The SNP – A Risk to its own Success?

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It is difficult to think of any political party taking hold of Scotland come the next General Election, or, for that matter, the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election, other than the Scottish National Party.

If the figures are anything to go by, the SNP could see their vote increase to over 50%, whilst Labour could see their’s drop dramatically to just 23%. This would dramatically reduce their 41 seat stronghold in Scotland, and would jepordise any chances of Labour achieving a victory in General Elections to come.

Meanwhile, membership of the SNP has surpassed anyone’s expectations, becoming the third largest party in the United Kingdom.

It was news received with enormous applause at the SNP Tour event at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow when Nicola Stugeon revealed that membership for the party had reached a wopping 92,263.

“That means”, she said. “That soon 1 in 50 people in Scotland will be a member of the Scottish National Party.”

The concept is astonishing, and the nearly 12,000 people who packed into the venue on November 22nd roared in appreciation at their party’s dominance. They sang, cheered, and danced, as the spectacle they were attending was not confined to just the room they occupied, but was happening across Scotland.

A triumph for democracy, a people liberated from the cluches of Westminster, even if 55% of their countrymen had voted against independence. You could compare it to the scenes on Endor at the end of Star Wars Episode VI.

But is it all for the best?

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In stating that almost 1 in 50 people in Scotland would be members of her party, Nicola Sturgeon seemed to almost be saying: “And the rest will soon realise their folly, and follow suit!” [Cue applause].

What Nicola Stugeon is in danger of doing is creating a greater divide in Scotland than the referendum did. Yet, on this occasion, it is not that people are on a level playing field, battling out their opinions; it is that the SNP are almost assuming superiority, creating a divide based on alienation, not ideology or argument.

Compare it to two people shouting at each other, versus one person shouting at someone whose mouth is taped. This is the risk the SNP run if they are not careful to ensure they do not become the all-encompassing party, and instead an actual political party.

The recent announcement from Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland, that he will stand as an MP in next May’s General Election was met with jubilation by many, but also highlights the issue that is integral to the SNP.

Outgoing MP for Gordon, Aberdeen, warned that Salmond was “not liked” but people in the constituency, saying that Salmond would be more focused on ruffling Westminster’s feathers instead of fighting for his constituents.

Indeed, despite my being a supporter of Mr Salmond, and I know he is a former Westminster politician, he has to play the Westminster game.

If you watch Prime Minister’s Questions, the main purpose of the debate is for politicians to ask the PM questions with regards to issues raised by their constituents.

Often this does happen, whilst being permeated with the party versus party politics of smear and pompousness. However, if you listen to what the majority of what the six SNP MPs say, it is very often a “Scotland” thing.

Naturally, as a minority nationalist party in the House of Commons, this is probably to be expected. Nevertheless, as previously stated, if the SNP do pick up the number of MPs they are expected to pick up, their rhetoric must change.

If Salmond is elected by the constituents of Gordon he will be pressed to represent them, and not merely focus on the ambitions of the SNP. If he fails to do so, he will create a rift between the SNP and the voters they rely upon.

At the moment the SNP and the Scottish electorate seem quite parallel. Yet this will go out the window once they claim a large number of seats in Westminster, and the need will be for them to represent their voters; not the six million people of Scotland.

Salmond stated following his announcement: “Perhaps it’s time to use the Westminster elections to apply that pressure – to rumble them up in Westminster and make sure that Scotland has delivered what we were promised during the referendum campaign.”

It is my opinion that Salmond runs the risk of being a First Minister in Westminster. His voters will see this as being not interested in their issues. Remember, despite the subsequent surge in nationalist support following the independence referendum, the Yes campaign did lose the referendum. Aberdeen was not one of the regions that voted for independence, and thus Salmond cannot play the “more powers for Scotland” card as readily as he could as First Minister.

This is all, of course, hypothesis. What actually happens is yet to be seen. It is very difficult to imagine, though, Alex Salmond walking the streets of Gordon, fighting for the good of his constituency?

The SNP will have to make themselves an inclusive party, but also make sure they do not become the enemy of their own voters. If Salmond is elected in May 2015 he will have to remember the people who elected him, instead of fighting for the good of Scotland in general.

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