As a young man, I was given the kind of advice you never forget, but hope you will never have to prove right. I was driving with a colleague, through a volatile part of the world, on a research trip, where landmines are very common. As we got into the truck, he turned to me and said, “Keep your feet as far apart as possible.” I asked why and he replied, “That way, if we drive over a mine, you have a better chance of keeping at least one foot.” I have all the flexibility of a pane of glass, but I spent the rest of the drive doing the splits. To this day, I am glad to say I still have two feet, unlike the SNP, who are shooting themselves in the foot, repeatedly.
Not only have the scandals of the last few days — the sex pests, the bad investments, the found-out lies, the authoritarian legislation and the bullying of civil servants — taken their toll, the SNP have seemingly set themselves up for even more damage. John Swinney is on Twitter defending his ridiculous demand that MSPs can see a summary of the OECD report on education but cannot copy or quote it. Not only did he make this demand, but he has also now started to claim that he cannot publish the report, despite one of the authors and a senior authority in the subject telling the BBC that there is no reason it cannot be published.
Forgive me for not believing a man who lied that legal advice could not be shared before sharing it, who lied about having provided all documents before then providing more, and who has overseen the collapse of our once proud education system. It really does seem as if he is inviting another vote of no confidence, bringing down more shame and reputational damage. Not publishing the report is a gift to the opposition who, in a chorus, will repeat, “You said judge us on education, but you have hidden the report”, at every possible opportunity.
Now the SNP’s whip in London has stood down over allegations of sexual misconduct, followed by yet-another cover-up, adding to the ever-growing list of SNP sexual offenders, such as the former Finance Minister and the former Children’s Minister. He will, no doubt, continue to leech off the public as long as possible without doing anything for Scotland.
However, while Grady has stood down, another MP, who has already been named on social media, threatens a lawsuit against anyone who would “tarnish her good name”, surely an unwinnable position in an election year. Publications, like The Spectator, who already have a history of daring the SNP to react, will simply out her and create another scandal, splashing her face over every front page in the country. One would think that the SNP would want to “rip the plaster off quickly”, so to speak, and have both of them named, shamed and forgotten as quickly as possible, rather than leaving one to fester under another cover-up which will generate only more bad press closer to the election.
Finally, the much detested Hate Crime Bill, passed on a day in which the whole country is reeling from the horrifying murder of a young woman by a police officer, but which has no provision for the protection of women. This bill’s timing, so close to an election and at such a painful moment for our nation, has all the tact and electoral sensitivity of a Nazi-themed orgy at Anne Frank’s house. Yet, the SNP chose to railroad it through, seemingly oblivious to the damage it is causing their election campaign.
I am delighted to sit by and watch the SNP tear themselves to pieces, but if I were an SNP supporter, I would be beyond furious. They would be right to ask: why are the SNP intent on self-destruction before an important election? However, unlike some more conspiratorially-minded writers, I do not believe that this damage is a conscious choice by the SNP. Instead, I see it as the callous workings of an out of control, arrogant party, that takes their voters for granted and see themselves impervious to all attacks. They think their steel boots offer plenty of protection from imaginary bullets. But what if the bullets are real and she’s only wearing tartan stilettos?
Angus Robinson is a lecturer at a UK university. Follow him on Twitter @AnguspfRobinso1
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