A great deal is being written about the star players of the SNP leadership race: “Who should be leader of the SNP? Should it be Humza? Or Ash? Or should it be Kate?” And most of it isn’t an examination of what they propose to do or whether they know how to do it. It’s just personalities. Just like the ongoing debate before that between the supporters of Alex Salmond and the supporters of Nicola Sturgeon. I have long had the sense that too many members support political leaders like monarchs and the whole thing is a matter of personal loyalty.
Behind all this is the presumption that the destiny of our nation is in the hands of its leaders. I think that’s wrong. I hope it’s wrong. Today I was inspired by one Twitter thread, which wasn’t about which powerful person just resigned. It was about the ordinary people who put these people where they are and made the SNP what it is.
This tweet from “Wee Jinty KPSS” owns a perspective entirely neglected: The democratic perspective.
In straight quote, she says –
[I’m sick of disgraced SNP politicians and employees claiming credit for the party’s electoral success. It wasn’t you, you half wits. It was the party members, the activists, who tramped the streets in all weathers, talked to family, friends and workmates,]
[turned up and took an active part in local branch meeting, propped up said branches as members began to fade away, traveled up and down the country at their own expense to attend conferences and national councils and assemblies.]
[These are the people who are owed a debt of gratitude, not Sturgeon riding around on a big yellow bus, not Murrell ensconced at the heart of the web in Jackson’s entry, not Swinney, not Russell nor Robertson. No, for those people]
[betrayed the activists, the true Indy supporters time and time again in order to feather their own nests, to polish their own self inflated ideas of their abilities. I take no pleasure in watching their downfall because as I watch I feel for]
[the few stalwarts left behind. People I know who believed in these false ‘leaders’. My own heartbreak as I saw what was becoming of the party I had grown up with has healed, and I, like many others, will NEVER give up working for a better]
[country for future generations of Scots to live in. So slink off you treacherous lot, the sooner you disappear from our pages and screens, the better. Rant over, I’m not sorry.]
I had the pleasure to speak to “Jinty”, a retired teacher, who has lived a long, and full life. She had her first debate about Independence in the primary school playground. Myself, I only started taking it seriously the year before the referendum, but her whole family, her parents, uncles, were all for Scottish Independence, so she’s been steeped in this deeper and longer than I ever will be. This SNP she’s watching collapse was once a dream she didn’t know could come true.
She was only one of a huge army of regular campaigners who manned the stalls and walked the marches, building the SNP up, door-chap by door-chap, block by block, evening by evening, long before SNP had any hope of becoming a party. Back when they a fringe protest group. Back when they were hated as “tartan tories” because they had split the Labour vote. Trying and failing and trying again, until they made the SNP the dominant political party in Scotland. And now she’s watching it fall to bits. And she has to notice it isn’t the Tories who are doing it. It isn’t anything to do with a hate campaign from Alba. It isn’t rebellious MSPs who won’t tow the party line. No. No. No. It’s the NEC, the SNP leadership itself.
And the story has changed back to front. For the last eight years, members have been told they all have to unify behind the party line, because Independence was imminent. One more election. One more mandate… Even two months ago, we were all being told “We have a date!” Suddenly we don’t. We are being told to be “realistic”. “Nicola never found a plan”, explains Humza, as if he is the adult in the room, kindly helping members come to their senses, “There are no shortcuts”.
I’m not taking sides here. I don’t know if the other leadership candidates have better ideas. I hope they do. I don’t know if Alba are any better. I hope they are. I’d like to think they can work together and sort something out. Who knows? But I’ll tell you this – Someone from SNP HQ needs to explain why they told their members an Independence referendum was right around the corner for so many years. If it was never there at all. The team, the clan, the loyal rank and file, they deserve at least that.
So here’s my salute. Not to the outgoing MSPs, all throwing in the towel with neither a warning nor an explanation between them. No. To the honest, hardworking and long suffering footsoldiers of the SNP, who built up everything that’s falling down. Let’s remember what they did for us all. I only hope they are ready to walk again, to chap doors again, and drink tea, and actually listen to folk and give them realistic answers. Here’s hoping they can find leaders worthy of their support.
HERE’S TO THEM!
We await a return of the Sovereignty of the Scottish People.
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