From Neale Hanvey MP
No regrets, but a reckoning is looming.
As the votes came in on Friday morning, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. That disappointment is not on any personal level, it is, as it has always been, for the future of Scotland and its trapped position inside an increasingly dystopian union.
The independistas tried, but devolutionists of ever colour won.
I know first-hand how hard Alba party candidates worked and I know the passion they share for Scotland’s independent future. But hearing the First Minister denounce and other those same people, many of whom were only recently members of her own party, was a very real low point nonetheless. It’s clear to me that the SNP leadership’s primary focus is no longer independence, it is attacking and impeding any alternative political voice for independence so they can limit the aspirations of the movement to those of ambitionless caution and hand-picked mediocrity.
I only hope that limit of ambition is not yet embedded in the wider membership. Many of them told me at the count that if a referendum is not delivered in 2023 then that will be the final straw. So, is this really the final throw of the carrots for Nicola Sturgeon? Sadly, I am not so sure.
When I stood for election in 2019 I naively believed that independence was still the primary focus of the SNP leadership, but the events of that election taught me some very tough lessons. Even then the YSI’s conference booing of Angus McNeil MP and Chris McElhenny over their Plan B proposals was somewhat assuaged in me with the belief that Nicola had a secret plan. What I discovered was a ruthless SNP leadership without a plan but prepared to use any tactic to damage anyone who questioned the First Minister’s diktat, and in particular her obsession with gender politics.
I still do not believe the issues I raised at the time were at all controversial; women’s concerns about GRA reform should be listened to and, like any policy, safeguarding considerations needed to be baked in to prevent the abuse of any proposed process. This is important with GRA for two principal reasons; it minimises risk to vulnerable victims and helps prevent the mislabelling of trans people should the loose regulation be exploited for nefarious purposes.
Why the First Minister sees this as problematic should raise deep concerns with anyone who has promoted child protection principles as part of the professional responsibilities.
When I raised these issues with Shirley A Somerville, someone I then thought I knew and trusted, I was instructed to be silent. Having undoubtably reported back, it was Shirley who phoned round my friends with various threats intended to force them to abandon my campaign and help the SNP lose the seat. Even now she still can’t look them in the eye.
Anyone who believes I owe my seat to the SNP take note. It is my firm belief that the allegations made against me came directly from the SNP leadership and that they deliberately intended to gift a completely winnable seat to Scottish Labour just to damage me and silence my voice over GRA reform. Furthermore, Peter Murrell personally phoned the returning officer in Fife to demand that the party’s name was not used when announcing my result. The party pulped my election address, intimidated by friends and did all they could to lose the seat, and so surrendered any credit in that victory.
Conversely, I carried on because I was not prepared to surrender to unionism, and I will use my independently won platform under the Alba banner for as long as I possibly can.
Of course, those who crow that I could’ve been re-elected if only I’d stayed in the SNP are completely missing the point. No independence seeking MP should be planning for re-election, or celebrating a lengthy Westminster parliamentary career – that is a sign of utter failure and is the antithesis of the job you were elected to do. My ambition was to be out of Westminster in one term, so a career was never on my radar and a second term was never my ambition. I will however contest the seat again and the choice will be as before; Hanvey for independence versus a rainbow of devolutionists.
I would rather lose on a platform of truth and hope than win on a tissue of lies.
When the promise of a 2023 referendum comes and goes like snaw aff a dyke, fortunes may change, but already the groundwork for another throw of the carrots has begun. It is my belief that even if the Scottish Government bring forward enabling legislation it will be done in such a way as to invite legal challenge from Westminster. This will lead the Scottish Government to bypass any examination of the constitutional underpinnings of Scots law and willingly hand the decision over to the UK Supreme Court.
Whatever the latest narrative from the FM, there clearly are alternative routes beyond a Section 30 or she wouldn’t have made such strenuous efforts to prevent them being debated at SNP conference. Her promise to the SNP group to allow such a debate in 2024 illustrates so clearly the mendacity of her 2023 promise.
The reckoning for Scotland is a stark one. We can abandon all hope of independence and submit to the rainbow of devolutionist parties and their false promises, or we can find our voice, rise and be a nation again.
To each and every Alba Party candidate, I am proud to stand with you. As Rosa Parks said “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
Neale Hanvey MP
Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
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