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Number crunching

Brian Taylor | 21:04 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

I doubt whether folk judge politics in an entirely arithmetical fashion: they are more likely to reach an overall qualitative assessment.

Nonetheless, the SNP have done the right thing in publishing the details of their oft-repeated claim that they have achieved 84 out of their 94 headline commitments.

In fact, they might have been better to have got this out of the way some time back - before the claim was rather too oft repeated and the wicked media got grumpy about being invited to report an assertion which was not backed by published evidence.

Privately, party strategists say they contemplated outlining the list at the dissolution of parliament but concluded that it was better to publish a full analysis around the time of the manifesto launch.

The list contains the achievements: abolishing the graduate endowment, putting one thousand more police officers on the street, meeting new cancer waiting times, freezing the council tax, abolishing bridge tolls.

Fell short

It also contains 10 areas where the SNP fell short in office - including five in the field of education.

In essence, the party offers three justifications for these.

Resources fell short - that applies to the issue of taking over student debt.

Opposition from rivals in Holyrood - the independence referendum, for example.

Pursuing different options in government - first time buyers grant.

Anent the council tax, it is being said by some that the promise of a freeze did not feature in the manifesto.

True - but SNP policy folk point out that it featured in an accompanying wrap-round document setting out first steps.

That document, they say, was an integral part of the manifesto offer.

Opposition reaction

So the freeze which was a "first step" en route to the introduction of a Local Income Tax ended up being the final step not just for the past parliament - but, if the party is re-elected, for the one to come.

Opposition reaction varies.

Labour points to the education promises - and particularly the offer to "dump student debt." That, they say, adds up to a £2bn broken promise.

The SNP says the idea of eliminating debt faced Holyrood opposition - and that, in the event, they found other ways of targeting help to students.

The Liberal Democrats, similarly, accuse the SNP of letting voters down.

The Tories, while echoing that theme, also argue that certain key pledges, such as bobbies on the beat, would not have been delivered without them.

Individual people, individual sectors, may be so delighted by a particular promise kept or so scunnered by a failure to deliver that they may tailor their vote accordingly.

Most, I reckon, will reach a more wide-ranging assessment, based on a comprehensive impression of how they reckon the SNP fared in office by comparision with what they might expect from alternatives.

The SNP's opponents, of course, expect that assessment to be negative.

SNP leaders, as I noted here yesterday, believe that folk will give them credit, overall, for a decent effort.


  • Comment number 1.

    But will you, Brian ?

    Or do you contend that a better, more competent alternative can be found in any of the opposition parties ?

    Just wondering . . . .

  • Comment number 2.

    I said this on the previous blog :

    My comment on the previous blog (2 blogs ago) was innocous, yet it is still "awaiting further consideration".

    I would appreciate a full and frank explanation.

    Please regard this as a formal complaint . You have my e-mail address.

    I would appreciate support on this,

  • Comment number 3.

    For those not in the know "innocous" means it didn't tell the truth about the labour party or the BBC.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Privately, party strategists say they contemplated outlining the list at the dissolution of parliament but concluded that it was better to publish a full analysis around the time of the manifesto launch."

    Also, it has the advantage of turning voters attention back to the Scottish Parliament and the work of the Scottish government.

    Labour's hope is that voters will ignore the good of Scotland altogether, and just concentrate on the nasty Tories in London. That's their best hope of winning - hence why their manifesto has very few commitments (and most of them are unrealistic). Labour can't afford to have the voters concentrate on Scottish issues.

  • Comment number 6.


    Re "Labour points to the education promises - and particularly the offer to "dump student debt." That, they say, adds up to a £2bn broken promise."

    Could you help jog our memories here? To make this thread more meaningful, some of your insights into the workings of Holyrood, particularly in the first year of the SNP government, would be invaluable in helping us to judge the veracity of these Labour claims.

    Specifically, can you remind us of how they proposed the £2bn should be spent instead? I have this recollection that they and the other parties all had other ideas on how the funds should be spent but can't quite remember the detail.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good evening Brian
    Just wondered if anyone was able to research how many of New Labour's Manifesto Promises they managed to keep during their 8 years in power in Scotland?
    Just one example ..........

    •Implement a tram network and other public transport improvements in Edinburgh

    And that promise was the one that Ian Grey had lead responsibility for!

    Would the BBC score that achievement as 84 out of 94?
    New Labour would be as useful for Scotland as an Edinburgh Tram.
    Is there anything New Labour achieved apart from making themselves very rich?
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 8.

    After Alex knocked the unionist for six on QT last night makes up for the few missing targets.

  • Comment number 9.

    Where are the comparatives for the Labour-led administrations of 1999 and 2003?

    How many manifesto pledges were kept, and how many abandoned at the earliest opportunity (usually citing invalidation by dint of the coalition agreement, voluntarily entered into, with the LibDems)?

  • Comment number 10.

    With the best will, the SNP's achievements are old news.

    I will cast my votes in May on the basis of parties' plans for the 2011-2016 term....

  • Comment number 11.

    8 Cheesey
    Mr Salmond stole the show.
    Peter Hain simply pathetic.
    Chris Huhne worse still.
    Where on earth did New Labour and the Liberals lose their values, their principles, their scruples and their morals?
    Scotland can become a much better place with the SNP at the helm.
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 12.

    Sorry Brian, the electorate don't vote on 84 or 94 promises. They vote on the most 8 or 10 most prominent policies in the campaign and the promises that suit their needs (usually these are overlapping categories).

    So they have a few policies that they vote for, and the SNP has failed on most of their top 8 or ten policies. The reason is simple: they didn't expect to be in government, so they promised anything to anyone that would get them votes.

    In government (using the word loosely) they found out that they hadn't done the work and they couldn't deliver.

    Most will decide that the SNP cannot be trusted, the majority don't want independence and the alternatives ( e.g. actual schools actually built) might be a better alternative.

  • Comment number 13.

    The term "Unionst" makes you sound Irish....what does it mean?.....we've had a "union" for over 300 years for peeps sake!

  • Comment number 14.

    Anyone else find that 84 achievements as a minority government is impressive? It's this progress which has benefitted me directly and the ideas in the manifesto - being taken through by a competent team - that reassures me my vote will be in the right place on May 5th.

    And has anyone else accepted to go to the BBC leaders debate on the 1st May or have any questions to put forward? Not sure if questions are "vetted" but the ones i can think of asking sofar are:

    1) I understand each party has differing views re independence, but why can't we have an informed debate on the issue before then asking us the people - the majority - for our opinion?

    2) Would a re-elected SNP have a mandate for the independence referendum?

    They focus very heavily on indep clearly, and I dont even know the arguments for/against but i'd at least like to be allowed a say on the issue. Any suggestions for questions on the off chance I get asked to give one? None regarding Ian Grays subway lunch choice or preference of running shoes can go forward I imagine.

  • Comment number 15.

    Re 7 Spagan

    Unsure how many they did manage to keep but back in 2003 they were promising to
    Deliver rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports

    Wonder what happened to that idea!

  • Comment number 16.

    15 madpirate
    New Labour?
    Apart from Illegal Wars what have they ever done for us?
    Well they did widen the gap between rich and poor and they did agree to upgrade our Nuclear arsenal.
    So apart from Illegal wars and making the rich richer and more missiles, what has New Labour ever done for us?
    Well, they did wreck the economy. And they did make every Cabinet Minister a Millionaire. And they did make the House of Lords bigger than ever.
    See New Labour - see chocolate fireguards.
    Roll on the next SNP Government!
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 17.

    Funniest post I've read in ages from BloominEck

  • Comment number 18.

    Re 14 James_414

    "Anyone else find that 84 achievements as a minority government is impressive?"

    Yes and hopefully the electorate, will recognise the options on offer. Fully agree we should have a full, open discussion and debate re the future of the country. I personally cannot understand the reluctance of the other parties to even discuss the issue. Hope you get the chance to ask Q1 as a re elected SNP would have , as a mimimum, a moral authority to pursue a referendum

  • Comment number 19.

    Bloomineck "most don't want independence" can you provide the figures please

  • Comment number 20.

    #12, Bloomineck

    'A few', '8 or 10', 'overlapping' - which is it?

    Strange that you think that all of the electorate would find all of these - whichever number you decide on - in the 10 not carried out.

    Would that include the likes of the trams project, and which the SNP were against? How strange?

  • Comment number 21.

    The opposition know that that a large portion of the electorate are not interested in politics so are trying to make out the SNP failed when In actual fact some of it was due to not gaining the support needed in minority government. If Labour somehow manage to get in come May they will be in deep doo doos since they will struggle to form a minority government. Lets see how much policies they manage to implement ...oh wait they dont seem to have any.

  • Comment number 22.

    #21, thats a good point actually. I honestly believe that no matter who wins the Election, the SNP will end up the winners over the next 5 years.

    If Labour win (touch wood they don't), I honestly can't see them lasting long as a minority due to their incompetence and lack of the right personnel and can't see them going into coalition with the Libs or Tory's due to their coalition down south.

    There would be even more pressure on them from a very very strong SNP opposition (current polls show the SNP gaining in seats even if they end up the 2nd party)... but It isn't going to happen thank goodness and May 6th is going to be party time :)

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 Have Labour even got a proposal for changing the unfair council tax yet ? At least the SNP have stated that they are looking at changing to LIT but by working with the other parties to implement it successfully. The Lib Dems might want to form a coalition with the SNP.... how long before the 'Scottish' Tories and Lib Dem partys cut loose from the London arm ?

  • Comment number 24.

    I was not going to comment on the BBC again, but, after reading,

    The Liberal Democrats, similarly, accuse the SNP of letting voters down.

    I have decided that the BBC has resorted to absolute comedy, I was in tears of laughter, the Lib Dems dare to blame anybody of letting voters down! what a shower of diserputable reprobates. Never, never will I vote for such politicians.

    Labours great gripe.

    Labour points to the education promises - and particularly the offer to "dump student debt." That, they say, adds up to a £2bn broken promise.

    The area I have lived for the past thirty odd years has been promised a bypass for the Cross since before I moved here, Labour have been in charge for just under thirty of those years, with a brief time of the SNP in charge, we have the biggest carbuncle in Britain with the promise soon, soon we will do something. Labour only seem to know how to collect expenses, and make hollow promises, or promises so vague they can't be held accountable.

    Good comedy though Brian, best laugh I've had in ages, sad it is so serious an issue though.

  • Comment number 25.

    ...the wicked media got grumpy about being invited to publish an assertion not backed by published evidence.

    Ha, ha, good one Brian! Right enough, that doesn't sound remotely like the Scottish media, no, no, not at all.

  • Comment number 26.

    Brian, what kind of world would it be if we all could mark our own exam papers and change the questions to suit our answers and change our answers to suit our revised/new questions and remove questions - which we come up with in the first place - because they were just too hard really? That would be a world were the lights go out in 2020!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Labour in Scotland are comedy gold.

    They criticised the SNP for cancelling GARL.

    Just as an FYI Brian, Labour in their last year of tenure sent back £1.6 billion to the treasury as underspend. That money could have built GARL and free prescriptions at a stroke.

    Socialist party? You're having a laugh.

  • Comment number 28.

    ==folk will give them credit, overall, for a decent effort==

    Which is all people are looking for...but has been sadly lacking over the previous decades as politicians increasingly got into the habit of ignoring voters after election time.
    In a system with no opportunity for direct democracy, any ruling party which takes the radical step of treating voters with respect will be a slam dunk at polling time.

    Labour are paying the price for this in Scotland, treating voters poorly only works if there are no alternatives.
    Labours ivory tower mentality has been its undoing in Scotland and the current crop of politicians simply can't be trusted.

    The LibDems I suspect are going to take a hammering across the entire UK for their unholy alliance with the Tories, especially since they have willingly participated in the final destruction of free education in Britain. No-one responsible for such a heinous crime against society(especially a crime specifically targeting the working middle classes) should be expecting any mercy at the ballot box.

  • Comment number 29.

    Can raise you on the by-pass stakes. Our village was promised one as far back as 1947 64years ago Labour stronghold so no by-pass

    To get back to the matter in hand and reflect on what has taken place over the last week

    Iain Gray had his hand held on two days.Maybe the are frightened he will run off again.He has already done it twice.Roll out Vote Labour to save you from the Tories Well the cuts are rolling down the line and the tories have no fear of Labour saving us from anything Now a strong SNP government that is a whole different ball game That would scare the pants off them knowing the SNP hold the ultimate card Independence and revenues they would lose from this cash cow that is Scotland

    Andy Kerr appeared on Newsnicht and what a dismal (and that's being kind ) performance he put up His arithmetic and understanding of the English language has not improved since his last appearance Mandatory and discretion?

    Now look at the SNP Polished manifesto release admitted by all even though it must have stuck in some of their craws to have to say so Alex Salmond on QT obviously the best judging from the audiences reaction Even with the usual Megrahi question drew applause when he put how devious the others had been on this An old favourite it would seem for Q.T At the same time Nicola Sturgeon was being grilled by G.Brewer on Newsnicht answered all the questions had her facts and figures to hand Did not need prompting by Brewer as A.Kerr did the previous night.What a contrast No contest clear win for Nicola

    So all in all I would say again the SNP show how competent they are and Labour (that English )run party show how empty and devoid of leadership or team players they are

    Get of your knees Scotland and vote SNP for they will have your and your childrens interest at heart They will fight for all the people of Scotland and will not be looking to join the Vermin in Ermine at Westminster

  • Comment number 30.

    Am I the only person that does not see a freeze in council tax (of any duration) as a good thing?

    I appreciate the extra money in my pocket, but when this is being paid for by pay freezes, reductions in public services and increased costs to use council facilities, does it not feel like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    No one likes paying taxes and can all point to where it is wasted or should come from (NIMBY), but they are necessary.

  • Comment number 31.

    12. At 00:04am 16th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:
    "Sorry Brian, the electorate don't vote on 84 or 94 promises. They vote on the most 8 or 10 most prominent policies in the campaign and the promises that suit their needs (usually these are overlapping categories).

    Most will decide that the SNP cannot be trusted"

    Wow - you sound as if you think you know what you are talking about in the first para and I wonder where you got your stats from. In 45 years of voting I never decided who to vote for on this basis and my 3 brothers confirm that they didn't either.

    As far as the SNP is concerned I think they did a reasonably good job for a minority Government, without being happy with everything they did, tried to do, or failed to do. As a minority Government without opposition support certain things could not be done - The Indpendence Referendum and LIt were the two major items. I blame the Lib Dems for the latter failure as they had this as one of their policies and still do.

    As for trusting Politicians well ...................

  • Comment number 32.

    # james 414

    i concur 100%! the time has come to stop "dancing around the daises" and face up to the "elephant in the room".

    SNP have made it abundantly clear all through every election campaign that they
    would press for a vote on independace through a referendum. in the last parlement
    there was no chance the unionist party were going to back this referendum so it had to be abandoned.

    a vote for a referendum on indpenance should be on all the parties manifesto,s to
    give the voters in scotland freedom to chose to accept, or reject. it should be your choice not the london based unionists. what does the team think?

  • Comment number 33.

    Ed Milliband's comments about Scotland's renewable energy potential being a "fairy story" shows Labour at a new low in their treatment of us.The Unionist parties don't want Scotland to succeed and prosper.They want to keep us locked in the Union to prolong the illusion that England/Britain is still a world power.And they are clearly prepared to seriously impede progess on green energy development if that's what it takes.
    Scotland is the only country ever to discover oil and gas and get poorer.Now,when we are building an industry that can be great for the world's ecology,and can bring much wealth to Scotland and our neighbours,Labour prefers to play down the potential of renewables.

  • Comment number 34.

    Brian, I find it odd that you are writing a blog at 21.04, you on double time?

    Perhaps to be fair on voters you should have included a list from each opposition party showing all the policies & suggested ideas each party voted against??

    Minimum pricing of alcohol & the supermarket levy are a couple to start with. It's my understanding Labour, Libdems & the Tories all voted against these, is this correct?

    Then there was the 25,000 new apprentices which Labour voted against. I reckon Labours list would be the longest.

    A list would let us all see which party has done the best for The People of Scotland & which have done what's best for their English masters & their party.

    That would let voters see who really failed them.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am shocked, shocked Brian that you focus only on the negative.

    'Fell Short', and 'Opposition Reaction', hum.

    Not much context, a minority government delivering so much.

    No comparison, how do even majority or coalition governments fare
    in delivery.

    How much is failed due to opposition and how much is actually a
    policy reversal once elected - many parties are keen on reversing
    stance once elected.

    No, no comparison or context here at the BBC - just 'Fell Short'
    like BBC reporting.

  • Comment number 36.

    Labour's response to the SNP document...

    Anyone else think that all this time Labour are spending on what the SNP will do, are doing and have done; is because they have no policies of their own.

    Seems to me Labour will do anything to deflect attention away from their own doorstep. All it does is show up the vacancy in their argument! You have to laugh!

  • Comment number 37.

  • Comment number 38.

    ---does it not feel like robbing Peter to pay Paul---

    It certainly does.
    People on 5-8000 a year, like pensioners, paying people in the council who are on 10, 20 and 30,000 a year plus.

    Council Services????
    The only fully serviced part of council expenditure is the pension pot which receives up to 25% of your annual levy.

    It's a dripping roast, and the poor at the bottom are paying up to 25% of their annual income so that council employees can retire at 50 and enjoy a life of ease.

    Councils are a classic example of how too much power and money and no oversight(i.e. no direct democracy) can corrupt an organisation.

  • Comment number 39.


    Re Alba4eva's #36, have the BBC not broken your own impartiality rules by storing both the SNP's 84 of 94 Headline Commitments document and Labour's 100 SNP Broken Promises document on BBC servers, thus reducing the strain on both parties' servers?

    Especially as you have posted only the briefest responses by other opposition parties, it would have been fairer to have listed the 94 SNP points in order, together with each opposition party rebuttal.

    That's bad enough but much worse is this website's SNP releases achievements list with the statement: "After the SNP published its document, Labour made public its response - a document titled `100 SNP Broken Promises´." The Labour PDF itself was both created and last modified on 31 March 2011, and in no sense of the word can possibly be considered a rebuttal of the SNP document, created and last modified only on 15 April 2011.

    It is clearly fair enough to have rebuttal comments from Labour on web page, but the Labour document is an entirely different matter. It's fair enough to make it public knowledge, but not to Provide the SNP with the opportunity to rebut or concede each of the 100 points is patently NOT impartial. As it stands, you do not even give the SNP a chance to make a single comment in reply to it, let alone give any information on what the other parties think of it.

  • Comment number 40.

    "I doubt whether folk judge politics in an entirely arithmetical fashion..."



    People ignore the number of police officers?

    NHS Scotland patients take no account of the number of days waited to see a specialist?

    Council Taxpayers have no regard to the number of pounds payable per annum?

    And, most blindingly, voters are to have no regard to the number of SNP policy pledges made to garner votes [in 2003] subsequently carried forward when in Government?

    As previously indicated, I will have regard to future plans when deciding how I will vote, but the Council Tax freeze is making me reconsider whether I want an SNP government.

    I want my elected Councillors to be able to decide how much to raise to help meet the spending 'needs' (or even just 'wants') of my local community, and I do not want to be permanently hamstrung because of the atypically low Council Tax set the last year before the freeze came into being.

    Further, unless the Party pledges - regardless of any and all other circumstances - to bring forward a Referendum Bill (the single most significant policy for the future of Scotland), I will have to consider that the SNP has finally come of age and that their MSPs are as other parties'.

    Sic a parcel o' rogues....

  • Comment number 41.

    A BTW blog posted at 21:04.

    Did it take that late into the night to come up with a stance which would show the SNP in a [relatively] poor light?

    Is it fair to ennumerate those policies not enacted 2007-11 without stipulating all of those which are now in place?

    Sorry, my mistake.

    Deluding myself to expect fairness in relation to reporting of the SNP....

  • Comment number 42.

    Firstly, lets get this out of the way - I joined the Labour Party as soon as I was able to and have been an activist for them in every campaign that I possibly could. I am still an active trade unionist. I have worked in numerous areas of the world on major capital projects and have always maintained a strong interest in UK and Scottish politics. My lifelong love affair with the Labour Party died in the embers of Iraq and was buried in the debacle that surrounded the squirming and blatant lies around the removal of the 10p tax rate. I left the Labour Party then in an anger that has dissipated over time to sorrow, but could not see myself actively supporting another party. What I have learnt after a lifetime of hard experience is that success is achieved by high quality teams working positively together towards clear identifiable goals. Also nothing that is worthwile ever really runs smoothly on rails to completion, rather meaningful success is achieved often amid traumas and set backs and invariably achieved through positivity and enthusiasm. To have achieved 84/94 commitments in the political and economic backdrop prevailing doesn't seem too bad to me. To come up with 100 negative statements is easy by comparison but it neverthless clearly articulates the differences existing between the two parties; those that can, do; those that can't, snipe. Anyone who saw Salmond's performance on Question time when he 'rag dolled' Howard and Hain must surely draw the conclusion that Gray is simply out of his depth by comparison (though I am sure he is a decent guy). Worryingly too for Labour, other than a notable couple of exceptions, their ranks are filled with some (and past loyalties meam I will be kind) average politicians, but even more rank rotten ones (I am contnually ashamed (as a Scotsman) to see failed Labour councillors failing coherently to read prepared questions off a card at FMQs and ending up sounding like a digital voice recording). Scotland needs only the very best politicians it can field to steer it through the next five years. These are the SNP politicians at the moment. I never thought I would ever do this but, despite concerns over independence strategy, I am off not just to vote for them but to help them. Finally as a Labour activist I was frequently in correspondence with the BBC about anti-Labour bias. I now see anti-SNP bias everywhere. This won't please many on here but perhaps in the bigger picture the BBC get it about right.

  • Comment number 43.

    #32 Rouser

    Sorry if this is wrong, but are you suggesting that the non SNP parties campaign for a referendum on an issue they don't want to progress.

    If the SNP are getting support in the mid 30s percentage, does that not show that 2/3s of the population are not looking to become independent, or move in that way? Less, probably, if you consider the positive effect the charismatic Salmond has on the party's support.

    Why would they want a referendum that would cost millions to confirm that we the electorate are telling them.

    If the SNP get a working parliamentary majority, they can push for a referendum, until then, i suspect most folk (bar SNP supporters) are interested on local money being spent on local services.

  • Comment number 44.

    If people were honest I am sure there must be many like you.The Labour party at one time was the beating heart of the working man, no longer. Who would have thought the leader of the group in scotland would have run off not once but twice rather than face up to protesters. Not only that had preferred to ignore them when they asked to discuss their concerns prior to confronting iain gray even A.Goldie stood her ground.Keir Hardie et al must have birled till they're dizzy. That poverty could have increased under Labour is truly a stain in the face of those in Labour who in the meantime have become millionaires. Every body that comes home from Afghanistan makes me sick to the pit of my stomach when I recall John Reid standing at the despatch box proclaiming he did not expect a shot to be fired, how ignorant given the history of the place. Over the past 4years Labour have, and proudly boasted that they have ham strung the government not on policies some of which would have been beneficial to the people of Scotland but in their narrow minded world they saw that as their only roll in Parliament What does that say about them? when they even voted against things they had asked for! Yes Alex Salmond and his team have a vision for Scotland for all in Scotland not just the favoured few and reaching for the stars is better than crawling along in the gutter holding on to the shirt tail of Westminster

    Welcome to the SNP I hope you get the life for yourself and your family that you are seeking in a fair and just Scotland

  • Comment number 45.

    #43, because as a matter of retaining our democratic freedoms, Scotland needs a say on the matter.

    In Egypt recently; but all over the world, folk are willing to lay down their lives for freedom and democracy.

    Remember this 'ggg'... "I may not agree with your opinion, but I will fight for your right to have your opinion!"

  • Comment number 46.


    For any party to get a working majority in the Scottish Parliament would take pretty much 50% of the vote given the almost full PR system. As such if SNP achieved this (which would be an amazing result) then you could bet your bottom dollar a referendum would be held pretty quickly and would be likely to vote for independence.

    However to say that if SNP fail to get 50% of the vote and/or working majority then that gives no mandate for referendum is plainly wrong. It suggests that the only vote for someone who wants independence is SNP. I dont believe that is necessarily the case. There are supporters of the other parties who do so on other political grounds, that would still support an independent Scotland. Far fewer, but I would suggest not insignificant.

    The result 4 years ago, fantastic as it was for the SNP, ws not enough for them to push forward with a referendum. However if they achieve over 40% of the popular vote and perhaps more than 50 seats then that would provide a springboard for a referendum, and would be far more difficult for more unionist leaning parties to argue against (having a referendum).

    For avoidance of doubt, although I've supported SNP in past elections, I have also supported other parties too.

  • Comment number 47.


    pretty much agree with your write up, although not convinced that there is that big a rump of non SNP voting, pro independence folk out there, but we will get very confused if we try to work it out and they might well net out with the SNP no independence voters anyway.

    I just firmly believe that the cost and fundamental change that a referendum could cause needs a really strong mandate, and looking for the overtly unionist parties to support that was where i felt the original poster was misguided.

    for openness, i am a unionist, centrist floating voter. Nice to have a debate rather than some of the mud slinging that can go on on this forum.

  • Comment number 48.

    43. At 14:14pm 16th Apr 2011, ggg wrote:

    "If the SNP are getting support in the mid 30s percentage, does that not show that 2/3s of the population are not looking to become independent."


    Er, no.

    What it shows is that 2/3 of the Scottish people do not want to elect an SNP MSP/MP/MEP/Councillor.

    Voting for SNP candidates on May 5th is NOT a vote for independence; it is a vote in support of procuring an SNP administration in Edinburgh.

    It is several decades since the SNP were a one-issue party (not since before Gordon Wilson's days at the helm), and the past four years have shown the party's ability to govern for the benefit of all of the people, all of the time, on all issues of the day.

    One of the purposes of a referendum is to dissociate the issue from all others for which a political party stands.

    I would be happy to vote for a Labour MSP to represent me in the first independent Scottish government in over 300 years, and would be content to vote Conservative too (but never again will I even consider voting LibDem!), but for as long as those two parties deny We The People the right to a voice on the future constitutional status of our nation, neither merits support.

  • Comment number 49.

    Given that the SNP have climbed into bed with Brian Souter, perhaps the party should suggest he fund another private referendum - but instead of his past effort (the infamous Keep The Clause campaign), this might actually inform a debate rather than seek to stifle it - on support for independence.

  • Comment number 50.

    tearsfor4suovenenirs #40 etc.

    "As previously indicated, I will have regard to future plans when deciding how I will vote, but the Council Tax freeze is making me reconsider whether I want an SNP government."

    Really who do you think you are kidding?..even a novice Johny come lately such as thinks theres a bit of duplicity on the go.

    What plans are left do think?


  • Comment number 51.

    # 43 g g g

    i refer you to post #14 james 414,

    as to your post.

    "quote"sorry if this is wrong, but are you suggesting that the non snp parties campaign on an issue they dont want to progress.

    no what i am saying what are they afraid of . the scottish people are begining to see
    through the double talk, like have a referendum on wheather to have a referendum
    "bring it on" enough of me "hae yer say" check # 14 james

  • Comment number 52.

    My concern is spending lots of money on a referendum and the preceding white papers and campaigns (from both sides) on something that the majority of people don't seem to want. Turn out Scottish elections are about 50-55%? A third of them vote pro referendum?

    They are probably afraid that it will be much harder to motivate the silent majority who support the status quo to come out than the motivated pro Independence minority. It will be interesting to see the AV and Scot elections turn out numbers.

    I know it wasn't popular on this blog, but the BBC poll shows referendums are way down people's priorities.

  • Comment number 53.

    # 52

    "double talk" lotts of things are away down peoples priorities politics and voting,
    are but two axamples. and who can blame them slease fraud house of lords,
    duck houses and finaly a westminster goverment,we never voted for.thats your answer . " late must go"

  • Comment number 54.

    #52 GGG

    "A third of them vote pro referendum?" no! A third of them (roughly) voted SNP. You are correct however, a referendum is not the top of most poeple's priorities, it is not the reason why most people vote. But, when asked "do you want a referendum" directly, I seem to remember between 70 and 80% being in favour.


  • Comment number 55.

    One thing's for sure - whatever your political hue, a big turnout is in the interest of everyone, to give whatever govt is formed the best mandate possible.

    I'm totally sick of the apathy argument of there is no-one to vote for - total garbage. Whatever people think of politicians, they are the ones that stick themselves forward to take all our flak. SNP, Labour, LibDem, Tory, Green, Socialists, Independents, various others - OK not in every constituency, but there is a choice.

    Come on folks - find someone who is thinking of not voting and persuade them to make the effort, even if you dont agree with all their views.

  • Comment number 56.

    Speaking as a somewhat disillusioned Labour voter, I think one would have to be particularly partisan to not concede that the SNP have done an OK job as a minority Government and actually steered a lot of their programme through. While I would love for Labour to convince me that they have rediscovered their radical roots I've seen no green shoots yet. In fact I take umbrage at the notion I should vote Labour regardless of their performance in the UK and as an opposition in Holyrood.

    Moreover, I'm still annoyed at the way UK Labour lied about wars, went bizarrely authoritarian over ID cards and failed to repeal a single Thatcher Union law. The pain Lib Dem voters feel now over their Party is what I've endured for the last 10 years. Nothing has been said to address these blots (if, indeed, the Labour candidates even see them as blots). Gray's assertion that he would not give guarantees on compulsory redundancy was the straw that did for my camel. I am not a die hard nationalist and I don't know which way I would jump if there ever was an independence vote but that aside I am going to throw my lot in with the SNP this time.

    Perhaps another spell in opposition will give enough time for a genuinely Scottish Labour Party with left of centre principles to flourish and give some of the old guard a chance to retire gracefully.

  • Comment number 57.


    It does seem that the opposition parties do indeed believe that those who do not vote snp do not want independence. I can see how this can be an interpretation but surely it is a weak argument? Many Scots i expect have many expectations from a political party: to care for their families, support kids, etc etc so may opt for another party whilst remaining either keen/welcoming/unsure/reluctant about independence.

    RE: the non-voters, you cannot define what they are saying in their silence. That is wrong and is elementary straw-clutching. The greens could moan that they do not vote as they do not want to waste carbon/paper in travelling/voting? The SNP could say they are not voting out of anger at the political system because of the coalition and any other party could say they do not vote as they are opposed to Holyrood. Anyone can say anything about what the non-voters are saying. None would be right until non-voters were asked, therefore no argument can be made by any party at all regarding non-voters.

    As i said already, people may agree with independence but prefer labour, tory, green etc policies? Or, perhaps - like myself - do not know enough about the benefits vs the disadvantages, the costs vs "profit/wealth" (not skeptical, just cant think of the correct word) or how things would work re defence etc. As i understand it, the SNP alluded to these in their white paper a year or so ago. It is an issue that would affect us all. No conclusion can be drawn on this issue from election results in my opinion. Only from a well informed public debate then vote will we have a clearer answer.

  • Comment number 58.

    #52 ggg
    "I know it wasn't popular on this blog, but the BBC poll shows referendums are way down people's priorities."

    Not so. It does demonstrate that the policy actually tested by ICM on the BBC's behalf, Hold a referendum on whether Scotland should become an independent country, was actually very popular among the 1004 respondents.

    Asked to score the policy between 1 (it should never be done) and 10 (that it is very important and it should be done quickly), only 19.92% do not want a referendum on independence, while 27.73% regard it as an immediate priority.

    But then the SNP have not suggested that this is something they plan to do immediately, but during the 5-year term of the next Scottish parliament.

    Further, they have frequently indicated willingness to reach a consensus on the question or questions actually asked. With all recent polling suggesting that support for fiscal and other autonomy beyond Calman is well above 60%, it's no wonder that the electorate do actually want to have their say on the matter.

    The full details on that question in the ICM poll are:

     Score     %    Cum %
    10 22.21 22.21
    9 3.98 26.20
    8 9.16 35.36
    7 6.47 41.83
    6 5.08 46.91
    5 16.83 63.75
    4 4.48 68.23
    3 4.58 72.81
    2 7.27 80.08
    1 19.92 100.00
  • Comment number 59.

    # 52. ggg
    It is true that a lot of money would be spent to give a referendum to the Scottish people with no definitive sign of their being an acceptance or a rejection of the referendum, but don't you think that because there is a sizable amount of people who voted for a party whose whole raison d'être was the issue of independence does lead one to think that maybe the question should be put to the Scottish people. Alex Salmond did say that if they were defeated in a referendum then he would expect the issue of having another referendum lay dormant for, at least, a generation. [This was only his personal view]
    You may also be correct in assuming that all those who vote for the SNP might not vote for independence. Assuming that to be true, which I am confident it is, then the same would also be true that all of those who vote for Unionist parties will not necessarily vote against independence.
    To say that there is no clear answer to the question of independence is not a reason for not having one; that there is no clear answer on this question is the main reason why we should have a referendum.

  • Comment number 60.

    Correction to my #58:

      while 27.73% regard it as an immediate priority


      while 27.73% of the remainder regard it as an immediate priority

  • Comment number 61.

    #56, I have a lot of respect for your post. Anyone who blindly follows a political party hands away all their democratic power and influence and that party will ultimately take them for granted. I hear a lot of party loyalties, but the best thing for us all would actually be to continually rock the boat and keep the politicians on their feet as servants rather than the self-serving.

    Based on the message from all party's in this election, I think the Scottish electorate will hopefully see that there is one party head and shoulders above the rest. I am suprised at the way the campaign is turning out though. In 2007 the SNP won and it was widely credited to their running a possitive campaign in contrast to the negative message from particularly, but not exclusively Labour... I am suprised Labour have not been tempted to shift their position. I feel deja-vu coming on! LOL :)

  • Comment number 62.


    I have looked at all the election leaflets coming through my door (crumbs, even the Tory one, if only to see if their relevance meter had crept above minus a million - it hadnt). Unfortunately there was a common theme - negativity, even from the SNP, with all the parties taking any and every opportunity to have a go at the other parties. It is unremittingly depressing. I have yet to meet a politician on my doorstep in order to take this up with them.

    In the end it wont put me off voting, but it will have a bearing on how I vote, especially where I believe that any of the parties has done little to positively influence my decision. However it will play into the hands of the apathetics, looking for any excuse to yet again turn away from the democratic process due to the childish approach to campaigning that all parties take.

    I hope that some or indeed all of the parties can show us more reasons to vote for them over the next few weeks rather than frankly playground attempts to frighten us away from other parties.

  • Comment number 63.

    #61 - "In 2007 the SNP won and it was widely credited to their running a possitive campaign in contrast to the negative message from particularly, but not exclusively Labour... I am suprised Labour have not been tempted to shift their position. I feel deja-vu coming on! LOL :)"

    The Labour party feel that their negative campaigning emphasising the ghost of Thatcher did them a good turn at last years general election, so they think it's still a good strategy. Besides which, if you're going to run a positive campaign, you need something positive to build it upon.

  • Comment number 64.

    Where are the big New Labour hitters?
    New Labour's Got Talent???
    Errr - Try Gordon Brown juggling Tony Blair with Jimmy Murphy pulling Ian Grey out of a hat? Or the Alexander Twins and their dancing dogs?
    Nope - even that won't work I'm afraid.
    What job will Ian Grey be doing after May?
    Answers to Gordon Brown House .............
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 65.

    I hear there is a new poll from yougov in tomorrows SoS, ten days since the last one seems to me an awful long time, with less than three weeks till election. Apparently it makes very interesting reading.

  • Comment number 66.

  • Comment number 67.

    poll looks good but is just a poll and the only one that really counts is on may 5th. i'm very hopeful for a re-elected SNP government though

  • Comment number 68.

    Just to clear up a little point.
    A non vote in areferendum at worst means that that person is relaxed about the result and is no indication whatsover of a negative stance.

  • Comment number 69.

    off topic but i wonder if Brian has picked out his braces for the election night? enquiring minds (well mine) would like to know =D

  • Comment number 70.

    In my constituency we did a poll of 25,000 households with a Freepost return envelope and got around 2,500 returns.
    Onn them in the question
    "If a referendum on independence were called tomorrow how would you vote?"
    of those identifying as
    SNP supporters 86% replied "For"
    Tory supporters 22% replied "For"
    Labour supporters 52% replied "For
    LibDem supporters 58% replied "For"
    ("Don't Knows" which were about 33% are factored out of these figures)

    Given that this was self-selecting and obviously SNP poll in a rural Scottish seat these figures cannot be judged either typical or comprehensive but they did indicate that there is a very substantial number of electors who don't support SNP but are prepared to support independence.
    This is why we find huge opposition to a referendum.
    This is also why I am opposed to clouding the issue by introducing an FFA or Calman plus option.

  • Comment number 71.

    69. At 22:17pm 16th Apr 2011, Megz wrote:

    off topic but i wonder if Brian has picked out his braces for the election night? enquiring minds (well mine) would like to know =D

    Are Saltire ones available?

  • Comment number 72.

    Isobel Fraser has asked the 5 main Party Leaders for their favourite songs:
    Patrick Harvie obviously "Green Hills of Tyrol"
    Tavish Scott selected "Desperado".
    Bella went for "Its Raining Men".
    Ian Grey - after conferring with Ed Millibrother decided on "Run Rabbit Run" - even though his advisers suggested "Keep on Running".
    Mr Salmond stuck with "Caledonia".
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 73.

    just wanted to ensure that as another GGG none of my friends thought that for 1 microsecond I wanted anything other than an Independent Scotland with full control over everything that a real country needs to be a 'real country' (unless you read the daily retard where "i'm a real scot i want somebody else to run my country " seems to be a valid position.


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