People are a source of great disappointment to me. Not all people, obviously. But enough for it to have the feel of a universal truth. People disappoint. In politics more than anywhere outside the sphere of close personal relationships. Perhaps because politics attracts the kind of people who mostly disappoint even if it is in the sphere of personal relationships that people disappoint most. Perhaps because politics offers so many opportunities to disappoint. Thinking of all that politicians and political activists promise and how they present themselves it would be surprising if most of the hopes they raise weren’t destined to be dashed.
Keeping one’s expectations low is good advice. But keeping expectations low is not guaranteed to avoid disappointment. However low the bar is set, there’s always someone who manages to duck under it.
Craig Berry is the founder and convener of the SNP Common Weal Group. Craig Berry is a disappointment. As is the SNP Common Weal Group. The latter because it’s a bit of a cheat. Whatever the name leads you to expect, the SNP Common Weal Group is not an SNP Group in the sense of being a Group affiliated to the SNP. Which is the sense which really matters. If you thought the SNP Common Weal Group was an actual SNP Group called Common Weal then you will inevitably be disappointed to discover that it is actually Common Weal calling itself an SNP Group.
I knew that the SNP Common Weal Group was not an SNP Group called Common Weal but actually Common Weal calling itself an SNP Group. Despite this, I’m still disappointed. I kept my expectations low. Despite this, I’m still disappointed. That’s because while the SNP Common Weal Group may not actually be an SNP Group it is – as it would be even if it was an SNP Group – a group of people. And people are a source of great disappointment.
Others have noted the disappointing truth about the SNP Common Weal Group not being an actual SNP Group in the accepted sense of the term. Professor John Robertson – a man who has yet to disappoint – was characteristically explicit when he titled a recent blog article There is no common weal group in the SNP. He mentions another group in that article – SNP Members for Independence – which he describes as “a loose [Facebook] group that combined for the purpose of dealing with the problems on the NEC”. I have to correct him on that. The very pointedly named SNP Members for Independence was concerned with “dealing with the problems on the NEC” only incidentally as something that was essential to its stated primary purpose of putting independence back at the top of the party’s agenda.
I mention this not as a criticism of John Robertson. To the extent that his comments about SNP Members for Independence are mistaken it is a trivial error and totally harmless. I refer to it only because this is an example of a group that I support because of its unequivocal commitment to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. I was supportive of SNP Common Weal Group for the same reason, and quite prepared to forgive the borderline deceptive name.
SNP Members for Independence has not disappointed. The group remains true to its stated purpose. Indeed, it has become something of a hub for SNP members concerned about the party leadership’s approach to the constitutional issue and a clearing house for ideas on how to persuade the SNP to put independence back at the top of its agenda.
SNP Common Weal Group has turned out to be a disappointment. If Craig Berry’s recent article in The National is any guide then the SNP Common Weal Group is a massive disappointment to those who supported it supposing they were supporting a group dedicated to the idea that “we should be doing far more to actually achieve independence which should be our primary goal”, as Craig Berry described it to me in a personal communication back March. If SNP Common Weal Group really does regard achieving independence as the “primary goal” then it is damnably odd that Craig Berry, writing as the group’s convener, can publish a 600 word article which contains not a single mention of independence and refers not at all to what is supposedly its “primary goal”.
If we are to take Craig Berry’s article as a statement of the SNP Common Weal Group’s manifesto – which we surely must given that he is the group’s convenor – then it looks very much as if independence has slipped even further down their agenda than that of the SNP leadership. At least Nicola Sturgeon still mentions independence from time to time even if she has done bugger all about it for the last six years. If Craig Berry is to be believed then Scotland’s cause has dropped off his (not an SNP) group’s agenda altogether.
It may be no more than coincidence that independence ceased to be the SNP Common Weal Group’s “primary aim” immediately after its slate of candidates enjoyed some success in the NEC elections at the SNP (not quite a) Conference. It is certainly the case that many delegates voted for candidates on the SNP Common Weal Group’s list because they thought that in doing so they were voting for people whose “primary aim” was to refocus the party on the constitutional issue. As individuals, this may be true. As members of the SNP Common Weal Group it evidently is not. Craig Berry says so.
So, what is in this group’s manifesto instead of the independence that was until recently declared to be their “primary aim”? Only the customary myopic dogma constantly peddled by Righteous Radicals. All false assumptions and circular arguments and political naivety. Very disappointing.