ABSTENTIONISM AND THE SNP

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There has been a bit of traffic on social media recently that I abandon my post at Westminster and ‘return’ to Scotland with the rest of my fellow SNP MPs.

Borne out of frustration at the treatment of SNP MPs at Westminster I have to say I will never abandon my post as an SNP MP and leave my constituents at the mercy of this Tory Government. I was elected to represent all of the people of Perth and North Perthshire regardless of how they voted – something I have pledged following every election I have contested. To up-sticks and walk out of Parliament would be contrary to every commitment that we as SNP MPs made to the people who voted for us and it would result in us never being elected to anything again. I will leave Westminster only when the people of Scotland have voted for Westminster to no longer be a feature in our national life. 

Where abstentionism is a perfectly legitimate political tactic it would be an absolute disaster for the SNP. Like it or not, Scotland is still part of the union and Westminster is the legitimate Parliament of the UK. Westminster remains responsible for the economy, most welfare, foreign affairs and crucially the constitution. It is currently taking our nation out of the EU against our national will and diminishing the powers of our Parliament. To allow them to pursue this agenda without speaking up on behalf of our nation would be a gross abrogation of responsibility. Under these conditions standing for election on a pledge to not turn up and represent the people who elected us would be the very definition of political suicide in Scotland.

The SNP is not Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein do not recognise the legitimacy of the UK state in Northern Ireland and exist exclusively to return unity to the island of Ireland. They represent a distinct political constituency in Northern Ireland and their agenda of a united Ireland is entirely different to a party seeking independence and the end of a political union. Where violence has been a feature of Irish unification no one has even secured a nose bleed in the democratic cause of Scottish independence. Our movement is based on consent, majoritarianism and democratic legitimacy. Scotland is not Northern Ireland. 

Nothing would delight the Tories more than empty SNP benches. It has been the SNP that has been the only effective opposition to the Tories in the past few years. Witness the way they try and shout us down and silence us whilst remaining almost silent when the hapless ‘official’ opposition speaks up. Observers of Parliament have taken this ‘compliment’ as a demonstration of disrespect and the reason why we should abandon our posts. Believe me, in my 18 years in Parliament, there has never been a golden age when the SNP has been listened to in respectful silence. We have secured nothing other than their total contempt because we represent everything they oppose. We seek an end to their ‘precious’ union and our social democratic agenda is the exact opposite of their austerity and support for the wealthiest in our society. 

The simple fact is that we will only secure our independence when a majority of our fellow Scots believe that it is in the best interests of our Scottish nation. This is secured by persuading those yet to be convinced and there are no shortcuts. Independence will not be achieved by leaving our constituents in the lurch and Scotland without a voice in a Parliament seeking to diminish our authority. 

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10 thoughts on “ABSTENTIONISM AND THE SNP

  1. Dennis Marshall

    Humbled by this Pete. Our daughter and family live in your constituency and would be uplifted to read this. I will endeavor to pass it on to them.

    Reply
  2. Eleanor Ferguson

    SNP, the only sane and sensible voice in Westminster. Many English people are now noticing that and also the sheer contempt our elected representatives are treated with

    Reply
  3. Jim Robin

    I wholeheartedly agree. I wish that those who wish to maintain the union could understand the meaning of genuine prosperity, a prospefity that includes partnership with our European allies in both trade and freedom of movement – and the riddance of our nuclear “deterent”.

    I hope it’s not a pipedream.

    Reply
  4. cait ni Cadlaig

    Scotland is doing better than eng/wales generally I don’t always agree with everything But I do mostly – So do also agree with SNP being in the commons to provide a version of opposition on Brexit and generally –

    Reply
  5. rab

    What a great article, the sounds about up sticks and leaving are like myself more out of frustration than anything else, But I have stated to friends, the SNP will do it when the time is right, We dont want the heart wrenching feeling like we had in 2014. So well said Pete

    Reply
  6. Auldain

    Pete I can fully understand your stay and fight, and your wait till there are enough Scots wishing Independence, philosophy. However, how long will that wait be, and can opinion polls ever be trusted again to gauge the popular support for Independence? I would suggest that given the impending Tory/Labour BrexMess doom, and the new alignment of the dispossessed in WM, it is time to fire the starting gun in the only trustworthy poll of public opinion, call fresh Holyrood elections before the 29th of March. An election with only one promise on the SNP (and presumably the Greens) that the day following the return of a majority of pro Independence partiesthe Scottish Government will declare Independence and year up the Treaty of Union. There is never a good time to undertake difficult actions but there is definitely the missing of the right time, and that time has to now. Otherwise the dream of Scottish Independence may end up as just that, a dream, and a distant one at that.

    Reply

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