C’mon Common Space; which is it? Is the independence movement ‘in retreat’ or ‘re-bounding?’ Gonnae stop this inward-looking rumination and get on with attacking the Union?


Yesterday, Hugh Cullen’s piece in Common Space was headed:

‘The movement needs clarity to reverse the indy retreat’

He went on to say:

‘Opinion Polls taken since the 2014 referendum paint a picture of support slowly trickling away from independence.’

This is just wrong. Support for independence according to the last three Panelbase and Survation polls is holding steady at 40-46% and well within striking distance of a win after campaigning, a hard Brexit and further gaffs by a frankly laughable opposition leadership. Only two days earlier, Sean Bell, also on Common Space was headlined:

‘Support for Scottish independence rebounds three years after referendum’

Sean was referring to the last Survation poll putting support for independence at 46%, one point above the 2014 result.

So, what is Common Space for? Well, it seems to be a kind of talking shop for ineffectual liberal intellectuals which crucially will not make much impact on votes. The steady flow of hard evidence for independence from Indyref2, Wings and, I hope, me, just might gain votes. Infighting, especially undermining the SNP, will damage the Yes campaign. Regardless of your position on socio-economic theory, only the SNP can win this. We need to get behind them, direct all our fire against the Union and wait patiently till the great day. Then we can return to our other politics and, if that’s what want to do, attack the SNP. Isn’t that clarity, Hugh?

After that we heard that the SNP have paid a ‘huge price’ for not making the case for independence at elections and notably:

‘I was an independence activist before I joined the SSP and I’m infuriated to see the movement that we built from 2012 so dominated by a single party. It makes us weaker.’

Why be infuriated? The SNP are just far more popular than the SSP or the Greens or any other pro-independence group. They lost seats at the last election I know and Corbyn along with the mainstream media push for Davidson played a big part in that but the effect is already wearing off. Support for the SNP remains solid above 40% and according to the last Panelbase poll has climbed 10% as the Labour and Tory support falls again. See:
Latest poll of Westminster voting intentions suggests SNP are recovering from temporary effects of Corbyn and Davidson with 10% increase

As for the advantages of diversity in the Yes movement, is there hard evidence that that was true? I’d have thought history tells us that that diversity in a movement can result in infighting, lack of direction, lack of impetus and lack of clarity for the voters. Perhaps it’s too extreme for analogy, but ‘diversity’ on the Republican side lost the Spanish Civil War.



Footnote: After independence, I’d probably vote SSP.


18 thoughts on “C’mon Common Space; which is it? Is the independence movement ‘in retreat’ or ‘re-bounding?’ Gonnae stop this inward-looking rumination and get on with attacking the Union?

  1. Clydebuilt September 21, 2017 / 9:08 am

    The editor of Common Space is the go to journalist for the Unionist broadcast media for the pro independence viewpoint. That’s enough to put me off the website. Here we have Common Space talking down support for independence.


  2. bigjon999Jon Musgrave September 21, 2017 / 10:06 am

    I agree – first independence and the main party and driver for this is the SNP. Once independence is achieved then I’ll look at all parties manifestos and decide who to vote for. BUT FIRST we need independence so lets all gather behind the SNP and other YES organisations and push for it asap.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. bigjon999 September 21, 2017 / 10:07 am

    After independence vote for whoever floats your boat, until then get behind the SNP – they are the only realistic method of getting independence.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alasdair Macdonald September 21, 2017 / 11:35 am

    There is, sadly, an attitude amongst many of the supporters of various groups on the left of the political spectrum that only they know the ‘true road to socialism’. When I first became interested in politics in the 1960s, I remember sitting listening with bewilderment as representatives of the various groups argued interminably about nuances. These nuances were the causes of the fissiparousness of the left. The vanity of small differences …

    I think it was the SWP whose handbook used to instruct its members to assume the leadership of any campaign, because only they knew how to do put the campaign on the right path and to achieve IMMEDIATE success. I am still waiting. They would ‘pack’ meetings, but since many such meetings only had relatively few attendees, ‘packing’ could be done with relatively few people, who were barracking, chanting slogans and simply commandeering the meeting. Any opposition points of view were drowned out. Usually, most reasonable people either left the meeting or did not bother to come back.

    I still wonder if such groupings are actually intent on destroying the cause which they were claiming to support. History is full of campaigns failing because they were betrayed by infiltrators. Lenin’s cynical term ‘useful idiots’ comes to mind. George Orwell was doing a fair bit of informing towards the end of his life. Hubris is often the downfall of many such groups, as we can see exemplified in the career of Mr Tommy Sheridan.

    There is some good reporting in Common Space. It also has an aim of filing the gap which is appearing because of the failure of the print media. Independent IT based media such as Professor Robertson’s, Wings, Bella, etc have certainly transformed the way opinions and news are transmitted and permit much wider participation. (The ‘right’ is also energised by this, too.) So, there is a lot to be said for Common Space’s aspiration.

    I note that some of Common Space’s contributors are having pieces published by the mainstream media. Many ‘radicals’ in the past have used the same route, such as Michael Foot’s association with Beaverbrook Newspapers. It is a fine line to walk and I am not going to condemn them for that, but, one always has to be wary. In general, I wish Common Space well.

    However, to return to the reason for Professor Roberstson’s article, I endorse his plea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 September 21, 2017 / 12:14 pm

      I still wonder if such groupings are actually intent on destroying the cause which they were claiming to support. History is full of campaigns failing because they were betrayed by infiltrators. Lenin’s cynical term ‘useful idiots’ comes to mind. George Orwell was doing a fair bit of informing towards the end of his life.

      Yes indeed tho I suspect most are useful idiots but one or two might be agent provacateurs? McKenna, Fry? And is the National a Trojan horse?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alasdair Macdonald September 21, 2017 / 1:39 pm

        I do not think Messrs McKenna and Fry are agents provocateur.

        I think Mr Michael Fry has been consistently frank about his position since Mr Michael Forsyth gave him the boot from the Tories. He was always too ‘ideological’ for the Tories and he is also a pretty good historian. His support for independence is I think well founded. I wish I could write with his clarity and succinctness!

        Mr Kevin McKenna has had a pretty successful media career, including spells in fairly senior positions within some right wing media papers. He has always been explicit about his Labour supporting history and his general democratic socialist/distributist philosophy. He has also been explicit about his Roman Catholicism and has espoused his support for policies such as opposition to abortion, although I think he is clearly secularist. While I agree with his social democratic stances, I am not RC, but I have friends amongst all Christian denominations. Given the ownership of the press in the UK, almost every journalist has worked for papers which have been ‘right wing’ – Ian Bell wrote for both the Scotsman and the Herald. Many right wing people are pretty sincere democrats and believe in free speech. I have had several Tory voting colleagues who were considerably more humane than some who were shrill ‘radicals’ who were pretty contemptuous of ‘the common herd’ (ipse dixit).

        We also have to remember that the media are businesses and businesses have to make a profit and find a market for their products. I had a neighbour for many years, who was an official in the NUJ, then currently employed by the Mirror Group but who had worked for Beaverbrook and other papers during his career. He was, I think, a sincere democratic socialist, but he had acquired a hard-headed journalistic cynicism. He saw the Mirror group’s stance as ‘market positioning’ in that there was, and is, within the UK a large ‘leftish’ constituency and market. The Mirror, in its heyday was a successful paper. A large proportion of its readership wanted to read news and opinion from a leftish perspective, and most of the Mirror’s journalists could provide that. Beaverbrook, for example, although personally imperialist in outlook, did not fit comfortably into the ‘Establishment’ and was a cantankerous figure. He could see the hypocrisies and he agreed with much of the populace in their views on some matters and so, encouraged people like Michael Foot to write as they did. Rupert Murdoch, when he entered the UK media scene was pretty much an outsider and had a lot of the Australian contempt for the tight-arsed London establishment, despite his affluent background. The Sun has been by most standards a successful enterprise and attracts a pretty wide readership. I disagree with Kelvin MacKenzie’s hubristic claim, “It was the Sun wot won it.” The Sun’s readership was more discerning than Guardian reading liberals believed them to be. Outside of the political sections, there is a fair amount of good competent writing in the Sun. Despite the claims of the Sunday Herald and the National to being the only papers which support independence, The Scottish Sun has supported the SNP. Again, one can be cynical about motives and perhaps be intellectually condescending, but, maybe it was a factor in shifting many traditional Labour voters in the West of Scotland away from Labour.

        So, in the context of what I have written, I don’t think the National is a Trojan Horse.


    • Alasdair Macdonald September 21, 2017 / 1:03 pm

      No, I am not vain enough to claim it as my own. I thought it was a pretty weel-kent cliche. Google it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • johnrobertson834 September 21, 2017 / 2:07 pm

        Thanks Alasdair for your well-argued points. I remain unsure about McKenna and Fry’s motives but sure about their damaging effects on the movement.

        Liked by 2 people

      • johnrobertson834 September 21, 2017 / 2:09 pm

        Oh, yes re the National, Trojan horses are not conscious of their nature so…?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ludo Thierry September 21, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    Hear Hear to all comments above. I don’t know anything about Hugh Cullen but I’m sure his heart is in the right place and he’ll pick up some useful experience and wisdom as he goes.

    Meanwhile – we have an Indy Ref to bring about and win.

    The Electoral Reform Society have produced some useful stats re. the abuse of attendance monies by peers of the realm. Heard a snippet on (I think) beeb radio Jockland this morning (hard to keep track as I keep switching stations as my blood pressure varies). The Trinity/Mirror dailies seem to be carrying the story a bit:

    Calls for a radical overhaul of the House of Lords grew last night over the scandal of peers being paid to turn up and contribute little or nothing to debates and votes.

    Over a year, 115 claimed £1.2million of taxpayers’ cash in expenses without saying a word during upper chamber discussions. And £4million was handed to the 277 who spoke five times or fewer.

    Among those in the line of fire was former Tory peer Baroness Flather who claimed £37,932.00 in expenses for 2016/17 but failed to vote even once.

    The shock figures came from an analysis of voting, speaking and expenses records for the Lords carried out by the Electoral Reform Society. Chief executive Darren Hughes said: “These figures are a damning indictment of the state of the House of Lords.

    The ERS also found £7,3million was claimed by 394 peers who contributed to debates 10 times or fewer. More than half of all peers claimed more in tax-free expenses than the average Brit’s wages, which is £22,226.25. Among them were Lord Laird who claimed £48,279.00 in expenses and only voted twice.

    Lord Paul raked in £38,100 for seven votes. Baroness Afshar claimed £34,966 but only voted three times.

    I don’t know if the article is doing any double counting (those speaking 1 to 5 times being double counted with those speaking 1 to 10 times)? – I’m assuming there isn’t double counting of this sort occurring in the stats. If so – this means that 786 peers participated between zero and 10 times during debates over the course of a year – and charged us a trifling £12.5M for the benefit of their combined wisdom.

    Maybe Hugh Cullen could direct some of his righteous indignation in this direction for a change? – Thanks, Ludo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Brian September 21, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Cool, Ludo, sanity prevails.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Clydebuilt September 21, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    John Re Commonspace folk being nice and polite. There was nothing nice about their attack on G. Ponsonby (a stalwart of the YES movement) some time back.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. macgilleleabhar September 21, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    “The working class can kiss my ass: I’ve got the foreman’s job at last…” is how I see leftists.
    Was “Wolfie ” Darling’s flag ever even “Palest Pink”?
    I believe that the “Left” we are discussing wish to be an “Elite” who set the agenda in Scotland. Unfortunately for them but most fortunately for the rest of us there is no elite in the Indyref movement only people in all levels of society getting on with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald September 21, 2017 / 7:13 pm

      In my experience, quite a high proportion of those particularly active in groups like SWP was from a relatively affluent background, with Mr Alistair Darling being a case in point. Many of us who were genuinely working class had a number of other priorities like ensuring their were roofs over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table. Some of us also had parents or siblings who had succumbed to excessively hard work and the problems of poverty such as poor housing. Therefore many of us could not afford to have the kind of ‘principles’ that those more comfortably off could sustain. We often had to ‘sell out’ by taking employment with organisations and companies which we did not wholly agree. We did not have the kind of social networks which would readmit us ‘once we had got this adolescent nonsense out of our systems.’

      This, of course was not always the case with a fair number of those from ‘comfortable’ backgrounds, but, it was fairly common.

      Some, like Alistair Darling, when they got power simply acted in the interests of their class. Others, like Gordon Brown, were simply seduced by the attractions of power and the kind of wealth and comfort that went with it. They would not be so vulgar as to say, ‘The working class can kiss my arse ….’, indeed, they would feel deeply insulted by such an accusation, but, in practice that became their attitude and they were reassured by their allies in their adopted class.It is to Michelle Mone’s credit that she makes no hypocritical statements about what she aspired to and what she now has.

      Liked by 1 person

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