Kevin McKenna: The SNP is now a major obstacle to independence

Joanna Cherry, seen here at this week’s conference, has been the subject of sniping from within.

Joanna Cherry, at the SNP conference, has been the subject of sniping from within.

AS the wider Scottish independence movement continues to reap a rich harvest from Brexit the SNP, it seems, is determined to burn it.

At Westminster today, MPs will debate Boris Johnson’s counterfeit deal to remove the UK from the European Union. The future direction of the UK, and with it the unavoidable consequences for our most disadvantaged communities, lie in their hands.

Mr Johnson, at the behest of his puppet-master, Dominic Cummings, insisted on describing the Benn Act, which required him to seek an extension to the Brexit withdrawal date in the event of no deal, as the Surrender Act.

The PM, though, has now produced the Surrender Deal, in which he has meekly relinquished the red lines of Theresa May, cheerfully defenestrated the Ulster Unionists, and coughed up a substantial divorce settlement he once famously pledged never to contemplate.

Its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has warned rebels within her own party of walking into a Unionist bear-trap. Perhaps she ought instead to be assessing the potential damage from the recent own goals contrived by her own party. The most lamentable of these has been the high-handed refusal by the party executive to entertain any semblance of a debate about an independence Plan B. This is exacerbated by its failure to produce a coherent tactical strategy for exploiting the Brexit convulsions of the British political establishment. It has also permitted a poisonous fringe of trans-gender activists to enter its bloodstream.

The SNP women’s group which emerged last week was formed partly as a response to the threats and intimidation many of them have recently encountered by trans-gender activists.

Entryism in the political sphere isn’t merely about pursuing a narrow agenda. It occurs when an unrepresentative group of people, in the face of overwhelming public rejection of their views, are happy to damage an entire cause and its chances of success in pursuit of these.

In seeking to destroy the careers of some of the SNP’s brightest and best they’re doing much more damage to the prospects of independence than any Tory. They are enemies of the Yes movement.

On Brexit, according to a rigorously scientific and wide-ranging Panelbase Poll conducted by the influential Yes website, Wings Over Scotland, a clear majority of the SNP’s own supporters oppose the party’s Brexit strategy of outright opposition.

This merely confirmed the wrinkles and nuances which the EU referendum produced among SNP voters in 2016. The party needed to be adroit here, paying heed to the emerging view that Brexit will make independence more likely while not alienating the majority view among its own supporters who favour soft-Brexit above stopping it completely.

Instead, the Holyrood leadership, where all power in the party resides, has performed a series of contortions to support a People’s Vote while also desperately seeking an early General Election for no other reason, it seems, than to avoid any collateral damage from the forthcoming trial of its former leader, Alex Salmond.

The decision to crush all dissent over an independence Plan B is the culmination of three years of missed opportunities in the course of Brexit.

The SNP commands all that it surveys in Scotland, an anointed position it continues to enjoy mainly because of the abject failures of leadership in the Labour Party in Scotland.
Since 2016, though, the main theatres of politics have been in Westminster and Brussels, places are populated by political royalty who can claim lineage to the English civil war and the origins of the Hapsburg Empire. They have been moving the pieces on Europe’s chessboard for centuries. To gain any dividends for your cause you need to move among them and learn their ways.
Mr Salmond was at home in this environment, making alliances and using Scotland’s soft power – its scenery and natural produce – to make alliances and friends across nations and political boundaries.

It’s inconceivable that he would have allowed the Brexit chaos to pass without exploiting it in the cause of Scotland’s independence. In this he would surely have deployed the considerable leverage of the SNP’s Westminster contingent to secure movement on a Section 30 order long before now.

In these last three years though, the SNP has effectively split into two separate entities who barely acknowledge each other: Holyrood and Westminster. The Holyrood leadership are strangers to the men and women who control Europe and the UK, these shadowy puppet-masters who make things happen.

Instead, shady chancers within the SNP – and known to the leadership – have been given licence to target Joanna Cherry, a politician who is widely respected in these circles. Misogyny and deep envy are at the root of this.

After all of this the SNP is now, yet again “demanding” that a Section 30 order be granted. Just like that. Yet again it will be refused. And not for the first time you begin to wonder how sincerely it wants it.

Twelve years in devolved government, with the virtual guarantee of another seven, is making some personal pension plans dance and stimulating the second-homes market on Scotland’s wee bit hill and glen.

Perhaps the party’s new slogan ought to be: “Independence, but not just yet” with a winking emoji.


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