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Here comes some ado

Posted on October 23, 2012 by

We should probably prepare for a mainstream media blitz today and tomorrow on the breaking news that two SNP MSPs have apparently resigned from the party over the NATO vote at last week’s conference. We have no criticism of John Finnie and Jean Urquhart for doing so, although some will surely call it sour grapes at losing a democratically-debated vote. We don’t agree with any such attacks – both stood for election as members of a party that opposed Scottish membership of NATO, and they’re absolutely entitled to leave the party if it reverses that position.

We also don’t believe that either should stand down and trigger a by-election. They still stand for the policies on which they won the electorate’s votes. (Nor, however, should SNP MSPs who voted for the new policy stand down as a result of the change. NATO membership is not currently a power within the Scottish Parliament’s remit, and as such the policy is irrelevant to anything that happens at Holyrood.)

However, in the avalanche of overheated analysis that’s likely to appear in the next 24 hours – not just in the professional media but also in the shoutier areas of the left-wing blogosphere – it’s worth keeping hold of some perspective.

It’s true that the resignations will technically reduce the SNP’s majority to a precarious single seat. Alex Salmond will be able to command 65 votes in the chamber against a combined opposition of 63. (Bill Walker having been expelled over failing to disclose domestic-abuse allegations and Tricia Marwick becoming neutral as Presiding Officer.) But that assumes that any of the three newly-independent MSPs would actually vote against the Scottish Government on anything.

We can see no grounds on which they would do so. The exception would naturally be any vote on joining NATO in the event of Scottish independence, but that’s a vote which won’t arise until after the next Holyrood election, and in any event the SNP would be supported by the other three main parties who all back NATO membership, so the vote would be carried overwhelmingly anyway.

As far as we’re aware, Finnie and Urquhart still both support all the other SNP policies on which they were elected. (If they don’t, then they SHOULD stand down and contest a by-election on their new positions, particularly as they’re list MSPs.) As such, it seems reasonable to assume they’ll continue to vote with the government on them, and the entire affair will be a kerfuffle about nothing. Just don’t expect that to reduce the amount of column inches and airtime expended on it.

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[EDIT: Finnie and Urquhart resigning as MSPs wouldn’t in fact trigger any by-elections, because as list MSPs they’d simply be automatically replaced with the next two SNP candidates on the list.]

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    81 to “Here comes some ado”

    1. Ye widnae see ony Labour MSP’s standin doon as a matter o principle.

    2. Aplinal says:

      I haven’t seen this yet, will research now, but it does seem like ‘sour grapes’ to me.  As you say, the MSM will make an exaggerated meal out of this.  The big prize is yet to be won, can’t people see that once it is over we (that is Scotland) can decide EVERYTHING for ourselves.  Until then, we are powerless in almost everything!
      Some more mature thinking required, in my humble opinion.

    3. Doug Daniel says:

      I wouldn’t want either of them to stand down, because both are good politicians and I would never criticise someone for leaving a party which has changed its position on a matter they feel strongly about. Quite the reverse, in fact – for all the praise some of us heap on Malcolm Chisholm’s propensity for voting against his party when it’s being daft, the fact remains he remains doggedly attached to a party which is unrecognisable from the one he joined.

      However, I’d always assumed list members got replaced. After all, they didn’t get in because people voted for John and Jean – they got in because people voted for the SNP. Mind you, the ultimate conclusion of that idea is that list members really are nothing more than party voting fodder, so I think I’m glad it DOESN’T work like that after all.

      Anyway, more power to them. If our parliament can be full of principled people post-2014, then we’ll be in excellent hands as we go forward with independence.

    4. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “The big prize is yet to be won, can’t people see that once it is over we (that is Scotland) can decide EVERYTHING for ourselves.  Until then, we are powerless in almost everything!
      Some more mature thinking required, in my humble opinion.”

      Oh, I agree with that. I think the reaction of much of the anti-NATO camp has been irrational and ill-considered. If we win the referendum we’re nuclear-free and POSSIBLY in NATO. If we lose it we’re DEFINITELY in NATO and DEFINITELY still a nuclear-weapons country. As decisions go, that’s a no-brainer, and anyone throwing a tantrum about it which might make a No vote more likely is empirically, unquestionably cutting their nose off to spite their face. And more pertinently, the nose of everyone else in Scotland too.

      But I can’t argue with someone leaving a political party if their conscience tells them to. If leaving NATO is really the most important thing that independence could achieve in Finnie and Urquhart’s eyes, then I wouldn’t for a moment seek to tell them they should stay in a party which no longer has that policy.

      My only criticism of them would be that the timing is self-indulgent and pointless. Whatever happens there will be no vote in the Scottish Parliament on NATO membership until after the 2016 election, so they wouldn’t have been asked to do anything that compromised their principles in this Parliament. If they objected to SNP policy they could stand as anti-NATO independents in 2016 and see how they fared. For now, all they’ve achieved is to give the opposition a stick to attack the SNP, and by extension the Yes campaign, and by extension the chance of a nuclear-free Scotland, with.

    5. James McLaren says:

      Over at the Herald website the in-house Journalist-Troll is crawing about a load of mathematical keich on, the now, Holyrood makeup.
       
      I pointed out his sums were rubbish. My comment is yet to be published and he has already corrected his figures.
       
      Waste of time posting on the website as well as a waste of time failing newspaper.

    6. Barontorc says:

      Fair enough, if they feel strongly about any issue that’s their prerogative and a duty to themselves to do so. We don’t need noddy-donkeys and/or “whippers-in” in Scotland.

      The points they raised at conference were fair points and the democratic vote left them trailing. They could have accepted that and looked at the bigger picture – or do what they have done on a principle and be respected for it. I do not think they will now set about damaging their ultimate goal of independence.

      The NATO yes vote was carried with the condition that WMD must be removed prior to Scotland becoming a member and some would say their wishes were covered by this, but some suspect NATO will refuse to accept such a condition; this being the case it will be no to NATO – and it will be NATO excluding Scotland.

      This has been the harshest test put before the Scottish Government to date. I think they have come through it properly. 

    7. Cuphook says:

      Politicians with principles; it’s the kind of Scotland that I want to live in.
       
      With the impassioned nature of the NATO debate it was probably inevitable that something like this would happen. As the SNP continues its anodyne strategy in the hope of winning over the voters there are people who will find this, in itself, offensive.

    8. muttley79 says:

      Seems a bit odd to resign when the vote was so close and so soon after it had taken place.  The narrowness of the result showed that their opinion was widely-held.  Also, it does appear to be a bit of a knee jerk reaction, maybe they could have waited a bit longer, i.e. a few weeks, and then reassessed the decision.  Lets be honest, the No campaign and the media will be crowing about this for ages.  In addition, surely they have an awareness of what the media are like and their hostility to independence?  Saying all this, I reckon the issue was not handled too well by the leadership, particularly the role of Angus Robertson in this.  The support obviously was not sufficiently there to mean it would pass without hassle.  It looks like the leadership miscalculated the effects of the issue badly.  They seem to have been caught out by the debate and having to struggle so much to even get the resolution passed.  If two Labour MSPs had resigned we would be goading the Labour leadership, so we can’t really have it both ways.

    9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      On the upside, it should reduce the opposition’s ability to whinge about the SNP steamrollering legislation through thanks to their majority.

    10. Luigi says:

      Politicians are of course entitled to take a principled stand, and the world would be a better place if it happened more often. I appreciate that there are very strong feelings about NATO and I respect the brave, painful decisions of John Finnie and Jean Urquhart to resign. However, the bottom line is that we must win the referendum in 2014, if we are to have any chance at all of removing Trident from the Clyde and any chance of influencing NATO. If we fail to win a YES for independence in two years time, then we will be NATO AND NUCLEAR for decades to come. I always thought that, whatever the SNP policy, that an independent Scotland would have an opportunity to debate membership of NATO at a future date. This, once in a generation opportunity to get rid of nuclear weapons should not be thrown away. Surely one step at a time is better than falling over completely at the first hurdle?

    11. redcliffe62 says:

      I think the fact it was carried at conference means they should have supported it as the representative of the party and by definition their constituents, but by resigning and supporting other legislation they have made their point.

      As list MSP’s the party chooses who represents them, but I am not sure legally if they can be replaced without an election. That si the process here in Oz in the Senate if someone leaves the party and is replaced.

      Best thing to happen is for Salmond to say he respects their viewpoint and looks forward to their support in future. It should be contrasted with Tory and Labour policy changing without discussion at the discretion of Londom paymasters. 

    12. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “It looks like the leadership miscalculated the effects of the issue badly.”

      I’m not sure I agree with that. I don’t think anyone seriously thought the vote was going to pass easily. But the point is that the leadership felt the thistle had to be grasped – public opinion was overwhelmingly against the policy and it had to be dealt with now. A reaction within the party was inevitable, but the bottom line is that as every other major party backs NATO too but the SNP is alone in opposing Trident, the potential gains far outweigh the potential losses.

    13. scottish_skier says:

      I don’t see any problems at all here. Good to have politicians stick by their principles. So long as the SNP treat their decision with respect – which I have no doubt they will – then it’s brownie points for both them and the Yes campaign.

      It’s not as if those concerned have crossed the floor or anything! 

      If I was a unionist, I’d not make anything of this at all. Highlighting independence supporting MSPs as very principled is hardly going to be beneficial to the no campaign… 

    14. muttley79 says:

      @Rev Stu
       
      I hope you are right.  I am still not sure that the leadership anticipated the closeness of the vote.  Hopefully it is a case of a short term loss for a long term gain.

    15. Andrew says:

      They should stay and fight to reverse the decision after independence. Resigning now simply increases the likelihood of us staying in NATO, sending our sons and daughters off to war, etc.

    16. wullie says:

      you can have all the principles you like after independence, selfish bloody selfish people.Border first. !!!!!

    17. Seasick Dave says:

      Pointless grandstanding because they lost a democratic vote.

      Once Independent there will be moves with regards to NATO and where will the principled two be then?

    18. Doug Daniel says:

      “I don’t think anyone seriously thought the vote was going to pass easily. But the point is that the leadership felt the thistle had to be grasped”

      I suspect the way the NATO change was handled – namely trailed through the media and debated at conference, rather than going through the normal channels of National Council etc first – was precisely BECAUSE of the divisive nature of the change. If it had been kept in-house at first, it might not have come to fruition. Leaking it to the media forced the issue to come to a head.

      All of which is rather Machiavellian, using the media to force folk’s hands, and although I’m still not all that much bothered about the change, I have lost a bit of respect for Angus Robertson over his handling of it all. The “who dares wins” thing was just silly and felt like he was rubbing it in.

    19. Dcanmore says:

      Self-defeating, selfish and naive decision by the these MSPs. They obviously can’t see the bigger picture and are acting as if they’re still in perpetual opposition rather than being part of government. Yes, I admire their principles and their stance against a party policy that they don’t agree with, but they lost the debate and the vote. They could have resigned AFTER 2014 and not sought re-election in 2016, but instead they’ve helped a hostile MSM to beat Alex Salmond with yet another stick. This time it will be AS losing control of the party, independence campaign at risk blah blah, they will dine out for months on this. Obviously there was more CND than SNP within these two politicians. To be a part of NATO along with independence there is a good chance of nuclear disarmament of the UK, but these MSPs couldn’t see that, they would rather stand in the muddy field with cardboard placard shouting in the drizzle. The SNP in an independent Scotland can be a great force for change, unfortunately these MSPs couldn’t see that far ahead.

    20. Embradon says:

      “If leaving NATO is really the most important thing that independence could achieve in Finnie and Urquhart’s eyes, then I wouldn’t for a moment seek to tell them they should stay in a party which no longer has that policy.”
      If I felt as strongly about NATO as I do about WMD I would be entirely focussed on achieving independence. Without that nothing else matters. We will do as we’re telt. The chances of getting rid of either WMD or NATO will be gone for generations.
      The decision on NATO will be made by the Scottish Parliament elected after independence.

    21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I have lost a bit of respect for Angus Robertson over his handling of it all. The “who dares wins” thing was just silly and felt like he was rubbing it in.”

      Oh, come on. He’d just taken a huge risk and won, in what he feels are the interests of the cause he’s fought for all his life, he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t experience some sort of jubilation.

    22. Cuphook says:

      Much credit is due to the SNP for getting us in the current position regarding the referendum but in 2016 my vote’s up for grabs and it won’t be going to a bunch of monarchist NATO lovers.
       
      I’m sure that we all have different visions of where we want the country to be but the most important thing is to win the vote. In this respect I can appreciate the SNP strategy of reassuring people that things won’t change too much on day one, but I do despair at the lack of vision for the future.

    23. scottish_skier says:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-20041667

      Mr Salmond added: “Jean and John have indicated to me that they will continue to support the government from the back benches, and I welcome that.”

      End of story. 

    24. Embradon says:

       
      scottish_skier says:

      If I was a unionist, I’d not make anything of this at all.

      The Unionists tend to be a bit quiet about nuclear weapons. It will be interesting to see who puts a head above the parapet.

      What IS Labour’s position again?

    25. Craig P says:

      NATO and EU membership are the two big things that allow the voters in a small country like Scotland to feel safe, and negate the point of being in the UK, in my opinion. Why be tied to a defensive agreement with England when we can be in one with most of Europe and North America? Why be tied to an economic agreement with England when we can be in one for almost the whole of Europe? I know there are problems with both EU and NATO but together – for security and trade – they make the UK surplus to requirements. I would have thought any independencista would welcome these supra-national organisations as furthering our aim. 

    26. muttley79 says:

      Interesting quote from Dave Thompson.  Good quote from Salmond, hopefully they will not get any personal abuse as that does not help anybody.  It looks like they will vote for the party in parliament and it is far better this than fighting by-elections.

    27. Doug Daniel says:

      “Oh, come on. He’d just taken a huge risk and won, in what he feels are the interests of the cause he’s fought for all his life, he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t experience some sort of jubilation.”

      Yeah, I suppose you’re right. I can hardly criticise really – I’m the world’s worst winner… 

    28. Marcia says:

      Interesting conclusion on the side piece by Raymond Buchanan on the BBC article:

      ‘If being pro-Nato helps secure a yes vote in 2014, they may judge today’s loss of two MSPs to be worth it.’

        

    29. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Much credit is due to the SNP for getting us in the current position regarding the referendum but in 2016 my vote’s up for grabs and it won’t be going to a bunch of monarchist NATO lovers.”

      That’s just fine by me. I’d rather see the SNP heading a true left-of-centre coalition than governing alone, to be honest. If that means more Green and independent MSPs, that’s a win-win. But it’ll mean nothing if we don’t win the referendum.

    30. Macart says:

      I stuck between admiring them and slapping my forehead in a ‘doh’ moment. I’ll probably come down on the admiration side of the coin though. Not many in any government or indeed any governing party would put their conscience before a party policy. If they had there’d maybe still be a Labour party worth the name.

    31. Marcia says:

      Muttley, if they resigned from Parliament there would be no by-elections, they would simply be replaced by the next person on the SNP list. Parties don’t have the power to kick out elected list members from parliament.

    32. muttley79 says:

      @Marcia
       
      Forgot that they were list MSPs.

    33. G H Graham says:

      John Finnie and Jean Urquhart are a pair of mean spirited, short sight, grand standing pair of small time politicians who should hang their heads in shame.

      They have handed the Unionists yet more ammunition while simultaneously diminishing the authority of the SNP government they are support to support. No one expects everyone to agree with everything but they have put their personal ambition ahead of the party. So much for loyalty, eh?

      The loss of just 1 or more MSP (death, sickness, retirement, defection etc) and the balance of power in Holyrood shifts dramaticaly, potentially putting the brakes on speed at which legislation will be approved to achieve Independence.

      One can apply as much gloss as one likes, but the subsurface defects will inevitably reappear once it has dried.

    34. Ronald Henderson. says:

      What a pair of self-serving and self-indulgent divots. It was a democratic vote to remain in NATO for Heaven’s sake. Only two years to go and they spat the dummy and have made it just that wee bit harder for the rest of us to win independence in 2014.
      Some of the postings here describe the two of them as ‘principled’. If they had any principles they would resign their seats, but I suspect they will keep on collecting their MSP’s wages. Oh very well done indeed!

    35. Cuphook says:

      After independence I’m sure that the political landscape will change and we’ll end up with a true multi-party system. I would hope that it’s the sort of country where parties are allowed to die rather than linger on as part of the establishment. It would be good for activists to have to find new alliances and encounter unaccustomed points of view.

    36. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Marcia: didn’t know that, good info.

    37. Cuphook says:

      @Ronald Henderson

      Why should they resign their seats? They still support the policies which they were elected on. It was the SNP which changed. Should they resign?  

    38. Andrew says:

      Maybe I’m being cynical, but taking a pro-NATO position may be the only way of getting out of NATO.
      Achieving independence is absolutely vital for our nation. I think these two have forgotten this.

    39. Marcia says:

      They are now free to campaign for a Yes vote but anti-Nato and I cannot see it but doing anything but good for the Yes campaign to scoop us those who believe in that position.

    40. Cuphook says:

      @Marcia

      I agree. Showing the diversity of the YES campaign can only be a good thing. We might disagree on many things but we all agree that independence will be good for Scotland. 

    41. Cuphook says:

      And while we’re talking about diversity in the YES side – don’t forget the RIC Conference November 24th, 2012

    42. MajorBloodnok says:

      Very difficult for the Unionists to attack the SNP on this – other than to get shallow headlines about “splits” in the SNP.  But they can’t really criticise either side of the argument – the SNP for now supporting membership of NATO or for two MSP resigning on a point of principle – the former something that the Unionist parties actually support and the latter something which they are unable to understand.

      I welcome the day that a Labour MSP resigns or crosses the floor as a result of Labour’s massive policy shifts that run against their very founding principles and which none of them got to discuss in open debate.  But then, as I said, it’s the point of principle thing that they just don’t get so I’m not holding my breath.

    43. Elizabeth says:

      I see Raymond Buchanan on the news with his ‘damaging to the SNP’ and ‘how many more will follow’ line and ‘voters tend to punish divided parties’…..and with 2014 on the horizon …oh! doom; oh! woe for the SNP.  Exactly as expected! 

    44. Morag says:

      Hah.  That’s what you get (as a party) by being more successful than anticipated.  You end up getting nice-but-dim placeholders actually elected.

      Of course, Labour managed to do that as well, but by being less successful than anticipated.  That takes real skill.

    45. Doug Daniel says:

      Raymond Buchanan must be about the most pessimistic man going. If you lent him £10 he’d say “oh, do you not like me enough to lend me a £20?”

      Talking of BBC journalists – isn’t it strange how quiet everything has gone in regards to Alex Salmond and the Craig Whyte allegations? I thought James Cook had a big scoop? That boy is very keen to splurge his guts out on Twitter – he’s less keen to correct himself when he’s wrong…

    46. CJCairns says:

      Can’t agree with your understanding of their resignations and grudging admiration for their principles. This isn’t principled – it’s dangerous, wrong-headed, self-indulgent nonsense. 
      Q – what chance do we have to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons while part of the UK?
      A – somewhere between zero and f**k all.
      Q – what chance a future independent Scotland will elect a government opposed to NATO membership (in addition to the already agreed anti-nuclear position)?
      A – About one in four, according to the latest polls – in other words, not that much more of a mountain to climb than the one the Yes Campaign has to climb … the mountain that, thanks to their idiotic behaviour, has just become that wee bit higher.

      This isn’t rocket science (pardon the pun) – it’s politics and that’s supposed to be their bleedin’ job!
       

    47. Training Day says:

      Without independence, these two MSPs will not achieve ANY of their goals, far less a withdrawal from NATO – are they incapable of understanding that?  Are they incapable of understanding how a universally hostile media, inlcuding a state broadcaster which is currently engulfed in crisis, will seize upon their actions to deflect, misrpresent and distort? 

    48. Arbroath 1320 says:

      This looks like a bit of childish behaviour to me.
       
      The NATO decision was arrived at through fair,open,intelligent debate.
      The result was close but achieved in a fair and democratic way.
      There were no NATO decisions made or taken behind closed doors, unlike certain other parties I could mention.
      In my view this was an excellent example of pure openness with regards to the SNP making a future policy decision.
      There is definitely a bit of crying over spilt milk here.
       
      The actions of these two individuals leads me to question how strong their ties were to the SNP were in the first place. They are behaving like a couple of kids who join a gang as long as the gang sticks to their views. AS soon a the gang changes its views these two are off.
      Don’t these two individuals realise that nothing about NATO membership can/will happen until after Independence?
      Don’t these two individuals realise that in an Independent Scotland that is the time to bring your anti NATO morals to the fore.
      This is plain stupid in my view.
      I have no problem with M.S.P.’s having morals, makes a nice refreshing change from those in the Labour seats. However, in my view, there is a time and a place for such morals to be aired and now is certainly not the time.

    49. Dunc says:

      I really don’t understand why anybody thinks this makes any difference to the likelihood of achieving a Yes vote in 2014. It’s two years away and there are a heck of a lot of much more important issues to deal with before then. By the time comes, this will be long since forgotten.
       
      Seriously, what’s the big deal?

    50. scottish_skier says:

      @Dunc.

      Well, a used tae support independence and nae WMDs, but aifter this, am a Tory and  for renewin Trident!

      😉

      Aye. 

    51. Tamson says:

      Not impressed by Finnie and Urquhart over this. Given that the policy in question is a virtual one, which has no relevance until a Yes vote is secured in 2014, why resign now?

    52. Cuphook says:

      Good news from the Basque Country. The PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) and Bildu (radical left nationalists) are now in a majority – 27 and 21 seats respectively. If they follow Catalonia and push for a referendum it can only be good news for us. Our referendum will be framed as a perfectly natural political process and not as an aberration brought upon us by those nasty SNP types.
       

    53. KOF says:

      Had a thought.

      If these two are “list MSPs” for the SNP and now they’ve left the SNP, why are they still MSPs? Surely the list vote was for a party and these people have no party now, being independents. Surely “democracy” demands these two leave parliament in favour of the next party members on the list? They were “elected” to parliament as part of a party. They are not part of that party now. They should not be in parliament, surely SNP members should?

       

    54. Aplinal says:

      @KOF
      I was wondering the same thing.  I don’t know how the formula works for Holyrood.
      I defer to other more knowledgeable bloggers!

    55. Marcia says:

      @KOF

      It doesn’t work like that. Once elected you remain as an MSP until the next election. If what you propose had happened, Dorothy Grace-Elder and Campbell Martin would have been booted out of Parliament when they resigned from the SNP in the different Parliaments of 1999 and 2003. How many of the general public remember them today?  

    56. Craig P says:

      Marcia – I remember them. And Lloyd Quinan of course, who went to the SSP!

    57. Marcia says:

      @Craig P

      Lloyd Quinan wasn’t an MSP when he left. He was in effect deselected from his lofty list position on West of Scotland and stood unsuccessfuly at Motherwell and Wishaw in 2003.  

    58. KOF says:

      @ Marcia

      It may not work like that, but maybe it should? They were elected as party members, they are no longer party members, they should not be there.
      They resigned from the party over “morals”. Would it not also be “moral” to resign from parliament too, now they no longer represent the votes of the electorate. They voted for  party, not individuals. These individuals are no longer in the party and therefore should not be in parliament, regardless of “the rules” of parliament and how MSPs “work”. 
      It was moral to leave the party over NATO, but not moral to resign from parliament? So long as they remain in parliament, they have no morals in my eyes. 

    59. Andrew says:

      KOF
      They want their morals…….and their salaries

    60. Marcia says:

      @KOF

      I agree with you but those are the rules that were drawn up by the Bliar Government and the rules are still reserved to Westminster.

    61. muttley79 says:

      The only independent MSPs to really make an impact at Holyrood were Margo MacDonald and Dennis Canavan.  They were already well known figures in Scottish politics. 
       
      O/T, I see the results of the consultation are out now.  Around 65% wanted a one-question referendum.  Seems if Salmond really did want a two question referendum then the results of the consultation would have put him in a dilemma.  The opposition really have taken the bait.  The devo-max question has been talked about for a year by the press and the opposition.

    62. Aplinal says:

      @muttley
      Even more smart of AS to ‘delay’ the consultation, if indeed that is what happened, or in fact to ‘bring forward’ the meeting/agreement with Cameron.  Gave the MSM time to spew forth on “What, no consultation – obviously the respondents wanted two questions.  Salmond has betrayed them!!!!” (three inch letters, bold type and lots of exclamation marks.)
      It now turns out that they did not want a second question.  Better that comes out now that we have the agreement.  Who knows, maybe Cameron might have then offered it to spike the SNP guns if he had been privy to the results earlier.
      Another masterstroke by AS.

    63. MajorBloodnok says:

      And, after all the fuss Labour and the MSM (and a poll, apparently) made about trying to use FOI to find out whether the SG sought advice on EU membership and if so what those views were, that Nicola has now stated that advice has not yet been sought but now that the MOA is in place and the consultation responses are out the time is right to do this.

      I think that Labour have been wrong footed over this again.   And to be honest what mileage is there in it for the Unionists about membership of the EU when many of the electorate are ambivalent about it.  Personally I think membership’s a good idea and even if Scotland had to reapply it would be a shoo-in as we’re already complying with all EU legislaiton and I’m sure we couldn’t be forced to sign up to the Euro, etc. – which Dave C wouldn’t want anyway, as it would scupper the Sterling zone.

    64. muttley79 says:

      @Aplinal
       
      Yes, remember in January Cameron tried to take control of the referendum; the timing and the question.  Now it is the Scottish Government that are in charge of the question and timing.  The SNP have got through what could have been a very difficult year relatively unscathed.  We are past the council elections, the Jubilee, the Olympics, now past the change in NATO policy.  The consultation is finished and the unionists think Salmond is boxed in.  However, there is nowhere for the Devo-max brigade to go but independence, if they want to see any change at all.  Things are looking very interesting.  

    65. EdinScot says:

      I too wished that these two msp’s had stayed and fought to overturn this NATO decision from within the party post independence.  I understand the disquiet but and its a big but to change anything you must be part of the team to stay and fight for your cause and win the argument thus establishing party policy.  I just see them as having shot themselves in the foot and arming the Unionists and their lackey press with some spare bullets to shoot at us with.  Their timing was folly in my opinion.
      I think our saving grace is that the so called leader of ‘Scottish’ Labour has kept CND Scotland and the rest of us plebs waiting for many months now as to where she stands on retaining or getting rid of weapons of mass destruction on our shores.  Christmas is coming yet again Johann.   Wouldnt it be timely for her to enter the debate at long last.

    66. MajorBloodnok says:

      She posts on WoS more than she speaks to the press.  I’m assuming we’ve got the real one.

    67. It’s a pity their principles aren’t stopping them collecting their salaries by standing down from Holyrood.  They’re in there solely because they were members of the SNP and for no other reason.  Do we really want people who can’t accept a democratic vote?  If they leave Holyrood then they’ll have my full respect but none for handing the MSM an absolute gift.  My money’s on “schisms” appearing in at least one headline tomorrow.

    68. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “They resigned from the party over “morals”. Would it not also be “moral” to resign from parliament too, now they no longer represent the votes of the electorate. They voted for party, not individuals.”

      I think this is an interesting argument. As list MSPs they do indeed represent the party rather than themselves as individuals – much more so than constituency MSPs do – but nevertheless they still represent the policies they were elected under. On that logic there’s more reason for all the other SNP list MSPs to stand down.

      But the counter to that is that they WERE explicitly elected to serve as SNP representatives. In politics parties change their positions on things all the time and there is no mechanism to recall members every time it happened (which is just as well or we’d have a by-election every week). There’s definitely a case that they should stand down because they were put into their positions specifically by the SNP, not by the electorate.

      On balance, I’d rather they stayed, for the reasons mentioned in the piece. I’m happy to have people of principle in the Yes campaign, whether in the SNP or elsewhere.

    69. velofello says:

      Sandra White is staying within the party and will exercise her obligations as an SNP MSP, she will continue to campaign against NATO membership, principled and logical. These two are MSPs placed into Holyrood on an SNP ticket. If they resigned SNP membership I cannot see how morally, not procedurally, they can continue as MSPs. Arguably NATO is their sole political fixation so much so that they felt it necessary to resign from involvement in the SNP’s broad arrangement of policies. So why don’t they resign from Holyrood and campaign full-time against NATO? What use will they be now as MSPs? 

    70. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      You could get away with this high moral ground posturing any other time but this. A democratic  vote was taken and, in my view, the wrong side won but as Nato membership is hypothetical, speculative and not written on granite it was really not worth resigning over. A rather feeble action giving ammunition to the enemy. 

    71. Juteman says:

      What a refreshing difference between the indy blogs and websites, and the unionists versions.
      This issue is being discussed freely on the indy blogs, but the likes of Labourhame blocked nearly every comment after Lamonts Thatcher conversion.

    72. Bill C says:

      I have been a supporter of CND slightly longer than I have been a member of the SNP.  Well over 40 for years for both. I am anti-nuclear full stop. WMD, submarines, artillery shells, missiles, power stations, cruise ships, bicycles, prams, skate boards the lot. I detest the scientists who invented nuclear. I hope they rot in hell! 
      However, there is a bigger picture which hopfully most of us see. There is for the first time in 305 years the chance for the Scottish people to vote on whether they wish to govern themselves and two ‘principled’ people decide that their particular cause outweighs our chance to change history and jeopardize our nations’ march to freedom.
      The SNP was formed to secure Scottish independence first and foremeost The two ‘principled’ people stood on that platfom. were elected to the Scottish Parliament on that platfom and now choose to abandon that platform in favour of their particular cause. They are now independent MSP’s accepting a salary which they would not be in receipt of had they not stood as a SNP candidates.  If these two individuals had an ounce of principle they would resign as MSP’s and fight the next election on an anti-nuclear platform.
      As I write this at 11.04 pm our enemies are all over us like a rash both on Scotland Tonight and Newsnight Scotland. I dread the unionist press in the morning.  If we lose this once in a lifetime opportunity for independence, I know two folk who will not go without a measure of blame.
      ‘Principled’ people who are now taking a salary to which they are not entitled, don’t make me laugh! I can think of other words rather than ‘principled’ to describe their actions.

    73. John Lyons says:

      Stu, you might not have a problem with John Finnie quitting the SNP, but I do! I voted in the election and I put my party vote as SNP. I wanted an SNP MSP to get that list seat, I did not vote for an independent. Not a single person in the whole of the highlands voted for John Finnie. If he has principles he should do the job he was asked to do by the people of the highlands which was to represent the SNP. The SNP won that LIST seat and if John Finnie doesn’t want it he should give it to the next person on the list that does!

    74. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Stu, you might not have a problem with John Finnie quitting the SNP, but I do! I voted in the election and I put my party vote as SNP. I wanted an SNP MSP to get that list seat, I did not vote for an independent.”

      As I said, I think that’s a perfectly valid view.

    75. Dual_Intention says:

      “public opinion was overwhelmingly against the policy and it had to be dealt with now”


      Evidence for assertion please. Dodgy YouGov polls are notorious for their inaccuracy. Even Ipsos-Mori are only the best of a bad lot.

      I’ll side with Sandra White on this one. She’s grass roots – not leadership – dodgy poll – or vested interest feartie. Her political activism and nous takes place on the streets of Scotland, not in the electronic forums of chattering nattery. 

      You’ve said you’ve been an editor and an experienced journalist. What other evidence do you have that public opinion is overwhelmingly against the anti-NATO policy? Cite your sources as authority otherwise it’s empty meaningless rhetoric.

      By that logic we shouldn’t even be having the referendum – overwhelming public opinion poll only shows 30% hardcore support for Independence.  

      Personally,   I think that’s a great foundation to build on to reach our goal. According to Robertson it’s only 5 percent more than those who support the anti-Nato stance. By his reasoning we should just give up and stay with the status quo.

      No?

         

    76. douglas clark says:

      Dual_Intention,
       
      The answer to your “No?” is no.
       
      The point about independence is that you and I can chatter about NATO, in or out? So could Sandra White. And one side or the other would win. That is however for a post independence government of Scotland to determine. We cannot decide anything whilst we are a part of the UK.
       
      That is the fundamental problem that even politicians seem to miss. It is possible to be part of NATO and not take part in illegal wars. It is also possible to leave NATO. It is also right that we defer a decision, one way or another, until we have a government that has the power to decide. Which means us.

      I do not see the referendum as the end of politics, I see it as a beginning, which is why I am a bit disappointed in the myopia of these MSPs.
       
      ———————————————————————-
       
      NATO is yet another ploy by Unionists to attempt to suggest that Scotland will have no part to play in the international community. Unlike any other nation on Earth.
       
       
       

    77. James McLaren says:

      Well said Bill C
       
      They have sat down together and decided to release their Press Release together, obviously to get more coverage. In doing this they risk undermining what has been assiduously been built up by the SNP over the last 20 years. The goal of independence is within sniffing range and these two self centred individuals, who owe their access to their 15 minutes of fame to a vicarious politic of a list vote.
      I believe that there are other members of the SNP who are unhappy with the Nato stance but are staying schtum. There is not a snowball’s chance in Hell that the two demi pensioners would be able to change Scotland’s position to Nato without there being independence and they appear willing to sacrifice the real reality of actions having an effect to the good, for the self satisfaction of personal protest. Maybe the two would have been better being list members for the SSP. Oh, wait a minute.
       
      The Judean Peoples’ Front is where they really belong.
       
      They should resign from Holyrood and pass the baton who want to change future of Scotland, not just wish it so.
       

    78. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Evidence for assertion please. Dodgy YouGov polls are notorious for their inaccuracy. Even Ipsos-Mori are only the best of a bad lot.”

      Sorry, but this is nonsense. YouGov have some well-known issues with their weighting, but at worst their polls have been shown to be five or six points off the reality. The NATO poll numbers were 75 to 11. That’s not within the margin of error of asking random drunks in a pub outside Ibrox, never mind a professional polling company.

    79. Bill C says:

      Well said yourself James McLaren. Keep your principles and keep your salary, not a bad day’s work if you can get it!

    80. Dual_Intention says:

       YouGov have some well-known issues with their weighting, but at worst their polls have been shown to be five or six points off the reality
        

      So, the figures of one snapshot poll based on a question which was slanted is enough to overturn 30 years of long held SNP policy and principle. I’m glad you can be so casual about it. I’ll still go with Sandra White. Gut feeling and foot tramping have a lot going for them. You should try it some time.

      Douglas

      My instinct almost always runs with the grassroots. I accept that the vote was lost. It’s not going to stop me voting for independence. I just don’t like the idea of arms being twisted for the sake of pandering to a dangerous military front for American fundamentalism.

      Unfortunately I think this means we’re stuck with Trident for the next x amount of decades.         

    81. Adrian B says:

      Dual_intention

      I too wasn’t happy about the SNP’s move to being in NATO. My first thoughts emotions on hearing the news were I suppose similar to many other people.

      A policy which the SNP had for over 30 years, almost seemed to be cast in stone. I took it for granted, but one day my shock and disbelief, a fundamental policy became an uncertainty.

      I knew and understood that if this was being proposed – then hard decisions had been made high up in the SNP ranks – the SNP don’t just do U-turns on a whim!

      I doubt very much that this decision was made from a single poll. Thats not the way the SNP gather information, they do plenty of their own polling, get incredibly detailed information through the grass roots of the Party – One thing I do believe – they have more info through this sort of research than all other parties in the UK combined.

      While the decision for the SNP to be in Nato has now been voted on and passed at conference – I don’t mind saying that it makes me feel a little uneasy. However it is not a deal breaker. First we need to get the Independence that this Nation deserves, once we have that we can negotiate to get rid of the nukes – Salmond has been clear on this point –  we will not be leasing out our base on the Clyde for these things – they will be gone quickly. After that perhaps we can let our Nato membership lapse? I genuinely do not know how we will leave, but in my mind once the nukes are gone, leave we must.



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