- Daniel Sillet
The SNP is corrupt – but it isn’t going anywhere
BY DANIEL SILLET
There is a rather infamous saying by Lord Acton, which most of you will probably have read a thousand times in journal articles. It is this: ‘All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. In Brexit English, no matter how angelic you are, sitting in the top job for too long eventually gets to your head.
This has been exposed time and time again in politics. In 2007, Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister from Tony Blair after ten years at the helm. How was it decided? By an election? No. In a restaurant in Islington, probably over a plate of sausage and mash.
In 2014, Nicola Sturgeon took over as leader of the SNP from Alex Salmond – having been elected unopposed. In other words, she may as well have been eating from the same plate as the New Labour boys, with an extra helping of undemocratic sauce.
The overall picture for the SNP is one of assured power, simply being passed down from leader to leader like a family heirloom. So, I ask, what do you expect other than a scandal? The SNP – just like Blair over a decade ago – has been sat at the top, unopposed, for too long. At some point, with the lack of competition, someone is going to get greedy and slip some inheritance into their pockets.
This is what seems to be the case with the SNP. Peter Murrell, Sturgeon’s husband and the party’s chief executive for two decades, gave over £100,000 to help with cash flow issues. The party raised over £650,000 from donations and membership. Yet, suddenly, the SNP’s bank account contains £2.10 and looks as bleak as a Monday morning in Coventry. In January. At a 9am lecture.
So isn't it a beautiful coincidence that, a few weeks ago, Sturgeon decided to resign out of the blue? That's a bit like Al Capone deciding to leave the US on a whim because he's ridden his luck avoiding the rozzers for long enough. It's a case of stuffing your pockets with gold and fleeing while you still can.
And on whose lap does the SNP’s mess fall but Humza Yousaf’s, the recently elected First Minister. Strangely, Yousaf has decided to stand beside Sturgeon and deny the SNP’s bankruptcy. Again, cue Lord Acton. Yousaf is simply doing the necessary thing to retain his own power. Because, if he didn’t, the SNP would be out of Scottish Government quicker than a toupee in a hurricane and he’d be out of a job. Power corrupts.
So, Yousaf is doing the essential thing – for himself, and for the SNP. But he damn well is not doing the right thing.
And as for Kate Forbes stirring the pot – that’s just laughable. Yes, we know, the SNP will be in big trouble if it doesn’t sort out its finances. But to bring down Yousaf and get the top job, Forbes will also have to bring down her party. That is the equivalent of shooting herself in the foot. Or a tiger biting its own tail. It’s sheer stupidity.
Perhaps that’s a perfect metaphor for the SNP as a whole. It’s caught in a self-destroying battle, where clinging onto power requires dodgy dealings. Yet dodgy dealings – when exposed – threaten to sever ties with the very power they were employed to preserve.
We have seen this before. New Labour. Margaret Thatcher, back in the 90s. The Tories now, perhaps? It is nothing new because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And now, it’s the SNP’s turn to finally pay the price for indulging in its own untouchability.
Or is it?
The trouble with Scotland is its obsession with independence. There is no real alternative for Scottish voters who want independence, other than to support the SNP. When people got sick of Blair and Brown, Cameron seemed an equally moderate candidate, so the Tories rose again. But when Indy Ref fighters get sick of the SNP, where do they go? Certainly not to England, that’s for sure.
The point is this: the SNP, by virtue of its politics, essentially has a natural monopoly in Scotland. It is the party of independence. End of. There are no other feasible alternatives. So, unless bagpipe and haggis fanatics who want their oil back suddenly decide they actually quite like Great Britain, the SNP won’t go away. And because Scots get rather riled up by the independence question, we can convincingly say the SNP’s support base won’t falter.
I feel like I’m writing a university essay with all this philosophical theorising and premise-forming, so let’s plunge back into reality with some juicy controversy.
I dislike the SNP. If the SNP collapsed, I’d be shamelessly chuckling to myself while watching my Scottish-invented TV, sitting on my Scottish-invented flushing toilet and talking on my Scottish-invented telephone. All at my house in England.
I believe the SNP’s mission to break up Britain is a preposterous one.
But I’d sit having a giggle because it wouldn’t be the rest of us who’d suffer if Scotland became independent – it’d be Scotland itself. There’s no way independence is a good thing for them. And if they took a second to look at how Brexit has left us foraging for food in bins and eating our pets, they’d realise that integration is much better in every way.
Alas, they haven’t learnt from our mistakes. And that’s why, despite its Wolf of Wall Street finances, the SNP is here to stay. It has absolute power, which corrupts it absolutely.
Image: Flickr/ First Minister Press Conference - Current pressures on the NHS - 16th January 2023