Words to the Wise to the Winner

Three candidates stepped forward, laid out their stalls, clashed in debate and this was supposed to be the quiet run on as SNP members voted for their choice. Then two of the candi dates for SNP leader questioned the election process, especially the actual number of SNP members comprising the electorate.

This led to the party press officer announcing numbers thar turned out to be inflated by 30,000. When corrected, he resigned, prompting Peter Murrel, party chief executive of 20 years, to do likewise, Stepping in as acting CEO, party president, Mike Russel, called the whole thing a “burrach”.

No matter who wins the leadership, their job just got harder. Not only must they re-inspire a party that has lost much of its trademark dynamism, but they must counter a widespread belief—nor just among unionists—that Project Indy has stalled.

Following the longstanding principle of this column to light a candle, rather than curse anyone’s darkness, what follows is a series of pointers to earlier posts that might stimulate thinking on ways out of the political doldrums in which the SNP is becalmed.

For thoughts on how the Scindy (Scottish independence) might have lost its way, consider “Where Now for Scottish independence?” (Feb. 19 2022). As it points out, rather than focussing almost entirely on the route to another referendum and stoking grudges at its refusal, cogent positive arguments what might be achieved were it successful are rarely made. Yet it is only by such arguments that enough unionists can be persuaded to see the light for “Yes” to win. Waiting for independence to demonstrate its advantages is foolishness. Better to exploit the latitude already achieved to demonstrate competence achieve benefits and hint at more to come.

Seeing all England as hostile is to ignore opportunities.” Hug a Sassenach” (Nov.12 2021) makes a case that the whole post-industrial “Red Wall” half of England has much common cause with Scindy as the hollowness of “levelling-up” becomes ever more evident. Though making friends across the Border may twist reluctant arms at Westminster, it will cut little ice among punters at home. For that, implementing some radical ideas possible under devolution is required. One option is a pro-active approach to community-building through the planning system, as outlined in “Cunning Plan or Planning Con?” (Nov.21 2021). For this to work, the devolution powers hoarded at Holyrood need to be further devolved to their partners in councils, perhaps, as outlined in “Councils As Partners” (Dec.7 2021).

For any of this to have a point of achieving more than the status quo and the mediocre “Buggin’s Turn” than plagued Old Scottish Labour and made it ripe for reaming by a dynamic SNP 16 years ago musy be avoided. Such history may repeat itself in reverse if the SNP remains unimaginatively complacent. “Rebuilding Ambition” (Feb.7 2022) suggests ways this might be done.

Once such ambition was established, it should not wait for Scindy to be exercised. Even with the limited powers available now, much more could be done to improve Scotland’s lot. Before Scotland was yoked to England’s ambitions, it was an outward-looking nation—see “Our Past Is Our Future” (Mar.11 2022). Suggestions where fruitful progress might be nade externally in short order are outlined in “Europe As Partner” (Jan.9 2022).

But the real argument for Scindy must be economic. Many support it for emotional reasons, but a majority will only be won by convincing hard-headed unionists it would make them better-off. Ireland, being some 30% richer per head than their former masters show no sign of rejoining the union. So how does Westmnster’s claim we’d be better holding on to nurse stack up? ”A Case for the union?” (Jun.20 2022) seeks to answer that question. Subaequent inflation and the worst economic prospects in the OECD has hardly strengthened the case over the intervening nine months.

Whoever becomes SNP leader, and thus First Minister, may ignore all of the above. But, unless they produce something equally radical, they’ll get their jotters and be out of Bute House like snaw aff a dyke.

#1061—686 words

About davidsberry

Local ex-councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Retired in 2017.
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