I remember when I first joined the SNP I was elected to National Council and attending my first council and being hugely impressed at how transparent and democratic it was. Here was a forum where delegates could question the most senior office bearers on any aspect of their responsibilities, and in the main the responses had to be made publicly there and then, to an audience of thirty elected members and also delegates to National Council from every branch and CA in the country. The remainder of the meeting was taken up with policy discussions and other operational matters. It was real communication between the leadership and the members and that communication went in both directions.

It put enormous pressure on the leadership, it met quarterly so there was regular scrutiny of how you were performing in your role. Internal Party elections were held every year so a couple of problem appearances at the rostrum could easily endanger your position when it was next contested. The Vice Conveners responsible for Administration and Fundraising, Policy, Organisation, Publicity, plus the National Secretary and National Treasurer had to make their quarterly report and answer all the questions put forward under their remit, there and then, so you needed to know your facts, to be very aware of what was happening across the country OR IT WAS GOING TO BE HUGELY EVIDENT THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG.

There is so much to highlight in its favour. It met quarterly, it was a forum where any branch could seek support from other branches across the Party, it let them see that they were part of something worthwhile, the policy discussions educated delegates, and sometimes the leadership, on where the priorities and direction the Party was going to go.It was the platform where the future “stars” of the Party could be identified and where they could achieve the name recognition across the country that would give them a chance of becoming a candidate, or a potential NEC member or senior office bearers of the future.

Now why would the current leadership and NEC ever want to get rid of that set up.? You know the one that created the bridge between the membership and the leadership. The forum that ensured branches knew exactly what was going on and provided the platform for any branch to flag up and build opposition to anything they thought was against ordinary members best interests.

Let look at some of today’s problems. The lack of Independence strategy and campaigning. Before the changes this would have been picked up at National Council under the Policy Vice Convener’s report, the Publicity Vice Convener’s Report, the Organisation Vice Convener’s report and possibly some others as well. Members would have noticed the absence of anything happening on the most important issue and reason for the Party’s existence. They would have demanded action!

The power grab from the NEC on candidate selection and vetting bias would again have come up, particular on the Vice Convener’s Organisation report and they would have faced tough questions and perhaps faced the very real problem of the Report being voted down by delegates.

The National Secretary would be dragged over the coals for failing to reply to correspondence from elected members, branches and CA’s and ordinary members. There would be no hiding place and delegates would demand it improve immediately.

The National Treasurer would face regular questioning on the Party finances, including any funds “ring fenced” for specific events such as Indyref2.

By now hopefully you will probably recognise why it was a huge mistake to get rid of it. The decision was taken at a sparsely attended internal session when most of the delegates were in the tearoom or elsewhere. The lesson here is cancel the Tetley during internal sessions, attend and protect your rights. It is no stretch to suggest that had National Council been still there then an awful lot of the very severe problems that have emerged in the last twelve months would never have happened.

So the good news for Keith Brown’s Inquiry is you don’t need to work out what went wrong and where the solution lies. No Sherlock Holmes is required. A combination of a return to some form of National Council and a much reduced in size, much more balanced NEC, minus the gross over representation of unelected fringe minorities seats would go a long way to solving the majority of the problems.

You see these bodies were in place for a very long time. They reason for that was that they worked, they were popular, they provided what made the SNP the most Democratic Party certainly in the UK, possibly in the whole of Europe. It is a brilliant example of the problems that rapidly emerge when a good working framework is removed, opening the door to the careerists, the cliques, those forces of the shadows which exist in every Party but whose activities are severely curtailed by the effective vigilance of the ordinary members and branches.

Unfortunately those members and branches blinked and a lot was lost but with their eyes wide open now they can take the urgent steps needed, like in all the best films, to save the day.

It’s the Last Chance Saloon but there is more than enough ammunition to secure the right result.The Clique Cowboy, Cowgirl and (anybody in between) Gang need their Party Robbery attempt to fail and then the Party can reunite and make the real progress on Independence For Scotland which Is what we all seek.

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland

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  1. Absolutely right. I’ve been trying to get even an acknowledgment of my emails with regards to the shambolic Dumbarton hustings. It’s not a good look!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I knew that the following would happen.
    Yesterday I e-Mailed the Secretary of My Branch, Renfrew & Gallowhill, to ask when would Our Hustings would be to succeed My Friend, The Brilliant Derek MacKay.
    His answer was: “Didn’t You get an e-Mail from SNP HQ that had a Summary of the 2 Candidates?”
    No I Didn’t I replied! His reply was “The Husting was last week, and the Selection has been made”
    To say that I am furious is an Understatement, I informed the Secretary that He has to Close of play today to get SNP HQ to Apologise to Me or I Will inform All of My 13,000+ Friends on F/B + Instagram + Twitter of the SNP’s HQ Skullduggery and Ask them Not to Vote for the SNP in the 2021 S.G.E!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That drew my breath. I’m appalled by what you’ve related.
      An apology, though certainly due, will unfortunately not turn back the clock, friend.

      “We voted against independence and we remain under the yolk”
      “What?! “I wasn’t informed about the vote, when did this vote take place!?
      “Last week”.
      “I demand an apology!”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. So, you think believe black mail and attacking the only realistic vehicle we have for achieving independence is a well thought out and mature plan?


      1. Yes if we can get some honesty rather than Stalinist control measures back in place things will move forward on Independence apace. Seen the latest news about Conference?


  3. How do we get the Natioanl COuncil reinstated? Shall I raise it at my local AGM? Is that the right forum? Emails to my MSP go unanswered (so far).

    Liked by 3 people

      1. YES, Good Advice! I know Keith through the National Assemblies he ran last year
        He has been Ostracised by the Murrells!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Don’t hold your breath, I contacted Keith Brown twice following the National Assemblies and did not receive a reply to either. The best idea is to send money only, you always get a reply.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Could you say a bit more about the elimination of the NC ? It seems to have gone off the radar with barely a whimper .
    You’re doing a great job of shining light on some dark corners .

    Liked by 4 people

  5. That was a lovely wee dream you walked us through, Iain. That’s the Party for me. That’s the Party detested by the rest of the british Parties in HR, that’s the Party that took us to the cusp of independence, the Party under Alex Salmond – that Party’s now clearly swamped by careerists, liars, carpet baggers and worse. I detest the Party for what it’s become. I think I detest it for a few reasons: I detest that Scottish independence isn’t really important enough for it, I detest being conned, and I detest the bastards for poisoning what Salmond made good.
    Accountability: I wonder if things will ever return to that? When each day brings a new horror, and when a ubiquitous unaccountability and rampant deceit are commonplace from the top down, I’m not holding my breath.

    Someone in another blog made the comment, along-the-lines; ‘I’m constantly being told there are a lot of good people within the SNP – why don’t they do something from within?’
    I’ve generally punctuated my posts with that very point, that there are many sound SNP folk, but that commentator has a point and the comment has increased my cynicism a little more. I’ll remain of the opinion that there are many good people in the Party, but I just hope to hell they’ve an idea up their sleeve.

    Thanks for that post, Iain, it lays-out the natural, inner workings of the Party from the viewpoint of the ordinary person, those working for the benefit of the ordinary person.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I suspect that I along with a lot of SNP members or indy supporters don’t know how the SNP currently works, what significant changes have happened and when/how and most importantly why those changes took place. It seems the main thing to do right now is to highlight what changes have systematically been implemented in the SNP, leading us to where we are now. The more light that gets shone on this the better. Strange as it may be, I find that reading articles such as this and becoming aware of some of the shenanigans with the SNP, is the only time that I feel hopeful that the necessary changes can be made in time. Far better to be informed and angry than confused and despairing. Or worse still, have blind faith that things will work out if we just trust the current SNP leadership.

    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. National Council was abolished by Conference oin 2018 when the new Constitution was adopted so it was all the delegates who agreed to it. I did think it was a wrong decision but it was Conference which decided, not the NEC or office bearers.


    1. And that is stated in the article Munro. I advise missing out on the Tetley in future years when internal business is being discussed. It couldn’t have been clearer.

      Mind you now that you have raised it whose name was the resolution in?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It appears from some of the comments that they did not read it. I always attend internal sessions as they are important so resent your suggestion i wasn’t there. The .ing motion with numerous amendments was a result of a yearclong consultation so was probably, as has been the standard procedure for such items, in the name of the National Secretary. This was as used when the result of the review conducted under John Swinney ‘s leadership in the early 2000s. Delegates could have voted it down but chose not to, preferring more National assembly meetings, which unfortunately Covington has prevented


    2. I Was there and I don’t recall such a decision to Abolish the NEC!
      Please produce the Minutes to prove that!
      No one voted to hand the Power to the Executive!


  8. Excellent if bitterly saddening post Iain – that what was once a source of pride – the internal workings of the SNP , has been debased to something resembling an Absurdist caricature of Soviet Era Russia , minus the gulags, much better renumerated , but maybe * slightly * more bizarre . Excellent comments too , someone said above that reading blogs like this , with the comments , has made him/her feel more positive about our current situation , I have to agree , despite the shock , dismay , anger , confusion , hurt that unpleasant truths can evoke , there is a definite sense that enough people are all too aware of where the problems lie and are willing to do something to solve them , also , this insistence on the much-abused values of Truth , Honesty , Integrity over Pragmatism – difficult as the choice may be – is ultimately the right one .

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Hi all SNP members, as the above discussion relates to internal SNP decisions/actions can anyone explain to me how, who, when, why Salmond was removed from the SNPs official history on its website. Was it the NEC was it members voting was it Peter Murrell etc etc. Has anyone in the SNP officially apologised to Salmond for making him disappear, Soviet Style, before he was found guilty of anything.

    For what it is worth my money is on Peter Murrell doing the dirty deed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Since re-joining the SNP, I was at first astonished and became gradually more horrified at the discovery that National Council had been abolished. In many respects National Council WAS the SNP. I have yet to have an actual face to face meeting with any current members in order to be brought up to speed.

    Am I right in assuming that we now effectively have a “BigNEC” which is numerically small, not including all senior Office Bearers, it’s precise size and composition unknown, which decides strategy and conducts the day to day running of the party?

    And a “Wee NEC”, which is much bigger than the Old NEC and has assumed the functions of National Council, substituting Branch/,CA input with Affiliated Organisations and special interest groups?

    Where does that leave National Assembly, which in my recollection was an advisory body where Geeks could discuss boring esoteric stuff and policy minutiae, largely for their own edification?


  11. Thank you for all the information you are publishing on the SNP Iain: I have seen plenty references to the NC in the SNP, and how it shouldn’t have been removed but didn’t know what it was or the relevance.

    From what you are saying here, it looks like the NC was the fail safe – the way that power was held to account – and in fact the untrammelled power of those at the top is a new thing?

    I noticed a comment recently that referred to NIcola Sturgeon’s dislike of the word ‘national’ in the SNP s name – I have never seen anyone else bothered by it – and every time I see the SNP institutions talked about -the NC, the NEC – there are a lot of ‘national’s scattered all over the place. Why on earth did she join the SNP if she was so offended by the word National?!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It seems the Sturrell clique have adopted a divide-and-rule policy towards the SNP members. Keeping the members in ignorance of each other’s identities, preventing constituency branches from communicating, controlling all communications …… what can they be scared of? (Hint: a members’ revolt to depose the Queen and King)

    Regarding the election of candidates without members being notified, surely that’s a direct breach of the Party’s rules? Maybe it’s time for the members to take legal action and get this all out into the open and force new and fair candidate selections.

    Liked by 1 person

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