If you want to see miracles happen, watch the reaction to John Finnie and Jean Urquhart’s decision to leave the SNP Parliamentary Group.
The normally hyperactive @theSNP Twitter feed fell silent.
As a mere whippersnapper in party membership terms, it ill-behoves me to criticise their decision. They’ve done far more for the cause of disarmament and social justice than I ever have. That is worthy of the utmost respect – and universally amongst my fellow-travelling “hopelessly naive”§ peers there has been nothing but. We will see them alongside the rest of the Yes campaign over the next two years.
I will say this about today’s events. Anyone who thought the risk of this happening was zero or close to it, must be “hopelessly naive” themselves. You can’t alter one of the historical cores of the party, and do so in a way that in some cases insulted the intelligence and commitment of people who’ve given their entire adult lives to the cause, without fallout. The vast majority of us on the No to NATO side are staying and fighting from within the party to ensure the contingent part of our new policy – the bit where we dictate to NATO the terms of our membership – is carried through and strictly adhered to. And hopefully to revisit the policy at some later date (but don’t hold your breath). But obviously some, both in elected positions and in the grassroots, were going to see what happened as a red line too far, and take the last remaining option open to them.
And given the precariousness of the parliamentary arithmetic, such fallout would always be harmful to the party’s ability to control the Holyrood agenda. Not on the big issues like the referendum, social justice, or defending universalism from the ranks of Better Together, but on the less high-profile stuff, including parliamentary timetabling. And if John, Jean, Margo & the Greens form a Technical Group, another opponent appearing every week at FMQs. We are now a heartbeat away from losing our hard-won majority, a majority built in the large part on the tireless efforts of the very activists who voted No to NATO last week. There’s some horrible-tasting irony for us right there.
If those behind the new NATO policy hadn’t considered this sad outcome a very real possibility, you have to question who was “hopelessly naive” all along.
§ And in a completely separate paragraph, I would like to mention this tweet.