A Time To Retire

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Pete Wishart SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire

How bewildering to encounter SNP MP Pete Wishart blocking dissent and passion on Twitter from SNP independence supporters. He does it with such ferocity and superiority I am beginning to wonder if he is suffering from severe stress.

Reading his reactionary words reminds us of the headmaster – headmistress tone of the SNP these last years. I got so alarmed by what is happening that regular readers will know, worried by an SNP HQ’s self-made hidebound red tape and rules, I published an article on the subject this last weekend. It was motivated by the much shorter and sharper comment of another SNP MP, Peter Grant, who by now must be regretting his haste clicking the ‘Send’ key.

To date, that essay has been read by almost 5,000 readers internationally. I mention this, internationally, that is, to let SNP officials understand how damaging Wishart’s outlandish arrogance is, in the eyes of people admiring from afar, looking to Scotland to do the right thing in the right way. And many have influence, especially my readers in the USA. My Twitter site alone, which includes occasional retweets of Wishart’s ideals and contrariness, average over 2 million a month. There is nowhere for amatuerism and wild vanity to hide here. (See link below for essay.)

Dr Rideout suggests Scottish MPs should vacate the Gothic Chamber of Horrors, if not permanently, then on specific occasions, our precence there of no consequence, it only bolsters and promotes English political goals as UK goals.

Our absence is of much greater significance to UK hegemony. This is a sane argument. Sinn Féin MPs refuse to attend westminster, preferring to look after their constituents. They do not receive parliamentary salaries – Westminster refuses to pay it. However they do receive money for expenses and the party itself receives some public money for party business, as do other opposition parties, the majority money pooled.

“There is no desire to be in there and to be part of it… The interests of Ireland have never been represented by a Westminster Parliament” Chris Hazzard MP Sinn Féin

“As MPs, we take no part in the Westminster parliament but in every other way we provide active representation for our constituents. We engage with British political parties, civic society and the Irish diaspora in Britain. We challenge the British government directly in our meetings with them. We lobby on constituents’ issues, and on all the political matters that affect the Irish people.” Paul Maskey MP

Present yourself to your gang of tormentors daily, expect to be denigrated and thrown in the briar patch. Withdraw from Westminster if we really mean to renegotiate our relationship with our belligerent neighbour. I have argued this stance for some years now, even published work on Westminster’s long habit of using Scottish MPs as an Aunt Sally for entertainment, and just as often as a punch bag.

Here is Dr Rideout’s letter and Pete Wishart’s reply.

From: Tim Rideout
Sent: 28 December 2020 15:08
To: SNP MPs
Subject: Commons Brexit Vote – Just Don’t Attend – Hold an Alternative EU Policy Event

Hi,

I am sure thousands will be emailing you just now, but this is obviously an important symbolic moment.

To my mind by far the best option for the SNP MPs is to not dignify the Commons vote on 30th December with your presence. Your vote is entirely irrelevant to the result (unfortunately), but voting NO is not a vote of principle. If your votes might make a difference you would not vote NO and thus risk No Deal.

So just do not attend at all. Make the point that next to zero Scottish MPs have had anything to do with something that is not in any shape or form what their constituents want. Being present, even making speeches to an empty room, just allows the Tories to carry on maintaining that this is a UK decision rather than an English one.

You can go better than that, too. Hold a special event (on Zoom or similar) on Wednesday instead for all the SNP MPs on the subject of “The Transition to Independence – SNP Policy on EFTA / EEA and Re-joining the EU”. Take the results of your deliberations and send them to us in the SNP Policy Development Committee. We are currently setting up a Working Group on exactly this subject.

Personally I think the SNP policy should be: On Indy Day join EFTA / EEA to achieve a ‘Norway’ relationship with the EU. Within a year or so of Independence hold a referendum on whether Scots wish to apply for EU membership or not. If the answer to that is YES then commence discussions with the EU. That will take several years and the results are not fully predictable. If the negotiations result in an offer that is acceptable to Scotland then proceed to join, otherwise stay in the Norway position.

Negotiations might result in an unacceptable offer in areas such as Fishing, but also on what are probably more important economic issues. Those would include whether the idiotic 3% deficit rule of the No-Growth and Instability Pact is still in place and if there is any attempt to force (as opposed to present policy of being just ‘in principle’) Euro membership.

Regards

Tim

Lothians Member, SNP Policy Development Committee
Convener, Scottish Currency Group

Readers will note Dr Tim Rideout is convenor of the SNP Policy Committee, a position one assumes respected by his party. In addition, he is a member of the SNP.

Where a brief, ‘thank you for your proposals, duly noted’, would be the diplomatic line to take, the statesman-like way to answer respectfully a colleague whose ideas you disagree with, Pete Wishart MP chooses humiliation as a response by talking down to Dr Rideout with puerile smart ass quips. Moreover, he somehow manages to substitute ‘Mr’ for ‘Dr’ adding insult to injury. It can be taken for granted Rideout would not expect a reply of that kind to a letter of well-considered benign advice.

From: WISHART, Peter
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2020 6:57 pm
To: Tim Rideout
Subject: Re: Commons Brexit Vote – Just Don’t Attend

Dear Mr Rideout

Thank you very much for your advice about how I should do my job and what I should do to represent my constituents. I have only being doing this for about 20 years and I don’t know how I have managed to be re-elected 6 times without your assistance.

If it’s OK with you, I will maybe just continue to put my constituents interests over and above what you think I should do on their behalf and make sure they are properly represented in one of the biggest decisions of this session of Parliament. Though, they like me, are no doubt grateful that you think you know better than I in how their interests should be looked after.

I also want to thank you for your suggestion about what the Scottish National Parties European policy should be. Call me old fashioned, but I have this naive belief that party policy should be determined by our membership.

This ‘zoom meeting’ on ‘The Transition to Independence – SNP Policy on EFTA / EEA and Re-joining the EU’ does indeed sound like a real engaging public pleasing initiative, but unfortunately I might have something else to do that evening, though I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what it is….

Thank you for all your very welcome suggestions. Please feel free, etc.

Pete Wishart MP”

No Lead Singer

Wishart uses his constituents as an excuse for dismissing Rideout’s proposals. That is cheap and dishonest. He does a terrible disservice to the SNP’s image of tolerance, the party of welcome to all comers from all walks of life and politics.

If he was chairman of an institution, he would find a signed letter from the august Board of Trustees on his desk requesting he retract his comments immediately and offer an apology. (It is enough to live with the embarrassment without resigning, but standing for chairman again might be in doubt.) Yet, this is Wishart’s modus operandi, this and blocking access to his muddled thinking.

Various things cross my mind: is his arrogance the result of SNP policy or a general SNP attitude to feelings of being beleaguered by the public for so long. Or is there a graver reason for his inability to act professionally? Studying the man (as a writer) gives the impression of someone kindly if a little befuddled, yet he cannot tell Tory opponent apart from colleague, or unionist hack from independence supporter. This is alarming.

His outpourings raise the question, if his condition is not based on pure cockiness, is it a medical problem? As an elected representative, he feels secure brushing off dissent as if dandruff from his shoulders, or ridiculing individuals trying to engage him in genuine political discussion. This is not a mentally rational way for an MP to behave.

A long holiday might help, but if the malady is ingrained, early retirement will assuage the public who are unhappy he feels able to show how unaccountable he is to anybody, let alone his own party. I do not know what it is, but each time Wishart pronounces on a subject it always sounds like a plug for Pete Wishart.

***********************************************************************************NOTES:

  1. Letters reproduced by kind permission of Wings.
  2. ‘Slipping In Westminster Slop’: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-18P

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25 Responses to A Time To Retire

  1. Doreen Milne says:

    Great blog. Have a guid Hogmanay.

  2. Bugger Le Panda says:

    Would they continue to get, the SNP,, short money?

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    You too, Doreen. Happy to have you as a Twitter pal a lot longer. 🙂

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Sinn Féin MPs do not receive parliamentary salaries. However they do receive money for expenses and the party itself receives some public money for party business, as do other opposition parties.

  5. grumpydubai says:

    good comments by your goodself and Wings today on this topic. Hope SNP and especially Mr Wishart take note and action on the feedback from their supporters as well as taking action on unnecessary comments to the likes of Dr, Rideout and others.

  6. Wee Chid says:

    Wishart’s letter is appalling. He’s truly gone native

  7. NDLS says:

    This is the kind of behaviour that would, in any normal context, result in disciplinary action at the very least. I’m pretty sure given his MO that Pete Wishart lacks the self-awareness to even admit his response was wholly inappropriate. Perhaps the more pertinent question is why the SNP as a party fails to deal with this kind of thing? It is certain that many members will be complaining about this to the NEC, even if Dr Rideout decides not to take it any further.

    We all know however from long experience that the party will do precisely nothing. This is simply another in the long line of shameful failures of oversight. It is sadly wholly in keeping with its toleration of the abuse doled out to the likes of Joanna Cherry and Joan McAlpine by Twitler Youth entryists in the party and the othering of party members who disagreed with the party line in general.

    It is possible the “new” NEC may change things for the better, but I have my doubts. Strange that other MPs and MSPs fear putting their heads above the parapet and calling out Wishart’s behaviour, isn’t it? Do they lack the courage, or are they just so inured to this kind of thing they think it’s OK? It is high time that those who were recently elected to the NEC stepped up to the plate and made it clear this sort of thing is unacceptable. Pieces of work like Wishart and Kirsty Blackman should be held accountable and disciplined, if not expelled. If they aren’t, it shows us the kind of party the SNP has become.

    As Maya Angelou observed: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

  8. Yes to Scottish Independence 2020 says:

    Pete Wishart and his leader have no intention of restoring the Scottish nation to being an Independent country again and are only in politics for the power and the money. I hold my hands up to being blinded to the fact that they are SNP and support Independence and that’s all I needed to know, but the reality is Pete Wishart is entrench into the British establishment way of life so much that he’s entirely forgotten why he’s been elected as an MP point 1 to hold a referendum and point 2 to keep Scotland in the EU so as an MP for Perthshire he’s failed his constituents and lets not for get he’s an embarrassment. If I lived in Perthshire it would be a honor not to vote for this man and trust me I’d do it.

  9. Geejay says:

    This is gobsmackingly stupid, arrogant and rude from someone who obviously considers himself “exceptional” – bit like Johnson. He is entitled to disagree, but not to reply such as appear an unreconstructed arsehole above taking advice from anyone but himself.

    “Longest serving SNP MP” – perhaps a little too long.

    Tim’s suggestion, of course, perhaps touches a raw nerve. Some (many?) think the SNP shouldn’t be in Westminster anyway and should withdraw to Scotland and commence negotiations for Scotland’s Independence – or would that not be in Pete’s constituents best interests either, since he would no longer be there to represent them in the “biggest decisions…of [the Westminster] Parliament” as he has done for many, many years?

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    Corrected that earlier, Fearghas. I edited the quote by first dropping it into a tweet, and then hitting it twice for the essay, added after publication. Many thanks.

  11. Diane Davidson says:

    I am a constituent of Pete Wishart – I have voted SNP in every election since I became 18 in 1973. My vote for the SNP has always been because I want my country to regain its independence. That, unfortunately, means I have had to vote for Pete. I sent him an email earlier today (before this letter was known to me) stating that I wanted him to abstain from voting tomorrow. The automated reply I received says they are all on holiday till the 4th January and mail will be dealt with then! If we are not an independent nation before the next Westminster election I will not vote for PW in fact I probably won’t even vote SNP. The man is an embarrassment and his speeches in Westminster often cringeworthy.

  12. GB
    He is an obnoxious asshole, excuse the language. Who does he think he is?

    He is one of a few in the party that are more a barrier to independence than the bloody Tories are. If lived in his area I just don’t think I could vote for him, I used to have to vote for Alyn Smith in EU elections and swore the last time I voted for him that it was never again no matter what as he is a nasty piece of work.

    Wishart blocked me recently on twitter, not that I was bothered as I didn’t follow him anyway, but the manner he does it with silly comments is both very childish and tells you all you need to know about the man. I have had concerns for a long time about him, the cybernat thing a few years ago and the going for speaker totally changed my mind about him.

    It is hard not to have some sympathy with the conspiracy theorists who believe he is a plant, I don’t go that far but there is something not right. A nasty piece of work though like too many others in the party who people have lent their vote to.

    Thanks

  13. duncanio says:

    My view is that the only principled action would have been Dr Rideout’s proposal i.e. do not lend credibility to the Brexit ‘process’ by engaging with it.

    As for Wishart comments they are contemptuous. He needs to find himself a new party that will accommodate his sneering sarcastic arrogance. I reckon that Labour in Scotland would be a good fit for both.

  14. steelewires says:

    I despair of the SNP mandarins leading us to independence!

  15. Grouse Beater says:

    Despair in the face on political inertia and amateurism, is understandable. I share such moments, but we have to be careful it doesn’t stop clear thinking, otherwise we never will solve the problem.

  16. Do we have our own SNP version of Foulkes in Wishart.. Our own Richard Leonard even? Sadly the ones who are working in the positive do not get the respect they deserve from the FM et c like Johanna C, Dr Philippa, Angus Mac. Sick of this respectability cloak the SNP are wearing. They are mot worried about offending their corporate buddies than they are in offending WM! The Tories may use fancy words & obfuscation, but they are murdering crooked charlatans all the same!

  17. Hugh Wallace says:

    Well said, as always, GB. And I hope you have a very Happy New Year!

    Also wanted to say that your post on Wings re. NATO membership is worthy of expansion into a blog post if you felt so inclined. Essentially I agree with you 100% but, as some other Wings commenter noted, would accept the pragmatic reality of iScotland joining NATO.

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    Hugh – As you know, Wings blog was about McDonald’s GRA stance, hence I made no reference to it. What gave me a jolt, was Wings emphatic opinion on NATO, telling his readers we are fools if we think we can do without it. I thought it needed cooler thought than he gave it, throwing it into his blog as an aside. He does, on occasion, use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    I trust your new year will fill your bank balance, pandemic or not! A pound in your pocket is a pound of confidence.

  19. NDLS says:

    @ Hugh, Grouse Beater et al
    I don’t always agree with Stu Campbell, but I have to say he’s probably right WRT to NATO membership. The overwhelming majority of Scots are likely to endorse membership in the event we gained independence. Iceland, Norway and Denmark are all members, and it will help our prospects internationally to have US support for our case, which is considerably more likely if we join NATO than try to “do an Ireland”.

    In the abstract, I’d certainly much rather see some form of mutual defence pact between Scotland and our Nordic and perhaps Baltic neighbours, or the development of a security aspect for the EU to replace NATO, but I fear that’s the work of decades, not years. The only credible threat to our national security and resources comes from Russia. If we’re not part of a multilateral alliance like NATO, you either have to devote quite a high % of your GDP to defence spending (as the Swedes did during the Cold War) or decide to have negligible forces and hope other will defend you as (arguably) the Irish have done since independence.

    McDonald is of course an idiot, and I can see why people think he’s probably a “resource” given his Integrity Initiative links. Frankly I doubt he has the smarts given his other policy choices. As Stu rightly pointed out however, just because someone you don’t rate shares a particular policy position with you, doesn’t make that position wrong. Murdo Fraser – who most of us would agree is the sentient Spam of Holyrood – recently slapped the odious Britnat oxygen thief Effie Deans down very publicly for her attacks on the Gaelic language. He was entirely correct in that instance. He is however still a waste of DNA.

    Membership of NATO is an issue like retaining the monarchy or whether to (re)join the EU, which can be safely addressed AFTER independence.

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    NDLS

    The following countries are not in NATO: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden, proving there is an alternative view. Campbell often takes a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and in this instance his remark was an egregious swipe in a long piece on another subject.

    You have him right in one respect, he is arrogant, “I don’t tell people who to vote for” he once said, a bare-faced lie. From his comments it’s clear to me he has no real idea what NATO is up to. Membership of NATO is already SNP policy, and only ever an internal debate.

    In any event, Wings is not ubiquitous. Campbell is paid by donation to look after attacks on Scotland’s indy case, not pontificate about foreign affairs. In that, he has no expertise.

  21. Hugh Wallace says:

    @NDLS

    “Membership of NATO is an issue like retaining the monarchy or whether to (re)join the EU, which can be safely addressed AFTER independence.”

    I’m 100% in agreement with this.

    But as to the rest of your argument, let’s just agree to disagree. I just don’t see Russia as a threat to Scotland in any meaningful sense. In fact, I see Scotland’s membership of NATO being the only reason that Russia would care about us at all because NATO is a threat to Russia.

    You might be interested that my perspective is partly informed by growing up in New Zealand in the 1980s where that small, independent nation stood up against the might of the USA by declaring itself nuclear free which effectively banned US naval vessels from NZ waters. Back then the arguments were that the USSR (& now China) would invade if we barred the Americans. Still not happened of course.

  22. NDLS says:

    @Hugh Wallace

    Unless anyone comes up with a better alternative, it remains (at least in my view) overwhelmingly likely that any post-indy Scottish electorate will opt to be part of NATO. I think anyone who doesn’t see the deeply regressive regime in Russia as a general security threat is (to speak charitably) naive. The case for a mutual defence pact remains: ask our Baltic and Eastern European friends if they share your lack of concern about Russian motives, then ask yourselves if you’d feel more or less secure if some future Russian regime reduced the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and maybe Finland to client state status? Powers like Russia (or indeed China) with authoritarian or totalitarian outlooks don’t necessarily have to send landing craft full of troops to the beaches of Angus or Auckland to effectively curtail your independence.

    Declaring oneself non-nuclear is fine: many European NATO states have done likewise. Spain insisted the US withdrew and/or didn’t trans-ship nuclear weapons via its airbases for example before joining the alliance. I’m sure there would be majority support in Scotland post indy for banning nuclear weapons, and it will be a useful negotiating tool in talks with the Britnats given they have no feasible alternative home for their WMD’s. From what I’ve seen of polling on the subject tho’, there is little appetite in Scotland to become a latter day “armed neutral” like Sweden or Finland outside neutral, or a neutral with pretty tiny capabilities like Ireland.

    I’ve said before when arguing the toss with Britnats during #indyref1 that an indy Scotland will be able to spend considerably less on defence than it currently contributes to the blaoted and misdirected UK defence budget, and still be more secure. It will also be able to direct defence spending more effectively to support job creation, technology and industry within Scotland. Long term I’d love to see Scotland do something different, but baby steps….?

  23. Hugh Wallace says:

    I agree that the majority of opinion in Scotland is as you say it is. But not that long ago the majority opinion in Scotland was that the UK was better than an independent Scotland so I guess we need to recognise that public opinion can change when the public becomes more informed.

    The belief that Russia poses a real & immediate threat was one of those things that I too once believed. Then I thought about it a bit more in depth & changed my opinion. Scotland’s situation is not in any way shape or form the same as the Baltic nations’.

  24. NDLS says:

    @Hugh Wallace

    It’s true that opinion may change, but I’d be surprised if the generally “Atlanticist” pro-NATO outlook shifted that quickly? The SNP dropped its anti-NATO stance because it knew it was in general a vote loser: it’s much easier to point to other social democratic neighbours like Denmark, Norway and Iceland and say we can be like them. I’d certainly encourage a debate about reforming NATO and/or looking at alternatives.

    The issue with any perceived threat to ones security is what the appropriate and proportionate responses to any perceived threats might be. Obviously the prospectus now is different from when the Red Army stood on the inner-German border and the Warsaw Pact was still in place. However, the fact remains that even if the Russians aren’t about to roll over the River Tweed or stage an amphibious assault on the beaches of East Lothian, they still present the clearest and most pertinent threat to our way of life and values.

    It’s true our situation is naturally not the same as that of the Baltic States, or Finland or even Norway. However, given the authoritarian nature of the Russian state and its willingness to intervene in areas like the Caucasus, Crimea and Syria we’d be naive to believe they are a harmless actor on the world stage. Quite apart from cyber threats, the Russians in the future would be quite capable of exerting pressure on an isolated Scotland given the size of our EEZ and need to protect fisheries, offshore oil and wind resources and even perhaps ever busier shipping lanes if the shorter shipping routes via a future ice-free Arctic come to pass.

    I for one would feel more comfortable knowing I had allies to support me, but I also feel we have an obligation to support and help protect other small liberal democracies like those closer to Russia’s immediate neighbourhood.

    Alternatives or adjuncts to NATO have been talked about for many decades, but they’d all require a lot of negotiation and a clear idea of what the new strategic stance should be, how much we’d be willing to spend on it, and who would be involved.

    Having that conversation could be seen as another potential advantage of independence of course?

  25. Alan Hunter says:

    I see no point in having Scottish MP’s in Westminster. We should withdraw them like the Irish. The Scottish vote does not matter. If we want to get serious we have to face up the English establishment. England will make Scotland just North Britain if we do not act. We need to withdraw the MP’s and send out a signal to the United Nations that we treated as a colony in every way.

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