an SNP member, and I am in favour of independence – but if you are thinking of gritting your teeth and voting Tory just to show us how much you don’t like us, please, please reconsider. You are asked to make a choice which is obviously vehemently wrong just to make a relatively shallow, meaningless statement: “no to a second independence referendum”, without considering the implications of voting Tory for yourself, your family, or your society.

Let’s look at objective reality here for a second. The Tory argument for why you – you, in this case, addresses left-wing and centre-left unionists – should vote for them is that under FPTP, they are the best-placed political force to keep the SNP out in most seats, especially in most rural seats and in Edinburgh. You should want to do this mainly because, they reason, you are a unionist, you are against independence, you want the SNP to be put back in their place. The question you should ask yourself even if you fully agree with these statements is: why does it matter?

The SNP is in power in the Scottish government, very narrowly short of a majority in the parliament, supported by another pro-independence party that fully backs indyref2. Your disdain for them, even if it is strong enough to bring you to vote Tory, even if it elects a raft of Tory MPs across Scotland, is meaningless: the split between unionist and nationalist, or more accurately anti-independence and pro-independence voters, in Scotland is very close and one way or the other we have to admit to ourselves that whichever side has the advantage right now (a difficult question to answer in its own right) the numbers are very tight. To argue that, say, 50 SNP MPs instead of 56 and an additional say, 7 Tories instead of 1 – the intricacies of FPTP aside – undermines what mandate the Scottish government does have for indyref2 is at best a very weak suggestion. To put it in simple terms, it won’t go away even if you vote Tory. That’s simply a fact. The Scottish Government will not put down its plans for indyref2 on account of your being disgruntled.

That aside, if you’re a Labour supporter, for you specifically voting for a Tory candidate is a form of not even cutting your nose off to spite your face, but of shooting yourself in the face to spite Nicola Sturgeon. Your hypothetical Tory MP, no matter how angry you feel at the SNP when you go to vote, will not back a Labour government, but a government formed of their own party (obviously). By voting Tory, you are literally handing political power to Theresa May, and a program of cuts, austerity and the hardest possible Brexit, because that’s how much you don’t want independence. If that’s really the choice you’re going to make, fine, but remember that you’re not just voting against indyref2, you’re also voting for an end to the triple lock on state pension, driving the NHS into the ground by depriving it of necessary staff born abroad, and a Brexit plan that yells arrogance in every possible direction, whose only concrete promise aside from meaningless soundbites like “no deal is better than a bad deal” was to turn the UK into a tax haven. You’re thinking of a vote for everything you detest just out of a dislike for Nicola Sturgeon. Obviously, the choice is ultimately up to you, but I feel it is absolutely necessary for you to rethink what you’re doing before you do it.

If all of that doesn’t make you change your mind, think about this: the SNP’s argument for calling a second independence referendum is that there is a Tory government in power that is pushing the hardest possible Brexit that would leave Scotland outside the EU single market and the four freedoms. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if there was a hung parliament, where the SNP would obviously vote for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, where they would have the position, as kingmakers, to force the UK government into a soft, rather than hard, Brexit.

I’m not saying that a vote for the SNP is actually your best bet to stop indyref2, but all I’m saying is: such a scenario definitely throws a wrench in our argument. And in such a scenario the Scottish Government might well rethink whether they want indyref2 so soon.

Dovydas Kuliesas

CORBYNITES FOR SNP

In recent elections, pro-indy Scottish Socialists may have hesitantly voted SNP to take us further towards independence. But Corbyn’s radical manifesto has brought a challenge to the SNP to justify to these people why they should vote for them again on June 8th.

Corbyn has included a number of policies that would be attractive. But for pro-indy Socialists, the best option is to vote SNP.

Scottish Labour is not Corbyn’s Labour. Only 20 of the Labour candidates in Scotland are known Corbynites. We can’t be fooled into thinking SLAB have changed. I’ve often said that most of the Corbynites in Scotland are in the SNP. For many SNP members, independence is the route to a Socialist Scotland that just isn’t realistic in the long term while we stay in the UK.

While the SNP may not be to the complete liking to pro-indy Socialists, the policies they agree with are often overlooked or taken for granted. Opposing austerity and nuclear weapons on the Clyde, increased council house building, redistribution of wealth through a 50pm tax rate, a welfare system built on dignity and respect, triple locked pensions, opposition to foreign intervention, community empowerment to name but a few.

And Corbyn hasn’t changed Labour policy completely. Labour doesn’t respect Scotland’s will to rid us of Trident nukes on the Clyde. They don’t respect the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum. They don’t respect our democratic rights to decide our future.

In any case, Corbyn isn’t going to be around forever. The Blairite wing of Labour are already sharpening their knives preparing for the 9th of June or a future election. If Socialists in Labour win the civil war again, while we remain in the UK we will always be subject to Tory Governments we don’t vote for. Corbyn is for five years. Independence is forever. We can’t ignore the fact that we are at yet another critical juncture. And the only way Corbyn would be open to discussions over Scotref is if there is a strong SNP voice sent to Westminster.

As a party that can only win 59 seats, the SNP has to work with other parties to greatly impact UK policy. Realistically, SNP MPs will always back a Labour Government over a Tory one. We’ve already seen this with olive branches being extended by SNP council groups to Labour across Scotland only for Labour to strike deals with Tories.

Given that the Scottish vote has only affected the outcome of UK elections a handful of times in the past 100 years, what happens in rUK will ultimately decide who sits in Government. SNP MPs will give a uniquely Scottish voice whether that is in opposition or through backing a Labour minority government.

A Labour-SNP supply and demand deal would give the perfect mix of radical progressive policies, many of which are shared between the parties, while securing a uniquely Scottish voice and Scotref.

The only way to do that is for pro-indy Socialists in Scotland to vote SNP and for us all to cross our fingers for the rest of the UK.

Rory Steel

SNP Youth National Vice Convener

Marginals, marginals, marginals.

Every vote counts, but some votes count more than others. It’s sad fact of First Past The Post that votes cast in a ‘safe seat’ are statistically worth less than those cast in swing seats which are more likely to change hands. It’s the main reason that systems like AMS which we use for the Scottish Parliament elections and STV which we use for the Council elections are much more democratic. What this means is that your activism is worth more in these swing seats. So if you’re wanting to maximise the SNP and therefore pro-indy majority in this GE you should target campaigning to these seats which are in danger of changing hands;

JOANNA CHERRY, Edinburgh South-West

CALLUM McCAIG, Aberdeen South

JOHN NICOLSON, East Dunbartonshire

STUART DONALDSON, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

RICHARD ARKLESS, Dumfries and Galloway

STEPHEN GETHINS, North-East Fife

ANGUS ROBERTSON, Moray

TONI GIUGLIANO, Edinburgh West

ALEX SALMOND, Gordon

EILIDH WHITEFORD, Banff and Buchan

STEVEN PATERSON, Stirling

JIM EADIE, Edinburgh South

GEORGE KEREVAN, East Lothian

TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH, Ochil and South Perthshire

OWEN THOMPSON, Midlothian

PHIL BOSWELL, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

ROGER MULLIN, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

BRENDAN O’HARA, Argyll and Bute

CHRIS STEPHENS, Glasgow South-West

ANGELA CRAWLEY, Lanark and Hamilton East

KIRSTEN OSWALD, East Renfrewshire

CALUM KERR, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

MIRIAM BRETT, Orkney and Shetland

MÀIRI McALLAN, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

CORRI WILSON, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

So if you’re looking for the best way to put the brakes on Theresa May’s plans and to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard then get yourself out and campaign for the marginal seats closest to you. Extra campaigning there could be enough to tip the scales and make sure that the people of Scotland will have MPs who will fight against the disgusting policies of the Tories in Government, whether it is their pension cuts, Brutal Brexit obsession or the abhorrent rape clause. These elections will play a huge part in determining how well placed we are to make sure Scotland’s interests are heard in the Brexit negotiations and to ensure we get a second independence referendum to give the people their say on a final deal. So get out in your constituency, get out in these key seats and let’s show the people who is Stronger for Scotland.

@AlexKerr3

SNP Youth Glasgow