The year 2023 doesn’t look as if it’s going to go down as a vintage one as far as the Scottish National Party (SNP) is concerned. The main pro-independence political party north of Hadrian’s Wall has been dogged by a series of mishaps and scandals over the first few months of the year with few excuses or explanations forthcoming.
It is hardly a good look. The back catalogue of disasters is fairly well documented elsewhere and I don’t want to bore you with the detail yet again. Suffice to say that the resignation of the party leader and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, followed by that of her husband, SNP CEO, Peter Murrell, closely followed by the exit of her Chief of Staff, Head of Communications, Party Treasurer, and sundry other acolytes and hangers-on doesn’t fill the electorate with much confidence in the SNP in government.
And that’s before we consider the election of Humza Yousaf, her anointed successor, in her place. He has the haunted look of a man who didn’t really know what he was letting himself in for, and his performance in the first few weeks of his new role has been nothing short of lamentable. As I have written before, I suspect someone else his pulling his strings and he may only be keeping the seat warm for the real chosen one, whomsoever she or he may be. The mind boggles.
The bad news for the SNP just keeps coming. No sooner had we – almost – moved on from the spectacle of the Poileas Alba/Police Scotland arrest (and release without charge) of Murrell and the search of the Sturgeon home than we hear that authorisation for the search warrant from the Crown Office was delayed for two weeks. Forewarned, perhaps, two weeks gives a lot of scope for things to happen. No credible answer to why this occurred has been forthcoming.
Then we have the ongoing investigation into the allegedly missing £660,000 in the SNP accounts. Speculation here is now exacerbated by rumours of excessive use/misuse of a party credit card and multiple purchases made on an Amazon Prime account. I should stress once again that to date no charges have been brought.
Another long running sore is the complete and utter slow motion car crash that is the Scottish government’s purchase of two ferries for the Hebridean routes from Ferguson Marine’s now nationalised shipyard in Port Glasgow. At least five years late and three times over budget, the government has just confirmed that, whilst it accepts that it would be less expensive to cancel the second ferry, Hull 802, and seek an alternative vessel from elsewhere, they’re just going to go ahead and plough even more taxpayers’ money into this bottomless pit of a procurement fiasco. They can’t even put a final price on it.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that aggregated polling shows a slump in public support for both the SNP and for Scottish independence. SNP party members are melting away like snow off a dyke, and who can blame them? They have been conned out of their cash on the back of false promises of another always-just-round-the-corner second independence referendum.
The latest pledge, to hold it on 19 October this year, was a clear and palpable chimera the minute the words left Sturgeon’s lips. As Johnny Rotten famously asked in another context, “Ever get the feeling that you’ve been cheated?” SNP members have every right to feel aggrieved.
We must also mention the calamitous coalition with the Scottish Green party. A large part of the blame for the Scottish government’s failure to deliver anything of worth can be laid at their door. Some of the administration’s nuttier and more outlandish policies emanate from these Marxists masquerading as environmentalists and demonstrate the price the SNP is prepared to pay to hold on to power. How that alliance of mediocrity has come back to bite them!
This arrangement will probably, alas, continue until the next Holyrood election in 2026 when the SNP, and Insh’Allah the Greens too – will lose seats and be unable to form a majority government. They may, of course, still remain the largest party in the Scottish parliament and be able to govern as a minority administration with or without the support of the Greens.
That will require consensus politics to break out to deliver any viable programme of government. Personally, I think that would be far better than what we have now. Consensus requires compromise, and compromise will in the end deliver better policies.
With luck, the one-party state in which we have lived for the past fifteen years will come to an end.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a defence analyst and former army officer. Sign up for his podcasts and newsletters at www.DefenceReview.uk
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