The SNP Membership, Not the Leadership, Must Decide on the Second Referendum 104


The policy of the SNP is that there will not be a second referendum on Independence in the next 5 years unless something material changes, such as UK exit from the EU. Why is that party policy? Because Nicola Sturgeon says it is.

I am only a humble SNP ordinary member, for only four years. But something within me tells me I am allowed to disagree. And I do. Loudly.

I think it is essential that the SNP manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections states clearly that, if a Holyrood majority will support it, a second referendum will be called on Scottish independence before 2020. If elected on that manifesto, something material will have changed. A unique double mandate will have occurred at Westminster and Holyrood for supporters of independence. And that change will have come from where it counts, from the Scottish people, not from extraneous circumstances. The independence I want is absolute, not a product of external factors.

Those who are comfortable with the status quo, plus a few more powers for the Scottish parliament, will argue that we cannot hold the referendum until we are certain to win, that another loss will kill it for ever. But there is a much more important argument – that of missing the key moment, letting the window of opportunity slide by. With a very right wing Tory majority in Westminster immediately imposing fresh austerity in Scotland, and with levels of SNP political dominance historically unlikely to be exceeded in any pluralist democratic system, there can never be a more favourable conjunction. If not now, when?

The biggest danger is bottling it.

Gradualism has taken us so far. I liken it to a long jumper hurtling down the runway. You may be sprinting brilliantly, and achieve fantastic speed and momentum. But if you think “this is going well, let’s not change anything” and don’t alter your action when you hit that white board, you will record six feet and not thirty. Scottish independence is at the white board. Gradualism has had its day. It’s time to soar. Let’s not fail to jump and plunge into the Killiecrankie Leap, no matter how well we are sprinting.

Some genuinely think I am wrong. It is a legitimate argument. But it needs to be a legitimate debate at Party conference, and a vote by members that decides on whether a second referendum is in the manifesto, not a decision by the leadership. I share the popular admiration for Nicola Sturgeon. I think she is tremendous. But were she the Archangel Gabriel, I would not follow her on the “leadership principle”. I do not subscribe to it.

Which leads me to say that I have decided to put myself forward again for vetting to be an SNP candidate, for the Holyrood election. This has not been an easy decision given the leaks to the media and internet abuse I went through last time, and I realise that I open myself to the apparent humiliation of easy rejection.

I should add that if I pass the party hierarchy vetting but fail to be selected by party members in the constituency, I should have absolutely no complaint whatsoever. That is proper democracy working.

But it seems to me that it is now very important indeed that the SNP is a political party that genuinely welcomes internal debate and differing shades of belief of those sincerely attached to Scottish independence, and can accommodate in particular those of an independent frame of mind who will not guarantee always under any circumstance to do what they are told.

The SNP is now in a dominant position in Scottish politics and facing no coherent or effective external opposition. In that circumstance, extreme discipline becomes more frightening than admirable.

Canvassing during the referendum campaign one thing No voters repeatedly told me was that they feared that the SNP was authoritarian and an independent Scotland would have the characteristics of a one party state. I assured them that they were quite wrong. I hope to prove that I was not lying.

My last post was about the excellent Jeremy Corby. Pro-CND, anti-austerity, anti-privatisation, pro-Palestinian, he rebelled against the Labour whip 230 times in the last parliament. Yet the Labour Party – which we characterise as the epitome of machine politics – does not seek to suspend him or stop him representing them in parliament. Many in the SNP will agree that Corbyn is a first class MP. Yet the same people will argue that no SNP representative should ever be able to rebel against their party whip, even once.

I abhor the creed of Democratic Centralism, which has always been associated with Stalinism. The worrying thing is that at present I do not even find the SNP terribly democratic. I have been to two party conferences now and both were glorified leadership rallies without one single genuine policy debate. There are issues which urgently need democratic consideration. The second referendum is top of the pile. The future Scottish currency may be next. I would like to find what the new membership wants on the monarchy and on NATO. The very close NATO vote a few years ago by no means killed off that debate, whatever the leadership may want.

The SNP has shown it can dominate. Now we must show that we can be genuinely democratic.


104 thoughts on “The SNP Membership, Not the Leadership, Must Decide on the Second Referendum

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  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    And since the electorate for the EU referendum and UK general elections are exactly the same, there can be no talk of the electorate for the EU referendum being “restricted”.

    Understood?

  • vronsky

    Dream on, Craig – they won’t touch you with a bargepole and a condom on the end.

    When I joined the party, conference could debate anything and come to any conclusion. The Daily Telegraph said that that was immature. I guess the SNP is now mature. Maybe why I left.

    Do you know what SOAC is, and does? The Standing Orders and Agenda Committee decides what you’re allowed to talk about in the SNP. I think you may find that there is very little overlap in your interests.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Ah ha, I see that it’s gone 3pm and that the voluble if not usually very serious “Republicofscotland” has clocked on for the afternoon.

    Time therefore for me to go out into the sunshine and chill under a café umbrella or somewhere.

    I shall look forward to counting the number of times and the variety of subjects on which Republicofsclotland will have posted (cut-and-pasted?) during the time I’ll have been out.

    The numbers will no doubt be indicative of how bored Repyblicodscotland was at his day job earlier on and of how much fun he feels like having before supper….

    Toodle-o, pip-pip

  • Ishmael

    Tony… I agree what happened on that day isn’t clear. A member of my family was an architect. Building 7? They don’t just fall like that, ever. Could never do so.

    Regarding affiliations. I think we know what side of the bread this so called left is butterd to.

    It’s not even with people, let alone being one of them. Machiavellian machinations of those who deem there opinions critical. Then they go on about democracy, while always looking (seems to me) to get in on these cliques that want to represent people in it’s name…

    This power is fundamentally unjust and corrupting….We need a new system. local network de-centralised Democratic system. And we already have localised grass roots groups linking.

    Something i’v noted about the political left. They always say what left? There is no left etc, When they are everywhere, organizing, protesting, demonstrating. I suspect they say it because they are too good to get involved in stuff that isn’t about them or their opinions. Activism. lol

    No, they just don’t want a real job. Can’t say I blame them but bad alternative imo.

  • Republicofscotland

    Arrivederci Habb.
    __________________________

    With regards to you (Craig) standing as a SNP candidate,I say why not,the only drawback I see and some would call it a character flaw,I however call it refreshing,is that you tend to speak your mind.

    In your defence, I’ve witnessed you speak at George Square and you came across as likeable and genuine,qualities the masses can and want to relate to.

    However and I don’t always agree with it,the SNP are a tow-the-line party,and your endearing qualities may actually be your downfall,I sincerely hope not.

    Remember people like what you say because to a certain extent (with careful exceptions) you’re not afraid to say it,bearing in mind you gave up a successful and lucrative career,when faced with moral dilemmas.

  • Ishmael

    And it’s to man, the whole ‘left’..Perhaps is calculated, ie, don’t bring up in polite company.

    The political left if there ever was one is castrated.

    Noam said what does it matter. Perhaps. But many others still support government generally. The paramilitary system, etc. I don’t see any significant opposition to the merry-go-round from within. They will always be the wrong ‘right kind of people’.

  • Republicofscotland

    “Noam said what does it matter. Perhaps. But many others still support government generally. The paramilitary system, etc. I don’t see any significant opposition to the merry-go-round from within. They will always be the wrong ‘right kind of people’.”
    _____________________________

    Yes Ishmael that’s probably one of the reasons,why Benjamin Franklin said:

    “It’s the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

    The SNP are no exception to this rule.

  • Phil

    RoS
    Benjamin Franklin said: “It’s the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

    Figuring this was ripe for a smart arse quip about citizens and slaves I tried to find what year he said this. A founding father, a great quote – surely this would be available. Apparently not. I appended the quote to his name and Google returned two pages to me. Two. I suggest you would struggle to find any meaningful search that returned so little.

    It would seem this is not popular with those who put Franklin quotes on the internet.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Benjamin+Franklin+%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+the+first+responsibility+of+every+citizen+to+question+authority.%E2%80%9D

  • Ba'al Zevul

    As a former Biomedical Scientist I know there is an opinion amongst a number of others that they fear that Independence will cut them off from funding.

    Biomedical science is still pretty sexy, and as much of the research funding comes from the corporations – via the research councils or not – I don’t think the Scots need worry unduly, except in the very short term after independence. The UK priorities other than biomed appear to be low-overhead arts, and Business Studies for Chinese Paying Students. Other disciplines are suffering already, and the future is extremely uncertain without a UK split. Better to bite the bullet, go, show everyone you can do better. And that is not a high bar to clear.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    With a very right wing Tory majority in Westminster immediately imposing fresh austerity in Scotland, and with levels of SNP political dominance historically unlikely to be exceeded in any pluralist democratic system, there can never be a more favourable conjunction. If not now, when?

    An obviously appealing argument. However, I see no likelihood that things would get any better if the Tories resigned en masse and the Socialist Worker’s party won the following election by a landslide. In fact, they’d get a good deal worse. And that’s because it will be impossible to operate outside the constraints imposed by global capitalism. Borrowing to fund an antiglobalist agenda is simply not in the interests of the globalists, and why would it be?

    It’s going to take time, and kneejerk thinking isn’t going to work.

    Placing my thumbs in my lapels and ascending my soapbox, I’d urge the SNP to consolidate their position, as far as possible direct their energies to lucrative investmant in Scotland, ensure that their MP’s are the best ever at constituency level and plan exhaustively for the takeover. This involves costing their policies credibly – the glaring weakness of the Yes campaign. If it can be represented as a party of strident lefties after the Socialist utopia, it will run into the buffers, as did Syriza. The SNP also needs to revisit its old selling point, that after independence it accepts that new allegiances will form, and even that it recognises that it will then have outlived its function. That has to be stated explicitly.

    A written constitution wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. Let’s be clear what we’re getting. Write it now, leaving the question of independence out of it. What are Scotland’s aims (other than independence)? How should it get there?

    Craig, from this distance and with due detachment, I don’t think you’d be a great MSP. You’d be more effective as a pain in the arse on Edinburgh City Council. But your value to the SNP is not what you know, but, as is usually the case with rewarding jobs, who you know. And that knowledge is best exercised away from the tabloids’ attention.

    Please don’t stand for MSP.

  • Vronsky

    @Ba’al

    Remember the letter in April 2007 from ‘Scottish’ scientists fretting about independence? Check them out – almost all from the life sciences. That is to say, they wanted to jolly along with GE, but some silly twits in the SNP had read some research and weren’t happy about it.

    Maybe some people ought to be cut off from funding?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6602153.stm

  • Abe Rene

    @Craig “I have decided to put myself forward again for vetting to be an SNP candidate, for the Holyrood election.”

    I hope they treat you fairly, but the SNP’s leaders may have the manifesto reject a second referendum, and use this policy as a test for potential candidates. If that happens, you could be rejected as a candidate for the same reason as last time.

  • kailyard rules

    Mr. Murray, Nicola Sturgeon has said on many occasions that it will be the people of Scotland that decides a second referendum.Not the membership of SNP or

  • CanSpeccy

    Why not run as an independent Scotch Nat, Craig?

    That way you could advocate whatever you want. I’d suggest an annual referendum on Scotch “independence” (aka subservience to the New World Ordure, EU) on the understanding that if the Nats lose three in a row, the people really mean it and that would be the end of the debate.

  • CanSpeccy

    @KR

    Nicola Sturgeon has said on many occasions that it will be the people of Scotland that decides a second referendum.

    You mean there’s to be a referendum on the referendum?

  • Pj

    @tony opmoc

    My experience sounds very similar to yours.
    I have also found that apron wearers are particularly
    Involved in ensuring that people like you and i are not listened to.
    I can also relate to other comments on here about zersetzen.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    @ Vronsky. I’m with Salter. Funding doesn’t depend on borders, and that statement is even more logical in a globalised context. The ‘No’ scientists simply refuse to look at the alternative hypothesis, which puts them out of the running as Popperian scientists. What industry will pay for is applicable results, and Scotland can deliver those with or without the Union. As to removing funding, perhaps other criteria additional to number of published/cited papers might be employed to sift the wheat from the chaff. Don’t know about Scotland, but where I am there’s no evidence that the growing income from the business school is benefiting anyone else…probably universities everywhere could gain from a slightly less hierarchical and fad-driven approach to distributing their income.

    There’s a balance to be struck, as everywhere else, between hapless dependence on budgets administered by PPE graduates who have never had a real job, and promoting business awareness at the coalface, across departments. While it would be nice to have unlimited funding for blue-sky pet projects, or studies of the inflence of Rabelais on post-modern funeral parlours, it’s not a sustainable option. Scottish universities are in a very good position to change the model, and should do, independence or no independence.

    Thanks for engaging.

  • Ken

    I voted SNP last month to try and keep Labour to the left-hand path.

    That said, there is a lot to dislike about the SNP, as it does have a nasty authoritarian streak in it that irritates. I have no interest in its internal politicking, but I strongly oppose such measures as giving every child his very own social worker, creating a national police force and then allowing McPlod to walk around with guns, and banning the singing of songs at football matches. I suppose I should be grateful that Holyrood stopped the attempt to abolish corroboration, but I suspect that the SNP will have another crack at that one if their majority is big enough.

    I will probably have to grit my teeth and vote Labour for the constituency next year, even though the candidate is thick as two short planks. For the list I am leaning towards the SSP, always assuming that they have not had another split.

  • Clive Scott

    For heavens sake all you folks on here bitching about SNP tactics for independence – look how far we have come, we are winning! What’s not to like? Vote SNP at every election of whatever type and forget your pet policies – plenty time to argue about those after independence is achieved. You don’t win a team game without discipline and focus from effective leadership. Get behind Nicola and her team.

  • H Scott

    “A unique double mandate will have occurred at Westminster and Holyrood for supporters of independence.”

    No it won’t. The SNP made it explicitly clear during the Westminster election campaign that a vote for the SNP was not a vote for independence or a second referendum.

  • Tim

    It was pretty clear from your last kamikaze candidate interview that you did not actually want to be a working member of the SNP parliamentary team. If you are going to do this to yourself again then you need to think through whether you are actually part of what the SNP actually is or what you think some ideal SNP should be.

  • craig Post author

    That is rather the point Tim. I was under the impression that it was supposed to be a democratic organisation where I as a member have a right to argue for what kind of organisation I should like it to be, as does every member. You seem to think otherwise.

  • John Seal

    Craig,

    Do you know if there has been any discussion within the SNP regarding the parameters of future Scottish citizenship? I imagine this would be of great interest to you and any other
    ‘foreigners’ living north of the border. Heck, it would be of interest to me (though born in England, I have Scots blood on my father’s side of the family)!

    Finally, were you at this concert? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs2OxdZr_Bo

    John

  • craig Post author

    Kailyard Rules

    Sorry you didn’t finish your comment. That is a worthy thought, but it requires some sort of mechanism to translate it into practice.

  • Villager

    Craig:

    “The SNP has shown it can dominate. Now we must show that we can be genuinely democratic.”

    You mean politics without hypocrisy? To borrow your phrase: “Which planet are you living on?”

    Anyway it looks like you’re planning to catch the next train, provided you can get a seat. Why not spread your wings and fly? I don’t mean as an independent, although if you have the dosh probably viable. Maybe crowd fund it? Start here. Maybe other avenues. If Galloway just for example is a friend, sit down with him and pick his brains. Maybe some project with wikileaks? You probably know better than I.

  • craig Post author

    John Seal,

    I don’t think there is any significant element of racism inside the SNP at all, if that is what you are asking. And no I was hardly likely to be at that concert in 1979 as I was living in Dundee 1977-84.

    But you are making the rather stupid point, in a snide way, that the concert took place in the village in which I was born in England. In fact you will not have any genuine interest, but others might, that the venue of that concert is precisely where my father Robert Cameron Brunton Murray, born and bred one street from where I now live in Edinburgh, met my mum at a dance when he was serving in Norfolk with the RAF.

    I am part English. Get over it.

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