In such a confusing time it is difficult to know where to start. I thought of looking back at various attempts to split the SNP; most of my comments will be personal.
I see Jim Sillars has thrown his hat in the ring, so it is worth emphasizing that every time he is quoted as a former Deputy Leader of the SNP people may not be aware that this was only for one year; he managed to spend a lot of money, and members voted him out.
I cannot remember exactly when but he made a proposal about more public demonstrations /civil disobedience – this was passed at the Annual National Conference in Perth. On the Saturday I was having breakfast in the hotel and was talking about this with one of my colleagues, and suggested that Gordon Wilson should appoint him as Convenor of that Committee. At that time I was unaware that Gordon was sitting at the next table. In any event Gordon did appoint him as Convenor.
I was not present at the meeting to appoint members of that Committee, but I was nominated; when the names were read out Jim Fairlie commented “I take it that Mr Lynch is the token black!” (This would not be an acceptable comment today)
I do not recall everyone on that Committee but knew most of them were Sillars supporters. When looking for events to heighten our campaign I suggested that we make a simultaneous blocking of the Forth and Tay Road Bridges; a fellow member, very left wing Alan Clayton stated “Cars are so middle class!” The last time I heard of him is that he had been expelled from the SNP.
The Committee did not adopt my resolution, and I heard later that Gordon Wilson did not think it would be a good idea.
One of the things I did do when on that Committee was look at the possibility of occupying Torness Nuclear Power Station in East Lothian. I went with Jim Sillars – I drove – but the project was not feasible due to an additional apron of barbed wire.
Sillars also had a plan to invade the Holyrood building on Calton Hill; the Committee, including myself, were completely unaware of this; only tried and trusted members of his inner circle knew. When he attempted to get in the building, the police were waiting for him.
At the SNP Conference in Ayr in 1982 I was on the Agenda Committee, when Gordon Wilson put forward a resolution to ban all Groups within the Party. This was overwhelmingly passed by Conference, leading to a walkout by members of that Group – always a bit of farce somewhere – Andrew J T Kerr told me he joined the walkout as he needed the toilet!
All those expelled appealed against and were interviewed by a Committee; the appeals were all rejected. One person, Alex Salmond, brought along his lawyer.
At a subsequent National Council Professor Neil Mac Cormick had a resolution to readmit the expellees; this cleared the decks for the 1983 General Election.
And so to the current situation. It has always been my belief that Alex Salmond wants to be the obtainer of Independence. After he persuaded a somewhat reluctant Nicola Sturgeon to take the reins, he did give a quotation from Bonnie Dundee on his flight North – “You’ve no’ seen the last o’ my Bonnets and Me!”
In the aftermath of Scotland failing to support Independence, David Cameron, the then Tory Prime Minister announced “English Votes for English Laws”.
This was followed by a General Election, when Scotland voted in 56 of Scotland’s 59 MPs. Alex Salmond won Gordon. Cameron resigned and was succeeded by Theresa May. She had a majority, not very big, but decided she wanted to be secure, so called another Election. Alex lost Gordon, and was shattered as the SNP lost a lot of seats. Theresa May bribed the DUP to get their support.
This disrupted Alex’s plans, I think, but then along came Corona Virus; in her handling of the issue Nicola Sturgeon’s image soared in Scotland, the UK and the rest of the World.
As Alex’s plans were drifting away, he was accused of sexual harassment; information is curious – first we had 2 Civil Servants, then we had a trial by jury which declared him innocent on something like 14 cases – and Not Proven on 1. Just the other day I read that somebody had been given 6 months imprisonment for publishing 5 names. I do not know all that is going on and now Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of breaching the Ministerial Code! And the Unionists are chortling with glee! It is forgotten by everybody is that Nicola is a lawyer – Alex is not.
I see George Galloway seems to have turned Unionist and will support the Tories; he was extremely active in Dundee in the Seventies, and the PLO Flag flew over the City Chambers. He was trying to wangle a corporation house for his girl friend; another member of the Labour Party, Bunty Turley, said “Enough was enough” stood against Galloway and beat him. I met her during the 1983 General Election and asked her to sign my adoption papers. She refused, politely, and said that while she had known my father, she did not know me! She was most amicable.
I am starting to waffle; I came fourth in that campaign – the SDP had just started up and their campaign was a loudspeaker car playing “Chariots of Fire”- we saw no sign of them on the streets At that Election we won £500 for the best Election Address in Scotland. This address was created by myself and Percy Holton, a retired Commercial Artist.
The money was a big help with the Election Expenses.
I watched a fair bit of Nicola’s testimony on BBC on Wednesday; she was calm and courteous and very open with her answers. In the Opposition was Jackie Baillie for Labour, Margaret Mitchell and Murdo Fraser for the Tories and former Green, now Independent, Andy Wightman. From the SNP Maureen Watt, Stuart MacMillan and Alasdair Allan; in the Chair was Linda Fabiani SNP in her capacity of Deputy Presiding Officer.
As expected the Unionists kept repeating names and dates of every “slip”? The whole affair went from 9 am to 5pm.
I have to say that this episode was because Alex Salmond did indulge in some sexual harassment which he admitted in his Day in Court the previous week.
Nicola Sturgeon was not guilty of any lapse, but the Unionists acted otherwise.
Lord, give me strength