The SNP and the Missing Money Scandal – Conservative Article
We’ve all lost things on occasion. The TV remote, glasses, maybe – if you’re really unlucky – a phone. Just imagine for a second, then, how unlucky the Scottish National Party (SNP) must be to have lost nearly £600,000. How careless. Well, I say “lost”, what I mean is “taken from a donations account ring-fenced intended for a second independence campaign and instead spent on office renovations and legal fees”.
This episode comes at the bottom of a shockingly long list of dodgy practices in the SNP. Financial mismanagement; embezzlement; bullying and interference in legal proceedings. To name a few. They even openly mocked Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism during a 2015 election campaign, just months before his subsequent death. This list barely scratches the surface of their shocking record in government. Only recently did drug deaths in Scotland reach the highest ever level. Really, Nicola Sturgeon is right when she calls it a disgrace, it absolutely is. It’s her disgrace.
What this shows, especially this emerging case of the missing money, is a disgusting level of contempt. Contempt for the law, the political process, and above all, their own supporters. This is money the SNP, more specifically, Nicola Sturgeon has stolen from their own passionate votes.
With all of this going on, how do they keep winning elections? The SNP has positioned itself as the only major party which places Scotland at its heart. This appears to be the only reason they continue to pick up votes. Their whole outlook is Scotland-centric. This chimes with voters who feel maligned by Westminster and want someone to give them a voice.
However, the SNP has a fundamental misunderstanding of the Scottish electorate. Standing up for Scottish issues does not equate to desiring independence. They repeatedly claim their electoral success is a mandate for an independence referendum. This is not accurate. The SNP attracts those who feel the current crop of other ‘Scottish’ unionist parties does not hold their personal interests in high regard. With their London-central offices and UK-wide funding bases.
Disappointingly, this mischaracterisation extends beyond the SNP. The main opposition parties fail to understand that proposing unionism doesn’t automatically win votes. They’re seen as pure vehicles for Westminster establishments that don’t really care about Scotland.
This is especially true of the Scottish Labour Party, one that really should – and once did – appeal to the vast majority of Scots. Perceptions of Scotland as not worthy of campaign effort by the main unionist parties leaves the door wide open for the SNP to gain major ground.
However, now is the perfect time for a change of approach. Scotland isn’t like Westminster; the rules of the fight are different. Indeed, the fight itself is vastly different. Supposedly ‘unionist’ parties need to acknowledge that the biggest issue in Scottish politics is unionism. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives can’t carry on like Scotland is the House of Commons. They need to focus on the yellow mob across the aisle and put the effort into revealing to the electorate the appalling state that the SNP has left Scotland in after 14 years of governing.
The opposition unionist parties need to take the opportunity this latest scandal has presented to them. If they can’t take down Nicola Sturgeon and successfully win the next election after this, then nothing is ever going to change. If ‘losing’ £600,000 doesn’t finish off the SNP, then nothing will. It will show the division in Scotland is too entrenched and the country will only plunge further into in-fighting and bitter disputes.
This current Parliament is the most important one since the referendum. Nicola Sturgeon, in many ways, is the SNP. She is the only well-known figure in the party’s upper echelons and, with her husband, has centralised power to an extreme extent. Their downfall would be the end of the SNP and leave it in such disarray that it could not survive an election.
But it’s more than this. The Unionist parties need to show that they truly, deeply care about Scotland. And that being a Scottish MP isn’t just a career stepping stone or a graveyard for wannabe politicians unable to make it down to Westminster. They must learn from their mistakes and realise when they’re making them. Take Douglas Ross, for example. For him to be effective he must give up his seat in the Commons and focus solely on being an MSP. A colleague of mine has previously outlined why Scotland ought to stop seeking independence.
It must be shown that being Scottish is more than just disliking the English. And that, on a more optimistic note, that Scottish culture has not only survived but thrived in the union. All three parties will have newly-elected young, energetic leaders following the Lib Dem leadership bid. Facing off against a jaded, Covid-weary Nicola Sturgeon is just the platform to start from.
The fight for Scotland may have started long ago but, at last, it feels like the SNP are loosening their vice-hold on the Scottish electorate. They are a few well-placed blows away from slipping from their perch altogether. If this succeeds, there might be a chance to regrow Scotland into a nation built on harmony and positivity, knowing its place in the union as one that is valued and mutually beneficial.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Alex McQuitty
Point of Information
Accountability is key, but where does it lie? – A Labour Response
Whether you love or loathe Nicola Sturgeon and her drive for Scottish independence, the £600k debacle is not one to ignore. Alex is completely right, if perhaps a little biased at times, to draw attention to the issue and what it could mean for the SNP going forward.
The SNP is completely Scotland-centric, on that I agree with Alex. Independence and patriotism underpin their entire mandate – for better and for worse. It is not surprising that voters entrust the SNP with their voice. Thus, they prioritise their dissatisfaction with Westminster and centralised power over the apparent “dodgy practices”, as Alex would say. You can’t criticise this decision either. Political apathy and dissatisfaction are very real problems of today’s democracies and this voting behaviour will continue until there is another solution.
Now, the £600k issue. It is just one among many that have been highlighted in the news lately. And it certainly isn’t good press for the SNP. Accountability in democracy cannot be overlooked. Joanna Cherry and Douglas Chapman of the National Executive Company (NEC) have since resigned over this issue of transparency, seemingly enforcing some form of accountability. Is this enough though? I suppose most people’s responses will align closely with their views of the Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings scandals.
Whether it’s in Westminster or Scotland, accountability is key. Whether accountability lies with specific individuals; entire governments; or party leaders will remain a contentious topic.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
The SNP is corrupt and Unionist Parties Desperately Need Reforming – A Liberal Response
The SNP’s longevity in power, much like the Conservatives nationally, has bought them impunity. Alex’s article crucially highlights not only these mistakes, but the ways to resolve them.
Strengthening the Scottish unionist parties is essential, something Alex and I completely agree on. As he mentions, a distinction between being pro-independence and pro-Scottish is crucial. The unionist parties must reform their strategies immediately with this in mind. They must begin promoting Scottish issues at the forefront of their campaigns in local elections.
Yet, they should not just be anti-SNP, as the SNP are anti-English. They must have concrete manifesto suggestions. The recent embezzlement scandal provides ripe opportunities for change, rather than just an attack on Sturgeon. For example, the establishment of a more independent judiciary. As Penman noted in his inquiry, the Scottish system is deeply flawed: caught in the grips of whoever holds power. This has allowed the SNP to avoid serious investigations for half a decade. It is not a sign of a healthy democracy.
Democratizing the system further is also necessary. As Abi notes, apathy is rampant. If the SNP escape with this, and the Unionists let them, the people must be democracy’s next defense. However, many feel powerless in a system that allows career politicians to walk away with their crimes. The people demand honest politics, and the Unionists should give them this opportunity.
The Unionist parties must play the SNP at their own game. They, not the SNP, should be the voices of the Scottish people, not a distant Westminster. Independence provides a facile excuse for the SNP. The SNP has escaped by blaming Scotland’s acute problems on unionism. The Unionist parties must provide a stronger alternative in the face of corruption. Political laziness and lack of accountability will destroy democracy.
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
I’m Abi! I am a liberal, political enthusiast from the Welsh valleys. Since I was young, I have been captivated by politics. I used to spend so much time watching the morning news before school, and have paid close attention to political campaigns for as long as I can remember. It was a lot later that I decided I wanted to pursue politics academically. Now, I have just finished my second year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.