Friday 5 October 2012

A "promise them anything" coalition cannot prevail

Last month Jim Sillars branded the SNP the most totalitarian party... his contention being that the lack of any challenge, dissent or protest from its active politicians, particularly MSPs, and their kowtowing to the Party leadership, was a sign of weakness in the party and a sort of cowardice by its members.

 He has reurned to the theme in Holyrood Magazine, and is again attacking the lack of backbone evident in SNP MSPs

Jim Sillars berates SNP MSPs for failing to address openly the many policy questions that will require answers in an "independent" Scotland.

The problem for Mr Sillars and others who may be exasperated by the SNP's lack of opennes and challenge on policy is that the SNP has promised so many things to so many disparate groups that any honest discussion of policy would be poisonous to party unity and alienating of the various tranches of voters they have managed to attract by promising them whatever they wish.

It's all very well telling Nat MSPs to break ranks, but every time they do they reveal, not just that they have promised one constituency a particular thing, but that they have promised other constituencies conflicting even opposing, things.

So business friendly tax cutting to North East Tories, tax raising left-wing service deliverers to Central Belt working class voters, anti-nuclear to CNDers, pro-Nato to pragmatic defence realists, conservative Christans to the Archbishop's flock, supporters of gay marriage to liberal sentiment...right-wng in Tory constituencies, left wing elsewher. It's a balancing act that can only be maintained by never acknowledging that you are on the high wire in the first place. Even glance down once and you topple into the abbyss.

Any honest challenge or critical discussion of any of these positions and you alienate at least two groups and lose their votes. What's more you show the splits and dishonesty at the heart of the SNP project the more discredited the party becomes and the more tarnished its only real policy looks. 

Sillars is right that SNP MSPs are supine. But how could they be anything else given the contradictions inherent in their pro-independence coalition and the penalties in revealing those contradictions?

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