By-election battles

I NOTE that Maria Fyfe (Letters, 22 July) is still obsessing about the SNP’s allegedly deplorable decision to contest the 1945 Motherwell by-election, held in the closing weeks of the Second World War when Hitler’s armies were already in retreat across the continent.

Indeed, the final surrender of Nazi Germany occurred within weeks of Dr Robert McIntyre’s election as the first-ever SNP MP in April 1945.

She seems to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the SNP, as a minor political party in those far-off days, had not been invited to participate in the cosy wartime political truce stitched up between the established Westminster parties so as to allow them to avoid the tiresome necessity of contesting democratic elections. So, in the SNP’s case, there was no breach of trust involved.

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She is perhaps also unaware of the fact that the SNP was not the only political party in the UK – nor Dr McIntyre the only political candidate – to defy the Westminster consensus about not contesting elections during the war years. South of the Border, the left-wing Commonwealth Party also contested wartime by-elections, even securing the election of two or three MPs, though after the war most of their members seem to have defected, Mrs Fyfe will be glad to know, to her own dear Labour Party – especially after its landslide victory at the 1945 general election. In any event, she ought also to contemplate the apparent contradiction in her allegedly principled stance of prioritising the fight against fascism, while simultaneously sanctioning the indefinite internal suspension of normal democratic procedures. Nazi Germany, after all, was itself a one-party state.


Clarence Drive