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Originally published in the National.

I LIKE Alyn Smith. He’s a great and eloquent debater.

As one of those members also seeking nomination for SNP Policy Development Convener, I think Alyn’s article on Wednesday (We must call out tactics that are out to disrupt indy cause, November 11) paints a picture which disparages those who disagree with him.

The SNP has never been a single canvas but a tapestry of ideas radiating from the left, right and centre … and somewhere else for the many of us, like me, who are political misfits in the conventional sense. That has and should be the strength of the SNP, and we should all rejoice in it.

READ MORE: Alyn Smith: We must call out tactics that are out to disrupt independence cause

The SNP has a lot of activists, and it is natural and indeed uplifting that social media affords an endless opportunity to celebrate our democracy and question those whom we oppose and equally those in whom we have put our trust to deliver independence.

There are idiots who malign others with whom they disagree. I have no truck with them, and indeed would suggest that part of the involvement of many SNP members in individually or collectively raising issues with candidate selection, NEC election and the forthcoming conference agenda, is because the NEC leadership has failed to root out the bad behaviour and self-interest. Instead it looks as if the NEC has turned its ire on individuals who legitimately questioned some of its decisions. Most of us turn the other cheek but our activist friends are outraged for us.

READ MORE: SNP will not win over new voters with their ‘holier than thou’ trends

The real issue is one of meaningful communication at an individual and branch level. The NEC and headquarters are not very good at it. Silence is not an answer.

There is a wealth of expertise in all walks of life within this party which most political movements envy. In all my years in the SNP I’ve learned a new and beneficial nugget from every branch meeting I’ve ever attended. Yet as our member base has expanded it appears that the opportunity to debate branch ideas and resolutions at conference has been distilled into a bland spirit by those who alone know the recipe. To be able to question these resolutions at conference is a rare right which our delegates enjoy and one which we should cherish and nurture.

This year, the NEC request for resolutions to be followed by a rejection of them all without adequate explanation, to be replaced with topics which take longer to read than the time a delegate will be allocated to speak to it, takes us to a new and unnecessary and frankly daft place. A cynic would suggest it is designed to thwart a groundswell for fundamental policy change.

The most successful and enduring political movements are those that take their members with them. Nicola Sturgeon’s admirable commitment to explain to Scotland virtually every day the Scottish Government’s actions during the pandemic is an object lesson in keeping your electorate on side. The NEC should take a lesson out of our First Minister’s book and remember that all members of it are the servants of all our members and are answerable to them.

If I’m elected as Policy Development Convener the only distillation required is that policy must advance us to and through the door of independence and appeal to the widest possible SNP membership and Scottish electorate.

Graeme McCormick
via email

ALYN Smith acted brilliantly for us when in the EU Parliament and, I think, would have served us better than as one of the ignored MPs in Westminster if he had instead become our main, continuing link with that institution.

However, instead of criticising Common Weal for standing supportive candidates, he should have realised that what these folk are working for IS in fact the “big stuff”, the things questions on the doorstep will be asked about and to which our representatives must have answers.

Moreover, the only way these issues will receive their due consideration in Holyrood, and be acted on, is by having MSPs committed to taking them forward, and at the moment there are important areas where that is not happening. In any case, is selecting candidates who support your views not the essence of democracy, as well as the basis of all campaigning?

L McGregor

YOUR article about the views of Alyn Smith worries me. Is he suggesting that only folk who agree with him should be allowed to stand as candidates? He seems concerned that there are groups who cross his mythical divide.

At times I think the biggest threat to independence is our own National Executive Committee.

Pete Russell
Landshut, Germany

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8 thoughts on “LETTERS OF THE WEEK.

  1. As a member in the Stirling area, I thought Alyn Smith was the best candidate for the Westminster election and so I voted for him. I am now regreting this. As a speaker he is pretty good, but after this outburst where he is directly questioning my intentions towards Independence, I’m afraid he no longer has my backing. I was on the streets delivering leaflets and erecting posters when he was still in short trousers.

    He had a cushy job at Brussels and now he has a cushy job at Westminster. He has settled into the SNP and says all the right things for the leadership. He is a ‘Yes man’ but not in the right way. At a branch meeting, I reminded him that his employment at Westminster was not to be a career but a temporary job. He boasts about always answering questions from constituents, but all the emails I have sent to him are still awaiting an answer.

    As I have said in previous posts, the next Holyrood elections, for me, are the last chance for the SNP. I am sure many Indie supporters like me will be feeling the same way, and a new way ahead will emerge. If, after another refusal for a referendum by Westminster, the SG must act decisively and not meekly give in to Boris and the Tories. The very first thing that should happen is that our SNP representatives in London should be ordered to walk out of Westminster en mass. Wonder if Alyn would like that?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rodmid,

    the Dec 19 GE was supposed to be THE election – win that for a mandate for an indyref I was told by the SNP leadership. Well 48 out of 59 MPs is a stonking win in anybodies book. What did we get – a pathetic surrender speech from Sturgeon in January 2020 when Johnson said no.

    Now it is May 2021 is THE election. I don’t believe the SNP leadership. We are being taken for a ride. This has been going on since Sturgeon first floated indyref2 in 2017 and May said now is not the time. Sturgeon said ok Theresa.

    Scotland will not be taken out of the EU against its will the SNP leadership said but spent 3 years trying to save England from leaving the EU even though that is what they voted for.

    This leadership will never deliver independence either because they don’t have the courage to do so or don’t want it. People can make up their own minds.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I can’t for the life of me understand those who say they’ll give the SNP one more chance and vote for them next year, if the Party manifesto doesn’t state that the election will be a plebiscite or gives a definite date for Indyref in 2021 then there is no way I will be fooled into giving them another 5 yrs at the trough. I’m hoping though that the party will have been reformed from the top down by then but if not then hopefully another party serious about delivering indy will come on board and challenge them on the constituency vote, ISP is the party so far that will be getting my list vote.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ can’t for the life of me understand those who say they’ll give the SNP one more chance and vote for them next year, if the Party manifesto doesn’t state that the election will be a plebiscite or gives a definite date for Indyref in 2021 then there is no way I will be fooled into giving them another 5 yrs at the trough’
    So you WILL give them one last go then if it does say that? Pretty much what most folk mean when they say they will voteonly for SNP. I for one will not vote for any other party! Not voting hands it to the British parties! IF we have to we will change SNP while they are still in power! Otherwise we end up with the tories in power like in England cos folk abandoned Labour instead of booting out the Blairites long ago! (although the rot stated long before him – they were got at))


    1. I tend to agree we have no choice but to vote SNP with our first vote however many are thinking about that second regional vote and how it can be best used. Problem is I need to know an awful lot more about these potential alternatives.


    2. So Val without being disrespectful all you and Iain are saying is wheesht for indy or suck it up hold your nose and vote SNP , people are not STUPID we know what will happen if we don’t vote for the SNP , BUT BLACKMAIL is BLACKMAIL and THAT is exactly what Sturgeon and her apologists are demanding of voters, it is sickening and repulsive that we are FORCED to even consider this abomination of democracy

      I am NOT a member of the SNP or ANY political party but I have repeatedly pleaded and begged members on lots of blogs to take back control of THEIR party I have been doing that for months, instead it has gotten worse the wokeist devolutionists have taken over the party completely and Sturgeon and co just IGNORE any complaints even thwarting the inquiry committee set up by the Scottish Parliament OUR parliament, so when you vote them in for another 5 years can you tell me HOW you are going to CHANGE the party when in power , they ARE in power and you cannot change them because the lady is NOT for turning (does that remind you of another dictator)
      So good luck Val in convincing people the members will change Sturgeon and her cabals minds, and again I am NOT being disrespectful but reality has to be faced, I am gutted that I cannot vote for the SNP and independence, but don’t BLAME me BLAME STURGEON


  5. The SNP are the only Independence party capable of forming our government and any chance of Independence. However, having a large contingent of Independence supporting MSP’s at Holyrood, from the list, will concentrate minds to that objective. Without the SNP in government we will never get the opportunity.
    There may come a time, after next years elections, to explore other options. The SNP needs to concentrate on its raison d’etre, it has already shown us it can run the country. Less time concentrating on things that affect England and stop marching us to the top of the hill, then pausing.


  6. There are, broadly speaking, two possible ways for activists to influence a political party

    1 Join and use internal democratic procedures to advance your views. Which requires functional internal democratic procedures. I don’t think I need to labour the point, given the neutering of conference and abolition of National Council

    2 Create external competition. Join or create an alternative party. If successful, be the little engine that starts the big engine, the whip that spurs the carthorse forward.

    All I know and have seen of toxic organisational cultures says Option 1 is doomed to failure.

    if Scotland’s best hope is gabbling desperately on and on and on in response to Lesley Riddoch’s polite and reasonable questions, we are done.

    I don’t think we are done ‘for I hae faith in Scotland’s hidden p’ooers’ The present’s theirs, but all the past and future’s oors’.

    No big salaries in ISP. Just saying

    Liked by 1 person

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