Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best!

A guest post by Denise Findlay for those who asked questions and wanted some answers on how the SNP now operate under the current Leadership.

Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best….

“National Conference is the supreme governing and policy-making body of the Party.”

A definitive statement in the SNP constitution but clearly not the case. The 2018 constitution centralised power in the Leader and in the NEC. The party Leader has sole power over policy both in the manifesto and in government and the NEC has sole power over who represents the SNP and what they are allowed to say.

To compound the centralisation of power the Leader’s husband is CEO and can use the party administration to enhance his wife’s position.

Communication between party branches is strictly controlled through top-down party structures, it is only through ad-hoc social media that branches and members are able to find each other and interact. There is no reason a branch directory cannot be provided with contact details of office bearers. There are many ways to do this which avoid GDPR or data protection issues.

The National Conference notionally is the supreme policy making body, policies passed by conference become party policy but there is no linkage between party policy and policies in the manifesto. There is no mechanism for members to force policies into the manifesto. The manifesto is written by the Deputy Leader and signed off by the Leader, giving the Leader control. There is no requirement for the SNP in government to follow party policy and indeed Self-Id and the Hate Crimes Bill, two controversial policies were never passed by conference. As, policies are not required either for the manifesto or for the government, conference has become a staged PR event as opposed to a policy making body. The policy committee remit should be expanded to include responsibility for the manifesto.

The National Council was replaced by regional steering committees and National Assemblies. The remit of the steering committees is not to hold the executive or political representatives to account, nor is it to develop policy, rather the focus is on campaigning. The National Assembly is a networking event, devoid of any power. The party is happy to have the members deliver leaflets but not to make policy. The most sensible solution would be to restore National Council.

The constitution gives the Leader the tools to ensure her supporters are promoted and any potential rivals or rival groupings can be disadvantaged. This is through using the party machine run by the CEO supporters are rewarded with early vetting decisions, involvement and promotion at Party events and paid Party positions and by appointing the Business Convener, the Leader controls the speaking spots at conference.  

Elections to internal positions take place during conference, so the Business Convener can allocate speaker slots to leadership favourites. These elections could take place prior to conference ensuring that all candidates have a fair chance.

Only thirty percent of the NEC are elected by conference. With so many of its membership not elected by and therefore not accountable to Conference, it is difficult to claim the NEC is a proxy for Conference.

The NEC wields total power over who can stand for the SNP. The NEC appoints the vetting committees and sets the parameters under which they will work. The NEC also controls vetting appeals, despite the fact Conference has voted for an Appeals Committee. This seems perverse there is an Appeals Committee, the Appeals Committee should hear vetting appeals.

During vetting massive conflict of interests arise with candidates for selection sitting on and even chairing vetting panels that vet their potential rivals. This happened during the recent round of selections. Clearly no candidate should serve on a vetting panel, this is just basic common sense.

The NEC has the power to alter any rules that are not explicitly reserved to Conference. This even includes altering the NEC Standing Orders. Other rules they can alter includes the elected members code of conduct. This runs the risk of the NEC inserting into the code of conduct conditions that an elected member would find impossible to accept and therefore the elected member could be forced out of the party. Any changes to codes of conduct should be approved by conference.

The voting of the members of the NEC is secret which is bad for accountability because party members do not have the information to judge whether their NEC delegate has represented them well or badly. There should be no secret votes or survey monkeys, the NEC seeks consensus but when votes are taken, the members’ voting record should be added to the minutes.

There are nine affiliated organisation each have a seat on the NEC. The affiliated organisation also gets a minimum of six delegates to conference in contrast the minimum for branches is two. The constitution makes it very difficult to remove an affiliated organisation, they can only be disaffiliated by a conference resolution brought by the NEC of which they are a member.

There is no minimum number for members of an affiliated organisations and given their disproportionate power they are a vehicle for entryism and for a faction to consolidate control of the NEC. Branches should propose a resolution to change NEC membership by removing affiliated organisations, it would be best for branches to take the initiative rather than wait for the Deputy Leader report. The affiliates can continue to propose resolutions and to socialise.

The National Secretary, sometimes for practical reasons has to act quickly to suspend a member. However, the National Secretary also receives all complaints and then on his own authority decides which complaints to pass to the Conduct Committee. This usurps the role of the Conduct Committee

Complaints should be sent directly to the Conduct Committee, who after all have been elected to do that job. This would require an e-mail address and administrative support. On the issue of administrative support, the national office bearers currently receive no support from party staff. The NEC has the power to direct staff It would seem reasonable that some of the party staff should be assigned to supporting the office bearers and the committees, so they can better perform the role they were elected to.

This is just scratching the surface of the issues with the 2018 constitution but several actions should be taken: the NEC is responsible for hiring staff, they should appoint a new CEO; reassign SNP staff to support roles; create a branch directory and Conference should make the changes to the rules detailed above.  

The constitution exists to protect members rights and to protect party democracy, when this fails the party is making bad decisions. The focus is on maintaining the power of the Leader and her supporters as opposed to, the primary aim of the constitution, Scotland’s independence.

I am, Yours for Scotland

Denise Findlay

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22 thoughts on “Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best!

  1. Wow,seems to me that the waters are a bit muddy with regard to how the snp is run.Plus only 2 people seem to run the organisation,which in my view is totally wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And how did all this come about?

    It seems that there must have been a lot of background manoeuvring well before the 2018 changes to make this possible – that is, it was planned. This didn’t happen by accident by the looks of it, and the membership and representatives allowed it to happen.

    The way this looks is that the SNP has gone so far in its centralisation of power, with that central part being, unfortunately, corrupt, it looks like a lost cause. I think Denise is writing for other SNP members, to inform them, not for those of us looking at it from the outside, though.

    If it can be fixed, well and good, but a rational assessment needs to be done on whether it is salvageable or not. There is a lot of emotion tied up with the SNP, for what it once was – and even for me, not a member, know that my grandfather, who I greatly respected and was a staunch SNP man, must be spinning in his grave – and that emotion needs to be dealt with at the same time as a rational assessment. If ‘they’ have ruined, beyond repair, something which was once good, something that people could trust and believe in, then so be it. Please don’t hang on to the past for something that once might have been.

    Preemptive action would be good – always we see ourselves reacting to things that have already happened, except in a few cases.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was a member of the party at the time, who attended conference (my first) when the changes were put forward. There were a huge number of amendments put forward, many of which we had discussed at branch level prior to the conference. However, the way they presented those amendments to be debated and voted on was, imo confusing to say the least. I actually abstained on one vote because although I had followed the debate as carefully as I could I ended up having no idea what the vote was actually for. Looking back I am conviced it was set up deliberately to push through changes that members did not fully understand and were unaware of the full implications of what it would mean. Unfortunately there are a huge number of ‘staff’, affiliated groups, and elected members who attend. That means less of the grass roots members need to vote in the way the party want to get something through. As Denise says, they control who speaks and how much time is allocated and some speakers are better than others in getting their point across clearly.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with the article.’re the comment that branches should put forward a resolution barring Affiliated Groups from unelected positions on NEC.Isle of Arran Branch put forward such a resolution to this year’s conference.I think you know what happened to that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. While I am in full agreement with every point, it’s a bit like looking at a house and saying it will be fine if you just replace the wiring,plumbing, walls and roof.
    Plus the fact that it seems it might have some hefty loans and liabilities attached.

    There is also the the problem of the kind of sitting tenants (squatters,really) that Jeremy Corbyn fell foul of.

    (sucks breath through teeth,builder style)

    “You’re look at 5 years and a lot of money,the foundations and location are good.Thought about demolition and rebuild?”.

    Reminds me of a guy who bought a football team for a pound a while ago.

    My worries aside, thanks for all your (and Iain’s) good work.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. In other words… it’s a cult. Beats me why anyone would want to hand over monthly subs to the political equivalent of The Moonies.

    Maybe if The Anointed One spent as much time getting the vaccination rollout up to speed as She does pandering to a shower of biology-defying weirdoes then they’d maybe get somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s it! I am Out! I Will Vote ISP 1 & 2 in May ‘21, unless Both Murrells Resign Now!
    And to put the ‘Tin Lid on it’ We are Now told that Neither of the Murrells will appear in front of the A.S Inquiry, for Fear of Perjuring themselves!
    I think They have and I want them Both to be Interviewed under Caution by the Serious Crime squad, who are in Nobody’s pockets!!!


    1. Alspals01- Peter Murrell has definitely refused to attend on the two dates offered by the Inquiry – disgraceful. No letter published on the website from him to the Committee explaining why.

      Are you saying Sturgeon has also refused now – any evidence for that or is it just your thoughts on what will happen?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post Denise, And you have proved my reason for leaving the party was right, as I saw it change from an actual Political Party into a CULT.. You had to fall in line with Adoration for Sturgeon, (Who I actually DID Admire once upon a time) But, NOT enough to remain a CULT follower..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Horrible irony of this situation is that the popularity of the SNP has to do with NS showing sturdy leadership while all others bumble about like idiots. She has been able to do this by having a tight team around her. Meanwhile, the old guard independence supporters feel betrayed at various levels, those of us who still believe in the broad church, wherein it matters not one bollock the colour of skin, sexuality, political persuasion or whatever of members so long as they work together under the single goal of independence. That the SNP has been the party of government, tied at the pursestrings to Westminster, for so long does not help much. It has in fact become the new establishment. In an already independent country, the increasing dissolution of the old fashioned goals of the SNP and the inevitable factionalism created as power is centralised, would be less of an issue as each would take up positions in new parties. But at the moment it plays mainly into the hands of Unionism and may even have been part of a strategy by the dirty tricks departments to ensure that an independent Scotland remains Britified, intricately entwined with the same systems of power and patronage that have been at work for yonks and against which the old guard has been battering its will. The current generation of activists seem less concerned with gaining independence than with finding a cushy position in the Scottish political establishment and making sure we all realise how fragile their precious identities are.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practice to deceive.
    But if you practice just a bit,
    You find you get quite good at it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you, Iain and Denise.

    I know I come across as your old-fashioned conspiracy theorist, but the whole ‘woke’ thing is extremely on the ball. We, of the older generations, are less media savvy, less tech savvy, less savvy about everything, so fast has the pace of change overtaken us. The Rev’s technical skills in computer gaming and forensically sharp investigative skills has stood him in good stead.

    I decided a few years back to do a trawl through the ‘woke’ movement, especially the trans issue, and, to be honest, I had supported trans rights – until I began to realize that extended trans rights, as exemplified by the GRA Reform would impact on women’s rights and spaces in a way that was insupportable. Effectively, they will wipe out all the gains that women have made and, if left unchecked, this malign influence, which so many young women appear not have any real understanding of the implications of, will push women and girls out of all aspects public life, sport, everything, entirely. I am not exaggerating, I think: that will be the end result because it cannot be otherwise if this is not stopped. I think that repealing the 2004 GRA would go some way to halting their progress. No 2004 GRA (already superseded by same-sex legislation) means no GRA Reform and Self-ID. Women will have to fight back on their 2010 Equality Act safe spaces, too, and insist that ‘sexism and misogyny’, as categories, are also included in any hate crime bill.

    This whole ‘woke’ thing has infiltrated every government in the West, especially the American, British, Irish, Australian and Canadian, but elsewhere, too, to a lesser degree, and its tentacles reach far into the heart of government and administration. Well-sourced and trusted journalists in America and Canada have traced the roots of this group of affiliated organizations back to the Big Tech industries, with Big Pharma, Big Medicine and Big Business all being connected to it, and donors often being big businessmen of corporate America. I don’t know just how far this goes, but Stonewall, for example, is lavishly funded by private and public sources, including governments. Oddly, the Tories under Johnson, have kicked this into the long grass and made an issue of it. For how long, it is hard to tell, but all those blue-rinsed ladies have come in useful.

    It appears to be a confederation of left-wing organizations, but is manipulated by the right. I am not swallowing all of this whole because details require always to be checked and double checked, but, wherever Stonewall Diversity Champions infiltrate, the pattern is always the same: hunt down those who start to question the orthodoxy; redact documents; refuse to engage. I doubt if it is entirely monolithic, but it is quite frightening in its conformity and has captured many of the youth of the SNP. It has been enabled by older ‘extreme gradualists’ who do not want to risk independence and those who are happy to sit it out till pension day.

    I wish I knew how to lance the boil. The only answer, I think, is to purge the party of these ‘woke’ elements and their ‘handlers’ of the extreme gradualist coterie, but it must be done democratically and openly or we would be as bad as they are. Voters need to know who these people are and vote them out, by, first, understanding what their baleful influence is and how really bad it can get, even if Nicola Sturgeon and her coterie are ousted. This thing is like a runaway train, and I very much doubt that even she can control it now. Like Frankenstein, she created the monster, probably with the help of Igor Murrell, and others, older and supposedly wiser heads who should have known better, and the monster now has a mind of its own. If thwarted, it will lash out, as we have seen. This is not going to end well, and a lot of blood will have to be spilled – metaphorically speaking, of course. Power can, and often does,, unfortunately, lead to corruption even of the best of us.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. What is it with all these affiliated organisations? Parties within a party ?

    As an outsider to the SNP the impression is that it has been taken over by people who care little about independence.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Affiliated organizations are those that lobby, Cubby, and have representatives on the NEC: Stonewall and its affiliated groups, for example, to push for trans issues and wider ‘woke’ issues. There will be others. They are not necessarily all dangerous, but they can be because they lobby and agitate for policy changes, subtractions and additions that may not be palatable to the membership and wider electorate, and they can become a government within a government, a state within a state. They are one of the biggest problems facing democratic accountability today.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We have a dream………is it turning into a nightmare before our eyes? If it does, we know where the responsibility lies..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I reluctantly joined the SNP in 2014 after the referendum because so many of my friends were doing so & because I wanted to keep the momentum going. I say reluctantly because I have an innate distrust of politicians & political parties & while I had (& have) voted SNP at every opportunity, I still didn’t trust them.

    What convinced me was two things: I’d met most of the Aberdeen elected officials & their associated campaigners during the work we’d done together in 2014 & I liked them. (In 2014 they were a good bunch to know, even if I have major doubts about some of the same ones now.) The second thing was that several members of the SNP told me about the internal democratic processes used within the party & the power that the branches had if they chose to exercise it.

    I joined but I didn’t stay long. Multiple serious things annoyed me, the final straw being the mistreatment of Grouse Beater.

    But the description above shows that the party I joined & left is not the party of today at all. It looks the same, it has the same name & many of the same faces but is fundamentally a very different party than the one I thought existed.

    I now really struggle to see how it can be saved from within in time. Independence has never looked so far away since the days before devolution.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I find I agree with you. I have campaigned for and voted SNP since I was eligible to vote. I have written to SNP HQ to express my dismay at what “My” party has become.
    I will vote SNP at the coming election but I have BIG concerns.
    If, once again, we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory I will be changing my allegiance The party I supported was supposed to be transparent and equitable in it’s dealings. I do not find this to be true any longer. Apart from it’s desire to have an Independent Scotland it has become much as other parties and that is a sad, sad thing to witness.

    I do still believe, that on this coming election, the SNP is the only route to Independence. I despair of the nasty malicious conniving party this has become, but division will not help us achieve our aim.

    Liked by 1 person

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