The first thing independence activists need to know about First Minister Humza Yousaf’s much-hyped statement on the Scottish Government’s priorities is that in all the 3,600+ words there is but a single instance of the word ‘independent’. There is no mention of the word ‘constitution’. Nor the word ‘referendum’. There is, in fact, only one brief passage in the entire statement which might suggest that the words are those of a First Minister who is also the leader of ‘the party of independence’. Predictably, this remark was made, not in the context of a demand for constitutional change far less a proposal to bring about such change, but in the context of the economic impact of Brexit. Which, you may recall, the SNP promised to defend Scotland against, but then did nothing to prevent allowing us to be ripped from the EU against the democratic will of the people to whom that promise was made.
Humza Yousaf’s nod to Scottish nationalism was as follows.
Our ability to deal with that pressure is being constrained by UK Government spending decisions, and by our lack of borrowing powers. In fact the cost to Scotland of Westminster control – the cost of not being independent – has never been clearer.
That’s it! If you were hoping this was leading up to the announcement of some bold and imaginative new approach to resolving the issue thus identified, you’d be sorely disappoint. But then, as someone who aspires to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, you’re probably accustomed to being disappointed by Scottish Governments and First Ministers.
The second thing independence activists need to know about Humza Yousaf’s statement depends entirely on what each of them considers more important and urgent than the restoration of Scotland’s independence.
In a previous article, The SNP is not the enemy, I argued that the SNP remains a pro-independence party. In fact, I have frequently chided those who say that the SNP has ceased to be ‘the party of independence’ and has become at best a party of devolution, at worst a Unionist party. My strongest condemnation has been reserved for those who make this latter claim. I am due those I chastised a partial apology. Perhaps half an apology to those who opine that the SNP is now a devolutionist party. Maybe half that again for the ones alleging the SNP has become pro-Union. Even though I still think this is an overstatement, I have to concede that one cannot be pro-devolution without being pro-Union. Humza Yousaf’s statement reveals him as someone who is content with devolution. He’d like ‘more powers’. He might even demand ‘more powers’. Although in his statement he did no more than whine about not having them. But he has nothing whatever to say about the injustice of a political Union which empowers a government we repeatedly and comprehensively rejected at the polls to overrule the democratic will of the Scottish people.
The apology I offer is less than fulsome because I was less than entirely wrong. The SNP is still ‘the party of independence’. The problem is not that it has ceased to be the ‘party of independence’ but that there are now two SNPs. There is the SNP of the members, which is very much pro-independence. And there is the SNP of the leadership, which is content with devolution and totally unwilling to do what must be done if Scotland is to be saved from an aggresive, openly anti-democratic British Nationalism beside which the imposition of Brexit will pale into insignificance.
Unwilling! But not unable. Let us be clear that the Scottish Government alone has the ability to set in train a process which will see Scotland’s independence restored. It’s not that they can’t. It is a lack of political will that is the issue, not a lack of effective political power.
So, we have two SNPs. One which can, but won’t. The other which would, but can’t. The SNP of members is as committed to independence as ever. It can’t do anything about it in part because it is loyal to the SNP of leaders and in part because the leaders to whom they are loyal have stripped them of their power to act by dismantling the party’s internal democracy.
Two SNPs! One with all the will. One with all the power.
Scotland’s cause needs the SNP. The SNP is the party of government. Independence will not be restored without the active participation of the Scottish Government. The SNP is the party of government. Independence will not be restored without the active participation of the SNP. The logic is irrefutable. The simplistic, knee-jerk reaction to the SNP’s failure as the party of independence has led many supporters of Scotland’s cause to reject the SNP completely. Even though this means rejecting the possibility of any progress towards independence within the current decade. A more considered response would be to reject the SNP of the leadership while reaching out to the SNP of the membership.
When I said the SNP is not the enemy, I was only half right. The SNP of the leadership is definitely no friend to Scotland’s cause. Although I would still maintain that ‘enemy’ may be too strong a term. It implies malice towards the independence movement. I do not believe Humza Yousaf holds such malice in his heart. I cannot but conclude, however, that while he and his colleagues are not actively against the restoration of Scotland’s independence, they are quite emphatically not prepared to actively pursue independence. Nicola Sturgeon was surpassingly good at talking the talk of Scotland’s cause as she walked not a solitary step of the walk but all the while convincing others that she was running all the way. Humza Yousaf has dropped the pretence. He is no longer even talking the talk of independence. His statement reads like that of a man content to be the First Minister of a devolved administration.
Some will retort that having elected Humza Yousaf as party leader the membership has chosen to fly with the crows that need metaphorical shooting and so deserve no less condemnation. But those members who voted in the leadership election had many things to take into account and were very heavily pressured to opt for the continuity candidate. The steady as she goes nowhere option. Bear in mind that in his election campaign Yousaf gave far more prominence to the constitutional issue that he does now. Many may have voted for him genuinely convinced that he had a secret magic plan that was at least as good as his prdecessor’s secret magic plan. (And we know how that turned out!)
Blaming and condemning the SNP of the membership is, in my view, unjustified and wholly counter-productive. The Yes movement should be seeking allies within the SNP membership, not making enemies of them all. We should be supporting those ─ and there must be many, who are as ‘disappointed’ by the leadership’s performance as the rest of us. We have a common interest in restoring the SNP to what it was. What it should be. What it must be again. The party of independence!
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33 thoughts on “Two SNPs”
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
“there is but a single instance of the word ‘independent’”
Yes, but, errr …
On another note there are still two SNP-sinking bits of denial firmly in place with the SNP. One is the idea that there isn’t anything wrong, people released, no charges made, move along here, governance review should wait till after the police finish. I’ve give up on a certain blog as my posting about denial was actually deleted, moderated. What’s the point of that then, eh?
Second is the extremists that say that the SNP is only the business of the SNP members, which presumably means those people only want 72,168 votes for the SNP all over Scotland next election.
And thirdly (well, I did say two bits), is that the SNP problems don’t matter because Westminster / Conservatives / Labour / the lizards are far worse. I’ve got news for them – with Independence who cares about that lot, though the lizards amongst us will still be a bit of a problem.
On a general note it’s good to see that there is still a forum you can praise the SNP or curse the SNP without having your postings deleted because you’re not happy clappy holding hands singing Kumbaya, nor are you the SNP is beyond evil and an abomination in the eyes of us all.
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I doubt that it will match the criteria/objective that you outline, but faced with the need to use only one A4 page, and address the underlying issues you raise, I included this paragraph in the “Declaration of a Sovereign Scot”:
“… demand that any Oath of Allegiance to be sought from, and given by, a potential Member of the Scottish Parliament recognises the Sovereignty of the Scottish People in the following terms: “By this oath, I acknowledge that i- IF ELECTED – as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, it will be as a result of votes cast by Sovereign Scots, and I do solemnly swear and affirm that my allegiance is, and will remain, to the Sovereign people of Scotland.”
It offers a choice to any “prospective” MSP and as importantly to any voter, and whilst perhaps latent it offers a measure of ongoing accountability to perform in accordance with that oath if given.
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I suggested something similar a few years back. It was a question to be put to all prospective candidates in all Scottish Parliament elections asking if the prospective candidate acknowledged the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and the authority of the Scottish Parliament. As far as I am aware, neither that question nor anything similar was ever put to any candidate. I doubt if it ever will be.
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I’ll maybe have to think of a self-id as Cassandra – I wrote that excerpt and the Declaration in December 2020., but only entered it into the public domain in April 2021 – the rest is history – or at least becoming so, as more and more participate.
PS: The initiative is being established in very very deliberate Stages. Not yet, and not for a while, but (perhaps) be prepared for a surprise as to who may have already signed.
I won’t ever reveal details of who has signed (it would not be in any way correct) but maybe (I don’t know) there will be those in a later Stage who I know have been only too happy (and proud) to participate and will make themselves known. The timing of when and if that happens will be important.
Que sera …
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There seems to be a presumption that there is a ‘Yes movement’. If there is such a thing they are way less visible than the This Is Rigged movement and even the Anti-Abortion movement. But maybe I’m wrong, and there is a Yes movement (or a Yes Club) that spends all it’s energy holding secretive meetings with itself. Like a cycling club that doesn’t go cycling but holds AGM’s. The idea that the Yes Club, if it exists, is going to excert political pressure sounds far fetched. More likely the other way ’round.
I thought the SNP had taken the copyright on the Yes brand, and 46% of SNP members don’t even rate independence in their top three party-political imperatives.
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There is no “maybe” about you being wrong.
So it exists but it is secret. I’ll assume you are in the club, and take your word. It certainly is less visible than anti-abortionists and climate campaigners. As such, how would it excert political pressure on the government? Whoever they are, they don’t seem to be particularly capable of resisting political pressure on themselves to shut-up from the government.
“It”? Orphaned pronoun! How the hell am I supposed to know what you’re referring to? Have you the faintest notion of how many ‘conversations’ I’m involved in at any given time? How the fuck am I supposed to call to mind every detail f every one of them? Why should I take the time to check back when you won’t even make the effort to type a word?
Ah well, you’re at least part of the way there. These things take time.
You have some catching up to do.
You have some listening to do.
Try saying something interesting.
Try not being an ars….
Ok, look, I’d agree with you if the SNP:
Wasn’t under the shadow of serious criminal investigations that are likely to continue for months or even years.
Wasn’t still being run by essentially the same cabal that they were before all the shit hit the fan.
Wasn’t being abandoned wholesale (and rightly) by its membership.
Wasn’t very likely bankrupt and at risk (who knows how much) of actually not being legally able to stand any candidates at the next election.
Didn’t have its name forever tarnished by what is unfolding.
But sadly, all of these things, and probably more, are observably true. I see no way that the SNP can come back from this. You do. That’s the fundamental difference between us. I, and by the looks of it most of your BTL commentators, have come to the conclusion that we would be better to start over, however hard and unpalatable that might be. You may or may not at some point come to the same conclusion. In the mean time, we shall just have to agree to disagree.
And remember this- We are both striving for the same end, and sooner or later (probably sooner) the path will become clear, and hopefully we can all march down it together.
PS I may not agree with you, and TBH I find you a bit arrogant and rude, but I respect the fact that you do not appear to censor your BTL comments, and are not afraid to give a swift apology when you are wrong. Respect for that.
The SNP is the party of government and will be for as long as it matters.
The SNP in engaged in a war of attrition, mostly with itself. Yousaf, whether he likes it or not, is now firmly on the defensive, desperately trying to hold onto what’s left. Turning this around is well beyond what resources he has available. A quick tour of the faces in his cabinet confirms this.
There may well be two SNPs, but the way things are configured now, the pro-independence one is thoroughly dependent on the devolutionist one, currently in government. I don’t see how this can be resolved, unless the SNP in government accepts it’s just the administrative-wing of the independence movement and cedes complete control to the pro-independence part. Like that will ever happen.
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“I don’t see how this can be resolved”
Robin McAlpine has a few suggestions but not much hope!
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Whilst we need an SNP government to legislate for Indy, they need to act on that premise. We need the YES movement to pursue the cause. The SNP need to accept and work with the YES movement, less so the other way round.
The SNP for too long have tried to capture the YES movement and emasculate them. They tried to bring in a ‘code of conduct’ to control YESSERS because the SNP were totally committed to controlling everything and everybody. The SNP have not listened to the YES movement. The fact that the Independence Minister has said nothing so far regarding a route, timeline or plan says it all.
Yes most of the members are supportive of Indy however, their Branches and CA’s are controlled by the NuSNP most of whom have other priorities like GRR defence.
The current fiasco has set back our cause by many years and having spent over 40 years campaigning for Indy, I am running out of time.
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“The SNP need to accept and work with the YES movement, less so the other way round.”
That is completely the wrong way round. The SNP is a political party. The Yes movement is… well… a movement. By definition, the Yes movement has more flexibility than a political party that is constrained by it’s constitution, standing orders etc. Take the 2021 Holyrood election, for example. What Alba demanded of the SNP was impossible to give. For a whole host of reasons, a political party could not do those things. Or had no incentive to do them. Which amounts to the same thing. Alba arrogantly demanded that the SNP help them get candidates elected. No political party is going to do that. I suspect that if the leadership had attempted to accede to Alba’s demands they would have been slapped down with the party constitution and possibly an interdict. Then there’s the questions that would be asked by the Electoral Commission.
Of course, Alba knew full well that there was no way the SNP was going to gift them seats. The whole thing was a set-up. First, flog some nonsense about a ‘supermajority’ until you get the public believing it’s a magic potion for getting independence. Then demand that the SNP does something to help invoke this magic ensuring that it is something they will be bound to knock back. Then use that knock-back as stick with which to beat the SNP incessantly over the next four or five fucking decades.
It wasn’t even a subtle ploy. But it’s staggering how many fungus-brained tossers fell for it.
I agree that Nicola Sturgeon spent her entire time as party leader and de facto head of the independence movement trying to control every aspect of… well… everything! The SNP has always been riddled with control-freakery. This is understandable given that it was under constant attack. But it was under Sturgeon that the control-freakery became a pathological obsession. This has done serious damage. But nothing that can’t be rectified with the application of a bit of cleverness. Unfortunately, cleverness is in short supply in the upper echelons of the party. There are lots of very intelligent and very educated and very experienced people at the top of the SNP. But nary an ounce of cleverness. Hence, no strategic thinking.
All in all, you’re not telling us anything new here. Although much of it does bear repeating. At some point, however, we will have to stop bleating about the SNP’s failures and failings and start coming up with some credible, feasible ways to put things right. The SNP is the only tool we have right now. And right now is when we need a tool. A growing number of us recognise that the tool is broken. Some (most?) suppose we can afford to just throw it away and make a new one. The name for such people is ‘idiots’. We don’t have time to start from scratch. The British are coming!
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Peter, you might be right but I disagree
Alba did not ask the SNP to help get candidates elected. It pointed out the futility of “both votes SNP” and a wasted 2nd vote. The super majority was about minimising the unionist politicians at Holyrood and maximising the number of Indy supporting politicians. (Leaving aside the fact that the Greens get elected on list, IMO not an Indy party).
The membership of the SNP understood this but the leadership, not willing to cooperate with anything YES, railroaded the both votes strategy. Once again, the SNP put party before country showing that Independence was not a priority nor desirable.
I agree that there is a difference between a political party and a movement. That’s why the SNP attempted a code of conduct for the movement. There is also a difference between a political party and a party of government. The SNP leadership see themselves as the party of government not as the party of Independence.
FFS! I know what Alba SAID the ‘supermajority’ shite was about. However, unlike all too many others, I took the trouble to figure it out for myself. It was shite because it could not work. It was never going to work. It was fantasy politics. All of this has been explained. Some people prefer to cling to the fantasy.
“There are two SNP’s”. “The SNP is the party of Government”
So a schizophrenic party is running the country.
Can’t disagree with that. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterised by delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thoughts, speech and behaviour.
That’s a pretty accurate description of the SNP (either one) over the past 8 years.
“The SNP is the only tool we have right now; the tool is broken”.
It will take some time to mend this broken tool assuming it is capable of fixing (doubtful). Trying to glue it back together coulld be a difficult task.
Schizophrenic doesn’t mean just two of anything. It is possible to have two of something without mental disorder being involved.
It will take forever to fix the tool if we don’t make a start. Unfortunately, rather a lot of people don’t seem to be up for the challenge.
Who would the SNP listen to and work with? Tangerine Tommy? Reverend Bathtime? My pal with a motorbike? Sara Slayer’s historical re-enactment society? Nicola Sturgeon?
Maybe all of the above, except the last. They would probably be more reliable and committed to Indy than the SNP leadership.
Independence will never be won by a single political party, especially playing by Westminster rules.
There are numerous people and groups with a wealth of knowledge if they were included. A starting point might be a Convention but the SNP seem opposed to that ( probably because they could not control it).
If we don’t include and listen to the wider YES movement we will never gain our Independence.
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FFS! Nobody ever suggested independence would be won (is it a prize in a competition?) by one political party. Nobody! Not ever! But equally there can be only one party of government. Take a moment to consider the implications of that glaringly obvious truth.
You embarrass yourself with the sub-playground-level name-calling.
Thanks for this neatly accurate piece, Peter, and I confess that I’m one of the ex-SNP members that had ended my membership sometime after Alex Salmond had stopped being First Minister… However, today’s political circumstances are far from being as good as they ought to be; and the politicians themselves, are less than certain about how to regain our independence. Regarding ‘Political Chess’, compared to real Chess (where a pawn may be promoted); Humza Yousaf’s NEVER going to equal the very lowest of Pawns.
Many, if not most of us, are passionately determined that Scotland needs to regain our independence by whatever peaceful means; and a growing number of Scotland’s electorate is sharing this wish and hope that the SNP can regain the power that it once had… This in combination with the likes of: https://salvo.scot/
In closing, thanks again and we’ll see matters changing before too long,
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Both SNPs are 100% for Net zero in an oil rich country, and both are completely committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament, in a country which has negligible conventional forces and holds all of Britain’s warheads. Neither of them is worth voting for.
OT if it’s allowed.
“On a ministerial visit in Glasgow on Wednesday, deputy first minister Shona Robison told the media Humza Yousaf would meeting with Beattie. ”
What on earth is she doing telling the media what is the business only of Yousaf and Beattie? Does she have a need to feel important?
The SNP need to think before splurting to the media.
Sorry, should have closed the italic after … Beattie.”
The Better Together campaign Worked in a united way via the Tories Labour and Lib Dems to prevent them (Scotland) becoming Independent therefore by the same token I believe Alba were entitled to suggest SNP1 Alba 2.
Also what harm does it do to “the cause” of gaining a “SuperMajority” in the Election rather than a narrow one. So whilst I agree with Peter that the SNP (given a few changes ) are best placed to deliver Indy. Until the other day I had serious doubts they would provide the quickest route to Indy. NB these last 2 statements are not the same thing.
OT. From the National:
“Island communities must be heard when it comes to HPMAs”
and the article (which I agree with) also talks only about “Islands”.
But it’s also mainland coastal communities will be depopulated by the city-based Green party idiocy, with their acquiescent SNP virtue-signalling poodles.
Clearances II – this time by Edinburgh.