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A right-wing agenda for the SNP

Today the Scotland on Sunday has outlined a clear right-wing agenda for the SNP. We can’t afford to dismiss this as wishful thinking.

And so, as I sort-of predicted a while back, the campaign to make the SNP a ‘mainstream’ party (for which we can read ‘become standard neoliberal, neoconservative’) moves on a-pace. The most active partner of the SNP grouping which overturned the SNP’s opposition to NATO was the Scotsman group of newspapers which has put in a lot of effort into pushing the case for NATO. Having now won its first battle, the agenda for the SNP has now been set. For those who have not read it yet, in the next 18 months the SNP must:

  • Abandon its commitment to nuclear disarmament
  • Make an unbreakable commitment to keeping the Monarchy forever
  • Drop its commitment to renewable energy
  • Develop a fiscal, economic and monetary policy acceptable to European central bankers
  • Drop its proposal for same-sex marriage

Up until recently this might be considered a bit daft, an unsympathetic newspaper group telling the SNP what to do. But the networks which worked on the NATO case remain in place and the senior SNP people close to the senior Scotsman people are all in the  same place. If the Scotsman comes out with a poll to show that gay marriage is unpopular, we now have a precedent for how that is treated in the Party. Or, perhaps more likely, when the polling comes out to show that the public think the SNP is hypocritical in wishing to get rid of nuclear weapons but make use of other people’s, can we expect to be back next year for another u-turn?

“No!” cries the SNP “that’s just hostile propaganda!”. But, just as a reminder, I worked for the Scottish Labour Party in London in 1995 and 1996 and that is exactly what we were told after each u-turn and before the next one. Before anyone is confident that the SNP really has reached it’s this far but no further moment, take a minute to read today’s Scotland on Sunday editorial. That’s the Scotland on Sunday which organised the pro-NATO fringe meeting with Angus Robertson. Here’s a flavour:

The SNP has two years – realistically, 18 months – to revisit all the areas of its programme that are voter-unfriendly. If electability is the goal, there are other problematic issues to be addressed. The reassuring pledge to continue with the monarchy still seems too much an Alex Salmond policy, not sufficiently a party commitment. The EU issue needs spelled out, chapter and verse. Can the SNP secure a guarantee of retaining the pound and EU membership? It would help it enormously if it could. Its commitment to renewable energy is too extravagant a goal for a small nation when many other countries are rowing back on this. And the baffling decision to provoke an unnecessary controversy over same-sex marriage, which is now clearly a vote-loser, may not do the party any favours if it wants maximum support at the referendum. Ideological purity is a luxury of opposition; winning a referendum requires flexibility and compromise.

Is any argument in there weaker than the argument for NATO? Is it not basically exactly the same case?

This, for my money, is just part of exactly the same campaign that made Johann Lamont think it was clever to attack the universal welfare state. Persuade Scottish Labour it must become a right-of-centre party to win power. Persuade the SNP it must become a right-of-centre party to win the referendum. Then campaign really, really hard to make sure there is no vote for Scottish independence. And then sit back and puff on your cigar as a newly-United Kingdom has a northern frontier which no longer meddles with pesky left-of-centre politics. Job done.

Stage one is complete – the Labour Party in Scotland is now using anti-welfare language and the SNP has realigned itself as a close US ally in geopolitics. Now we have seen the shape of stage two do we know it is impossible? After all, who dares wins.

Robin McAlpine