BEWARE THE AMBUSH
As we all recall the recent NEC elections made sweeping changes and a lot of people lost their places, including several senior figures. Noses were out of joint for a few days as some of that faction in the Party very publicly announced they were moving to the Greens. Already one of the most prominent members who were voted off the NEC by delegates is back on the NEC via one of the minority groups who can appoint their representatives irrespective of what ordinary delegates think. This needs to be changed in the future, delegates at Conference should vote for those that are nominated to represent these minority groups. Seats on the very important NEC should not be determined by just a relatively handful of people. These folk don’t just speak and vote on minority matters. They have full rights to vote on and discuss all issues so it’s important they are acceptable and have the majority support of all delegates. Manifestly this is not the case in this instance.
While the rest of the Party celebrated getting their Party back, be sure the element that lost out are planning their comeback. Their first opportunity is the oncoming National Assembly later this month.
People may recall that the last time Councillor Chris McEleny tried to debate a Plan B option at a National event there was an organised group geared up and ready to shout him down, to give him no opportunity to make his case. Many of those experienced delegates that were there said it was disgraceful and that they had seen nothing like it at any of the other SNP events they had ever attended. It was visible intimidation and bullying at an SNP Conference. To my knowledge nobody was ever disciplined for what happened.
Now the same groupings that joined together last November must do so again. They must make sure they attend the online National Assembly and be to there to support Keith Brown and ensure no group or organised clique can be successful in trying to close down fair debate and discussion.
People should be able to hear and consider the various arguments and options in an atmosphere of mutual respect. It is possible to hold very conflicting opinions but still respect your opponents right to make their argument freely and without any attempt to shout them down.
I know National Assembly is a discussion forum with no policy making powers but this should still be regarded as a step forward towards normality in that any forum is being permitted to discuss possible alternative strategies is something that has not been seen in recent years. It may have been forced on the leadership to allow them to head off the uproar over the tactics employed to stop the debate surfacing at the policy making Conference last November, but it is still welcome and I trust Keith Brown to chair it in a fair and democratic manner. I just hope the rumours I am hearing are incorrect. People are turning up and paying their money to discuss various strategies to win Independence, not lectures on how to campaign. I hope the maximum time is devoted to the topic of the strategy and route to Independence, God knows people have waited long enough for that opportunity.
Anything that facilitates fair debate and discussion is to be valued. Too much of politics today is dominated by name calling and smears. I believe the reason for this is that there have not been the regular opportunities to debate issues. These debates educate delegates, improve the communication skills of those who speak on issues, builds confidence and provides quality arguments to take forward. It also allows members to hear the views from delegates from other areas. It can provide the platform for those with talent and ambition to become better known improving their chances of election to national office in the future. It is necessary and healthy to have competition for those posts if self serving cliques are to be avoided. My message here and we probably need COVID to be defeated before it can properly flourish, is that politics should not always be dominated by the keyboard. Face to face discussion and debate must also have its place.
SNP members must be aware that constant vigilance is needed to ensure that the new NEC is given a fair opportunity to take the party forward in a new positive direction. Spend your £6 to book you spot at National Assembly, it is open to all SNP members and let fair debate flourish.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
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