WE LIVE IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Well, last week displayed how easy it is to upset a lot of people in a political party. Nobody said political leaders jobs are easy. They are not. The SNP in particular is difficult. The common factor amongst SNP members, in the main, is a desire to secure our country’s Independence. As you would expect in any broad church movement there are a wide variety of different routes favoured by the membership.
Without going into much detail about this, clearly there is a need to accommodate all views and provide an equal opportunity to all to further their case without unfair penalty or engineering of the rules to inhibit any such development.
Folk are in the main tolerant and loyal and are reluctant to publicly voice their displeasure unless they are severely provoked. Last week a great many were severely provoked.
I think the level of anger has clearly surprised many in the leadership of the SNP.. They shouldn’t have been surprised, the level of concern about the snail like pace of taking Independence forward and the insistence on awaiting a Section 30 order as the only game in town has been building frustration steadily, for a long time. When they see someone who is advocating changing to a more effective strategy being unfairly singled out of a selection contest they are not going to sit back and let it happen unchallenged. Such a widespread reaction was entirely predictable in my view.
Even many of those who stay quiet and stick loyally to the Section 30 strategy openly concede they have zero faith it will ever be successful. They see it as a “holding” strategy to get the Party through the May 2021 election. As Sir Humphrey would say that seems “very brave” to me. I am not convinced the message of give us another mandate and we will secure a Section 30 is going to cut it with a lot of the membership. It is certainly in no danger of exciting and motivating the electorate or activists.
I still hope common sense will prevail, and the NEC decision to effectively debar Joanna Cherry, is reversed as the equally daft decision to deselect James Dornan has already been dismissed. That at least was some good news.
To try and find some positives from what has happened. I think ordinary members are on the alert and will take a much closer interest in internal elections to bodies like the NEC, conference delegates and also candidate selection in their own areas, that is got to be a good thing. I think the leadership if they are planning changing internal rules are going to have to think long and hard in advance and build a solid and convincing case for any changes. I also expect allowing a reasonable time from rule change to implementation will also feature more in the future. Again another good thing.
For the purposes of unity I will ignore the potential of more problems that are likely to emerge during the Salmond Enquiry. Who knows what is coming from that?
So presuming, it’s not too big a problem, lets hope nobody is surprised at the next likely internal argument. That will be the Party’s manifesto for the May elections. It needs to be radical and ambitious, it must provide some inspiration and faith that what is being proposed is genuinely going to move Independence on in a short timescale, not a slow, weak, shallow continuation of pleading for a Section 30 order. It must allow us to escape the box we are in. For those without Parliamentary salary and pensions, the waiting for action must be over.
The solution to all this is not to quit the Party. That achieves nothing and harms the Yes Movement. The solution is to stay in the Party put pressure on your MSP or MP. convince them changes are needed, Fairness and transparency are vital, setting barriers in front or good people in selection battles must never happen again. Reverse the NEC decision. End the fascination with dangerous, divisive, fringe policy development. That is the way forward.
It’s genuine progress on Independence that is needed. Loads of countries all over the World have freed themselves from British rule, many were poorer, smaller, weaker than Scotland. If we can’t copy them and succeed then we won’t really deserve our Independence will we?