SNP face a general election rout but voting Labour won't bring the radical change that's needed – Kenny MacAskill

As the SNP has strayed off course on independence, its core support has deserted them

Putting independence in the first line of their party manifesto is surely indicative of the problem faced by Humza Yousaf’s continuity SNP. Over decades many candidates stood simply to keep the eternal flame burning, with no prospect of electoral success. That the party was for independence was blindingly obvious, it was where it stood on other issues that was too often unknown.

Now the situation’s reversed, as shown by support for independence running significantly higher than for the SNP, a gap that’s only going to widen. Their positions on gender reform, the deposit return scheme and highly protected marine areas, forged on the anvil of their alliance with the Greens, are all too obvious to the public and increasingly unpalatable for them. But the SNP stance on independence is increasingly obscured.

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It's one thing to simply mouth word-salads at a party conference. There’s enough of that vacuous nonsense in every party, and to be fair it’s a major part of rallying the faithful. But this was the party leader at a convention specifically held to discuss strategy. Focus and direction were required, with understanding of the strategy essential. But when your spin doctor requires to explain what you’ve said to the waiting press corps and even before the meeting’s over other senior members have re-interpreted it, then you’ve a problem.

Yousaf’s putting forward a false prospectus. A vote for SNP isn’t a vote for independence. It can’t be, as he’s failed to lay out how it’ll be delivered, other than repeating the vacuous “Boris will blink” strategy or, simply, “pigs might fly” with ministers’ talk of “the settled will” and “60 per cent thresholds” as empty as the Great Leader’s speech.

It’s a strategy to try and rally the independence supporters who’re deserting them partly over the administration’s failures but equally because they no longer pursue what was the party’s north star. As they’ve gone off track, core support has deserted them.

In 2017 they suffered badly when Sturgeon marched them down the hill having teed them up for a referendum. Now the 2024 election looms, the “no ifs, no buts” referendum of 2023 has been abandoned, with a “please sir” attitude to Westminster now the vogue. A rout’s coming. They’ve been warned, hell mend them if they ignore it.

But they’re not the only opposition party that’ll be running on a false prospectus. Labour’s calling for an election with the leadership demanding change and activists promising a radical agenda. In their dreams, for where’s the change and what’s radical? A strategy of crippling interest rates endorsed, wage claims, significantly below inflation rates, denounced, Brexit defended, and even modest changes like abolishing the House of Lords on hold.

The Labour Left are now the endangered species in Westminster, when once it was “Tory Wets” or “Remainers”, with not just Corbyn but others denied the right to stand or unceremoniously dumped. Those that remain know their “jaiket’s on a shoogly peg”. No wonder at a recent trade union meeting when a veteran Labour MP said Starmer had committed to reform, it was met by chuckles and guffaws.

These aren’t false prospectuses but downright lies. It’s about saving some careers and allowing others a shot of power. Little else is to change.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian



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