FROM YESTERYEAR

An article written by former MSP CAMPBELL MARTIN. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THE SNP HAVE BEING GOING SLOW ON INDEPENDENCE.

Former MSP Campbell Martin

FROM THE SUNDAY HERALD 2003

Since Dr Bill Wilson lodged his papers to challenge John Swinney for the leadership of the SNP, he has been subjected to disgraceful attacks from un-named sources speaking on behalf of Mr Swinney – and some ex-MSPs who should have known better.  Not only did the ‘sources close to the leader’ attack Dr Wilson personally and professionally, they also attacked his performance as an SNP candidate at the recent Scottish Parliament Election. 

A strange tactic given that, if Dr Wilson did not achieve a ‘good result’ as an SNP candidate, this probably wasn’t primarily the fault of him as an individual but rather of the campaign run by the SNP, a campaign devised and orchestrated by the same leadership now attacking Dr Wilson.  After all, Dr Wilson was hardly the only SNP candidate who did not receive a ‘good result’ at the Scottish Parliament Election. 

The loss of 200,000 constituency votes and 8 parliamentary seats across Scotland would tend to suggest that John Swinney, rather than Bill Wilson, has more responsibility to bear for poor SNP performances.  So it may be that, as well as shooting itself in the foot, the leadership attacks on Dr Wilson could prove to be totally counter-productive to the cause of Team Swinney, in as much as they have, in fact, brought to the attention of the wider membership, and indeed the general public, what many within the SNP parliamentary group have known for some time: that if the leadership clique perceive you are not with them, then you must be against them and you are then fair game to be attacked – even if your ‘crime’ is nothing more than disagreeing on the best strategy to lead our country to independence.

The present leadership of the SNP, and those who have been placed in positions of power within the party by the leadership, are very much of the gradualist persuasion.  That being the case, the SNP strategy over recent years has been one of ‘building the powers of devolution’, and ‘managing the devolved parliament’.  While the gradualist leadership has sought power – albeit only the very limited power available through the devolution settlement – the independence message has been relegated to an eventual aim, but not necessarily any longer the primary one.  Then, of course, there are some within the leadership clique who have gone further and have even suggested that the party should ‘park’ the independence thing and settle for managing Catalonian-style devolution within the United Kingdom. 

It is this line of thinking, and this gradualist strategy, that has seen the party leadership become ever more remote from the party membership, a membership that joined the party to fight for independence and which finds it increasingly difficult to motivate itself to get onto the streets and campaign for a party that appears to be walking away from its core belief. 

It is this membership disillusionment with the leadership strategy, and the fact that the leadership has become so remote that it cannot any longer hear the voice of the membership, that has led to the leader being challenged by a rank-and-file party activist.  Challenging a leader is not a step taken lightly, and the fact it has happened only serves to illustrate the frustration and isolation felt by ordinary members of the party under the current leadership. As an SNP activist, who also happens to be an MSP, I have shared the frustration of fellow members at what appears to be the strategy of the current leadership to New Labour-ise the SNP. 

The signs are clear: a remote leadership centralising power in the hands of a few MSPs and unelected advisors; a line of argument being developed that the party should re-position itself to the political centre ground, i.e. move to the right and, in the process, abandon the principle of refusing to deal with the Tories; the concentration on economic policy – on persuading multi-national companies of the merits of fiscal autonomy in a devolved Scotland – at the expense of identifying and developing the radical social policies that can, in an independent Scotland, transform the lives of our people; being seen to be part of the establishment, a devolved government in waiting, rather than a radical party fighting for our country’s freedom and the right to govern ourselves on our terms and in our interests. 

While the membership of the party has remained true to the principles of the SNP, the leadership has embraced the New Labour Project and has sought to emulate in the SNP what Tony Blair did to old Labour.  By mounting a challenge to the current leader, Dr Bill Wilson is speaking for party members who are saying they’ve had enough.  The SNP is not New Labour.  The SNP is not, and never will be, part of the establishment – the British establishment. The SNP was, and should return to being the party that fights for independence for Scotland – the party that will settle for nothing less than the restoration of full sovereign powers to the people of Scotland.  That’s what party members are saying and that’s what party leaders should be listening to. By lashing out at party members who simply disagree with them, the current leadership further distances itself from the members the party relies on to deliver the SNP message and to deliver SNP votes across the country. 

By attacking as ‘troublemakers’ those within the party who disagree with the leadership line, they are further alienating a very large section of the party – and to use the word ‘fundamentalist’ as if it were a pejorative term or was the SNP equivalent of old Labour’s Militant or ‘loony-left’, is to ‘fundamentally’ misunderstand both the meaning of the word and the beliefs of those the leadership seek to attack.  I am a fundamentalist.  I am a member of the SNP and I believe, fundamentally, in independence as the way to deliver a better life and a better future for the people of Scotland.

Fundamentalists in the SNP simply believe that the party should return to its fundamental principle – fighting for the freedom of our country; freedom to govern ourselves at home; freedom to represent ourselves in Europe and on the World stage; freedom from poverty; a Scotland free to develop policies that reflect the views of the people of Scotland and benefit the people of Scotland – an independent Scotland. That is what the membership of the SNP is saying.  That is what the leadership of the party should be listening to and taking onboard.  The SNP isn’t in crisis.  The party is, however, at a stage in its history where, unless the leadership returns to the core values of the membership and of the party itself, then crisis could be what we face. To avert such a situation, the party leadership must stop attacking party members. 

The small clique around John Swinney must realise they are not the SNP and the party does not operate for their benefit.  Ultimately, the leadership must listen to the members.  They can only lead with the consent of the members and the SNP can only defeat our unionist opponents when we return to our fundamental belief in independence being the catalyst that will deliver to us the powers to tackle the bread and butter issues that affect every one of us every day of our lives.  To settle for anything less would be to sell-short the people of Scotland and would be an insult to the SNP members, past and present, who have fought for our nation’s freedom.

MY COMMENTS

I was sent this excellent article by a regular reader of my blog. It highlights that the party leader at the time was following a go slow strategy on Independence It was causing division, disillusionment and a host of other problems not least the Party were going backwards in the polls. The situation was rescued by John Swinney stepping down and a dynamic Alex Salmond taking over leading to the election of the First ever SNP Government in 2007.

Here we are in 2021, eighteen years after this article was published and the case for Independence is once again frozen. Most people point the finger for this at Nicola Sturgeon as the cause of this. This article suggests the Deputy First Minister may also be quite happy for this situation to continue indefinitely as well. HOW SAD THAT SO LITTLE HAS CHANGED IN ALL THOSE YEARS. WHEN AND WHO WILL RESCUE INDEPENDENCE THIS TIME?

I am, as always

YOURS FOR SCOTLAND

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Special Announcement

Craig Murray is due to be released next Tuesday on the 30th November 2021 from Saughton Jail at around 10am where he has been wrongly imprisoned for several months as a political prisoner in the corrupt state that Scotland has become.

The very least we can all do is be there to meet and cheer him to demonstrate our determination to defend freedom of speech in Scotland.

Craig will address the rally and it will be videoed so that it can be shared with media across the World.

If you can be there please make the effort. I am in the USA so will not be there in person but I will be raising a toast to him and perhaps sharing any video at the St Andrews Night Dinner I am hosting in Clearwater, Florida.

19 thoughts on “FROM YESTERYEAR

  1. Nothing is New in Politics!

    Once again I think back to all those YES activists during the build up to Indy2014. Party Politics set aside. Scot working with Scot (I include New Scots). YES groups sharing ideas and material without hesitation.

    The above article reinforces my conviction we need a YES movement (Call it whatever you want) and keep the political class away from the controls.

    We the People are Sovereign NOT Sturgeon or any other Politician using our desire for a better future for our children to build a career or pension pot.

    The MPs and MSPs of the SNP should be activists for Independence FIRST and Foremost. They seem to have forgotten why we elected them.

    Liked by 15 people

  2. A very prescient article.

    “WHO WILL RESCUE INDEPENDENCE THIS TIME”? Indeed, Ian, perhaps an “activist who happens to be” a political representative?

    The only person who I can see who has the profile, skills and currently fits the bill for that party is one Joanna Cherry.

    But she has been abused by the transgender fanatics within the SNP, received death threats from another member of the party, sacked from her front line job in the Westminster group of SNP Mps, blocked from standing as an MSP at Holyrood by NEC gerrymandering of the rules and generally sidelined by the leadership.

    Anybody standing to wrestle control of the party from the present clique stands to receive much the same treatment and would have to be a very brave person to try.

    Who indeed?

    Liked by 11 people

  3. Yes, the anti-independence wing of the SNP are firmly in charge now as they were back then. Using the same tactics to put down internal opposition. Their most ambitious venture was the attempt to jail Alex Salmond on false charges.

    Just what is their relationship with the British state?

    Liked by 14 people

    1. Dave I remembered today that when Brexit was struggling forwards the SG took the unaccountable step of falling out with the EU over fishing rights around Rockall. It was not just the fishermen – the SG was supporting them. Why? That was so transparently an act to test the water for the UKG. I think their relationship with the UKG is hand-in-glove – or perhaps puppet on a string.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. They, and she/her have been seduced by power and will do anything to cling on to it. By persuading the UK Gov that they are no threat and will only advance an indy ref when the PM deigns to provide a Sec 30, it has been agreed they can continue to run Scotland as a province of Greater England. All she/her has to do is dangle the carrot whenever deemed necessary in order ensure those seeking independence will continue to vote her and her cohorts into power.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. The SNP acknowledges the sovereignty of the British state by its presence in Westminster.
    That signifies more than a gradualist tendency. I suspect the SNP would be happier with a species of British federalism. Scotland may propose but England will certainly dispose.

    Liked by 13 people

  5. Thank you, Iain. I’d virtually forgotten Swinney’s disgraceful lack of leadership and pathetic bowing to WM. So, as you point out, Sturgeon is carefully cushioned by pretend SNP politicians and the worthwhile people have to hush or be shown the door. They could, en masse, join Alba. Alba led by Joanna Cherry with Alex and Kenny at her elbow would take Scotland by storm and straight to INDEPENDENCE.

    Liked by 13 people

  6. Excellent illustration of the well-proven postcolonial theory template in full flow, where the dominant National Party elite spends most of its time scheming and attacking and soon jailing independence ‘troublemakers’ and ‘fundamentalists’, whilst making its own tête-à-tête and ‘accommodation with colonialism’, ‘feathering its nest’ and ‘preparing for retirement’, meanwhile ‘delaying independence’, and ‘mystifying the people’ with its multitude of weird policies ‘to make it look busy’, from tampons in gents toilets to beavers in the glens, slipping in oppressive laws that hold down (doun-hauden!) the people; Frantz Fanon and many others predict all of that mischief-making and more.

    The only solution is for the people to rapidly move to support an alternative National Party with one policy aim – independence/liberation.

    Liked by 12 people

  7. An overview of independence movements worldwide suggests «events», whether unforeseen or planned, are more instrumental than politics. It was so with Ireland 1916 and the executions that followed.
    If you are not prepared to get your hands dirty, «bloody» or even endure martyrdom, however defined, then the independence forge is not for you.
    The British state will never hand over independence willingly. There are simply no precedents.

    Liked by 11 people

  8. I agree completely with the analysis of the SNP. I do however welcome the split in YES into parties with different political vision. Independence is about self determination. Scotland is left of center and is aligned far more with Scandinavia than with England but not all SNP policies sit well with a moderate left of center view. Independence has not been on the agenda in the last term of office and we have seen wholesale abuse of YES votes and indeed our justice system. I don’t think that can or should be overlooked. SNP MPs and MSPs have said and done very little about this. Do we really want to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? For those in the SNP who have found this as unacceptable as many of us do – for MPs, MSPs and candidates – it is time to cross the floor. Sturgeon has won the battle for control of the SNP.

    I believe the best path forward is to have a politically neutral ownership of YES – the obvious choice for me would be the SSRG. That would put YES in the hands of a single purpose and expert body. It would insulate YES from the current situation in the SNP. It would make clear to the soft NO voters that YES is not a party political choice: it is self determination. It would give Alba voice that is denied while YES tries to operate through the SNP. It would remove the danger of the kind of country Sturgeon would create if YES was left in her control disordered and incompetent hands.

    Liked by 14 people

    1. Yes, the political alignment of Scots with Nordic and also with continental (Latin) nations is arguably also related to cultural similarities emphasizing e.g. community, as distinct from the Anglo Saxon culture which focuses more on private ownership/wealth and the individual; mutual cooperation and respect for other cultures, as opposed to cultural domination and exploitation. Us Scots have much to look forward to once outside the grip of our colonial/cultural maister, whereas we can only continue to have our cultural development broken and ultimately perish as a people under prevailing external political and cultural oppression. ‘national consciousness is the most elaborate form of culture’, which we would doubtless see when we become independent again.

      Liked by 12 people

  9. Quite Incredible that this article was written in 2003 and we’re back to the exact same place.
    Same cliques. Face doesn’t fit (meaning actually wanting independence)? The reward is smearing and being sidelined.
    Time is running out. Unless the ‘good guys’ stand up and speaks up, there is no hope of rescue for the SNP.
    I won’t hold my breath.

    Liked by 13 people

  10. ” The SNP is not, and never will be, part of the establishment – the British establishment. The SNP was, and should return to being the party that fights for independence for Scotland – the party that will settle for nothing less than the restoration of full sovereign powers to the people of Scotland” ( Campbell Martin MSP 2003)

    Campbell’s statement extracted above bring into absolute razor focus how utterly the SNP have changed and become something that Campbell thought could never happen – and where the SNP would never be part of the British Establishment.

    Not so now Campbell’s comment is a reflection of a party long gone.

    And gone they will be because in the next Council elections in May the extent of the SNP’s unpopularity will become brutally clear. Like New Labour on steroids in fact.

    Liked by 12 people

  11. I agree with Campbell Martin’s assessment of those times. They were extremely frustrating and, although I rather liked John Swinney as a person, he was not leadership material for a radical party of independence. He and his coterie were gradualists par excellence at a time when the party needed to be galvanised for action. Alec Salmond changed that when he took over in 2007, the membership having seen several opportunities slip through the party’s fingers. Alec Salmond, himself, was a gradualist, but not in the same way at all. From the day he came to lead the party in 2007, we all knew that a stab at independence was coming and that did galvanise everyone, even though it took another seven years of competent governance to get to 2014 and the referendum. That was always what was missing from the gradualist approach then and now: here was never any sense that we were heading for independence.

    The debacle of 2014 – which, incidentally, was a brilliant route at that time – should have been the signal that another referendum was not likely or desirable as a means to achieve our independence again. We blew it by not anticipating how the result would play out. So much was laid bare in that referendum that it is now still a matter of shock to me that anyone thinks a repeat might be a good idea. If I thought we could win it outright, no problem, I’d say, go ahead, but I think that, as in 2014, obstacles will be put in the way and voters will not come through when needed. I will be very happy to be wrong, but I do think we need a very different approach next time; we need to be on top of the constitutional issues and their implication and probably consequences; and we need to know what all those constitutional opportunities are.

    Taking the easiest route and losing seems to me to be pointless. Better to do some work on the realities of what is required, no matter how hard that might be and no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel. You can bet your bottom dollar that Westminster will have no qualms about using whatever it can to impede us – if not in the actual process of regaining our independence, then certainly in the aftermath when we need to know precisely what our strengths and weaknesses will be. I’m not talking about which currency we will use – that should have been sorted out already – but what our constitutional/legal/political strengths and weaknesses are first and foremost.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. I think the SSRG route is the only valid and possible route. As Alf says, colonisation is a matter for the colonised but that will never be the referendum franchise. Having spilled our family blood in the soil of our country is viewed as a crime.

      Sending Alba to Westminster should see negotiations for independence declared. Sending the SNP will not, as we know.

      And here is another thought: Holyrood elections cannot be an endless YES/NO vote: that is not democracy. This should be called out. At every Holyrood election there should be an additional ballot of the sovereign people on whether they want an indy ref. The international community would respect that. If we are to go down the referendum route – and I think we should not – this would be the way to demand one. This SNP SG will not pursue that. They don’t even progress the promised referendum legislation. I’d love to see Alba call her out on this: the SNP MPs put the Claim of Right through Westminster so what can her reasoning be? Sturgeon can’t wait until our country has the same status as Catalonia – no more pressure for her, just a fat pension.

      Liked by 8 people

  12. Do these senior people not realise that gradualism possibly leading to Indy will only happen if and when they are but a distant memory?

    Of course, as could be surmised from the article and comments, they are all comfy slippers looking to line their pockets in their perceived world of devolution.

    They should be recognised NOW as being of no use to the Scottish people but, as a hindrance.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. I’ve often thought Sturgeon 2.0, the post 2014 version, was probably the product of Swinney. She even uses similar phrasing, carefully calculated to deflect, equivocate and commit to nothing. And the personal attacks and suppression of debate highlighted by Campbell Martin in 2003 – Sturgeon has learned well from the master.

    Liked by 3 people

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