Over the weekend the Scottish Government has been under accusation of attempting to rig its independence referendum consultation through accepting anonymous submissions, with Labour demanding a “proper” consultation.
According to Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar, “Everyone knows that Alex Salmond desperately wants a second question on the ballot and now he has left the door open for his army of Cyber-Nats [sic] to deliver the response he wants.”
The Scottish Government has now announced that anonymous submissions towards the independence ballot rules will be excluded. But this rules out only 414 anonymous responses out of the total of 11,986. I suspect it’s very unlikely this 3.5% has in any way been transformative of the consultation findings through some sinister cybernat diktat.
James Maxwell has an excellent piece up on today’s Staggers, discussing the fallacy of the unionist parties continuing to accuse the SNP of “civic chauvinism”. But the tendency to denigrate the nationalists as foaming-mouthed, petty-minded little Scotlanders, not worthy of higher political debate amongst the elite, is not only a mistake in terms of perception of the SNP’s identity. It is also symptomatic of the laziness in which the other political parties, but especially Labour, constantly attack the Scottish Government on the first sliver of a perceived wrong, instead of providing a proper opposition.
Instead of trying to work out exactly what failings in ideology, message, narrative and policy have led Labour to be at this abysmal state in Scottish politics, it’s far easier to attack the SNP for being anti-English, neo-fascist, crazy… Absolutely none of these accusations tally with the party and people that make up Scotland’s party of government, but it’s too simple and straightforward a soundbite for Labour politicians to resist. Too stupid as well.
I don’t think anonymous submissions to consultations are a great idea. But by attacking the SNP on this Labour have again focused on the facile, and not the fundamentals. Dissing how the consultation is run is far easier than engaging with a consultation with a sizeable number of respondents. And again Labour have attacked on the first sliver of perceived wrongness. To jump up and down demanding parliamentary recall on an issue resolved by one simple decision by the Scottish Government again makes the SNP look measured and in control, and Labour hysterical.
One simple change to the acceptance of consultation responses turns Labour’s agitation into tomorrow’s chip paper, and reinforces the SNP’s strength and competency on the Scottish political sphere.