It is disappointing to read that Chris McEleny and Angus MacNeil have given up the effort to have their Plan B debated at the SNP Conference. It’s not clear how they might have gone about forcing it onto the agenda. And their ‘plan’ was totally unsatisfactory anyway. But at least we might have had the matter debated. As it is, we are left with the Common Weal Group proposal to give the whole issue an almighty boot into the very longest grass. And little chance that even this will be discussed in any meaningful way.
The challenge to Nicola Sturgeon to name a date for a new referendum will be dealt with in the way the SNP leadership deals with all such challenges. It will be ignored. As will the demand that she ‘prove’ that the Section 30 process will work. This isn’t subject to proof, of course. But for about six years I have been trying to get someone – anyone! – in the upper echelons of the party to explain how the Section 30 process might deliver a free and fair referendum – to no avail. All I’ve got for my trouble is bitter frustration. It’s been like talking to a particularly unresponsive brick wall.
Like many others, I am now eagerly awaiting the time when this bitter frustration can safely be vented on the party I first joined 58 years ago. I recognise that I must continue to support the SNP for the time being – for reasons that really shouldn’t have to be detailed. But I do so without any enthusiasm. It is difficult right now to see how the party might reignite that enthusiasm even if the leadership and managers had any interest in doing so. As things stand, there is no reason to suppose they are even aware of the anger that seethes beneath their lofty notice. In all those years of asking for an explanation of how the Section 30 process might deliver a free and fair referendum, my questions have never even been acknowledged. Unless being blocked by Pete Wishart counts as some kind of acknowledgement.
It seems Plan B is dead. I do not grieve for it. It was not a good plan. But it was something. So long as Plan B was extant as a proposal there remained at least the faint glimmer of hope that the inexplicable and unexplained commitment to the Section 30 process might be subject to some scrutiny. What hope is there now? Concerns are batted away by anonymous party spokespersons with banal bromides and vacuous platitudes. Look at the Quote-a-matic that spewed out a string of words for The National to append to its report.
Effective leadership during the global pandemic is proving a real boost to support for an independent Scotland. The SNP will continue to focus on what’s important to the people of Scotland, and our conference agenda is reflective of those priorities.
They’re not even trying any more! The unnamed SNP spokesman might just as well have told us all to fuck off! That’s what I’m hearing anyway.
The SNP conference agenda is reflective only of the priorities of those who desperately want to avoid any meaningful scrutiny of the party’s approach to the constitutional iss. Or, for that matter, any meaningful examination of its internal governance. Conference has effectively – very effectively! – been de-fanged. It has been stripped of its powers with even more casual ruthlessness than the Scottish Parliament is being stripped of its powers. All that’s left is a pervasive feeling of hopelessness. Nothing can be done. They’ve got it all stitched up. Resistance is futile.
Every moment of every day is a struggle not to succumb to the hopelessness that threatens to overwhelm and extinguish even the anger at the way members are being treated by party leaders and senior managers. I know that even although Chris McEleny and Angus MacNeil appear to have given up trying to have their Plan B debated, other groups and individuals are still plugging away trying to find ways of taking what has been planned and turning it into a real party conference. Albeit a virtual real conference. I wish them well. And try to do so without too much of a wry grimace.
Instead of a date for a referendum what we’re being offered is a date for another ‘initiative’ that will allow us to talk about a referendum. Not at conference, of course. But late in January 2021 when even if the discussion is not subject to constraints and even if anything significant was to come out of the event and even if it wasn’t simply ignored by the leadership. it’ll almost certainly be too late. Brexit will be done and the brakes will well and truly have come off the British Nationalist juggernaut poised to crush Scotland’s democracy.
Keith Brown deserves credit for getting as much as he did. He is selling the January 24 assembly for all he’s worth. But it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that if the party hierarchy had been prepared to even contemplate a change of approach to the constitutional issue then the discussion would be taking place at conference and not in some afterthought talking-shop with absolutely no authority. It’s not as if they didn’t know there was significant and growing demand within the party and across the Yes movement for an opportunity to replace Plan A with something that at least has a chance of facilitating a free and fair referendum. They must be aware. Surely!
Or have I really been talking to a wall for the last six years?