As a member of the party, I am perfectly content with Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP. As a citizen of Scotland, I am more than satisfied with her performance as First Minister and our nation’s political leader. As a lifelong advocate of restoring Scotland’s independence, however, I cannot in good conscience claim to have much confidence in her ability or, indeed, her readiness to provide the leadership that Scotland’s cause requires.
I’m sure Nicola Sturgeon would be the first to acknowledge that these are three quite distinct roles, each requiring a particular set of skills which, while they may often be interchangeable, are deployed differently according to the role being fulfilled. Until recently, it was my hope and expectation that the three roles could come together and be satisfactorily handled by Nicola Sturgeon. I now come to the realisation that this appears not to be the case.
Need I point out that Jackson Carlaw is slavering a load of pish? While SNP politicians will surely be found jostling for position as the ‘game’ requires, to suggest that they’re “fighting like ferrets in a sack” is plainly ridiculous. It’s the sort of risible hyperbole one would expect from a politician devoid of ideas and lacking anything meaningful to say. It’s words to fill the space between quote marks. There are primary school children in Scotland able to write a computer program that would do Carlaw’s job and cover for the other British party office managers at the same time.
There is no vacancy. Nicola Sturgeon is not likely to step down any time soon and my reading of the mood in the SNP is that there is no appetite for a leadership contest and likely little tolerance for anyone who seeks to incite one. None of which will prevent the British parties squatting in Scotland’s Parliament and the British media infesting Scotland’s culture from portraying the gentle jostling as the Mother Of All Ferret-in-sack Battles – 72-point bold three exclamation marks. Which is fine, I suppose. It’s just British Nationalists preaching to the afflicted.
There is a real issue here. But it’s not the one that the British establishment’s lackeys in politics or the press will obsess about. They will appreciate and analyse the situation in terms of the British politics that is familiar to them. The politics of two-party hegemony and competing personalities and interminable scandal. They will only be able to understand what is happening in terms of the kind of party leadership contests to which they have become accustomed. That is to say, something that combines the worst elements of The Apprentice and The Weakest Link with Paxman at his most surly, Marr at his most shallow and elements of the beauty pageant catwalk when the girlies get involved – “Prime Minister? In those shoes?”
The notion of an office which might involve several different roles is rather too complex for those accustomed to the simplicities, sound-bites and faux rivalries of British politics. The concept of politics as a contest of ideas is only dimly remembered by the oldest among British political commentators. Their juniors having never seen politics more sophisticated than a Hogarth cartoon.
There is no leadership battle in the SNP. Nor is there likely to be in the near future. Although this comes with all the usual caveats about a week being a long time in politics etc. What is developing, however, is a contest for leadership of the independence movement. Or, more precisely, an increasing acknowledgement of how urgently the independence movement needs leadership combined with a growing realisation that it’s not coming from Nicola Sturgeon.
We don’t have time to interview candidates. We will not be appointing a leader. The necessary leadership will emerge. Hopefully, we will recognise it when it does.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.