Scoville Units Unite

24 Sep

Failure, #the45 and the future

A friend told me they went to vote wearing a Firefly t-shirt as they didn’t have a Yes t-shirt. At the time I was amused but then on the Friday it became even more meaningful.

Firefly is a series set in the aftermath of a civil war from some of those sympathetic to the rebellious side. The cause was the grievances of those far away from the centre of political power feeling left out, ignored and opposing centralisation.

In one scene of the show, Captain Reynolds is challenged

Commander Harken: Seems odd you’d name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of.

Captain Reynolds: May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.

And that seems to be the view of the supporters of the Yes campaign. We’ve failed, dust ourselves off and keep fighting.



Social Media almost immediately spread around memes to do with #the45. A replacement for your I’m voting yes twibbons etc. I was pretty uneasy and became more concerned the more it spread.


I’m one of the 45 has a number of messages.

I’m proud I voted Yes

Seems reasonable enough. Much better than scurrying to take down your yes posters and so on.

I’m part of the 45 group

Seems a bit more worrying. If we want to win over the 55% who voted No, then creating an in-group isn’t a positive way to do it.

Any kind of movement which comes out of the real, mass, grassroots campaign for yes, must try to reach out to those who voted yes, or didn’t vote. By creating the 45 ingroup you create the 55 outgroup too. This hasn’t been positive, phrases like traitor flying around Twitter won’t win over those who voted No.

If someone was to vote No, be convinced it was a mistake and come over to the other side could they describe themselves as #the45? No. Clearly not. So it fails it first hurdle – can you call over your opponents from yesterday over to you today?

There are also connotations to the other 45 which are best avoided.

45+ isn’t much better, it sounds like some kind of middle aged dating site. I don’t know what’s better, during discussion I commented that I’d vote Yes tomorrow is better as bland as it is, but I know that #the45 isn’t right.

Here is a more academic critique of #the45.

The Future

My first concern was that those on the losing side would lose heart and drop out of any kind of political activity. I’ve seen it happen before, but never when 1.6million other people were also on the losing side.

On the 19th I tweeted Don’t be despondent, be active. Join the @The_SSP_ @scotgp snp or whoevers vision you agreed with most and work to make it happen.

I checked later on and I hadn’t been the only one, loads were saying similar. By the time of starting this post the SNP had claimed over 30,000 new members making them the third largest party in the whole UK. The Greens claimed 3000, the SSP 1900. The Radical Independence Conference 2014 has almost 7000 saying on Facebook they are going. People are also claiming to have joined Scottish CND and other progressive campaigns too.

The energy and enthusiasm will hopefully not be lost immediately then.

There is a downside to this of course. The Labour party became the horrible organisation they are due to a massive monopoly of electoral politics in Scotland. The SNP having more members than all other political parties in Scotland combined is not a healthy situation!


There have been rumblings of some kind of pro-Yes coalition/alliance standing in the future, including from some SNP MSPs (paywall).

There are some immediate appeals of this. For Westminster, your vote is essentially wasted no matter who you vote for. In the last General Election I think I voted SNP in Dundee West. Not because I support SNP but to try and unseat Jim McGovern, who as awful as he is is not as useless as Ernie I’m not a rent a quote MP Ross the rent-a-quote former MP for the constituency.

But is this something I’d do next time? I don’t know. The candidate is likely to be some local SNP councillor, one who no doubt voted to give the V&A contract to a blacklisting company. If so I could not see myself voting for them. Could I advocate others voting for them? Not if I couldn’t myself. I’d probably spoil my ballot if it was anti-choice Labour vs a pro-blacklisting SNP candidate with no progressive on the ballot, but I’ll decide closer to the time.

But let’s pretend for a second that some pro-Yes alliance was formed. Who would be it’s candidates. The SNP are the dominant force, do you think they’d let RIC, the SSP or Greens have a candidate in Dundee East and they’d have the SNP candidates in the seats the SNP are far behind in? I doubt it. It would be stitched up so the SNP candidates were most likely to be elected by that mechanism. But even if that’s not the case. Let’s say not 59 but even 30 of the candidates elected are pro-Yes Alliance. Then what? The whole Labour electoral strategy in the 80s was send their MPs to Westminster to protect Scotland and it failed. The only purpose would be to keep independence on the agenda, perhaps as part of a wider strategy to either get another referendum or to universally declare independence (these MPs declaring themselves Holyroods second chamber or the like). You would also essentially be voting for a single issue MP. It all seems a bit back of a fag packet and needs to be well thought out.

For Holyrood it might be different. Again, I heard suggestions of a pro-Yes slate everywhere. But let’s look at it tactically, if the point is to break Labour and the Unionists hold at Holyrood then having pro-Yes in seats and the lists is not the best way to do it. If we want to use the Holyrood elections as a way to boot them out then we should hammer at the weaknesses in the d’Hondt electoral system used in the lists.

This is a form of proportional representation which tops up list seats to make up for coming second in lots of first past the post constituencies. If one party comes first and a second party comes second in all the constituencies then the party who comes second will win more list seats making the MSPs each have more consistent with the % of support each receive.

The weakness in the system is if a party stands in the list but not constituency then they are at an advantage when the seats are calculated. This is the strategy the Greens use – ignoring the constituency vote. If however the SNP stood in the constituencies and the pro-Yes Alliance stood in the regions then they would not be penalised for having SNP winning constituencies when the list votes are calculated.

In the North East last time for example, the SNP won all 10 constituencies. When the votes are calculated for the list the SNP had 140,749 list votes and gained 1 MSP. Labour had 43,893 and gained 3. This is because for the first MSP the SNP vote is divided by the number of MSPs they had elected +1. Labours likewise. So the SNP have 12,795 proportional votes, Labour have 43,893. Labour get 3 elected from the list before the SNP get their first. A pro-Yes list would have gained 3 MSPs before Labour got their first though! This would result in a massive swing to the pro-Yes parties.

The second advantage is, should this become a serious possibility what would Labour do? Create a similar list? For the referendum they were happy to campaign alongside Tories, Lib Dems, UKIP and the National Front. I seriously doubt they would promote tactically voting for one of these in an election though!

What this would take though is a massive effort at co-ordination and compromise. Again, the SNP would probably pressure to have their people at the top of the lists.

One Response to “Failure, #the45 and the future”

  1. 1
    Scoville Units Unite » Blog Archive » Thinking the Unthinkable Says:

    […] it was a broad based campaign comprising of numerous organisations and groups. After the defeat the SNP hoovered up huge numbers of activists from that movement. This may be great for the SNP in the short term […]

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