Got home from holiday to find a phone message from an SNP candidate for deputy leader. Would I like to join the launch and may be do a bit of tweeting? I was suddenly confronted with making a choice when I’d told myself it was up to party members. Since I never joined, I mentally opted out – and grateful to do so. It’s a difficult field to choose from.
This isn’t Kezia or Murphy or Alex and…and whoever else was in for the Labour deputy job. (Do the Tories have a deputy?)* Is there a second-in-command, as it were, to Willie Rennie?
No, this looks life a right-enough tussle between three heavy hitters and one makeweight in a party where the deputy really can play a meaningful role. I will discount the Inverclyde councillor as he isn’t going to win but I commend his ambition.
If I had a vote would I give to Angus? I have to say he deserves heaps of credit for building a profile at Westminster for the whole movement by mastering and manipulating the old boys’ club by the Thames. He is second only to Sturgeon in the positive publicity he has generated often from quite unlikely places in the London political establishment and the commentariat, aided of course by the retreat from serious politics of Labour. But I buy the line that he is already an important part of the leadership apparatus and I’m not convinced adding another title would bring tangible benefits. I think deputy is a role which allows creative tension in order to prod and probe at the leader’s sensibilities…stops ‘em getting complacent. Nothing worse than supporters morphing into Yes men and shaving off the sharper edges of the boss.
So Alyn or Tommy?
There are few people in the party I have admired for so long as Alyn Smith whose wry take on the assumed certainties and predictable personalities among the SNP I share. One of my main regrets from the indyref is that the party didn’t listen early enough to his promptings on Europe and how it should be broatched to avoid the car crash that occured. He’s an enthusiast without being a bore and has settled easily into the Euro scene. He exudes the kind of confidence I expect from a European insider representing an independent member state rather than a devolved region. The highest praise I can offer is to say he reminds me of Allan Mccartney whose early death robbed the SNP of one of our most sane and intellectually sound envoys. You couldn’t ask for a better replacement.
The European angle is now as important as Westminster and it would do no harm to underline that point by making one of the most dynamic politicians – tasked with persuading other nations to Scotland’s side – second only to the First Minister.
And then there’s Tommy. In some ways he’s the most interesting because he represents the new breed who have enthused the party and swelled it with dynamism – and impatience. He grew tired of and fell out with Labour. He helped start a thriving business in comedy. He is a doer and an organiser who gives the impression of being unstoppable. I imagine him chafing under the SNP tight discipline at Westminster where there is a group of the new MPs turning restless. This is a good thing because the pressure for change and progress eventually nudges the tiller to the west. If you were looking for someone with the wit and the energy to challenge the status quo short of outright rebellion, you’d pick him.
It may be a Labour past but there is about him the sense of indignation that there such inequality so while the Chinese long view of the SNP old hands makes sense, the dig and drive of a Sheppard can be a constant spur to progress and development. Being deputy would open up to him opportunities for media outings in which he is persuasive and often compelling. And wouldn’t the sight of someone who only joined the party in 2014 rising to such a giddy perch act as an incentive to recent converts and those still tempted? Anyway he’d add a vivid splash of character and I’d vote for him. Not that it’s any of my business…by