Following on from my blog on a new era in politics, I want to specifically address this to the issue of the SNP.
A remarkable thing happened at the recent General Election in that a party who were supposedly sworn to seeing Scotland leave the UK suddenly found themselves to be the third biggest force in Westminster.
I believe there is prophetic import in this – after all, Scotland leading the Union is a message I happily preach a great deal. Having said that, Sturgeon’s Stormtroopers – or should that be Salmond’s? – are not the fulfilment of this vision.
They could be a sign of it, though.
The SNP’s Westminster success is maybe not altogether a surprise but it is very possibly an unwelcome development for the SNP strategists to deal with following on from other electoral highs in recent years. It shows that the fervour shown by nationalists last year has not abated but there is something much deeper going on here than a William Wallace renaissance.
Much of the voter drift to the SNP has come from disaffectation with Labour in particular and of the present political system in general. People want change and they want it at a much deeper level than politicians are prepared to give it to them. The SNP shrewdly became a conduit for that type of thinking and channelled it into separatism. People went along with this but only because it was radical change. It means, however, that there is a soft underbelly to SNP support that is recently procured from other parties. These people might not be Unionists but their prime motivation is not to have a Scottish indepenedent republic but to see radical transformation culturally, socially and politically. The question is will these people trade their new-found nationalism for a better alternative that brings changes they desire but within the structure of a United Kingdom?
Make no mistake – the disillusionment with Westminster politics is real and it is ingrained. It will not be assuaged by cosmetic overhauls or meaningless rhetoric. It will not be eradicated by tweaking the system but by ripping much of it up and starting again.
In a nutshell, the SNP has gained massive populist support because of a deep and as yet unslaked thirst in many for social justice and a fairer society.They have addressed this need by promising a radical alternative but they have conscripted those seeking social justice and dressed them in nationalist uniforms. The more gullible have become convinced that leaving the UK is the answer but the challenge for Unionists is to convince people that their desires for a fairer society can be met in a vibrant Union. A compelling reason is the argument that justice and equity should be equally enjoyed and experienced in every corner of the British Isles, not just in Scotland.
Taking the parochial and narrow-minded path of nationalism is not social justice or equality – it is its polar opposite. Nationalism breeds hatred and a sense of racial superiority when it is not founded upon concepts of service, equality and fairness.
Perhaps the 56 SNP MPs elected to Westminster are the key to eradicating this ugly and racist nationalism that we see in so many SNP supporters. By being obligated under oath to serve a wider community than their own, maybe these representatives of Scotland will catch a sense of destiny as well as responsibility. They might just see their role as it truly is – to bring transformation and much-needed change which will not only elevate Scotland but will also benefit and enhance our neighbours in the UK.
They might also see that the system at Westminster is far more equitable than their propaganda claims.
Yes, Westminster needs changing but so does politics in general. This can only come through societal and cultural transformation. The old partisan spirit and hostille attitudes have to go. Everyone must work together to lift the nation out of the decadence and despondency it is mired in.
The 56 can be a catalyst for change. Or they can be the bunch of nasty See-you-Jimmies many expect them to be. If they see themselves as 56 Wallaces down to force Proud Edward to think again, they will meet Wallace’s fate. Metaphorically speaking, of course. They will also see that the Confessor is long gone, just like Wallace.
As Alistair McConnachie pointed out in his recent excellent blog, the SNP are now a big part of the system. The curious thing is that they now stand to lose much more than they could possibly gain by extricating themselves from that system. Ironically they are now integral to the system they claimed to despise, their electoral triumph being a true success story of British politics. This has also created a whole new wing of the party which has different objectives and purposes than the Holyrood MSPs.
It might be too early to suggest a name change but it will not be long before it dawns on the wiser heads in the party that the Westminster they hated so much has afforded them an opportunity they could never dream of.
It is how they deal with this that will determine if they have any say in the future. It will very much go against the grain for hardcore separatists to hear it this early but the simple truth is that there is a far better option now available.
That option is vastly superior to narrow-minded separatism. It is Scotland fufilling its destiny as chief of the nations.