Disdain and disrespect for your own supporters is corrosive. Note Glenrothes MP Peter Grant’s superiority carefully. He thinks discussion on an order for a Section 30 is ‘an internal party matter’. Though his short-hand may have let him down, he would not have tweeted that response if he did not think it party policy. The SNP makes the decisions, people abide by them. Refused the right of participation, what are we supposed to do, walk away and look sad? Woebetide anyone who reminds an SNP politician independence is the goal.
For months I have encountered a terrible feeling of dread. For the first time since my twenties, Scotland a powerless appendage to England’s policial interests, I feel we have a government in Holyrood remote from me, more than remote, contemptuous of its own supporters. I do not know if any other reader has experienced this, but for me it is incredibly depressing. With every predictable, repetitious utterance of defiance made by Nicola Sturgeon at London, it gets harder to throw off. The more she tells us the Tories are rotten to the core and does nothing much about it, the more the power of her words lessen. In the end, it is nothing more than empty rhetoric.
As for Peter Grant and his incautious brush-off, an elected respresentative has a duty to attend gatherings of voters at national events or in their locale. How else do they show solidarity? The least they must do is encourage discussion and debate, not sidestep it as if dog extrement on the pavement. Our democracy is fragile enough without a sitting politician telling us we are something separate from it.
Second, who instructed ways of achieving independence be kept within the confines of the party of delay and obfuscation? When did participation become the prerogative of Holyrood, citizens prohibited from holding an opinion? The notion is outrageous.
Politicians are the people we entust to take our grievances, our concerns, our epistles of better justice to the chamber of just laws. We do not elect compatriots to serve some highfalutin membership-only club. We employ our politicians to rally the troops.
The SNP is not yet the old East German Communist Party – join us or be against us. What is Grant implying? Voters, surgeries, listening, they are the three demons you must slay before you can be a successful politician? He’s full of sherry, or something.
Who asks if you are a Jew?
The first indication something was wrong, the party oddly estranged from the people, was when it ignored pleas and protests from its own rank-and-file over their official’s anti-Semite blunders. (I was not the only casualty.) No MSP or MP intervened to say, wait, we must ask questions. In my case, not a single party official telephoned, or bothered to send a local chairperson for a quiet chat. How’s that for a party of the people? I did, however, recieve hundreds of tweets offering anger and sympathy.
The ground work of constructing scapegoats to boost retrospective regulation had been laid months before when the MP, Mark MacDonald, was singled out for crucifixion over an honest typo in a tweet. By accusing him of sexual harrassment the first minister’s chief civil servants could concoct a sordid image of Holyrood oozing with rampant mysogeny, where next to none existed. That way, could see Alex Salmond accused, his legacy erased, though he had left government and party years earlier.
Like the fool I was, I was certain the party would not condemn out of hand, but it did. They played judge and jury. In my case, the three culprits guilty of random urination on civil liberties are still at large, happy-go-lucky participators in their party’s fall from grace: Humza Yousef willing to curb free expression; morally flawed Angus MacLeod, resolutely defiant for his vindictive behaviour, and the narcissist Fiona Robertson.
The last is a woman penning the most lurid of policy ideas, full of pseudo-psychology clap-trap, booted out of the NEC and yet welcomed back by a back door. This makes fools of us all.
How did we reach the madness of chasing Brexit, claiming there is only one route to self-governance, when the greatest threat to us all is environmental, the destruction of the planet we inhabit?
The hunting of the Snark
The next event to shock adherents of the party of independence, a party supposedly dedicated to the cause of Scotland’s democratisation, was the hunting of Alex Salmond. This year is hard to forget for many reasons, but the one moment that stands out for me was Nicola Sturgeon’s cold refusal to give a direct answer to a straight-forward question from interviewer Andrew Marr. “Now that Alex Salmond is exonerated by the Courts, will you welcome him back into the SNP?” Her prevarication was a dishonest answer.
Glaring contradiction between Mr and Mrs Murrell’s evidence given to the Holyrood Inquiry is alarming. If it transpires that Nicola Sturgeon has been lying to the Holyrood committee, or lying to parliament, an offence that demands resignation, unionists will have enjoyed two victories, the humiliation of Salmond and the departure of Sturgeon. Despite having no challengers, none have stepped forward so far, she will not survive discovery of duplicity or indulging in Tammany Hall politics. I’ll be repeating this, no doubt, if Nicola Sturgeon has a strategy and the political guile (sadly, no evidence to show, so far), but if she has, she’s in for a bonanza. Everything is going Scotland’s way.
When I stand back and look at it all, no one can convince me the SNP has not been infiltrated. Some people point at Nicola Sturgeon as the source of disarray. One person cannot be responsible for that much mayhem and not have had encouragement to follow the poisoned arrows where they fall. Others are due close scrutiny.
A glimmer of light
A fresh National Executive Committee (NEC), gives hope the excesses of these last years are gone, replaced by a concentrated agenda dedicated to self-governance at the earliest date. The new NEC might help loosen the evasive and elusive Peter Murrell’s backroom grip on SNP policy, a flagrantly counter-intuitive approach to independence.
Passing a Bill to remain faithful to EU standards including Human Rights offers another ray of hope. In the face of a far-right Tory party flaunting a huge majority, Holyrood’s idealism may be symbolic in the medium-term but it demonstrates defiance.
2020 is has been life altering for me. It might be worse for Scotland. Tory and DUP, aided by Labour, are fine-tuning a federalist system to remove Scotland’s rights once and for all time. Whenever the British empire vacates a country it has invaded and robbed blind, it concocts a solution that leaves chaos in its wake. Prussia, Persia, the Middle East, India, Palestine, Syria, Ireland, an endless list. Everything mighty England touches results in division and strife and war.
Éamon de Valera was determined Ireland should not accept a British offer of a halfway house, dominion status – quasi-autonomy, still accountable to a British government and monarchy. The slightest whiff of federalism is an offer Scotland should reject outright, state it now in bold letters to warn London we will not attend to the 2021 May election willing to accept a British imposed solution.
To acccept anything less than genuine liberty is the coward’s way out, a betrayal of all who have fought and died to retain the right of Scotland to take its own decisions.
The Tory party is taking a wrecking ball to democracy, a strategy to divide and conquer, to knock down our house, reduce it to rubble. If the SNP leads us into an imposed federal system suggesting it is the best we can get, the transition from life under brutal Tory rule to a living death would be barely perceptible.
Believe me when I tell you, I know what it is like to exist in a living death.