I’m frequently confused, baffled and frustrated by some of the commentators who claim to be ardent supporters of Independence.
On one hand there’s a steady stream of “advice” on what the SNP should be doing to lead the campaign and drive forward the case for various courses of action from convening conferences, parliamentary disruption and calling for yet more marches. In the following weeks some will have columns which will frequently demand that the SNP stand aside and let the “wider YES movement” take the lead in developing campaigns etc. Occasionally, I think that the habit some had developed of knee-jerk opposition to the SNP, built up over decades of slavishly following whatever line the Labour Partyhad, is a hard one for them to throw off.
While the SNP is far from perfect (having been a member since 1966) one simple conundrum lies at the heart of the matter.
Is there a Party or movement which is better equipped than the SNP to deliver Independence? The answer obviously is NO!
Is there a Party or movement which can deliver without the membership of the SNP being wholeheartedly involved? Again NO!
Is there a Party or movement with coherent alternative strategy? Again the answer is NO!
I hear lots of people demanding that the SNP stand aside in this or that seat to allow another Yes supporting Party to gather support and, to use an utterly meaningless phrase “build a super majority” to win Independence. No-one quite explains what this term means or exactly how it would drive us closer to Independence but somehow as an SNP foot soldier of many campaigns I and thousands of others are supposed to just hand over hard won support because this one or that thinks that we should. My default position is that you have to do what we did, go out and work to earn the trust of the electorate first.
My experience of 1979 was being “sold a pup” as we fought for Labour’s Devolution bill while Labour and others sat on their backsides and let us exhaust energy and hard earned money in a futile battle. Loyalty to their Party was supreme.
My experience of 1997 was more of the same, ok at least Donald Dewar and Jim Wallace were on board but it was the SNP who were delivering the leaflets and knocking the doors.
My experience in 2014 was more of them setting up separate stalls, or having leaflets which emphasized their Party at least as much as the YES campaign. I think I put out more Labour for Independence leaflets in Falkirk myself than the Labour people did. When I watched Labour activists hugging and dancing with Tories as the results came in, I learned a lesson about them which is as vivid today as it was painful then.
On our local YES stalls I’ve met lots of people who have no political party affiliation but the only party members I’ve met are, like me, SNP activists. As I move through my 70s and by the time you read this I’ll be recovering from a third major cancer operation, I have less and less time to give to those who can’t or won’t.
When I see some of these parties on the campaign trail, delivering the leaflets, knocking the doors and manning the YES stalls then I’ll start to take them seriously. Until then, pardon me but all I see is jockeying for positions.