Are the SNP afraid of the voters?

jimtoggleJim O’Neill says SNP candidates avoiding hustings has become endemic and points to a worrying problem in our politics.


What is happening to the SNP constituency campaign? We are hearing of their candidates not turning up for arranged hustings, most recently in Paisley and Coatbridge. In my own Cunninghame South constituency, the SNP candidate called off the biggest hustings at the last minute, going to hospital allegedly with chest pains, but being released two hours later.

Chest pains are often a sign of serious cardiac malfunction and almost always result in an overnight stay in hospital for tests and monitoring. However, the SNP candidate was fit enough to be in Irvine Town Centre the following Saturday giving away kids toys like windmills, balloons and flags. Not a policy leaflet in sight.

This is important in that the hustings was to be recorded by our local community radio station and broadcast to a wider audience than those who could attend. Irvine Beat pulled the programme, citing concerns that it would not be balanced without an SNP voice. The SNP put up no alternative.

Now we hear that their candidate has pulled out of the last major hustings, run by UNISON, apparently sending the 10th place candidate on the list, someone who has no connection with Cunninghame South. Once again the SNP candidate has run away from responding to constituents face to face, in this case important in that she has been instrumental in diving through many of the job losses in North Ayrshire as a result of SNP austerity. UNISON members were wanting to ask her: why?

It was recognised in the last Holyrood parliament that the SNP members were little more than a bunch of Stepford wives, programmed to respond with the same answers as passed to them by SNP high command. That became even more clear in last year’s Westminster election when the candidates were forced to sign a pledge that they would not criticise any SNP policy, no matter its effect on their constituency, nor criticise colleagues nor the SNP High Command. This Stalinist approach to Party management has also been applied to their conferences where they are not allowed to discuss difficult issues such as fracking.

Surely this cannot be good for Scotland’s democracy. SNP-supporting papers regularly attack the Labour Party on the basis of individual members’ statements, as if they have opened up a massive rift in our party policies. Most recent examples are Mary Lockhart on Scexit and Frank Field on Brexit. Both of these are not new positions and are very much in the minority in what is a remarkably policy coherent Party. Anyway, that is how we develop policy in the Labour Party, through open debate rather than through Nicola’s diktat. Many people are now turning away from that and we are definitely seeing a resurgence of our support across the country. Kez needs to embrace this approach, as I am sure she will, and our Party will be the better for it.

Finally, I cannot end without mentioning the bravery of the families of the 96 Liverpool supporters who died at Hillsborough. They suffered shocking and scurrilous attacks from such as the Sun and Boris Johnston but they stuck to their campaign and finally won the unlawful killing verdict their loved ones deserved. Maybe it is time for an apology from the Sun and from the rest of the Murdoch rags, but I am not holding my breath. What about an investigation into the behaviour of the SUN (Prop: Rupert Murdoch, Editor: Kelvin McKenzie) as to the quality of their reporting, by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee (former prop: John Whippingdale). Don’t think that will happen either. All I can say to the families, and to the people of Liverpool is “You’ll never walk alone”.

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One thought on “Are the SNP afraid of the voters?

  1. Your probably right Jim, I can see why the SNP candidates want to keep their heads down. The SNP although riding what appears to be an unstoppable wave of popularity since 2014 have a problem, but you will never hear them speak of it. It is a crisis of identity. They thought they knew what they stood for but this up and coming referendum on the UK in/out of Europe is challenging all the nationalists beliefs.
    The SNP say, vote to Remain on June 23 but actually hope that the UK votes to Leave.
    The SNP policy is to leave the UK and remain in EU but if the UK votes Leave Holyrood would get a lot more of the powers that presently reside with EU. In fact it is reasonable to argue that if the UK does vote Leave Scotland would end up with more powers as part of an independent UK than it would as an independent Scotland in EU.
    The SNP are aware of this but dont dare say it because it challenges all their preconceptions.
    There are other deep anxieties. The 56 SNP MPs have taken their seats in their most hated of places. They are part of it. They look ridiculous and they feel ridiculous.
    They have another major problem never to be mentioned in good company. It is the call for a second referendum on Scottish independence. They know they can never call it and yet they have 100,000 new members desperate for a rerun. This is a big problem becuase independence is the nationalists reason to live. They know that if they put it in a SNP manifesto they would have to call it but they are also aware that if they did Scottish unionists and Westminster would refuse to recognise its legitimacy and rightly so. Why should they? They won the last one. And what legitmacy would a second referendum have if the result was 90% Yes but unionists didnt bother to vote?
    And the worst nightmare for nationalists is, if the UK votes to remain part of EU on 23 June. If , and it is the more likely result, that happens the voice of Scottish unionists will be deafening. They will say with conviction something along the lines of ‘look you lost the first one but you won the second so go away with all the constitutional stuff’. Scottish unionists are going to be a lot more dismissive of the never ending debate on Scotland’s constitutional future after 23 June.
    So Jim, it is no coincidence that you have noticed a number of SNP candidates throwing a sicky when they are booked to meet the electorate.

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