a guest post by John Fitzpatrick
There was a time when the idea of the SNP winning so many seats in Westminster would have galvanized me but the prospect this time round raised little enthusiasm as I had – and still have – lots of reservations about Nicola Sturgeon’s tactics.
Having said that, I admit I might have got things wrong. The latest massive victory was certainly heart stirring as were Sturgeon’s speeches in the aftermath. Her intention of focusing the issue on Holyrood is certainly the right way forward. The result gives her a democratic mandate to call another referendum. That is, if the UK prime minister in London gives his consent. The SNP, the Scottish government and the pro-independence movement will have to put huge pressure on the UK government to achieve this.
The Labour Party’s humiliation – at UK and Scottish level – means we can forget any idea of a deal being done with it. Presumably the SNP members could put forward a resolution in the UK parliament but that would be a waste of time. It would be of symbolic value as it would merely confirm what we all know which is that Scotland’s vote will be ignored.
I think the SNP should actually turn its back on Westminster and Sturgeon should use her constitutional powers and political credibility as a leader to turn this into a personal clash between her and Boris Johnson. He is an opportunist with no ideals while she is sincere and has a case which is justified on solid democratic grounds.
Johnson’s resilience will be easily shaken. You just have to look at his track record to see how he has been prepared to ditch policies from one day to the next. His honeymoon with former Labour voters in England will not last and he cannot rely on them.
It’s also time for the SNP to stop using the hated word “Tories” and use “unionist” instead. There must be many Scottish Tories who realize that their leadership has failed by banging the anti-independence drum to the exclusion of all other issues. Many of them may be conservative – with a small “c” – but so are many independence supporters (like me)so there is room for them within the independence movement. Let’s reach out to them.
There must also be lots of English MPs who don’t share the sentimental idea of the “precious union” and would not care if Scotland left the UK. I’ve often wondered why so many English people who gripe about Scotland and claim we are vampire-like subsidy junkies actually want us as members of the UK.
Calls have been made for a legal challenge. However, I am wary of this as I don’t trust the judiciary – any more than I trust the monarchy, the armed forces or the other pillars of the British Establishment – and it could backfire.
I am not saying SNP MPs should go so far as to boycott Westminster but they should make it clear that their main interest is obtaining another independence referendum. Beyond that, they should not take part in Westminster’s activities. Nor should they become involved in issues and debates on subjects other than independence. That means letting the English-dominated parliament conclude the Brexit process.
What’s the point of repeating the same arguments all over again whether on Brexit, the NHS, austerity? SNP MPs often say they don’t want to be in London legislating. They now have the perfect opportunity to take grasp the thistle and show they mean it.