There is one particularly worrying mindset among some fellow SNP members which has repeatedly recurred across social media, particularly Facebook, in response to my observations. It is what might be seen as the apotheosis of political corporatism.
I take these comments from my last post to illustrate the point, though the same meme can be found in hundreds of comments this last couple of days on many sites and tweets:
“Perhaps it would have been better just to accept you didn’t get the job.”
“If the guy can’t even handle a very polite rejection for a job without blogging about it for 3 days, then he shouldn’t be near politics. Period.”
And most tellingly:
“This is the retail equivalent of going for a job interview at ALDI, being unsuccessful and then deciding to set fire to the store on the wayout.”
There is something very worrying – and I really do mean very worrying – about people who believe that a corporation hiring staff is the correct comparator for somebody seeking to enter a democratic process. I was not asking corporate managers acting on behalf of shareholders to give me a position as an employee.
A political party is not a company. It is not owned by shareholders. Its members are supposed to be, within the party, on an equal, democratic footing. I was seeking to put my view of the correct direction for the SNP before the members of the party in a constituency, where I had spoken and been questioned at four hustings meetings. The members in the constituency could then take a democratic vote on whether they thought I was the best candidate or not. I was prevented from remaining in that democratic process and my name was removed from the ballot, due to a decision at HQ. Had I been selected I would have wanted to put my vision of an independent Scotland – consistent with the programme of the SNP – before the electorate as a whole, and conduct a most vigorous campaign and debate.
The idea that this exercise in democracy is a job interview at Aldi clearly is inappropriate. The people who put that idea forward have no feeling for liberty or democracy. For them, seats at Westminster are jobs for the boys in the gift of party managers, and the ordinary members have no more say in it than the staff do in the policy of Aldi. I find some of these attitudes genuinely worrying. I was concerned that the SNP contains a very strong democratic centralist tendency, which we members must guard against. I now see I was wrong. I should have deleted the word democratic from that sentence.