I write this on Sunday morning (19 March), and won't seek to make any predictions about outcomes of the current turmoil within the SNP given Wednesday's publication date is still three days away. I've written nothing more since I had an article published in SR exactly a year ago on Holyrood and the performance of our SNP/Green government under Nicola Sturgeon. The crows have well and truly come home to roost since then.
In 2007, the SNP stood on a platform of abolishing ring fencing (the Holyrood Government dictating how revenue grant money is spent by councils), yet there is more of that now than ever, with councillors becoming mere ciphers, simply there to take the flack for decisions essentially made elsewhere. The underlying ethos that central government knows best is a negation of the case for independence.
The political impact of this continual centralisation of governance in Scotland with so little improvement having been achieved meant the focus had to be on blaming external forces, namely Westminster. The irony being that this constant political warring with the UK Government mirrored the same deflection strategy being applied by it to the EU. After Johnson and Truss, Sunak has had to take a more constructive approach, despite this Tory Government being the most right-wing in living memory. The new First Minister will have to do likewise.
Within the SNP, the de-democratisation of the party under the Sturgeon/Murrell regime is now becoming fully exposed. What we are seeing is not so much a house of cards collapsing as the domino effect, where a fiction perpetrated by the leadership has led to the total collapse of their credibility, triggering a long string of resignations among their appointees and place-persons. Despite the apparent naivety of our media in failing to more thoroughly expose this, to date 50,000 SNP members have had enough and left the party.
There has been vacuity at the heart of the Scottish Government. In the eight years since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, genuinely party-led policy formulation has died. The Covid pandemic served her well politically, as it gave her something to talk about, and she is indisputably a good communicator. The ill-advised and unnecessary coalition with the Scottish Greens has given them disproportionate influence on policy formulation, the outcome of which has been the political equivalent of a motorway pile up of unworkable acts and draft legislation that will indisputably harm our economy if enacted.
It is time for a big change, both within the Scottish Government and the SNP internally. A new leader will have over three years to reorientate and reinvigorate the party, with plenty of alienated supporters willing to lend a hand. There may be some departures by special interest group members who have been granted spectacularly influential positions despite their small numbers. There is perhaps an even bigger problem with Holyrood itself though, as, excluding Conservative MSPs, all others were subject to a whipped final vote on the flawed Gender Recognition Reform Bill and it passed overwhelmingly. Whose views were they representing? They were certainly not those of the majority of their constituents.
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