I had the unfortunate experience to watch a good bit of the debate on the Scotland Bill last night and it was not a pretty sight , Our 56 MP’s were treated like second class citizens in a debate and voting procedure which would have been more akin to what one would have expected around about the middle ages. A good part of the procedure was taken up by the antiquated voting system employed in Westminster which involves every one trooping into the lobbies at every contentious vote. This of course meant that the palpably inadequate six hours allocated to the debate was effectively reduced by about two hours.
To have such an important debate cut to six hours was nothing short of scandalous , this legislation which will ( if passed through the Lords and indeed the Scottish Government) have huge constitutional implications for both Scotland and the UK.
The one Labour MP from Scotland, as expected voted with the Tories on the more important items for discussion but what was possibly more surprising was that the Greens and Plaid Cymru did not give any support to the SNP or the people of Scotland.
So where are we now on the journey to independence? well probably a wee bit nearer , but if the truth be told not as near as we should have been had the SNP acted from the start as the party of independence and not the party of the Government of a region of the UK.
So what do I mean by that? Well I personally have been of the opinion that the SNP have veered off our road to independence possibly with the intention of becoming more of an establishment party than the radical party of independence we all recognised up to and during the referendum. Since then there has been a lull.
So lets look at what has happened since then , or at least lets look at what the SNP have done in the fight for independence since then. Well not actually a lot, they were catapulted to being the third largest party in the whole of the UK but that was not because of what they had done , it was more to do with what the Labour party had not done and that was support the people of Scotland. Not only that but they had connived with the Tories to deprive the Scots of the right to choose their own destiny. Now I deliberately separate the SNP from the Scottish Government in this because the Scottish Government have to govern for and on behalf of all the people of Scotland regardless of whether they voted to leave the Union or stay in it. The Scottish Government have governed well but yes supporters should be careful of using their good record in this as a reason to vote yes because one has to remember that their good record has been achieved under the auspices of the Union, although some might say “in spite of the Union”
The Scottish people had become very politically aware during the referendum campaign and there was no way they were going to go back into the box. The way they chose to show this was to both join the SNP and vote against Labour. There was actually many more people chose to vote for the SNP as a way of showing their disgust at the way Labour had forsaken the Scottish people than had joined the SNP.
So what should the SNP have actually done after the referendum? well the first thing would have been to analyse what went wrong and then address these problems in preparation for the next round.
So what went wrong? Well several things went wrong. I remember being at a Five Million Questions Event in Dundee University when David Torrance asked Alex Salmond ” so Mr Salmond how are you going to win this referendum” and Alex said ” with positivity as positivity will always win over negativity”. Well Alex, as we know now was wrong, he was wrong because negativity did actually triumph. It triumphed in part because firstly we were up against the state and secondly we were up against the media, but we could have to an extent ameliorated these obstacles if we had fought fire with fire and had stood up against project fear and the press instead of shying away from controversy and upsetting the press.
In this respect I would point you to recent occasions where both Alex Salmond and Chris Law have came out and accused the BBC of bias and brought into focus the report by Professor Robertson of the West Of Scotland University, who makes the case that the BBC were blatantly biased. Now it is indeed good to see this happening but the problem is that it is 14 months too late. Chris ,to be fair was not an MP at that time and was in fact like the rest of us and part of the grass roots push for independence. The on-going problem is that the SNP are still terrified of the press and constantly shy away from any mention of independence . This was very apparent during the run up to the General Election. This brings me to one of the defeats in yesterdays Scotland Bill debate.
An amendment was tabled by the SNP, to allow ( yes allow) Scotland have responsibility for deciding when a referendum should take place instead of Westminster. This looked as though it had been a very last minute addition to the amendments being sought. Now this was not contained within the Smith Commission recommendations and I have to but wonder why .It should would have been flagged up before the General Election and I was for one very vocal in attempting to get a reasonable independence chapter included in the manifesto. With foresight this should have been included whereby the British Government would have had great difficulty in refusing it with the level of support shown be the number of MP’s elected. After all the last referendum was agreed with only a majority of one in the Scottish elections.
I will leave it at that for today and I am sure there are many other versions of how we continue on the road to independence and how we address the mistakes that were made in the last campaign and since.
I welcome comments but please refrain from emotive accusations of “hating the SNP” and statements like “the SNP Know best” because that is not going to get us anywhere .
We need a road map to independence and I feel it is up to the SNP to come forward with this.
We are still on the road to independence