Just realised I missed the SNP manifesto launch. Still – so what? Who needs to read it when I know it’ll be perfect in every way. Others may laugh but there’s a deep contentment to be had from blindly believing everything you’re told. Handing over responsibility for judgement and decision to somebody else is such a release. I don’t have to think for myself at all. Baby boxes? Brilliant! More money to head teachers? Genius!
I’ve looked at the pictures and frankly any party that can stage an event like that with a leader who’s better than a TV evangelist can do no wrong in my opinion. I see the Brits have been flag-waving over the Queen but to be honest she’s not a patch on oor Nicola. She’s real royalty. You have to pity all those other party people with their crappy one-man-and-a-dog launches and misspelt manifestos nobody reads, all vying for a handful of votes just to get a one or two – or any – seats. Imagine having to work out who to vote for and why. Who can be bothered. Why can’t they just pick up a tambourine and join us?
I paraphrase for you all, of course but this is how we are presented by the discerning, non-judgmental voices of an open and inclusive democracy. (From what I read, they couldn’t actually find much content to criticise in the manifesto so falling back on the lazy cliché is understandable). You’ll gather I’m not overly impressed with the stagey attempts at painting the dictatorial, centralising, over powerful Nats as, well…dictatorial, centralising and over powerful.
If one party is in power over generations and spreads its tentacles through the institutions of society, gets sticky fingers and turns itself into a Jobcentre for the relatives (I’m thinking Scottish Labour) there is indeed a danger to society, especially when the majorities are so high there’s no realistic prospect of unseating them. Or so they thought. Is that where we are in modern Scotland? Has the SNP taken over the institutions of our country? Did they appoint the head of the BBC? Is the leader of the STUC a Nat? Or the CBI? Or Scottish Opera? Or Creative Scotland? Does Sturgeon order the media around? Has any organisation been hijacked by the SNP? The only suggestion of cronyism was the puerile attempt mainly by the Herald to link a former party staffer to a grant for TinthePark – a ‘story’ utterly discredited since as being without foundation.
Also the SNP didn’t win the 2007 election. They had exactly one seat more than Labour. They were a minority government. They were happy to seek alliance with others but the Liberals were too high handed and too Unionist to deign to serve.
There was nothing foregone about the 2011 result, except that we knew the SNP would do well and probably govern. Nobody – as in nobody –predicted an overall majority. The critics talk about landslides but they only still had a majority of four seats over the magic 65. Even then they lost two to resignations during the parliament (albeit still supporting on the main issues).
On the other hand Tony Blair in 1997 had a majority of 179! Scottish Labour won the largest share of the vote in Scotland at every election from 1964 until 2015. In 1997 they had 56 out of 72 Westminster seats. These are truly massive figures that in Scotland existed over a generational period. There is no doubt that many worried about the embedded distortion on public life but Labour’s failure wasn’t in being deaf to it, but rather the failure to do anything about it. The SNP’s rise has been rapid and short by comparison – it’s hardly a generational change so far. And I would be astonished if they weren’t alive to the risks of being the incumbent having observed Labour’s travails.
But isn’t the point here that it takes a bull-size brass neck for those who surfed the wave of power to complain now that someone else has the key to the door? Why is it a problem if Scotland elects a majority government? One argument is that Holyrood was never intended to be this way. But that’s because it dates from the nineties and is the brainchild of Labour itself. It was meant to lock in a Unionist majority – in itself an anti-democratic concept. Since then Scotland has changed. Our politics have blown the cosy old consensus to smithereens. Why do so many of the intelligentsia have a problem with that change being represented in a democratic vote to elect a government? Why can’t they allow Holyrood to evolve according to the wishes of the voters? Since when did a majority become something to be despised?
Scotland is the only country too afraid of itself to vote for its own independence. Are we now to be the only country afraid to elect a government with a democratic majority?
I have no difficulty in accepting that the SNP are venal politicians but then so are they all. They fought hard to get where they are today and aren’t ready to relinquish more than they feel comfortable with. Surprise!
Jogging them along is what we all have to do and in my case I’m unhappy that they made a Nat the Presiding Officer. It was Labour’s turn. I think there is scope for a committee of the house to carry out a kind of practical-implications-scrutiny of legislation – not to challenge the principle behind it but to look for holes that may have been missed and consequences unconsidered. I believe the committees should be put on a firmer foundation to enshrine neutrality to remove any influence of whips from decision-making. I would like us to move to an STV voting system. But I am very wary of those who dislike the influence of a party so joyously embraced by the voters. It’s almost as if the commentariat knows best.
Some of these critics makes themselves look foolish indeed. Take for example the estimable David Gow, a retired Guardian hack and lifelong Labour diehard who, among other things, edits something called Sceptical Scot. David is a leftie with an abiding contempt for the SNP. No amount of explanation and justification about European social democrats or social justice will convince him Nats are anything but ignorant teuchters who hate the English. Jock Farages, the lot of ‘em…
He was at the interestingly-timed Electoral Reform Society conference on ‘predominant parties’ in Scotland. He tweeted : ‘good lineup for debate on one-party rule at Blythswood Hall after @theSNP presidential manifesto launch by dear leader’.
Get the drift?
If you imagine that he was there because he’s dead interested in improving Scottish democracy rather than to stick the knife into the SNP, I offer you this link to his blog.
Was he writing this stuff when Blair had his mountainous majorities? No, I fear that outright opposition to the SNP is being camouflaged by false flag waving. Pretending to be concerned about democracy when you’re real agenda is fighting the Nats is devious. I get tired of people who never declare their true allegiance while posing as principled critics. The Sceptical Scot site for example preens itself thus: Scotland’s premier non-tribal forum for passionate, informed debate. Sceptical Scot is for all who care about Scotland’s future, regardless of how they vote: for party, independence or union, EU or Brexit. We aim to provide an arena that is both broader and deeper than current online/print offers with a rich diet of well-researched, polemical, thought-provoking writing. Aye. Right.
I checked their editorial board. After David comes Lucy Hunter Blackman, a well-qualified sometime civil servant. She came to prominence with a one-woman campaign attacking the SNP’s no tuition fees policy. It was picked up by the media and repeated by Rattle magazine, brainchild of disaffected former SNP officer Alex Bell and by the ScotlandinUnion Unionist zoomer site. http://www.scotlandinunion.co.uk/http_rattle_scot_exclusive-inequality-the-establishment-and-student-funding
Next is Jackie Kemp, a fine journalist in her own right and daughter of renowned editor (sorely missed today) Arnold. Jackie is a regular in the Huffington Post trotting out darkly sinister stuff about the SNP’s apparent racism and alleged Nazi past. Try here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jackie-kemp/oops-are-the-snps-roots-showing_b_9590490.html
Note how in the second article the theme again surfaces of voters being too stupid to see what the intelligentsia can. How can the SNP be so popular?
When, as I hope, the voters return an SNP majority, we can expect a lot more of this sanctimonious ‘non-tribal’ drivel from the self-appointed Compliance Officers of the Scottish Commentariat. For the rest of us it will add an extra piquant pleasure to know we not only elected the government we wanted, but we stuck up two fingers to the arrogant know-alls too afraid to confess to their own political allegiance.by