Fiona Robertson: SNP, where do we go from here?

Writer and activist Fiona Robertson outlines what she thinks the SNP should prioritise following the General Election

THE elections are over, at least for now, and most of us are taking a well-earned breather. 

We won a clear majority in Scotland, with 35 MPs out of 59. It’s not the absolutely ludicrous result of 2015, but that was never going to be, could never be, replicated. Ninety-five per cent of the MPs available was a fantastic, beautiful, one-off result. 

Of course, you’d never know that we won if you listen to reports, because we certainly did lose a lot of fantastic representatives in the rebalancing, and the fact that so many seats went blue (especially in my area) is particularly heartbreaking. 

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There is no shortage of opinions on what went right, what went wrong, who’s to blame, who should resign, but I want to look at the bigger picture for a moment.

While I completely understand the desire of the SNP to be all things to all people, and to ensure a plurality of voices within the party, and to avoid the poor coverage that radical politics inevitably brings, I think it’s time we make our stand.

There are a few key realisations we have to make our peace with:

1.) Nothing we do will ever bring with it the blessing of the media. 

We gave baby boxes to tiny babies and we were still vilified for it. We ensured that most people are protected from the Bedroom Tax, and there’s not a peep in the press. We are never going to get what we feel our policies deserve from the media, so we have to stop pursuing that.

2.) We need to focus on a more direct message

Because nothing we do will ever be covered positively, we have to make our case direct to the people by providing the best possible services to the majority of people, and ensuring they know where they came from.

So many people I speak to have no idea that life here is so radically different to life in England; they don’t know why we’ve made the decisions we have, and they don’t understand the different levels of government. 

We have to go direct to the people by having public information days in small, local communities, where people can come and ask questions, or go door to door to find out if people have any issues.

3.) In order to do point number two, we will have to learn point number one

We’ve got to make our peace with being a leftwing party with broadly socialist ideals, and commit to them: land reform, public health, sustainable energy, sustainable cities, and taxes to pay for them, because we can’t talk about great services without the money for them. 

I know we don’t have control over most of our taxes, and I know that the ones we do have are a trap, but we have to demonstrate the savings people will see because of the better services provided.

Yes, we’ll be called control freaks, but we already are. Yes, we’ll be accused of "Mugabe-style land grabs", but we already are. Yes, we’ll be accused of radical politics, but we already are. Yes, we’ll be accused of stealing from ordinary people, but we already are.

We already are accused of all these things and more, so we may as well actually use them to do some good. Stop being hesitant, stop waiting for approval. We’ve done incredible work with tuition fees and prescriptions, with the Scottish Welfare Fund, the Scottish Independent Living Fund, the Scottish social security system which is being built to be a great thing for our society. We have done great work, but we’ve got so much more to do.

4.) We must realise we have limited time

We will not always be in government. Our time here is limited. We must use it to implement as much good as we can, as quickly as we can, because our time will come to an end as the cycles of politics move on. 

If we wait for the public to get on board, we’ll be waiting forever. People gave us a mandate, let’s use it. Use it for all its worth, and do great things.

Yes, the press will come after us, because we threaten their bosses. Yes, the landowners will come after us, because we threaten their monopoly on our wild places. Yes, the people will come after us because they’re told we do terrible things, like feed children and ensure access to healthcare and protect disabled people from Westminster.

History is littered with parties who compromised their values in order to maintain power – let’s choose a completely different direction.

Yes, they’ll come. And hopefully, we’ll have made enough of a difference that when they do, we’ll have made Scotland a better nation for the people who live here, and we’ll have honoured the voters who put their faith in us.

History is littered with parties who compromised their values in order to maintain power – let’s choose a completely different direction. Let’s do what we need to do to make Scotland better, to put systems in place to help people which aren’t easily dismantled.

Let them come. We’ll have done our job.

Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland

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Mon, 06/19/2017 - 15:52

"We gave baby boxes to tiny babies and we were still vilified for it."

Of course you were. They cost £500 each but only contained £50 worth of stuff, and you "gifted" them to people without knowing if they needed any of those items or not. Then you turn around and complain about not having enough money. It is a stupid, pointless program.


Mon, 06/19/2017 - 22:40

Maurice encapsulates the cost of everything, value of nothing mentality.

He doesn't understand the concept that everyone needs those things, whether they have the money to get them or not; that it is better to give them out up front than to rely on people getting what they need.

He doesn't understand that people with money probably make poorer choices with their money because they can afford to get things wrong - except that with babies, you may not get another chance to get things right.

He also doesn't understand that a baby box is also a bed and that Finland, where they have been in use for about 80 years, has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world now, when it used to be very high (and is, btw, about half that of the UK - see WHO, UN, or even the CIA's figures).

But then Maurice doesn't care about that. Maurice only cares about his myopic world view where he will use everything he can to spit out his criticism, regardless of how well thought out, or how accurate the criticism actually is.

So come on, Maurice, do tell us, what is the price of, say, two healthy extra babies per 1,000, that would be acceptable to you?

Sceptical Scot

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 08:21

'We’ve got to make our peace with being a leftwing party with broadly socialist ideals, and commit to them'

'poor coverage that radical politics inevitably brings'

Myopic barely begins to describe these statements. The snp have done a real number on it members. Today they will toss another tax break for the wealthy and deny much needed revenue to the they have done for a decade......left wing? Who is kidding who?


Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:38

If that's it on the ideas front, the SNP really are in trouble. Shouting about cardboard boxes full of nappies on TV means it is still a gimmick, but with the added bampottery of politicians shouting about cardboard boxes on TV. I suppose they can't talk about inequality, because the Scots gov appears to have increased inequality, so it's cardboard boxes, then.....

As for 'we’ve got to make our peace with being a leftwing party with broadly socialist ideals'. Good grief - for a start look up 'socialism' in a dictionary, please! Edward Heath was more of a socialist than the SNP, and he was a Tory PM.


Tue, 06/20/2017 - 14:55

@RadioJammor - The baby boxes are an indefensible absurdity. The fact that your "defense" of them consists entirely of personal criticism of me demonstrates that.


Tue, 06/20/2017 - 22:32

Lets start with the baby box- anything that has the potential to reduce infant mortality can only be seen as a good thing.The items in the box are things that all parents will ultimately need, so helping those that will struggle to afford them can only be good.

Where do the SNP go from here.....whilst they are in government they need to get the basics right starting with Education, As a parent of 3 I'm really concerned about SNP education policy. Swinney is the right man in the wrong job.


Wed, 06/21/2017 - 17:57

There is zero evidence that the baby box will have any impact on infant mortality. How can it? It is just a box. The money would be better spent on education for new mothers. But that lacks the glamour that the FM desperately craves. And spending £500 to send £50 worth of stuff to everyone regardless of their circumstances means that money available for helping those that need it is just a fraction of what it could be if a program was built on a rational basis.

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