For some time now I have been at odds with the leadership of the SNP, believing like Scottish Labour before them, once their bums were firmly planted on the green benches they would be sucked into the system at Westminster and staying in power would become their one priority and independence simply kicked like a can down the road. With the Holyrood elections only weeks away now, it is difficult to see any real alternative to the status quo at Holyrood, if we are even to hold onto the dream of an independence referendum in Scotland then most of the people in Scotland will have to vote SNP, on the Constituency Vote, even, if that does mean holding ones nose. Sadly we see no real challenge emerging from the grass roots on the list vote either, however it is very difficult to get your messaged out during a pandemic and lockdown, and possibly that will be the SNP’s salvation.
Still the people of Scotland have educated themselves over the past few years, they have seen how Boris Johnston and his gang of Brexiteers, have systematic dismantled the powers of the Vichy government, that is the SNP lead government at Holyrood. You have heard it all from me before, and I’m sure many are already telling me “Get a Life, Hamilton”. So I will end by cutting and pasting this well crafted piece from Kenny MacAskill MP.
I don’t believe he will object or drag me into court for this, anyway why would he bother ‘You can’t take the breaks of a highlandman’.
The How and the why
Posted on February 19, 2021 by Kenny MacAskill MP
With selections ongoing and an election approaching, there’s an opportunity to reflect on how SNP M/SPs are elected and their role in those offices.
As the party’s grown the numbers in elected office have increased, but some aspects remain constant: it’s the party that puts you in and it’s independence that’s the cause.
There are individuals who carry a significant personal vote. The late Jimmy Reid was one of them but even his persona and an election in the aftermath of the UCS work-in was unable to see him win, with the Communist Party label attached to Jimmy being enough to see a comfortable victory for a Labour MP that few recall.
Margo McDonald and Jim Sillars’ personalities may have been the X-factor when it came to the SNP winning Govan by-elections, but even the former was unable to buck the trend in Hamilton when the party’s vote was falling.
So it’s not the individual but the party that matters. Many outstanding individuals have been unsuccessful SNP candidates. It wasn’t inability that saw them lose, but the party’s standing when they contested. When some arrogantly tell activists they’ve been once, twice or even six times elected they forget to add it was the party label that did it. From some a bit more humility would be appropriate.
That also explains the shenanigans ongoing in selection processes. Some now know that it’s the SNP ticket that gets you elected and have come on board. It’s the price of political success but it’s why internal democratic electoral processes become essential, and the party’s damaged by anything that detracts from that.
Zipping and allocated positions are perfectly acceptable but transparency in process and a democratic decision remain fundamental. It’s the absence of the latter that’s currently causing discord.
Likewise, whilst the party makes selections and is the core of activity, electoral success is founded on a far broader base. In every election support still extends far beyond activists, never mind the membership – nobody ever won a seat on party-member votes alone. So it’s not you but us, and not just the party but the whole movement, that puts you there. That should never be forgotten, by candidates or by the party.
But once you’re elected, what’s the role? There’s clearly a difference between being in opposition or in administration, as there is between Holyrood or Westminster. But in all situations the primary goal is to deliver independence.
In Holyrood an administration needs formed and governance performed. But political focus must still remain on somehow progressing the cause. In Westminster where an administration can never be formed circumstances can vary depending on numbers and leverage. In past years those elected were in many ways simply “flying the flag”. In more recent years electoral sway existed and SNP votes could have been crucial.
Since 2019, though, while numbers have increased the leverage and influence has gone as have the prospects of winning any votes in the Commons. So the SNP’s solely in opposition – but what should that be?
The SNP can never be the principal opposition party nor should it aspire to it. It’s not the job of the SNP to administer the British state. Yet that in some ways is what’s being done and there’s a danger of being sucked in and suckered by Westminster.
I can understand why grandiloquent titles such as Shadow Foreign Secretary or Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, which the SNP has recently started attaching to its spokespeople, may appeal to those individuals. But the SNP can never hold those positions nor does it aspire to even replicate the policies.
As for Wales and Northern Ireland, sending a fraternal delegate to the conference of a sister party is one thing, but announcing yourself the shadow minister for a British province is quite another. Should Scotland really have a Shadow Secretary of State for Wales? Is that any of our proper business?
It’s not just the positioning, but the involvement. An SNP MP sits on the Security and Intelligence Committee. Why? We already know through the BBC’s actions that the British state uses its resources against our cause. To think they won’t do so with the security services would be naïve. Actions in Northern Ireland give credence to it, as do events in our own country.
A senior police officer told me the security services who came north in 2014 for the Commonwealth Games remained in place during the referendum. Maybe they all went fishing or sightseeing, but I doubt it. As Justice Secretary I never got an explanation from Police Scotland about why they either had no intelligence of, or simply took no action against, the Loyalist thuggery in George Square on 19 September 2014.
Are SNP members on the Security Committee told about actions in Scotland? If they are and cannot tell us, whose side are they on? If they aren’t told, then that itself is an issue that demands answers, not legitimisation by participation. But either way SNP members have no proper role in such Westminster institutions.
It’s the party that wins the election but it’s the cause that must prevail. Those fortunate to be elected must always remember that.