Our focus, I think, rightly needs to be on holding the UK Government to account and promoting the brilliant work of the Scottish Government where possible, but making that case for Scottish independence.
Now walking out of the chamber on a weekly basis will not achieve any of those aims. It just means there’s going to be nobody there to stand up for our constituents and to speak out for Scotland.Stephen Flynn: Stunts every week will not achieve the SNP’s aims
I am no longer sure what the SNP’s aims are. I remain as firmly anchored to the rock of Scotland’s cause as I have been all my life. Daily, I watch the ‘party of independence’ drift further and further away. When Stephen Flynn, quoted above, inserts a mention of independence into his list of those aims, it looks very much like an afterthought. Even if I accept that the restoration of Scotland’s independence remains an aim of the SNP, I am uncertain as to where it stands among the party’s priorities. The new SNP Westminster group leader has thus far neither said nor done anything to reassure me that the constitutional issue has not slipped down the agenda.
The irony of Flynn talking of “promoting the brilliant work of the Scottish Government” at the very moment when that government is disgracing itself as never before does not escape me. Others have said all that need be said about the shameful episode in the Scottish Parliament when SNP and Scottish Green MSPs voted down an amendment to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill which would have prevented those convicted of sex offences from taking advantage of the ludicrous self-ID proposals. I intend to keep my focus on the constitutional issue. I know they voted for other amendments that had a similar effect. But the optics on this are just dreadful.
There are those who take the view that Nicola Sturgeon has ‘gone over to the dark side’. That the SNP is no longer interested in independence. That it has become at best, the party of devolution and at worst, an agency of the British state. With the possible exception of the bit about the SNP becoming the ‘party of devolution’ I do not subscribe to these notions. I will allow that there may be a sense in which the party has grown overly comfortable with the status quo. But I reject completely the more extreme takes on the SNP’s conduct over the past eight years.
That those have been eight years of failing Scotland’s cause is surely now beyond doubt. We may be seeing an upward blip in the polling for Yes right now, but over the period of Sturgeon’s reign the polls have flatlined. If increasing support for independence was among the aim that Stephen Flynn had in mind, then the SNP/Scottish Government has achieved precisely nothing. And it’s the same story elsewhere. After eight years under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership the party still has no proposal or plan to progress Scotland’s cause. Instead, they stumble from one ill-thought ploy to the next with not a hint of any strategic thinking. The overall impression is that the party hasn’t given any thought to the matter of how it should proceed. From the announcement of a date for a mock referendum and the clearly daft notion of a de facto referendum using a UK general election, through the referral to the UK Supreme Court of the draft Referendum Bill to the calling of an ’emergency’ conference four months hence, it all looks as if it was cobbled together over coffee and sandwiches the previous evening. There is no evident prospect of the years of failure ending with 2022.
All of which I have said before many times. Just as I have said that I will always vote in the way which I think best serves Scotland’s cause. But I have also reserved the right to alter my stance as circumstances change. Where I previously insisted that we must be prepared to vote SNP no matter how much we had to grit our teeth as we did, I am now less sure that this is the case. My view has long been that we simply had too much to lose by withdrawing electoral support for the SNP. And that threats to take our votes elsewhere therefore seemed empty as surely no independence supporter would risk losing the pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament and among Scottish MPs. I am now beginning to wonder if we have anything to lose at all.
I started this article a week ago, but didn’t finish it because I was not ready to reach the conclusion towards which it was tending. I am still reluctant to take the position that we have nothing to lose by withdrawing support from the SNP. Or, more precisely, that what we lose is not of sufficient consequence to be worth compromising a conscience which recoils from the thought of being seen as supportive of a party which has so catastrophically failed/betrayed Scotland’s cause.
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