Scotland’s 50 shades of Left and the ‘second vote’ spat


Glasgow poet and performer Cee Smith considers the Pro-indy party positions  and wonders whether consensus might emerge…one day

There’s a lot of talk in Scottish politics.

Admittedly, the entire game of Westminister has been for centuries one of pure rhetoric. Everybody gets their say so long as they know how their place. The real decisions are made away from the debate chamber. We only have to look at the ‘second’ round of ‘war’ in the Middle East to see this is true.

Cee Smith
Cee Smith

I did not vote for Independence believing Scotland would become a free nation. I did not vote for the SNP believing that they would hold the ruling parties in London to account.

At 18 I was a firm SNP supporter.

At 27 I’m bored by my limited choices.

I welcome the rise of new political parties. But it comes at the expense of dividing the left in this country even further. A range of new parties all promising the same thing.

If there’s one thing I have learnt as a politically aware adult, it’s the futility of debate on the left lost in idealism.

There is a lot of talk of the great Yes Campaign of 2014. How it united us all  – no matter what gender, race, class or religion – and ignited a debate around the country. I feel like I saw a very different campaign.

A campaign of no clear answers to the obvious questions of its opposition. A campaign that failed to change the minds of the majority of the population.

A campaign whose old fashioned prejudice came home to me when I stopped by my local campaign office to ask about any data on the ‘women’ vote both sides were boasting of, and was dismissed with a token leaflet for Women for Independence.


Maybe we should take a leaf out of the Zapatistas’ book, the revolutionary militant group based in Chiapas, Mexico. Though far from perfect, everyone in their society must serve at one time in a council.

Everyone, except those seen to be too keen to take the role of power.

I don’t want to be led by anybody who actively wants to be a politician in today’s system. Unless they are entering it to offer me something completely new.

The call for ‘new media’ in the wake of the ‘biased’ BBC also made me question whether I was looking at the same debate. Yes, indeed, the BBC news team failed to provide a neutral view in their reporting. Something from which they have struggled to recover.

Yet their online programming told a wildly different story. Reruns of documentaries explicitly detailing how this Union of Nations began in the first place. Offering something few young Scots can claim to know in depth: history.

We suffer from what many have always suffered from. The cult of personality. That which kept Stalin in popularity for so long. What keeps Jeremy Corbyn from being an outright bore. What fills the pockets of vocal fundraisers in the name of ‘democracy’.


Amidst the minor spat between Newsnet’s recent article from Ponsonby and Bella Caledonia’s Mike Small over the RISE party’s assertion that a second list vote for the SNP is a ‘waste’, I learned that Bella Caledonia boasts of a board that includes ‘SNP members, Green Party members and RISE members’, as well as a tokenistic ‘but most importantly members of no political party at all’. This implies that the board embraces many shades of opinion: so what was wrong with Ponsonby’s opinion?

The National sits on this particular problem too, publishing columns from Cat Boyd of RISE, and Mhairi Black of the SNP for example.

Replacing ‘old’ media, criticised for pushing the political agendas of the larger parties, with ‘new’ media full of the political agendas of the smaller parties seems a little, well ironic.

If the issue of independence can be boiled down to fair representation of all opinion then that includes respecting the opinion of those who disagree with you. Even those that criticise you.

A recent BBC article about the Scottish elections this year cited Hume: ‘Nothing is more surprising than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.’


It is notable that the ‘revolutions’ of the West are led by middle class orators speaking for the downtrodden working classes. The need for those ‘without a voice’ to be represented.

Yet, where are the working class voices in Scottish politics?

Both Glasgow and Dundee voted in great numbers for an Independent Scotland. But not as great as we could have hoped. In deprived areas of Glasgow, there was an attitude with some I spoke to of ‘what’s the point’, ‘how does this affect me?’.

Alan Bissett is quoted in Bella Caledonia as saying that ‘Rise have put class firmly on the agenda, and I think it’s important that they are represented in Holyrood.’

But isn’t this just more talk?

RISE, after all, is a party primarily made up of members of other political parties. Parties like the SWP, that token socialist party so many students are encouraged to join that is nothing but an elitist debate club.

I do not mean to single RISE out. They are but the latest in a string of many, many tiny ‘socialist’ parties in Scotland. Unfortunately, the truth is, this is the first I have ever heard of them with this petty squabble.

I have always been a campaigner for voting. I do not care who you vote for, I will never endorse one party or the other, but even if you choose to spoil your vote, do vote, for that is the only way each and every person will have spoken for themselves. That is the only way for ‘all voices to be heard’.

No vote is ever wasted, if it is what you truly believe in.

I have met No voters who so desperately wanted to vote yes but were offered no security if they did so.

I have met Yes voters who felt they were caught up in the romance and the excitement and regretted it.


No politician will ever truly represent the needs of everyone that votes for them. But politics and democracy is a selfish game that benefits the few and sells a dream to the many.

Do not be taken in by personality cults, the smooth talkers, the quickest comebacks.

Let us focus not on who can lead us to yet another spin campaign for utopia.

Let us instead analyse what each individual representative can actually achieve for our communities.

Let us examine the real issues in this country, in this united kingdom as a whole too.

Nothing will ever change until we learn how to communicate openly and we make drastic overhauls to the education system and stop the ridicule of the intelligent.

We must face the facts that if we cannot even agree with each other when we fight the same fight on the same issues, how on earth would we have survived the first year as an Independent nation?



  1. Really interesting stuff. Well worth a re-read!
    “Maybe we should take a leaf out of the Zapatistas’ … everyone in their society must serve at one time in a council.
    Everyone, except those seen to be too keen to take the role of power.”



    • I didn’t say worse I said based on the petty squabbles over which party we should all be voting for to achieve independence it doesn’t point to a very cohesive independent state.

      But of course it’s purely my opinion 🙂

  2. Awful. Just Awful. Of course we don’t know how things WOULD have gone, but to assume that things would be worse is lazy.

  3. YES voters who “regretted it”? What? Why would they regret voting YES? You don’t regret voting in an election for the party that lost. Unless you wish you’d voted for the other party who could have won if they had just had a few more votes.
    We lost, Scotland didn’t become independent. THAT’S the only thing to regret.

    • One of those in question who said that said that they felt they had to vote yes because it was as if voting No made you a terrible person. They felt they had betrayed what they really believed due to peer pressure.

      I also spoke to a number of people who were voting Yes but in the last few weeks started to worry that they had been swept up in the moment and hadn’t actually researched the options for themselves. I can’t say if they ended up voting so on the day but it was a big sign to me that the Yes campaign was suffering.

  4. YES voters who “regretted” it? What? Why would they regret voting YES? If you vote in an election for the party who lost you don’t regret it. Unless you wish you’d voted for the other party who could have won if they had had a few more votes.
    We lost. Scotland didn’t become independent. That’s regrettable.

  5. Thanks for this, most enlightened article I’ve read on the subject. I would rather see ‘new’, ‘old’, ‘alternative’ media
    concentrate on news, what matters to people, not just those operating in the digital bubble, where there appears
    to be a lot of ego stroking for the sake of it.
    How about the Govanhill story which surfaced via social media in recent days?
    A local activist, and one assumes constituent, takes on the FM about the appalling state of the area, why isn’t that
    newsworthy? The residents who’re calling for something to be done will be of all parties and none, will have voted yes, no or not bothered in Sep 2014.
    Instead established ‘columnists’ declare other ‘columnists’ ‘brave’ for writing about the the who to vote for in May argie bargie. Really?

  6. Well we all have our own opinion of how to proceed and and how to remove this straight jacket that is the UK where the majority rules and we up here just don’t figure in their grand plan ,this recent manufactured supposed dissent in and around the SNP governance here in Scotland only helps one party the Tory hate mob are loving this Labour are being used yet again and are too stupid to figure it out , Labour assisted by this rise of supposed left wing support , they are going for the wrong target once again SNP are not the enemy they are just now the only viable opposition to this hateful government , attack the SNP and you are doing the Tories work for them , waken up folks .

  7. Thanks, I’ve not heard about the Govanhill story, have you got a link? I used to live there and it did feel like the area was just swept under the rug most of the time. For the Commonwealth Games we got a lovely new set of bins (not more, but new and shiny!) but that was about it.

    Too much of ‘news’ now is simply opinion. And there’s room for that but journalism has become a joke industry when anybody can declare themselves one. I think when the press started reading out tweets instead of reporting on stories it was a sign that the industry was imploding on itself.

    Social media can be a fantastic vehicle for stories that never get covered in the press but too often things are shared with no checking of sources, facts, what agenda the ‘journalist’ has etc etc. After the ref it was like certain camps set themselves up, dictated what we should get behind and to engage in the debate and offer a counter opinion to that usually ends in name calling.

    Whenever I write something I want people to disagree with me, engage with it and talk. I do find it funny that I have two ‘awfuls’ and a ‘silly’ so far on here. But they’ve chosen not to expand on that and take me on. I’m glad you found it interesting.

  8. Interesting and much to consider in this Cee so thanks for that.
    I’m one of those voters who thinks that the current spat about voting and where to place that all important second vote is one that has the potential to cripple the forward movement of indy parties at Holyrood. By splitting second votes our system, deliberately skewed to protect this embuggerance of a union, will not deliver the diversity of party that you speak of, but deliver unintended extra representation to the establishment parties.
    I don’t think that the SNP are perfect and a panacea for all of Scotland’s ills. No leader should be protected from critical scrutiny. There’s much to be decided and that will need all our views considered. I’m all for diversity of representation and debate but I firmly believe that the priority to get the country over the finishing line. Until we do that talk is just that and will ultimately not get us beyond this perverted system we have currently, but provide only miniscule – and costly – opportunities for real change within the current structure. Look at what they are doing to us with the fiscal traps and power limitations of The Scotland Bill, the denigration of renewables and the side-lining of Scottish representation in Westminster.

    Let’s not get distracted or derailed by some of the lesser stuff when we so badly need independence to let us sort those very issues out. I’d urge everyone to keep our heads down and push together until we are free of Westminster control.

    Both votes SNP for me.

  9. You’re very young and expect things to change as quickly and as hopefully as your age develops, but here’s the thing, change takes a very long time because those who don’t want change are the ones in power and they will use every device to prevent their power being taken away

    I you want to break a big rock you keep hitting it in the same place until it breaks, hit it somewhere else and bits might splinter off but the rock will endure

    Politics is the same thing, an idea, a faith that you can bring something about by the will of the people
    You must break the system first then create a new one that you hope works better and that’s the point of voting SNPx2 Take away Westminsters power and build what WE want, not what they want us to have

    Bit flowery, sorry about that, but I hope you get the point

    • If there’s one fault I’l own up to it’s definitely being young!

      Of course I’d love change to happen overnight, but trust me I know that never happens. I don’t think I was clear at the start of the article but when I voted Yes I didn’t think it would result in a brand new society the next day. In fact I think the moment I stepped out of the polling office I knew it wasn’t to be. But then I voted in a heavily Labour centric No constituency.

      I have every belief we will get there one day. I’d like to live to see it but I’m not convinced we’re there yet. I studied a lot of revolution history. That was a pretty big downer on my youthful political ideals, I’ll tell ya.

      I’d just hate to see us throw away a very real opportunity to achieve those first few steps with name-calling and bickering while the right wing (and Labour) sneak off with the wavering voters. And in the mean time those that are suffering the most from the current system just get left behind.

      • Thanks for the reply Cee, I’m 67 years old and have been voting SNP (Subject to availability of candidates) for near fifty years so you can imagine how I felt at not winning but I do believe we’re almost there and I do believe I’ll see Independence, but I also believe that we will always have a problem with fear in Scotland and it’s borne out of many circumstances Religion+Poverty and the need to grow up and take responsibility for ourselves is something many Scots haven’t had to do because it’s easier to say the Tories or Labour did it to us rather than say we made a mistake on something it’s our fault

        Two terms or even Three wont be enough for the SNP to turn 300 years around but they will succeed and we will all be the better for it and I am completely unshakable in that
        Scotland must have faith and not fear what’s thrown at us because there’s more and worse to come
        Scotland is essential in so many ways to the Union not just economically which most folk don’t even begin to understand how much we “actually” subsidise the RUK but in strategic terms the EU will bite our hand off to join and it wont cost us I can assure you of that

        Nicola Sturgeon is made of steel but knows exactly when to bend so we don’t get broken
        We’re winning, stick with the same big hammer and keep hitting the same spot with it and when it (The Union) breaks, it’ll be big time

  10. Not a good piece at all. Seems to me like a wavering no voter that has to speak in a comforting tone (incase of backlash), whilst trying to prove to oneself and others that the scottish political landscape is at odds with the rest of us. You have a pop at The National for political agendas, although its one of the only papers pushing that narrative, no speak of the corrupt others who push there awful self-serving agendas with no balance or debate. And with that alone, I can see right through you.

    • I can see why you think so. Possibly due to my wording or possibly because my arguments are very similar to those in the No camp.

      I did in fact vote Yes. I’ve been a supporter of independence since I was child. You can believe me or not it doesn’t really bother me.

      I’ll have a pop at any paper. I do commend it for being the only paper pushing the independence agenda but I’d like to see more time and effort into news that promotes actual news and not just biased media that I happen to agree with. Bear in mind it’s run by The Herald who while being on ‘our’ side of the fence are owned by a large multinational conglomerate and by appearing to support one side or the other increased sales. It’s a capitalist game after all!

      I fully expected backlash. If I speak in a ‘comforting’ tone it’s perhaps down to the fact that I am not at all angry or taking any of the debate on a personal level.

  11. “… but even if you choose to spoil your vote, do vote, for that is the only way each and every person will have spoken for themselves. That is the only way for ‘all voices to be heard’.

    No vote is ever wasted, if it is what you truly believe in. ”

    Exactly! I think it’s time every one backed down on the list vote and spent their energy articulating policies not positions. All us YES voters can manage to figure out where to put our cross without having another 3 months of bickering, bad feeling and now bad mouthing distracting and disturbing any sense of unity. Let’s not do the job of our opponents for them eh!

  12. I am quite irritated by this piece. Firstly, of course there would be arguments after independence just as there are now. That’s what happens in grown-up democracies. This reminds me of the unionist attack which harped on about how the referendum was divisive. Dissent is healthy. I fully expected that there would be vigorous discussion after independence. Better open discussion leading to change than the vapid acceptance of the status quo, meaning the sclerotic and rotten system of government of the UK.

    Also what is this about people voting ” Yes ” because of peer pressure or being carried away by the moment? The young people I met, including my own offspring, were very informed about the very good reasons for independence. A year on, they are still heartbroken at the result. Where were the faint hearts whose opinions were so easily swayed and were founded on very little information?

    This does read like someone with any enthusiasm for independence. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind, if you state it clearly and give an argument for doing so. ( After all you wrote this article. ) Like the previous comment by scott.ich I detect in this article someone who has changed from a previous youthful attachment to the SNP to leaning towards a unionist perspective but gives no reason for that direction of travel.

    Could that sentence in your paragraph in defence of the BBC – “Reruns of documentaries explicitly detailing how this Union of Nations began in the first place.” – perhaps give us a clue as to where you stand now? If you think that this ” Union of Nations” has been so good for Scotland then perhaps you should tell us? i have been living here for several decades now in this wonderful union and despair.

    By the way, I have more faith than you appear to do in my fellow Scots. Like the unionists, you seem to think that we would be worse off running our own country. The remark in your last sentence, “how on earth would we have survived the first year as an Independent nation?” could have come from any unionist politician and is insulting. A year on in this Union of Nations of ours, steelworks are closing, jobs are being lost in the oil industry, we are still paying for Trident renewal, new innovations in renewables is being stifled, the poor are suffering under a vindictive and incompetent Tory government and we are still meddling in other countries militarily while the economy staggers on etc., etc.. Seriously? We would be worse than this?

  13. No voters who didn’t look at what voting No meant get what they deserve, unfortunately the rest of us are getting it too.
    I dismiss the Tory No voters entirely, 95% of Tories voted No. Their regard was for having a Tory Government in Westminster, not Scotland.
    I find it interesting in a recent poll showed in 2014 only 26% of Labour voters thought their would be a Tory Government after the ’15GE. So a portion of Labour voters were looking to a Labour Westminster Government.
    Both treated the Referendum as an election and couldn’t see beyond that.
    The group that deserves real condemnation were the Labour politicians who were only interested in the Labour party power base and staying in office. They gave no regard to the benefits of Independence and refused debate or discussion.
    Any claims of open debate from Labour at a 2nd Ref are meaningless. Darling, after tying Labour to the Tories, goes off to the Lords and a directorship at Morgan Stanley.
    If the other proIndy parties announced a strategy or policies for targeting votes from the remaining Labour, or LibDems or Tories then they would command some respect. But as they look to SNP voters then it can only dilute the SNP vote.
    It is pro-Indy voters who will count in a Ref not simply having more parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here