The SNP is starting to pay the price of its decision to change policy to seek membership of NATO should Scotland vote for independence – despite the fact that the party is and remains centrally opposed to the possession of nuclear weapons.
This core policy is contradicted by the decision – voted through by a majority of only 29 votes - potentially to apply for NATO membership, despite that organisation’s frontline policy of first strike nuclear deterrence.
The respected Highlands and Islands MSPs, John Finnie and Jean Urquhart, spoke powerfully against the proposed change of policy at the SNP conference last weekend.
Jean Urquhart told the audience of fellow party members that this issue had led to her being called ‘a rebel – for speaking in favour of party policy’.
Mr Finnie and Ms Urquhart have found it impossible to accommodate their consciences to the new policy and, with obviously numb determination, have chosen to leave the SNP.
These are two serious losses, not just numbers in a majority now cut – although they will continue to vote with the SNP on other matters – but because the weight of their personal case histories is deeply woven into the tapestry of the party from which they have had to walk away.
Jean Urquhart has been a CND member for 35 tears and an SNP member for 25 years. Mr Finnie has been an SNP member since his teens. Their loss is a loss of body mass and of soul for the party because they represent the principled conscience people identify with and wish to see inform the parties they may entrust with their votes.
These two, with their manifest integrity, are simply not replaceable by however many smart-alec inexperienced policy advisers and loud mouth Joan McAlpines.
Both make it clear that they continue to believe in and support an independent Scotland ‘… but not a Nato-dependent Scotland.’ They deserved better and so does Scotland.