To be ‘Stonger for Scotland’ SNP need to stop own goals
Previously we have written about how the unbalanced nature of SNP criticism in the media is counterproductive.
It is so common and often nonsensical that any proper attempt to hold them to account gets drowned out. It allows more hard-line SNP supporters to frame everything as SNPBAAAAD; anything valid is lost in a torrent of sensationalised tabloid garbage.
On the other hand, many people within the independence movement refuse to publicly criticise the SNP. Some are blinded by loyalty to the cause but others legitimately feel that the SNP is the only route to independence and that the party already receives enough criticism from outwith the movement.
I don’t subscribe to this viewpoint. While the SNP may be the main driver of independence I believe that the Scottish parliament needs to be seen to be superior to the Westminster parliament in order to make independence more likely. Demonstrating to No Voters that Holyrood can look after their interests more than Westminster is key. Holding the government to account is one way to make Holyrood more relevant. Unthinking sycophancy is not going to persuade any No Voters to support independence and in fact it reinforces the unfair perception of us as mindless fantasists and fanatics.
Recently the SNP have made a few mistakes whereby they have been exposed playing the type of political games we hate when other parties do so. The most glaring is with respect to the ‘National Conversation’.
Anyone with any sort of capacity for critical thinking can see that this is plainly not for the purposes we are told it is for. The SNP are not interested in having a chat. They have much better ways of finding out what people think.
There are two purposes to the survey. The first is to collect email addresses for marketing purposes. This is a reasonable goal but the problem is the survey is deceptive and people don’t like to be taken for fools. It is designed to look non partisan and makes little effort to be transparent about the fact it’s an SNP run project. Furthermore, there is no easy way for people to opt out of marketing like there is in almost every similar attempt at personal data collection.
The second purpose of the survey is to placate those nationalists who want a second independence referendum now. It buys the SNP a few more months of goodwill from a fair chunk of their support who are starting to get frustrated by the lack of momentum.
Admittedly, Sturgeon is in a difficult position being a pragmatic leader of a party that contains many people desperate to gamble on a coin toss. The survey may end up damaging her trust levels with those who want a referendum now as well as with those who filled it in genuinely thinking the Scottish Government were interested in their opinion.
This week it has also emerged that the Scottish Government has ignored expert advice with regards to the controversial introduction of standardised testing in Schools.
This is not so bad in itself, but it appears they went to great lengths to hide this fact and the emails proving this were only made public due to the information commissioner forcing the SNP to release them.
It also emerged that the Scottish Government didn’t consult the treasury with regards to the funding of their much heralded £500m business loan scheme.
The initiative itself is a great idea but it is daft to advertise something as one of your key policies without being 100 percent certain that you can honour it.
These behaviours can be classified as a bit slippery and poorly thought out. They are the normal acts of politicians but the point is the Scottish Government need to be better than normal for independence to succeed. Criticism is valid in these cases and criticism could have been avoided with a little forethought.
In all the cases above numerous people have tied themselves up in knots to defend the indefensible when they would have gloated if the Tories had been caught doing the same things.
To their credit the SNP have in recent weeks proved they are responsive to criticism. They have quickly stopped a glaring conflict of interest in the Holyrood committee system after a public outcry. This shows that our system can work well when government is held to account for policies that are obviously wrong.
It would be great to see less clickbait silly criticism in the future from the mainstream media as this muddies the water of sensible debate. That said, the mainstream media is outwith our control. Going forward I hope to see fewer easily avoidable own goals from the SNP and more of a willingness from within some quarters of the independence movement to speak up when the government get it wrong. It’s healthy to do so in a democracy, and a healthy democracy will appeal to those on the fence regarding independence.
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