A guest editorial by Matt M.
For some time now, the SNP, under Nicola Sturgeon, has attempted to portray itself as a paragon of virtue and truth. The party proclaims itself as anti-discriminatory, anti-racist, anti-sectarian, and anti all-things-objectionable-to-a-tolerant-and-civilised-society. Defender of the bastion of Jocktopia.
When Nicola Sturgeon strutted her rant at George Square last December, she advised us of her ‘vision’ for Scotland. Apparently, the ‘New Scotland’ is to be open, welcoming, tolerant and inclusive (no Tories please!).
These attempts at moral and political excellence are lacking in balance. Rather than start from a solid base of ethical conviction, the SNP has always been willing to attach itself to any convenient cause. The difficulty with this pretence of virtue is that it tends to embolden or fade as a direct consequence of who is stating any given issue.
In his ‘Notes on Nationalism’, George Orwell observed, ‘the Nationalist does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but has a remarkable capacity for not hearing about them.’ Orwell added of the Nationalist, ‘actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them and there is almost no kind of outrage…which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side’. So, is Orwell’s analysis of Nationalist actions accurate? Let’s consider some examples.
In May 2020 Maajid Nawaz, LBC radio presenter, urged Nicola Sturgeon to apologise after he claimed he was racially targeted by SNP supporters who disagreed with his views over Brexit. Maajid accused the SNP of ‘left wing racism’.
There was no response from the party leadership.
In 2018 Julia Dettbarn, an SNP councillor in South Ayrshire, used the ‘n’ word in her social media account. Despite the claim being upheld, the good councillor was sent for ‘awareness training’.
She continues to serve as an SNP councillor.
During the 2019 General Election campaign, the SNP prospective candidate for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath was found to have used anti-Semitic language in his social media account and admitted his comments were ‘clearly unacceptable’.
He was accepted back into the SNP and continues to serve as an MP.
In November 2020, Joanna Cherry, SNP MP and party Spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs, had been subject to death threats. These threats were taken so seriously that Ms Cherry was offered protection from both Police Scotland and London’s Metropolitan Police. The three threats were apparently from a group of militant trans-rights activists operating within the SNP.
No support has been forthcoming from the party leadership.
While in January, John Mason, SNP MSP, advised us that he would not be speaking up for those who wanted lower taxes and was screening constituents on their political loyalties when they contacted him through his website. Presumably to disenfranchise those who did not agree with his views.
No action was taken by the party leadership.
Contrast this silence and minimal intervention approach to the attitude from the party leadership in relation to recent counter demonstrations in Glasgow. The leadership could not, as usual, get in front of a microphone or reach for Twitter quickly enough to tell us about ‘racist thuggery’, ‘zero tolerance’, how ‘completely appalled’ they were and that the scenes were ‘utterly shameful’ and the ‘full force of the law’ was threatened. The outrage is as hysterically imbalanced as the previous examples were non-existent.
Indeed, the Police Federation were prompted to issue a statement saying, ‘The public cannot expect the police service to turn a blind eye to those who break the law in the name of a particular cause whilst demanding different treatment for opponents’.
What the SNP offers is lacking in any moral credibility and has no consistency in its approach. While attempting to present itself as a party of upright righteousness, it fails spectacularly, and as Orwell said, is guilty of ‘changing its moral colour when it’s ‘our’ side’.
Let us be clear, what is on offer from the SNP is not Mandela-like statesmanship – no issues of deeply held moral principle. It is much more Orwellian than that: Whenever Nationalists do bad things, it simply goes down the memory hole.
Matt M is a freelance writer based in the Central Belt.
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