I was flicking through the news this morning, as you do before you go to work, and came across an interesting story on Buzz Feed regarding proposed changes within the SNP.
It would seem that the SNP wish to introduce tough new rules on MPs and the selection process for prospective candidates. If true, there will be new powers for the party whip introduced for MPs serving at Westminster. This will basically make it impossible for an SNP MP to hold a different position than the party and to publicly state that position without potential serious consequences.
There is also a discussion going on about all women short lists for Holyrood elections. These rules in many ways would remove the power local memberships have to decide on the candidates that they wish to put forward for election. Here are my pennies worth regarding the above story:
All women shorts lists first – I accept that we need more women in parliament. I don’t think many would disagree with that. Women are under represented when you look at the gender make up of our country, in the boardroom, in parliament, in the top jobs etc etc. I am however against all female short lists as I find them to be undemocratic, and possibly even sexist.
The simple reality is that all women short lists fly in the face of the democratic process. It is up to the members of local party branches, and then the voting public, to decide who represents them and where. If women feel that the parties need to change and be less of a male dominated bastion, then join the parties of your choice and change things. I don’t pretend that things are equal, but they are not equal across the board be it income, to tax, and to representation. I am not a sexist in any way that I know of, I can even understand why many would see all female short lists as a necessary means to achieving gender balance in politics, but I am sorry, I just cannot accept the undemocratic nature of it, as I cannot accept the undemocratic and unelected head of state position that we currently have to tolerate. I don’t believe that anyone standing for election need all women short lists, I believe that they need to have confidence that the law and that membership rules are equal and non discriminatory.
New rules on MPs – I believe that the conduct of many MPs has definitely been a disgrace over the last 20 years, maybe even longer than that, and I also accept that SNP MPs have generally behaved better than most in many areas such as expense’s, second jobs, voting for war etc. However, one of my main gripes within political parties are the politically correct drones that are put forward for election, and sometimes elected. Politics is broken in this country, we have three main parties who are basically the same, and MPs/MSPs who are too afraid to voice their own opinion for lots of reasons, but probably being vilified by the press and the reaction of the politically correct drones in their own parties.
I also understand the need for party discipline, esp around the main areas such as education, health, social policy etc. Generally that is achieved as most members agree with the steps being taken by their party or they wouldn’t be members of it. However, there are times when an MP should vote against a policy when it’s wrong, be critical of their party when it’s wrong, to represent their constituents even if this goes against the party when the party is wrong. To do otherwise is a betrayal of the democratic principle in my opinion.
I re-joined the SNP for a few reasons, but mainly my belief in Scottish independence and the fact that the only party likely to bring about meaningful change in and for Scotland is the SNP. In many ways the SNP are a means to an end for myself, if Scotland had a proper Liberal Party that is where I would be found. However, I can honestly say that should the members of the party allow this type of operating procedures to take hold they will not keep my membership. We need honest politicians in this country, we need political parties that work in the best interests of the people and not just the party. Any move towards the party becoming the be all and end all, such as Labour in Scotland has become, then I will be finished with the SNP and probably membership of any political party.
Our politics is broken, the party does not represent the electorate, the MPs, MSPs and Councillors do and they all need to carefully consider that and remember it, any moves by the leadership of the SNP that diminishes debate, free thought, and the rights of the membership to decide on their own candidates, be they female or male, will backfire on them but at the very least they will lose my membership. I will be watching with interested eyes.