With a dramatic collapse in party membership, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is at an important crossroads. The damage of this leadership election – necessary or not – may begin to be reflected in the polls, and we need to ensure that the movement for Scottish Independence begins to move forward in the right direction.
One of the key challenges that the SNP faces is how to win over the hearts and minds of the Scottish people, particularly those who may be skeptical or ambivalent about independence. I believe the party needs to get back to basics with its political strategy and identify what direction the party should go in.
Enter David Shore and his brand of “popularism”.
Shore is a political data analyst and strategist who has gained a reputation in recent years for his work on behalf of the Democrats in the United States. His approach to politics is rooted in the use of data and analytics to identify and target key swing voters, with the goal of winning elections and advancing policy goals.
Shore’s approach to politics is known as popularism, which he defines as “the use of data to find the policies that will maximize a party’s popular support.” Popularism is grounded in the belief that political success is achieved not by appealing to a narrow, ideologically driven base, but by winning the support of a broad cross-section of the population, including voters who may not traditionally support the party.
Shore’s brand of popularism has been credited with helping Democrats win the 2020 US Presidential election, as well as several key Senate races. His approach emphasizes the importance of data-driven messaging and policy development, with a focus on issues that resonate with swing voters and that can be communicated effectively through targeted messaging.
So why should the SNP embrace Shore’s popularism now?
First and foremost, popularism offers a path to victory for the SNP both as a party electorally and to build the case for Scottish independence. By focusing on data-driven messaging and policy development, the SNP can identify the issues that matter most to swing voters in Scotland, and tailor their message accordingly. This approach can help the SNP win over voters who may be skeptical or ambivalent about independence, by emphasizing the economic and social benefits that an independent Scotland could offer.
For example, the SNP could focus on issues such as a national house-building programme, infrastructure development, and social welfare programs, highlighting the potential benefits of an independent Scotland in these areas. By doing so, the SNP could build a broad coalition of support for independence, including voters who may not traditionally support the party.
This can help the SNP develop a policy platform that resonates with the needs and desires of the Scottish people. By analyzing data on voter preferences and attitudes, the SNP can identify the policies that are most likely to win broad support, and develop a platform that reflects these priorities.
This approach could help the SNP build a more robust and effective policy agenda, one that is focused on the issues that matter most to the Scottish people. By doing so, the SNP can demonstrate that an independent Scotland would be a more responsive and effective government, capable of delivering real results for its citizens.
What may seem as a basic concept to some, this is something we need to remind ourselves of. Put simply, the SNP must offer messages that resonate with a wide range of voters, rather than relying on narrow, identity-based appeals.
There has been so much focus on elections and referendums, we have failed to focus on the main goal of any movement – building support for your cause. Not to suggest that elections or referendums aren’t important, but building support is essential to provide a clear mandate for independence.
Our target should be a 60% majority to show that a significant majority of Scots support independence, giving the Scottish Government a strong position in negotiations with the UK Government.
A 60% majority would help to ensure that independence is not simply a reaction to short-term political issues or dissatisfaction with the current UK Government. Instead, it would be seen as a long-term, sustainable solution for Scotland’s future.
Popularism is how the SNP can build a stronger and more resilient movement for independence, one that is capable of weathering the inevitable challenges and setbacks that lie ahead. By building a broad coalition of support, the SNP can ensure that the cause of independence remains relevant and compelling to the Scottish people.