Thoughts on the SNP Conference 117


I am campaigning for the SNP in this general election. As I am still locked away finishing my book for 95% of my waking moments, that campaigning has been desultory so far, but will shortly be more lively. I am vain enough to think that my talents stretch beyond canvassing and delivering leaflets, but as the SNP show no desire to ask me to do anything else, that is what I shall be doing.

I did however emerge from my cocoon at the weekend to attend the SNP conference. Here are some very brief thoughts.

Firstly, it was great to be at the conference speech of the leader of a mainstream party, in which she pledged to no replacement for Trident, no more benefit cuts and the abolition of the House of Lords. The last got the biggest cheer of the whole Conference. I was wondering just how many people in England would like the chance to vote for the SNP.

I had a counterbalancing doubt at the back of my mind about this enthusiasm for – as Nicola Sturgeon put it – “Improving” the UK. I don’t want to improve the Union, I want to end it. Power has a fatal attraction to politicians, and I think I detected that exercising power in the United Kingdom is today gleaming brighter in the dreams of some professional SNP politicians than is independence for Scotland.

The other thing I did not like was the machine politics and management of it all. The entire first day there was not a motion that was passed other than by acclaim, and there was not a single speech against anything, though there were a couple of attempts at referral back. The only item permitted on to the conference agenda, in closed session on day 2, that was in the least likely to cause controversy was the adoption of all women shortlists – and the only reason that was on the agenda was that the leader made it abundantly plain she wanted it. I incline to the view that as a short term measure it is justified, but I abstained because I did not like what I saw of the way it was managed.

It was the only debate the leader sat through, and it was very plain she was watching carefully how people were voting. There was a definite claque of paid party apparatchiks and organised feminists occupying front centre of the hall. There was a strong suspicion, voiced by Christine Graham, that deliberately weak and left field speakers had been chosen against women shortlists. And for the vote, party functionaries including Angus Robertson and Ian McCann stood at the side of the hall very ostensibly noting who voted which way and making sure that the payroll vote performed. I was right next to where Angus Robertson stood as he did this. He moved into position just before the vote, made it very obvious indeed what he was doing, and left immediately after. I found myself regarding the prospect of a whole raft of new MPs, their research assistants and secretaries providing 200 more payroll votes, as depressing.

Coming back to the plus side, I was delighted by the content of many of the resolutions passed, including on the right to return of the Chagos islanders and the inequity of financial tests used by the Home Office to keep immigrant families apart. I left pretty convinced that if we can get the abolition of the monarchy, leaving NATO, and an independent Scotland abandoning the pound sterling onto the agenda, we will pass them. But how to get past the agenda gatekeepers? The party is completely sewn up.

I had intended to speak against the new standing orders for Westminster MPs, which contain eleven draconian clauses on whipping and discipline, as against three more liberal ones in the old standing orders. I confess I did not get to speak because the item was called at 9.05 on Sunday morning, on the morning the clocks went forward, and I was commuting from Edinburgh. The spirit was willing but the flesh is pretty knackered.


117 thoughts on “Thoughts on the SNP Conference

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  • Habbabkuk (La vita e' bella)

    Mr Scorgie

    Very good to see you’re still around to pop in once in a while; I thought you’d retired, your job on here done.

    Congratulations on finding the one time that the word ” family” is used. Do you not find it surprising that a lengthy piece of legislation on children and young people should mention that word only once and if not, why not?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita e' bella)

    Lysias

    Could we have some more interesting information on UK political history, please? Any aspect of your choosing, bien entendu!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,

    You really an idealistic, naïve – but honest diplomat. That is how I perceive you. When you say this:-

    ” I am vain enough to think that my talents stretch beyond canvassing and delivering leaflets, but as the SNP show no desire to ask me to do anything else, that is what I shall be doing”

    1. I can deal with your vanity.

    2. I can accept and respect your talent.

    3. But -I cannot appreciate or perceive any political competence on the hustings. N.B. while George Galloway is electable ( for reasons if you honestly analyse – deep down you will despise – but you do not have the traits of a true effective and competent politician – simple!).

    Thus, I honestly think that you should stick to what you do best – and – it is not at all trying to become an elected representative. You are simply not cut out for it.

    Courtenay

  • Habbabkuk (La vita e' bella)

    Craig

    “Realising how much I have missed all of you, without exception, while the blog has been largely dark. Or maybe its just the merlot”
    ________________________

    The blog “dark”?

    Tut, tut – you must have been wearing a welder’s faceshield not to have noticed all the brilliant flashes of wit and wisdom and the sudden shafts of blinding illumination, all the more welcome for being totally unexpected.

    Please do not under-estimate your handful of (all too) regular commenters! 🙂

  • fwlster

    Any party which doesn’t give space for mavericks and dissent ain’t worth the effort as it will only attract wanna be toadies. If in doubt dissent and assess what happens.

  • fwlster

    & on a toadying note I disagree with CB I think Craig is electable, though as a whistleblower once elected he will have the whips behind him at all time.

  • fred

    “I’m not being pedantic Fred I only feel that I must pull you up when you talk poo.”

    So you say the only instance of the word “family” you could find in the act wasn’t referring to the child’s own family?

  • lysias

    Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Ukraine:

    His bid for greater sovereignty for Spaniards includes a wider separation of Europe from the US, which he feels dictated EU policy over Ukraine. “I don’t feel any ideological sympathy for Putin, but I think the EU was wrong to take such a belligerent stance with Russia,” he said. Referring to the Maidan protests that eventually led to the revolution, he said: “It was unreasonable to back what – to use a softer expression than coup d’etat – was an illegal displacement of political power.”

    Podemos is very likely to win next year’s election in Spain.

  • RobG

    Whilst I respect all opinions posted here (and I read all of them), none seem to address central issues, which seem to me:

    1) England (and in particular the south east) has turned into a neocon lunatic asylum.

    2) All media (including the likes of the Guardian) are now almost completely controlled by corporate interests.

    3) Because of this we now live in an ersatz democracy.

    I read and post on this blog because people in Scotland do still retain some sense of reality, and morality.

    As I’ve said before, you lot north of the border are our only hope at the moment.

    And this is a very, very sad indictment of things south of the border.

  • Old Mark

    Lysias

    Could we have some more interesting information on UK political history, please? Any aspect of your choosing, bien entendu!

    Habba-Three of Lysias’s informative posts on this thread are off the main topic but cover recent events in Israel. Are you similarly appreciative of these ?

    Lysias- I assume you posted these as a rebuttal to the very one sided holiday reminiscences of Anon on the previous thread, which Habba subsequently endorsed. Do correct me if this assumption is wrong.

  • Peacewisher

    Just England, RobG? Seems like they’ve done the same “reorientating” to much of Europe…

  • John Goss

    Thanks Herbie. That Oliver Kamm seems to be the same kind of left-winger as David Aaronovitch. I could see the two of them dining, whining and getting on together like dung-flies at a cow-pat.

  • RobG

    True, Peacewisher, that the same coup d’etat has been going on all over Europe, but I would propose that in places like France and Germany the people would never let the power elites get away with it as much as people in the UK do.

    Heck, the French would be out on the streets burning cars just over the colour of Kate’s latest maternity dress.

  • BrianFujisan

    Thanks for this post Craig.

    I admire your Drive, and conviction.

    i have been worrying a wee bit on some of the Machinations you point to.

    Then i go to yesinverclyde meeting a few weeks ago and listening to apologists for the bbc. ” they don’t understand the Scottish Political mindset… So Blatant Lies are ok then ( Nasty Nick Robinson )

    RobG

    “I read and post on this blog because people in Scotland do still retain some sense of reality, and morality.

    As I’ve said before, you lot north of the border are our only hope at the moment.”

    Although it was with tears And Mostly Grace, that we accepted the No Vote, The number of people i have heard regret voting is maddening.. and now the Cnuts that Lied the most ( Gordy Broon ) are being wheeled out to Lie, all over again.

    I loved This take on Brown –

    The Wee Ginger Dug:
    Here comes Gordie to save Magrit … the man with the huge advantage of not being Jim Murphy –

    ” You can tell two things when Labour trots out Gordie. Firstly, there’s a vote in the offing, and secondly, polling shows they’re going to lose it unless they make promises they have no intention or ability to keep.

    It’s the official start of the election campaign, and Labour’s in deep deep doo doo. Hence the Gordathon.

    Once, Labour could call a public meeting in the east end and thousands of punters would come on a cold March morning. They’d wave and cheer. There would be bunting. Gordie’s secret behind-closed-doors, invitation-only meeting is the closest Labour dares get to a public meeting in the east end now.

    This is because when Labour lets members of the actual east end public get close to their elected representatives, the public expresses incredulity at Labour’s policies with phrases starting “get tae …” and ending, for the politer ones at least, with words like “ya muppet”.

    When the SNP pull stunts like this involving Alicsammin, they get asked why Alicsammin is speaking for the party and not Nicla, and wondering is done about who is pulling whose strings. No-one accuses Gordie of pulling any strings: no strings are long enough to reach from planet Earth to wherever it is Gordie lives.”

    http://www.thenational.scot/comment/the-wee-ginger-dug-here-comes-gordie-to-save-magrit-the-man-with-the-huge-advantage-of-not-being-jim-murphy.1576

  • RobG

    BrianFujisan, if you look at the way that the UK General Election campaign has just started, I think many people will say that this is going to be one of the most vile GEs in history.

    I would venture that it’s also going to be one of the most interesting, because the two-party system is broken beyond repair, and of course the system/Establishment is corrupt beyond belief.

    The SNP will find themselves in the position of powerbrokers. The SNP must use this to demand an independent Scotland, no conditions, and they must stick to their socialist principles. The SNP will gain huge support by doing this, and by a large number of people in England.

    And of course there needs to be a free and open press in Scotland, that tells people the truth, instead of all the constant lies and spin that now seems to be accepted as ‘normal’.

  • Kempe

    ” The SNP must use this to demand an independent Scotland, ”

    Despite not having a mandate?

  • fwlster

    I had thought that Jim Murphy would be more popular in Scotland than he appears to be.

    If you consider the Telly ‘debates’ and assume that viewers (no matter what they may say) care less about policy and more about sussing out the candidates in some intuitive way you start to think what do they/we really look for.

    With the Tory potential PM do we want the hallmarks of the ambassador not the company manager, the General who has once seen battle, the leading public school headmaster and the Harley St Consultant.

    With the Labour potential PM do we secretly look for signs of the street fighter, the door to door sales man or union speaker, the state school head teacher and the compassionate GP. I don’t know much about Murphy, but he signals more of these qualities than Ed Miliband.

    What archetypes do we look for if the candidate is a woman? Is Matthew Paris correct when he says that we look for a woman who strides like a man, or ……?

  • Bill Duff

    The argument that the SNP payroll vote was dragooned to support the women’s list vote is nonsense.

    The most effective speech against the change was made by Elaine Wylie, who works for John Swinney the DFM who proposed the motion.

  • fred

    “The SNP must use this to demand an independent Scotland, no conditions, and they must stick to their socialist principles.”

    This is what is most worrying about a Nationalist government. Nationalists have no respect of democracy or for the will of the people which is why Nationalist governments so often turn into dictatorships.

  • RobG

    Kempe and Fred, whatever we all say about it, I think most will agree that last year’s referendum was by no means a breeze for the No vote. Since then, and the perceived betrayal of Labour politicians, an awful lot of people have signed-up to the SNP. So much so that the SNP will probably be the power broker when the 2015 General Election result comes in.

    Anyone who believes all the lies and bollocks that comes out of Westminster must be totally insane.

  • RobG

    @Villager
    1 Apr, 2015 – 8:57 am

    If you chose to ignore what people like me are saying then you will warble into your radioactive grave.

    It’s your choice.

  • fred

    “Kempe and Fred, whatever we all say about it, I think most will agree that last year’s referendum was by no means a breeze for the No vote. ”

    Rubbish. The Scottish people voted overwhelmingly that the wanted to remain part of Britain. It wasn’t even close.

    Either you believe in democracy or you don’t, there are no grey areas. Either you uphold the will of the people or you are a dictator.

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