A new pro-independence party – usefully unemcumbered by the difficult political baggage of crude nationalism in its title – the Scottish Independence Party, has quietly been established to drive a clear separatist agenda.
Its intention is to field a candidate in each constituency in the May 2016 Scottish Election. As a new party, starting from scratch, it is open that those candidates will have to pay for their own deposits and election expenses.
Its public arrival on the Scottish political scene seems to have been aggravated by the fact that the SNP refused to accept on the agenda for its October conference any motion on the potential inclusion of independence in the party’s manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Elections.
This attempt to gag the troops on the ground who have lifted the party to its unprecedented success is backfiring dangerously.
Party Leader and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, repeatedly says that the Scottish people will decide whether or not independence goes back on the national agenda here – but the infantry, reasonably, cannot see how the Scottish people can take such a decision if they are not asked the question?
What Scotland is seeing is a collision between the SNP’s control freakery and the straight talking activists who want the opportunity to campaign openly and hard for what they – and supposedly the SNP – believe in. The SNP believes in central control with no internal difference of view expressed, rather than the healthy examination of differing views.
They prefer their hierarchy to take the decisions and then tell the rank and file what is going to happen; rather than have the collegiate, engaged, decision taking process that party conferences are presented as being about.
The internal rejection of this long standing modus operandi – and the presence of now settled insider distrust of the SNP’s commitment to independence is made explicit in this declaration on the party’s website:
‘The Scottish Independence Party was formed in the summer of 2015, as a direct result of there no longer being a voice for independence in Scotland at the next election, to be contested in 2016.
‘Many people have voiced their despair at a situation where the party that has always been seen as a pressure group for independence now seems very comfortable as a party of government here in Scotland and in opposition at Westminster.’
They say that for this reason they feel that it is up to them to ‘fill this political vacuum’.
They will be a serious force for the application of the pressure they have in mind.
For Argyll has been aware for some time that there is a growing body of frustration in the SNP grassroots membership.
They have built the momentum from which the SNP is benefiting in large measure. They know that. They know they can do more. They want to do it. They want to put their strength, passion and numbers to the wheel to push Scotland to independence. They know they can do that. In the 2015 General Election, they proved they can do it. It’s why they joined the party, very many of them after the loss of indyref 1.
We expect the new party not to get any headlines for fast-breeding membership in the immediate future – even following an annual conference which may persist in making no formal address to the issue.
Most nationalists will continue to hope that independence will indeed appear in the SNP manifesto for 2016 – although if the party does not discuss and approve this at conference, it will be hard to legitimise its later inclusion in that manifesto.
If independence is not included as a mandatory issue in that manifesto, that is when the membership of this new Scottish Independence Party will swell. Those who joined the SNP to make indy happen, seeing their efforts and their hopes dashed in equal measure, will then have an alternative party through which to manifest the strength of their position.
This is why the Scottish Independence Party is immediately a serious player in the Scottish political game.
Their view is not held just by a few agitators. It is the view of the majority of SNP members.
There is also widespread concern that Westminster has become the heady game it was always going to be – and has seduced the party hierarchy and its leader, leaving them progressively astray from their collective raison’etre. This declaration carries a clear sense of those particular concerns.
If the SNP manifesto does not make indy a voting issue in the 2016 Scottish Election, potential candidates for the new party will have no trouble raising a £500 deposit in any constituency. A few fundraisers will not only bring in the cash but raise public awareness of the party at the same time – in every constituency.
Pressure on the cautious Swinney and the hesitant Sturgeon? You bet.