« Oliver Colvile MP: Mugabe has stolen this election. Here's what should happen now. | Main | Nick Pickles: Don’t worry if you’re not invited to this political party »

Henry Hill Red, White and Blue

Henry Hill: Tearing the veil from the 'YeSNP'

Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

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.

As this 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…

‘Labour for 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 and 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 Labour.

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.

Read the whole story: Think Scotland scoop; Record article; Herald article; Think Scotland rebuttal to nationalist excuse-makers; withering summary on forargyll.com.

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 fringe.

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.

The most 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 Mon.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.