I joined the SNP on 1st February 2017, just after the vote in the Commons on invoking Article 50. I’ve no doubt this will irritate some of my friends (who are members of other parties) and baffle others (I’m English and live in Belgium). Here’s why I have done it.
Firstly, I love Scotland. I studied at Stirling University and lived there for 8 years. I have close family and some of my closest friends in Scotland. Two of my teenage nephews are Scottish. Their future is my concern. Contrary to the expectations of some, Scotland welcomed this Englishman wholeheartedly, and I would now like to help it.
I’ve never been member of a national political party before. I’ve never wanted to, even though, or perhaps because, I studied Politics, and then worked in government, for a combined 20 years. To be honest, I’ve never understood how someone can have loyalty to a voluntary organisation to the point that they can defend it even when they know it is wrong. I’ve also always considered the blind adherence of Members of Parliament to a party line to be something that fundamentally cheapens representative democracy and undermines the quality of public discourse.
Although I now believe very strongly in the need for an Independent Scotland in the EU now, I haven’t always. I lived and studied in Scotland from 1995 until 2003, and voted in the Devolution referendum in 1997. I thought devolution worked pretty well in its early years. Not being born and raised in Scotland, I had no emotional attachment to the idea of Independence. The same could be said of the Union mind. I didn’t have strong feelings either way.
The early years of the (reconvened) Scottish Parliament were a great success, with Sheridan’s Private Members’ bill to ban warrant sales, and the devolved tail wagging the central dog by ending Clause 28 (Clause 2b) before it had even crossed the Westminster government’s mind to do so. My friends Peter Lynch and Steven Birrell have written about how the then new Scottish Parliament’s petitions system revolutionised public participation in the political process in Scotland. (https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2001/may/07/guardiananalysispage )
So why the SNP, and why now? Because the Westminster government and Parliament dragging Scotland out of the EU against its will is a travesty. Not only that, but the refusal of both to support, or even seriously examine the Scottish Government’s very reasonable compromise proposals on remaining in the Single Market was nothing less than a clear “Fuck Off” to everyone in Scotland, and to the UK’s constitutional settlement as a whole. And this was on a compromise which the Scottish Government itself said was nowhere near their preferred option.
Anyone who has not read the Scottish Government’s White paper “Scotland’s Place in Europe” should do so, even if they are not in Scotland. It sets out clearly that this horrible car-crash Brexit that the government is planning, and the opposition are supporting, does not have to happen. It sets out that even if Brexit did have to happen, its effects could be mitigated for Scotland. In fact, it could be mitigated for the whole of the UK. All opposition parties should have got behind this. http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/12/9234/downloads
Last night’s vote in the Commons on Article 50, was a pathetic abrogation of duty by all but a hundred or so MPs. There is nothing democratic about MPs voting for something they know will damage their country and its people.
Nicola Sturgeon, Angus Robertson and SNP MPs have shown fortitude, rationality and leadership while the official UK opposition party have floundered, and ignored their principles to court potential UKIP voters in an ill conceived attempt to shore up support for a party that almost everyone now sees is failing. While Labour was trying to work out how not to alienate ignorant xenophobes, Nicola Surgeon was reassuring EU citizens and refugees alike that they were welcome in Scotland.
I have considered myself to have been a natural LibDem voter my whole life, and I think they are certainly a force for good in England and Wales. In my ideal world, The SNP and the LibDems would be in alliance in Westminster elections. I have even hovered over the ‘join now’ button on their website many times since the referendum. The lack of support for the Scottish Government’s Brexit response however has shown that the Scottish LibDems clearly put petty party politics and blind Unionism above both the will and the interests of Scotland. This is a betrayal of the LibDems fundamental pro-EU and democratic principles. Also, Norman Lamb.
It is therefore clear now that, not only is the UK ruled by a government that at best ignores and at worst hates Scotland, but that the official Opposition has much the same view. It is equally clear that an independent Scotland in the EU is the only option for Scotland. It may be too late for England and rUK, but I believe it is not for Scotland.
It can be done. Sentiment among the EU27 and the European Parliament is pro-Scotland, and there is wide recognition that the situation is substantially different to 2014. Spain’s attitude has softened considerably as it recognises that Scotland is now in the same boat as the Remain-voting Gibraltans. There are several options, some of which may avoid Scotland ever having to leave the EU, but a pre-accession transition arrangement while the final touches are put to an independent Scotland’s accession process would be standard accession methodology, particularly as Scotland already implements vast swathes of EU law in full.
So I have joined the SNP to show support and offer my assistance to the Scottish Government’s attempts to avoid being ripped out of the EU against its will, and to avoid its citizens being stripped of their EU citizenship against their will.
Scotland must get itself away from those in Westminster who ignore, belittle and abuse it, and find a future in a friendly, pro-Scotland EU. I will do anything I can to help it do so.