Are Changes a foot at the SNP?

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.

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20 comments

  1. jimnarlene

    I can’t argue with any of this post, except I couldn’t join the Liberals, I’d probably join the SSP or perhaps the Greens.

    • grumpyscottishman

      Jim

      I couldn’t join the Liberals either because they are only Liberal in name and Tory in actions, always have been. I am serious about the SNP though, I have been concerned that an arrogance has been setting in, esp around balance of power nonsense even before they won a single seat.

      They go down the road of the report then I’m gone as I will not be a part of that kind of party system.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

      • jimnarlene

        It maybe that, they are struggling under the weight of the new membership, or the article is a fabrication.
        I have not rejoined the party, I was the convener for the Irvine valley, once apon a time, and would have been more informed of such moves within the party, though I do find it sticks in the craw, the thought of such a move.

          • jimnarlene

            I does appear to be a knee jerk reaction to the massive increase in membership, whether it gets through to being in the party’s constitution; is another matter. When the local branches did not agree with the leadership they let them know it, when I was at conference at least. It has to be remembered that, the SNP is a very broad church, it even has members that don’t necessarily want independence?! It’s a whole new ballgame, in Scottish politics, Labour seem to be self destructing and the SNP seem set to fill the void, mistakes will be made, though adoption of Westminster parties way of doing things ain’t the way to go.

            • Anonymous

              Jim

              I suspect you are correct and the massive increase in members must be daunting for many in the leadership as new challenges amerge, esp too many within leadership positions. However, the party need to respond carefully to those challenges or lose the best chance in a lifetime for real meaningful democratic change , that would not only be sad but a travesty for Scotland. Right now is the last chance for change without real social upheaval not just in Scotland but the UK. I hope my blog encourages members to have a think before they just accept things. The party belongs to its members not its elected reps, something that Labour are paying for now.

              Thanks for commenting.

              Bruce

            • jimnarlene

              On the other hand, the author of the article, Aiden Kerr, is no friend of the SNP; as a quick Google search will prove.

              • jimnarlene

                There may be more than one Mr Kerr, there is a picture with a young man with a RIC t-shirt on, and other sites some ramblings. I don’t know who wrote the article for sure, though I think it is the Ric t-shirt wearer. Therefore my last post is not accuracy.

  2. bjsalba

    If the polls are correct and SNP does get 20, 30, 40 or even more MPs, it would drastically change the way the party would operate at Westminster. There would be no choice. A group of about up to a dozen can function function within a very informal arrangement, but once you go much above that, just allowing everyone to have a say on the main issues would take up so much time. Do remember that the press will jump with glee on anyone who deviates from any part of the party line and the hysteria will be such that you would think they had committed a capital crime.

    It is because of an inbred male sexism in politics that we have the current imbalance in representation. If you have a better suggestion on how to get more women into politics than all women shortlists, then I would ask that you put it forward.

    Yes, SNP will struggle but I think they will find a way through.

    • grumpyscottishman

      bjsalba

      I totally accept that there will require to be agreement on the main issues within the SNP if they get the seats that many of us hope that they get, but there also needs to be freedom of speech or nothing changes. If the political parties remain the same then this country, in my opinion, just gets worse and worse and nothing changes in the longer term for the majority and we no longer have the time for that or to serve what has become a small elite in this country. Our politics is broken and infected by drones and careerists, that is something that I have had enough of.

      There is no doubt some sexism within the political movements but the way to change that is not all women short lists, that in my opinion is undemocratic and may actually make things worse in the longer term as some men within the parties might dig their heels in even more. What is needed, in my opinion, is to ensure that the rules are fair. I have spoken to female friends at work and personal life and none of them were in favour of all female short lists, that is interesting in it’self.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  3. squidgybidge

    If true then this sort of policy will hurt the SNP membership. It’s exactly the sort of shit that allowed Labour to slide into the dire stratights it is in. The party can NOT be above democracy. MP’s need to be able to speak their minds. If politics has truly changed in Scotland like we all claim, then authoritarian control like that over your MP’s and the selction process cannot and should not happen.

    We fought to create a better society, we did this through open polictics, where people spoke their minds, we didn’t all hold the same opinions, we openly disagreed and discussd our differences withinn the Yes campaign. Clamping such control over MP’s would be an attempt to silence all the new MP’s who have been allowed to stand as part of the new membership and who were prominent in the “Yes” campaign. Not a clever move, it will turn people off to the SNP if every new MP jsut toes the party line.

    • grumpyscottishman

      squidgy

      I agree with everything you have said, the old ways have to die or we all end up in an even bigger mess than we are now, and that is saying something. If the SNP move down the path being suggested they will lose my membership that is a def.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  4. Mac Beda

    If the SNP are going along the route of the other main parties by insisting the whip is followed in every case then they are making a very big mistake.

    I thought they were going to be different. The MP should serve their constituents first, and the party second. Be brave to be different from westminster.

    • Anonymous

      Mac

      I agree I think that people are very sick of the old way of doing things and any party continuing to operate that way I suspect will suffer at the ballot box.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  5. punklin

    I think you’re missing the point. To beat the British state with its well-established corrupt club non-rules on its own territory will require monastic iron discipline. Read the excellent doctor from Arran citing Jimmy Reid – “There’ll be nae bevying”. Today’s equivalent of the UCS tactics mean that there is no room for dissent, just focus, focus, focus on the prize of as much power as can be wrested for Scotland. No time for self-indulgent mavericks. And I say this as a confirmed radical but not all battles require the same rules – consistency being the bugbear of small minds. Holyrood will be different – there let a thousand flowers bloom, esp green and SSP flowers.

    • Anonymous

      punklin

      There does require discipline on the main issues like education etc, but any party sticking to the rigid system of party first that we have now will be made to pay at the ballot box. From people I talk to and people I work with, they have had enough of Westminster and the old way of doing things so while I respect your view I really don’t think I am missing the point at all. For change to be brought about it will take like mended members in all parties to make that happen, towing the party line is what the old guard want as it preserves their ways and their status and lifestyle. It is no longer good enough for any Politician to be a drone.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  6. Paul

    Mmm…

    I don’t think the issue lies with radicals or MP’s being ornery – its to do with the way other MP’s and the media latch on to it. Its like free thought or having the courage of your convictions is a bad thing.

    That said, there needs to be some basic tenets which you sign up too – no idea where the balance is though.

    • Anonymous

      Paul

      I am not advocating a free for all as we know that won’t work, but we do need people to stand up when a policy is just plain wrong, like sanctions. I really believe that people have had enough of the party drones now and any party going down that road will be made to pay at the ballot box. While I also accept that the media still retains a huge degree of influence, esp the BBC, that is also slowly coming to an end. if politicians in any party decide that towing the party line is more important on everything irrespective of the own or constituents opinions then that will be it for me. I don’t think we can wait around anymore hoping for change to happen, we have to make it happen and that might mean becoming ever more radical as we move forward in Scotland.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  7. hektorsmum

    I shall wait and see, I do not understand this thing about promoting women, there is no shortage of very competent women within the SNP. There has to be some discipline in a Political Party and Bruce there had always been dissent the latest was joining Nato. I worry about these people writing this, what is the agenda. Buzzfeed is no friend to the SNP, much friendlier to Labour. They are working on people I feel, this is not the time for this.

    • Anonymous

      Hektorsmum

      They probably wrote it to score points but it doesn’t take away from the facts. There has to be discipline and there will be because in the main they believe the same things. However, any move to stiffle the freedom of elected reps to speak freely will backfire badly, I have spoken to a few new members who feel the same. Any move to things being party first will result in members leaving, myself included . I’m not interested in the old way of doing things.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

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