As I sit down to write this I learn that Joanna Cherry has been sacked from the front bench of the SNP Westminster group. A demotion and a slap in the face for an individual who surely speaks more and better for the SNP membership than those who treat her thus. This will be the last straw for many. Nicola Sturgeon is presiding over a crash and burn more precipitous and spectacular even than that of so-called ‘Scottish’ Labour.
Not everybody will be as dismayed as myself. There is a small but disproportionately powerful faction within the party which will be dancing with glee. Literally dancing in many cases. Joanna Cherry has earned the virulent hatred of this clique not by betraying the principles on which the SNP was founded but for upholding them. Not for flouting the standards by which the party is supposed to operate but for insisting on them. Not for a lack of integrity but for having integrity in a measure which embarrassed too many who today are responsible for managing the party’s affairs. Not because she is unpopular with ‘ordinary’ members but because she is so detested by those jealous and fearful of that popularity.
We know about all of this largely thanks to one person – the Reverend Stu Campbell, analyst and commentator at Wings Over Scotland. A man whose forensic journalism has provided an incalculable amount of fuel for Scotland’s cause. A man who is much reviled but seldom rebutted. In fact, I don’t know of any instance of any statement he has made that has been proved to be lacking a sound foundation of verifiable facts.
It is precisely because of his impeccable record of veracity and accuracy that he is attacked with such venom by those whose falsity is laid bare by bare facts and fair comment. Time after time after time his villifiers have been all but begged to refute the material to which they object with obscene biliousness. Time after time after time those who condemn him failed to provide as much as a scintilla of evidence to support the charges laid against him or justify the calumnies constantly peddled on social media – often by people who proudly boast of not having visited the Wings Over Scotland site or read Stu Campbell’s blog for years.
The spittle-flecked demands for Stu Campbell to be silent or silenced bear comparison with the book-burnings of an earlier age; just as the hounding of Joanna Cherry is reminiscent of the witch-hunts of an era when it was actual witches that were hunted. Or at least those accused of practising witchcraft – which in the minds of bigots and zealots amounts to sufficient proof of guilt.
It is impossible not to concluded from all of this that the proud aim to restore Scotland’s independence has been crushed under the heel of an intolerant, dogmatic and malicious coterie intent on taking the SNP to be the vehicle for their agenda. They presume to usurp the mandate afforded the party on the understanding that it’s political effectiveness was dedicated to the service of Scotland’s cause and turn it to serve their own purposes.
What those purposes are is unclear. I doubt if any of the people involved could articulate a purpose common to the whole faction. I have never been told what these people stand for even as they insinuated themselves into the heart of the party and positions of influence like some parasite or malignancy. I can judge them only by their behaviour. The fact that they so hate Stu Campbell for exposing their behaviour is a measure of how desperately they want that behaviour to remain hidden. The fact that they so abhor Joanna Cherry must surely betoken a loathing of the values she represents. Values such as society’s duty to protect and comfort the vulnerable. Values such as equality, universality and justice. Who would loath such values other than those incapable of holding them as more than a veil to their true nature?
I am appalled by what is happening to the party to which I have been committed since long before I could vote. I have voted for the SNP at every opportunity since the age of 18. I have promoted the party to the best of my ability and defended it likewise when it is attacked. I have come as close to being ‘loyal’ to the SNP as I can feel comfortable with. On occasion even closer. I view what is being done to this party with growing dismay. I have not given up hope. Largely because there is no alternative for those of us who are serious about restoring Scotland’s independence. If I lose hope the blame will lie entirely with the current leadership of the party.
I am not departing the party. I am standing firm where the party used to be; watching in despair as it moves away from me at an accelerating pace.