AND NOT FOR THE BETTER.
It is one of the most important jobs in politics. It determines who the candidates will be for your Party.
In Scotland at the moment it probably means picking the next Government. So it’s a very important task and it is crucial it is carried out fairly and without bias.
Back in the day I served on the Vetting Committee and I frequently supported the applications of people who represented different views and strategies to my own. My consideration was solely “Is this person a credible and capable person who can represent the Party effectively in any election contest and would be a diligent MP?”
How the process worked at that time was the Party created a Central Approved Candidates List, once you were on the list you could approach constituencies you were interested in. Likewise Constituencies had access to the list and could contact you and invite you to apply to their constituency if you were interested. Neither the Vetting Committee nor the NEC had any say in which seat you contested, that power was held entirely by the membership of the individual constituencies. There was never any question of any public statement about a potential candidacy until you had been officially selected as the candidate.
Boy has that all changed. Social media is full of people claiming they are standing for individual seats, launching campaign videos all long before they are selected as the candidate for the seat. I can’t help but think this is very confusing to members and the general public as well.
The whole set up has changed and the NEC seemed to have muscled out a much greater role for itself, at the expense of the ordinary membership. Candidates at vetting are now expected to declare which seat or seats they are interested in. This is a recipe for NEC control. If you want to apply for a seat where one of their favourites or members are planning to contest you may, more likely you will, face a tougher approval process, particularly if you would be a strong candidate and threaten their favoured runner. Timings can come into it, a Woke candidate can be passed quickly and out there with their local campaign well underway while their rivals are still held back at vetting. I mention this because a few constituency office bearers from various constituencies have mentioned this to me that they have experienced those problems. They are not happy!
That would be bad enough but I am hearing that on top of the all women shortlists that have been imposed on a number of constituencies, the NEC have also given themselves the power to review shortlists and add further candidates from the BAME section of the Party if the chosen short list does not provide sufficient places for minority groups. This in my view is completely outrageous given the shortlist has been selected by the constituency members. It is their candidate for the area they live in they are selecting, not the NEC’s choice. What do they know about your local area?
This is what happens when the Party falls into the hands of a well organised clique, led by senior figures in the Party not necessarily fronting it up but controlling it in the background. That is what has happened here.
Not only have they gummed up the NEC they are also using the Vetting Committee to promote their own and disadvantage those who don’t share their vision of a Woke agenda.
This is no small matter, who MP’s and MSP’s are will shape and influence policy for years to come. If that policy is alien to the population of Scotland there will be an adverse reaction that could destroy the political fortunes of the Party. The social architects and brains behind the clique efforts are not as clever as they think. Trying to achieve social engineering change through taking over and abusing a few committees of a political party is not a sustainable position. As sunlight breaks through and more and more people will realise what has being going on, then there will be a reaction. I hope a strong one because that is what is going to be needed. This clique has a firm grip, a very firm grip. It’s going to take a lot of delegates to organise properly and work together to replace the clique with members whose main interest is delivering Independence
Now if the Woke candidate has used their timing advantage properly they will have their campaign videos out to the local members and will have been campaigning internally for weeks. This of course hands the Woke candidate a huge name recognition advantage, not available to their delayed rivals. They wouldn’t do that you ask? Too late, that is exactly what has happened.
The NEC in the past would never have allowed this type of thing, too many experienced folk wise to those sort of tactics but the rerganisation of the NEC, the number of non elected members, the free seats allocated to minority interests, the influx of regional representatives, many first timers on the NEC and unsure of the procedures, the Covid crisis which dramatically reduced the number of meetings and removed adequate time for discussion, has all created the opportunity for the clique to pounce. They did not miss the opportunity and the division in the Party, which is only beginning is the direct result. It will be a bumpy road for a while, these are not people who will give up their grip on the Party easily.
So what can you do, presuming you want your Party back? Well you could try to become one of your branch or constituency delegates to Party Conference. Often people find it hard to be so because of work or the expense involved. This year it is a virtual conference so that might make things easier. Even if you are not a delegate encourage your branch to send in resolutions. I would encourage resolutions to change the NEC back to a more manageable size. There is no need for any Groups to be gifted seats. There are already places for elected Conveners for Women, Equalities, Bame,Disabled and Local Government.
At election hustings identify the Woke candidate (s) then make up your own mind, was he or she handed a timing advantage, were good quality local candidates failed or delayed at vetting? Get it out in the open, then decide.
You should also mandate your branch delegates to vote the way your branch or constituency want. This can be decided at a meeting called after the Conference Agenda is released. The same with nominations for the NEC. IT CAN ALL BE OR GANISED IN A ZOOM MEETING. The more people involved the better. That is democracy’s best safeguard.
Identification is obviously a challenge but work is underway that will hopefully supply guidance to help delegates avoid the risks of unknowingly supporting members or supporters of the clique.
I have no idea of how extensive this fight back will be. That will be determined by the ordinary membership of the SNP. Expect to be wooed, told how everything is going brilliantly, to beware of those who “seek to divide”. Translated this means those who oppose the Woke. Critics of the Woke can expect to be smeared that it is all to do with personal advancement/ a wish to damage independence/ a natural desire to argue and divide/ M15 agent /massive ego’s etc..The things these people will ignore is that a lot of them should be looking in a mirror as they invent these smears about others. They are there to control you, to bend you to their will.
This all does enormous damage, quality candidates are kept out the race for seats, some for purely no other reason than a concern they would beat the Woke candidate, others because they don’t support GRA or the Hate Crime Bill or some other part of the Woke agenda. People who have devoted decades to the Party fighting for Independence, Even some elected councillors are rejected, while the children of the Woke are promoted in their place.
I have done what I can to make sure ordinary members are aware of what has been going on. I can do no more, it is now up to you what happens next. I have but one more question to ask but I have to wait for vetting to close . Good luck.
This current state of the NEC is not on the route map to Independence.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
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OLD HAND TIP WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
A common tactic when the evidence begins to stack up against what you hope for, is to resort to character assassination as a defence. I have been running this blog since June, at the end of last week I was accused for the first time of having a big “Ego”.
Within twenty four hours, on a host of different threads, I was being accused of having a big Ego. Other bloggers were also getting called the same, as was Kenny McAskill. It seems these ego’s were all being discovered at the same time. My advice to my opponents, you are trying too hard and getting a bit carried away. It was obvious to a five year old that the word had been put out to go down this route. Just a bit clumsy and obvious. Ziltch points!