Comment: Mistake?

I have been having a wee think, yeah it does actually happen from time to time, and I have been thinking about the rumours that are starting to surface about the impending SNP Conference in October.

It’s looking like there will be no debate about the timing of the next independence referendum or the issue of the growth commission or currency debate. Common Space are reporting that they have seen the provisional list of motions for the conference and Scottish Independence is no where to be seen. This is either a mark of genius or a huge mistake. By not debating the timing of the next indy referendum or the growth commission report for me are potential mistakes that will alienate some of the SNP membership, but more worryingly the wider YES movement.

I was a member of the party and left in 2014 when all women shorts lists were coming in and the consolidation of power within the party by the national executive that for me became less democratic, not more. Now I understand the need for party discipline but even Tommy Shepherd when announcing his withdrawal from the Deputy Leadership contest noted that “the key task here is to modernise our policy making structures so that our mass membership can have much more of a say, and the considerable talent and expertise that lies within our ranks harnessed”. Malcolm Kerr, SNP Convenor in Arron, has broken ranks and noted that for this October conference “The big issues of the day are conspicuously absent: public health, Europe, Trident, local government finance, energy policy, land reform. The word ‘independence’ is only mentioned once.” “Scotland is looking to our movement for inspiration and leadership, not just competent management. We have a duty to showcase the diversity of views within the SNP, which is a strength, not a weakness.”

The SNP are rightfully saying that not everything can be debated due to the limited time available so some people will be disappointed by that, but when your conference becomes a happy clappy self congratulation of your achievements while avoiding the pressing issues that both many in membership, but also the wider public, sympathetic to the independence cause, expect to see debated you are running the risk of alienating the very people you rely on. I noted in my last blog that both the SNP and the YES movement need each other to deliver that desperately needed yes vote but non members are more likely to shift their vote or not vote at all if they feel that you are either afraid to debate the issues, have went soft on the issues, or are avoiding the issues.

I totally accept that the SNP are the only vehicle to an independence referendum, while I am not a member I also don’t want to see the SNP failing for the reason of independence and of the fact that a unionist holyrood would be a disaster for Scotland in every shape or form. However, I am also not someone who doesn’t speak their mind. If the SNP actively avoid the issues without giving a hell of a lot better explanation than time, they are running the risk of seriously pissing off their members, and the YES movement, to the extent that they could split the movement or bring about a disillusionment in the cause to the extent that people don’t vote in ever greater numbers than those that didn’t turn out at the last GE.

I accept that many people on this blog, and elsewhere, are urging patience due to Brexit and I get that but by being seen to be avoiding the issue in public will in my opinion do a lot of damage to the issues as we move forward and will give the unionists all the ammo they need, along with their media friends, to imply that both the SNP and the wider YES movement are soft on independence. I would also be worried about what this says to the thousands that will march in Dundee tomorrow for independence. Now is not the time for being overly cautious and playing games, debate is healthy in any movement and if the SNP are starting to be fearful about even having the debate then they will lose support and will be on that slippery slope of Scottish Labour, you lose your core vote they are not coming back.

My message to the SNP leadership as a yes voting SNP voter, be careful, be very careful. If you won’t even debate then people will go where their voices will be heard and a debate will be found, when the discussion is being had in the Scottish Greens the Scottish Greens is where people might decide to go.

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12 Responses to Comment: Mistake?

  1. Stan Wilson says:

    Forgive me if I am labouring under a misunderstanding, but are the SNP not holding 3 or 4 organized debates on the Growth Commission? I thought this was to encourage a wider debate for all to air their views on all or any aspect within the Report. Is this not a more effective route to take which means the Conference can then be better informed of public opinions and then finalize the agenda? Not putting an item about a referendum date on a proposed agenda does not necessarily preclude an item from not being added. Omission at this time may be a smart move by not pre warning our opposition. Just thought I would throw these random ideas into the discussion.

    • Stan
      I haven’t heard about a wider debate on the growth Commission so sorry about that. From what I have read and a few party members that I know and asked before I decided to blog about said as far as they know the referendum will not be debated or selected as a motion and they didn’t think there was to be a debate on Brexit but they weren’t sure. They also think it might be a stormy conference as they were expecting an announcement on Indy2 and think if nothing is said it will cause problems. I personally think it’s a big mistake as they did this last year also and when people like Tommy Shepherd have reservations it doesn’t make unity easy but it might make some people disappointed and disillusioned with the pace of things. Hopefully more of the conference will be shown this time and it will be interesting. I appreciate it’s such a tough thing to decide but silence will do more harm than good. No one should give the impression they take a yes vote for granted, I’m not saying they are doing that but it won’t stop the impression.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Mike Lothian says:

    Unfortunately the other parties and the press and capitalising on this by saying the SNP leadership and the Yes Movement and the SNP grassroots are fighting amongst themselves – which we’ve gotten in the habit of doing. Infact I’d say we’re better at bringing ourselves down than the Unionists are.

    • Mike
      I’m not a member so don’t have any opportunity to express other than my blog but debate is a good thing but if any party tries to stifle debate it’s a problem of their own making. The snp can’t win but as the movement is ramping up the SNP need to make a statement wether they like it or not. If they don’t they risk losing trust and they will suffer and it will be of their own making. I gave up caring what the yoons and their media thought a long time ago as they are no longer relevant but I do care about the yes side and the snp and yes need each other so need to talk.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Stan Wilson says:

    Hi Bruce
    Apart from the debate on Brexit, I believe the Conference is being held before the final Tory deal is to be made public. I feel, with the final deal not being declared before the Conference, Nicola will only commit to a further statement being forthcoming once the deal has been looked at. I also feel that the decision to hold a referendum must be before March 2019. This would necessitate a short campaign and Holyrood setting the parameters of the referendum without Westminster’s involvement. An advisory does not require a Section 30 and as Brexit set the precedence for advisory referendum, the will of the people, assuming a Yes majority, must be accepted by Westminster and UN definition. Should a date be set for after March 2019, I do fear, if no transition period still under EU oversight, that the SG will be weakened to regional council status and UK Office in Scotland will rule by Westminster proxy. This will mean a more bitter and longer struggle for Scotland to become a normal nation.

    Sorry if rambling but, I believe you are right to be concerned.

    • Stan
      I just can’t see a referendum before March 2019, I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t think it will happen. I also do think that any referendum is going to the courts and if the supreme court rule against holyrood on brexit that may make things more difficult. The SNP do need to make a comment though, the members I know are definitely expecting something to move before the end of the year at the very latest.

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. bjsalba says:

    I am an SNP member and regularly go to conferences. I don’t want to see the weighty matters on independence crammed into the short time that is available at a conference. What is more, I don’t necessarily want to concentrate on what some folk – in particular the hostile Scottish press – will want to consider as the key issues. Those will be the ones they want to hammer SNP with over and over in they referendum campaign.

    There are meetings scheduled and they are open to all SNP members – not just conference delegates. Do you expect SNP to hand it to you in a nice package with no effort on your part? Then don’t grumble it it is not what you want. If you are interested join SNP and come to the meetings. If you don’t want to join SNP then find yourself another group and get working on what you want to see in an Independent Scotland.

    The EU Article 50 schedule is pretty fixed. What is more, from what I have read the EU27 are making serious preparations for a crash out Brexit. They mean business. I believe (but I am not sure) the Council meets on 18 October, and Barnier needs about two weeks lead time with a done deal. That means we should have a very good idea of what kind of Brexit it will be by conference time.

  5. bjsalba
    I was a member and as I noted left for the reasons stated, also realised that political parties are too stifling for me due to political correctness and too many ambitious hangers on. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the questions being asked are valid and not a unionist conspiracy, being cautious is fine, playing your cards close to your chest is fine but when doing that begins to alienate people in and outside your party it’s a problem. I have heard members of the party and non members ask valid questions. I think, no matter what anyone thinks, silence is a mistake. That’s my opinion and I don’t apologise for that, I could not give a crap what the unionists of their media think as they won’t decide the next referendum that will be down to vision and faith. If the SNP don’t share some of their vision for the way ahead for indy2 then they will find people losing faith, doesn’t make them yoons, impatient, weak etc. It makes them human and if they believe for one minute that the party don’t share their time table and urgency then we all lose because that party will lose votes
    Thanks for commenting.

  6. Kangaroo says:

    In a war, one thing you don’t do is share your thoughts with your enemy. By not discussing indyref2 or the Growth Commission you are minimising any opportunity for the enemy informants to know your intentions and to attack your position. The Generals should only consult with the troops when the position is unclear. To me, and everyone else, it is clear that we are fighting for indy and the final battle approaches, troops are gathering their strength and the leadership will strike when the moment is at hand. Until that moment preparation is everything, pick the battlefield swampy ground or firm, choose your troops, train and position them, encourage them and give them something to do, conferences street stalls and AUOB marches. Deal with any skirmishes, Union Jack branding, media bias, Continuity Bill court case and EU negotiations. Watch your enemies movements such as UK Gov Edinburgh and encourage them to make mistakes, it’s fun to watch the brexit clusterfuck. Take great care to time the final assault very carefully to maximise your chance of success whilst minimising that of the enemy. When you do strike make sure your enemy is dead, do not let him get up wounded, he must be eliminated and offer no future threat. This is difficult when you have 5million and the enemy 60million, nevertheless it must be done.

    This is what must happen and that is why you will not know what is happening until it does.

    Trust in your Generals for without them there would be no indy. Meanwhile I encourage you to have a good read of Sun Tsu “The Art of War”.

    • Kangaroo
      I understand what you are saying (Stan also) but I think there is a fear that the referendum is going to get kicked into the long grass, esp if the UK delays Brexit which it might. Some Tories would like to pass the mess onto Labour if they could. I think people do trust Nicola Sturgeon to be a competent leader, she is a safe and steady pair of hands but that won’t appease many if there is no sort of update pretty soon on the parties position. If it is kicked into the long grass expect to see a back lash at the next election with low turn out of SNP voters from the yes side, I have heard people say that if a referendum is not announced soon or is delayed for the longer term then they won’t vote as a protest to get the message across. As I have said I don’t envy the SNP and maybe they can’t win either way but taking the yes movement for granted by silence will come back to haunt them.

      Thanks for commenting.

  7. Dave Albiston says:

    I think it is about time that Nicola showed her face at an AUOB march. If she can lead a Gay Pride march then surely she can lead a march for independence. We have had some SNP MSPs along but Nicola is the figurehead. It would help to avoid the jibe that independence is not her priority which will become a meme in the msm if it is not on the conference agenda.

    I think the Edinburgh march coincides with the conference so she is going to miss her chance and leave many independence supporters wondering about their support for the SNP.

    • Dave
      I do have a lot of sympathy for your view, Nicola Sturgeon can’t win either way as the yoons will have a go whatever she does, or says, and as the leader of the independence party I would expect to see her at least at one of the marches. That would send a message to the yes movement in and of itself, and that needs to be done in my opinion to help keep spirits up. I like Nicola Sturgeon a lot and think she is a good leader but I did prefer Salmond and would be happy with Russell when change comes as I prefer the more in your face. I sometimes think that some in the SNP play the unionist game when maybe the attitude should be more of a f them.

      Thanks for commenting.


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