So we say goodbye to 2015, an eventful year by any standards. A year in which we sent 56 out of a possible 59 MP’s down to London under the SNP banner. A year also in which we yet again sent our military to war.
Our 56 MP’s although with good intentions have not been able to make much of a difference because the forces of the establishment, Tory, Labour and the lib Dems have been collectively stacked against them.
I feel it could have been made easier for them with some forethought, in as much as the manifesto for that election could have been structured in a manner which could have made it very difficult for the Westminster cabal to have resisted many of the policies which in effect the Scottish people would have voted for.
In particular there could have been a commitment to pursue the right to determine exactly when and in what manner another referendum could have been held. If this had been a manifesto commitment then the British Government would have had difficulty in refusing this and if they did then there would have been a strong case for taking the matter to the United Nations.
Instead, we had the half-hearted and late in the day attempt to have this debated during the farce that was the Scotland Bill. It was of course dismissed during that very comical event.
Following on from that we had the debate to decide whether we went to war in Syria. Labour were as usual ,all over the place in this and their loyalties were divided between voting as their constituents would have wished them to vote and attempting to defeat their own leader and it was sad to see one of their number, Hillary Benn receiving an ovation from the Tories after delivering the longest suicide note in Labour history.
Now these two issues I am highlighting here are very much connected, because if we had a manifesto and therefore a mandate which insisted on wresting the right to hold a referendum from Westminster and had that issue been diligently pursued as soon as the 56 SNP PM’s had went down to London, then this could very well have had an impact on the vote of whether or not to go to go to war in Syria. The reason being that it could very well have been seen as one of these illusive trigger points that Nicola Sturgeon has mentioned in connection with setting off another referendum.
I still feel that we have lost a prime opportunity to simply go for the election in May on the basis of every independence minded party presenting a manifesto of independence. It is too late now because we would have had to have prepared the ground by addressing the mistakes we made during the referendum campaign, such as the pensions issue and the monitory union or plan B and since the referendum there has been no attempt by the SNP to address any of these issues. It is also difficult to imagine Labour being in a worse position to again be the front for the Tories in the NO campaign as they are virtually an irrelevance in Scotland now. It would also have put them on the spot as to whether they again opposed independence or did what any right thinking person would advise them to do and that would be to separate completely from London Labour and go wholeheartedly for independence.
As I say, it is too late to consider this scenario and I again have to wonder at the thinking of the SNP as far as the road to independence is concerned. They are at present riding a wave of popularity, brought about by the perception that they are the best conduit to independence. I keep hearing that they have achieved this residency of the ivory tower they, at present inhabit through what they have done, but to be very honest I cannot find one single thing that they as a party have done since the referendum to be where they are except for replacing Alex Salmond by Nicola Sturgeon. The rest was done by Labour, the Tories and media outlets like the BBC, all of whom acted abominably.
I have had people giving me lists of achievements of the Scottish Government who have administered Scotland very well in comparison to the clownish attempts at administrations in the past by Labour and the Lib Dems but these achievements have in the main been carried out or planned before the referendum so have nothing to do with the present SNP’s ( as opposed to the Scottish Government) rise in popularity which is almost exclusively a reaction to how the other parties conducted themselves during the referendum campaign.
I would add a note of caution here to anyone looking to use the Scottish government’s achievements, as a reason for the SNP’s popularity, because it could be said that all these achievements have been made under the Union and not with independence.
So as we go into another year what should we be looking for from the SNP? Well we should be looking for a road map to independence, not necessarily a date for a referendum but at the very least a rout laid out with all the potential obstacles on the way, mapped out and addressed. Now that would give the people something to attach themselves to and it might somewhat allay the unease that is surfacing in loyal campaigners who are beginning to have misgivings. The grass roots organisations should again be encouraged to campaign at a much lower level than in the referendum but to get the messages out on the issues that I have discussed such as pensions and what the monitory system will be in an independent country and whether for instance we should consider taking on a voluntary share of the UK debt.
The other thing which has to happen is that the SNP must get a grip of their supporters who immediately jump on anyone who comes forward with constructive criticism as there are actually many commentators who actually shy away from offering alternatives because they know that they will immediately be descended on by people who will accuse them of SNP hating or attempting to split the vote etc. etc. Now these people are generally un- thinking people whose only answer is that the SNP know what they are doing and have a master plan. Now if they had a master plan that they were not telling anyone about, then it would not be very cleaver to tell everyone, as Nicola Sturgeon has that “the people will decide when the time is right for another referendum” That is a contradiction in terms. There also needs to be a change of attitude to the people who voted no because if we cannot convert them we are not going to win the next time so stop calling them silly names like Naw bags etc.
Let’s hope that 2016 will be a year of clarity and the SNP will once again work with the people of Scotland to attain the goal that is written very clearly in their own constitution and that is the attainment of independence. Because if there is not that clarity then people will start to suspect that the main focus of the SNP is power as opposed to independence and if that was to be the opinion of the people of Scotland then it would be time for a party of independence to emerge.
I feel we are still on that road to independence but we have stalled somewhat unnecessarily.
Fifteen Months ago we were on the streets of our Cities full of hope and we made a distinct difference to the politics of Scotland which has changed for the good. We need to be back on these same streets once more.
A happy new year to every one.
We are still on the road to independence