I found it quite depressing reading through transcripts of the speeches given at The National’s rally in Glasgow yesterday. Not that the speeches weren’t for the most part, excellent. There is power and passion in them. There is outrage and anger. There is aspiration and ambition. There is hope and hints of the fear that this hope must overcome. The speeches were stirring. Rousing. Inspiring. But we’ve heard it all before.
But for the historical detail, there is hardly anything about any of these speeches which hasn’t been said in a thousand speeches and more since 2011. Much of what was said in George Square yesterday, and certainly the spirit in which it was said; the general tone of the thing, transports me back to the last time we were poised waiting to see if an imperious British state would grant its gracious consent to the exercise of our right of self-determination.
But it is not my intention to once again go over the well-trodden ground of concerns about the Section 30 process and the First Minister’s commitment to it. Everything that needs to be said about that has been said. With the rather notable exception of any explanation as to how that process might work for Scotland’s cause rather than for the cause of preserving the Union at whatever cost to our nation.
I am resigned to the fact that no such explanation is ever going to be forthcoming; either from the First Minister or from those who insist that her choice of a Unionist strategy to address Scotland’s constitutional issue should never be questioned or scrutinised. Concerns about the Section 30 process are not going to be answered – for the most obvious of reasons.
Amidst all the fine, if dated, rhetoric from yesterday’s event, one observation impressed me as relating pointedly to the reality of Scotland’s present predicament. I quote Paul Kavanagh at length.
We are here today to say we want Scottish independence. A lot of people have different ideas about the best way to get there, about different strategies at arriving at an independence referendum. But all those routes, all those different strategies must first cross the bridge of the General Election yet to come.
Next month there is going to be a General Election and it is vital Scotland sends back as many pro-independence MPs as possible in that election.
The message from Westminster will be – if we don’t do that – that Scotland doesn’t want independence.
If we don’t get out there and vote, if we don’t put our differences behind us and make sure we all campaign for the SNP to get as many MPs as possible, the message won’t be that we are disagreeing about strategy for getting an independence referendum. It won’t be that Scotland wants to send a message on climate change. It will be that Scotland doesn’t want an independence referendum.
It’s a fair point. It’s a statement of the obvious. But sometimes the obvious has to be stated in order to bring it out of the blur of the commonplace and into sharp focus. While concerns about the First Minister’s entire approach to the constitutional issue remain, none of that will matter a jot if we don’t successfully cross the bridge of the UK general election on 12 December.
In passing, we might note that this very fact makes the behaviour of the Scottish Greens inexplicable. It seems they intend to stand candidates in 20 or more constituencies, including at least a few where their presence on the ballot cannot possibly achieve anything other than put in jeopardy a seat held by the SNP.
Nobody disputes that the Scottish Greens are perfectly entitled to stand candidates in whatever constituencies they wish. Nobody is suggesting they owe the SNP any favours. They do, however, have a duty to the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence. They took that duty on themselves when they proclaimed their commitment to that cause. The SNP isn’t entitled to demand any sacrifices of the Scottish Greens. But the Yes movement has a perfect right to do so.
It may be argued that the Scottish Greens also have a duty to their members, and to causes other than independence – such as the climate crisis. But, while it is trivially easy to see how standing candidates in constituencies such as Perth and North Perthshire – where Pete Wishart is defending a majority of only 21 – threatens to cost us a pro-independence MP, it is extremely difficult to see how either Scottish Green Party members or the causes which they espouse might be served by contesting the seat. Barring a miracle of Biblical proportions, the Scottish Green candidate isn’t going to win. Nor is the climate crisis going to be better highlighted or addressed. There is nothing to be gained other than, perhaps, the shallow satisfaction of increasing their vote relative to the last time they stood a candidate. Satisfaction which would surely be short-lived should they take enough of those votes from Pete Wishart to ensure that his Tory opponent took the seat.
Consider the cost. Not only do the people of Perth and North Perthshire lose a damned fine constituency MP who has served them well for more than 18 years, the SNP group at Westminster is diminished, not only numerically but in terms of valuable experience. Scotland loses someone who has done excellent work as Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee and in various other capacities.
It doesn’t end there. I know that Scotland’s independence will not be restored through Westminster. I know that SNP MPs are treated appallingly by the British parties in the House of Commons. I know that they are not permitted to be at all effective in representing Scotland’s interests. But this does not mean there is no purpose in sending SNP MPs into the snake-pit of the British political system. Once again, the example of Perth and North Perthshire is illustrative. Should Pete Wishart lose the seat, it will be to somebody like Murdo Fraser. Somebody who has amply demonstrated their
willingness eagerness to sacrifice Scotland’s interests in the name of political expediency, partisan loyalty, personal advancement, British Nationalist ideology or momentary convenience.
Are the Scottish Greens really prepared to risk this?
What is true of Perth and North Perthshire holds for the whole of Scotland. Even if you can find no other reason to support, campaign for and vote for your local SNP candidate, there is always the fact that SNP MPs fill places at Westminster which would otherwise be taken by individuals whose first loyalty is to neither their constituents nor to Scotland nor to democracy, but to their own careers, their party and their ‘precious’ Union.
Paul Kavanagh is right. There is no dilemma here. If you care about Scotland – our distinctive political culture; our prosperity and potential; our precious public services; our democratic institutions; our identity as a nation; our relationship with the rest of the world; our people and the generations to come – then you must do everything in your power to ensure the maximum number of SNP MPs are sent to Westminster.
To be clear, I am aware that many in the SNP are exploiting this imperative to divert criticism of their performance and scrutiny of the party’s strategy in the independence campaign. Unfortunate – even shameful – as this unquestionably is, it is as nothing compared to the urgent necessity of protecting Scotland from the forces of rampant British Nationalism. And the only way to do that is to #VoteSNP.
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11 thoughts on “It must be the SNP”
I was at the rally and thought the speeches were all very good and uplifting. Mhairi Blacks’ was especially good (despite the sound problems). Nicola’s was rousing, although it containted nothing new or revelatory. She talked about B.Johnson’s threat to the S-NHS and her comitment to a 2020 indyref2 and so on. Onward to the election!
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Itam an ex-Scottish Green Party member and I can say that it is near impossible to get Patrick Harvie to listen to common sense. I have tried on several occasions, notably the Football Violence bill, and was met with nothing but bland assurances that he knew best, it was a matter of freedom of choice, right to free speech, etc, etc. I swallowed this because I am also a supporter of Andy Wightman. But I can’t stand the blatant arrogance and self-complacency of the man any longer, so I quit the party.
I would think that his motives are more personal that most people realise. Pete Wishart is a hard-working effective MP and he just wishes to show that he Patrick Harvie can get rid of him. I am really sorry to have reached this conclusion but it is the only one that makes any kind of sense to me
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That’s a rather disturbing conclusion, Margaret. But in the absence of any other explanation, it has to be credible.
Honestly, I’m quite surprised the turnout was as low as 20,000 and it doesn’t fill me with much confidence that such a rally, organised by a national newspaper and fully endorsed by the SNP, attracted so few compared to AOUB ‘guerilla’ events. There are lessons there should anyone who matters care to learn them.
I’m still to hear Nicola Sturgeon say there WILL be a Referendum next year and until she does, I’m afraid I will maintain my view that she is doing whatever she can to walk the tightrope of maintaining enough support to win re-election in 2021 without calling a Referendum. A second IndyRef is seen as nothing but an unnecessary risk to SNP hegemony and, more importantly, her position within it.
Whatever you say about her, she is not stupid and she chooses her words more carefully than any other politician. The fact that she will only say there SHOULD be a Referendum, or that it’s HER PREFERENCE for there to be a Referendum or that there MUST be a Referendum or that the legislation will be in place for a Referendum is a deliberate choice of language which allows her to slip off the hook when Westminster says “No”.
This entire event yesterday was simply an exercise to show Independence supporters a bit of leg in advance of an election everyone knew was coming. Maybe the relatively low turnout yesterday reflected the fact that, now the election has actually been called, the SNP’s campaign language is already more Brexit focused than Independence focused.
Tell me there WILL be a Referendum in 2020 Nicola and I’ll shut up. Until then it’s all empty rhetoric.
You’re right about Nicola Sturgeon choosing her words carefully. She knows she can’t promise a referendum in 2020 because she has handed the decision to the British Prime Minister. I don’t agree that the turnout was poor. But you are undoubtedly correct about the purpose of the event.
No wish to split hairs but I didn’t say the turnout was poor, I just observed it was much lower than similar AOUB events despite having the full weight of a newspaper and the SNP behind it.
I guess I’m really suggesting that the obsessive top-down, controlling instinct of the SNP is actually counter-productive.
How many people would you expect into the relatively tight-fit and confined space that is George Square?
Presumably lots of people didn’t go because they thought that they wouldn’t be able to see anything – I include myself in that group. On a march with a rally in an open space such as Holyrood Park or The Meadows in Edinburgh you can easily attract 100k-200k folk as was achieved in Glasgow this year and Edinburgh this and last year.
I didn’t go, because I couldn’t be bothered to hear the same old stuff, over, and over again, while the concerns we have around the Section 30 route, are never addressed.
Tho, it has to be said, 20,000 in George Square, is a pretty impressive.number.
But in one newspaper(G.Herald), it is being reported Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has already ruled out “giving permission” for an other Independence Ref.
And we can safely bet, Jeremy Corbyn, will be saying the same thing, as he has already declared “Now is not the time”, in line with Theresa May.
What say the SNP?
However, as much as I have been disappointed with SNP, of late, including never having gotten a reply from both my local MSP and MP with regards ideas for Scottish Local Government, at this General Election, I would have no option but to vote SNP, for to do otherwise just now, would be anti Scottish Independence.
As for the Greens, I’m afraid they have turned a great many Independence supporters against them.
The Greens will certainly not get the votes in 2021 they did last time ’round, that got them those extra MSPs.
This isn’t due to the present Election choices alone, but of things like voting against the Offenses Behavior Act, which i thought utter madness on their part, and I still can’t figure it.
But also, with this parking levy, and the airport tax stuff.
All counter productive.
Sorry, but while I don’t agree with everything SNP does, I agree even less with the Greens, and it is clear, they are not to be trusted, with regards Independence.
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From memory Peter posted a copy of a 2017 Holyrood Magazine article from a press conference in Bute House. The FM stated that there would be an indy referendum between the end of 2018 and autumn 2019. Ian Blackford’s headline grabber in that National in March 2019 stated that he was ‘demanding permission’ for a section 30. We’ve been here before.
There’s a limit to how long supporters are being asked to ‘wheesht for indy’
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I’ve taken the liberty of correcting the reference to Ian Blackford lest there be any confusion. Other than that, I take your point completely. I am having a serious problem with writing anything at the moment because I see so much that the SNP is doing wrong, but I know they have to win – and win big – in the coming election. It’s a difficult dilemma.
Before going to the rally I visited my mother’s and a leaflet for the SNP candidate came through the door. It was entirely based on the personal qualities of the candidate and her work done for the area. Nothing wrong with that at all – but there was nothing – nada – about independence. It didn’t put me in a good mood for the rally.
However the rally was cheering. Well done to the National for getting the SNP leadership together with the Yes movement. Long overdue. Let’s hope they’ll now get a taste for it.
At some point soon the damage done by endlessly retreating will become greater than the risk of standing up to the UK government. I hope NS’s speech was more than ‘showing a bit of leg’, although it could be interpreted in that way, the language was carefully controlled. However the three speeches of Yousaf, Russell and Sturgeon, taken together, seemed to indicate a hardening committment to making it happen in 2020 (in an admittedly unspecified way).
For now, it’s about getting out the vote on December 12th.
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