Dear Sir/ Madam,
I write this letter with a heavy heart. I also write this on a day which is extremely important for the future of Scotland i.e. the first day of the debate in the Scottish Parliament on whether to have another Scottish Independence Referendum or not. And I am writing it despite thinking that Nicola Sturgeon has been superb regarding the UK Brexit vote since it occurred.
I first joined the SNP in 1992 having been independence leaning since 1979 after the referendum on a Scottish Assembly (Scotland voted for it but didn’t get it). I have nearly always voted SNP and I strongly believe the right thing is for Scotland to be an independent country as this is the natural state for a nation. I have been a member of a number of branches as work and life took me around Scotland. The best was Edinburgh Central SNP which was then led by Fiona Hyslop who was superb, when I was a Dalry Shandon sub branch member in the mid 1990s. Being in the SNP and the wider independence movement was always a positive experience. We discussed politics and felt energised by each meeting even if we disagreed with one another and we could freely do so.
That is until I joined the Glasgow Provan branch where the independence and self determination for Scotland is rarely if ever discussed. It seems to be mostly about procedure, point scoring, and personal agendas/ careers. I am struggling to remember a meeting that I have not left feeling diminished, disappointed or angry to the point I now don’t go.
I know of members enthused by the indyref leaving in disgust after only a single meeting and I want to reach out and say that the SNP is not this, that this is not representative. But when that is their only experience of party politics then what can you say? I also know of longer term members who do not now go to meetings for the same reason. That is because this branch is run by a cabal of careerists centred on the MP Anne McLaughlin.
‘One of the chief complaints of a political party that operates through nepotism/cronyism is the patent lack of fairness. Perceived favouritism of a relative or best friend can cause dissatisfaction among activists and lower morale. Political parties may have less incentive to perform their responsibilities diligently and proficiently if they feel that the path to success is undermined by nepotism/cronyism. Indeed, a party applying such tactics may find its more valuable activists seeking new paths away from politics where their talent is better recognized. At a minimum, party members and activists will likely complain and become embittered and less productive in the face of blatant nepotism.’
This is a complaint that was until recently rightly aimed at the Labour Party. When I originally joined the SNP this was not a problem because it had no power whatsoever, and I honestly thought, somewhat naively as it has turned out that the SNP was better than that. I would never have believed that within a short time of the independence referendum when the SNP expanded so much that this would so soon become an accusation that could be justly aimed at certain branches of the SNP one of those being Provan. The MP and MSP have safely installed their friend’s and acolytes in paid or elected positions.
A group of us in the Provan branch have tried on numerous occasions to raise issues at branch level. We were ignored, shouted down, insulted, bullied, harassed, threatened, even sworn at by the MSP; and, even if the comments were actually discussed, the way that they were discussed was never mentioned in the resulting minutes. This means it is pointless going to meetings as I have no confidence whatsoever that what is said, and what I say, will be recorded correctly in a fair and impartial matter. If a vote is taken I have no confidence that the true result will be arrived at, or indeed recorded correctly if it is.
After the joke of our branch AGM late last year which embedded the cabal in with no real possibility of achieving anything further in branch, we wrote to HQ as a group in November (please see attached letter). To date we have not even had the courtesy of a reply.
And then last weekend I discovered to my dismay that a long serving SNP councillor who has consistently and ably worked on his community’s behalf has been de-selected. Why? There were 2 SNP candidates selected in his ward but both were male. HQ decided to impose a woman resulting in an election between the 2 men. Needless to say the person selected with 1 vote difference was one of Anne McLaughlin’s cabal who has no experience at all, and the person with the long standing experience was discarded.
These things were the final straws, as it indicates clearly that HQ is clearly not interested at all in investigating allegations and looking after its own members, or indeed in rewarding people for their efforts. If that is way the party is run, then by expansion it does not bode well for the SNP running an independent Scotland or indeed for the party’s long term running of Scotland whilst still in the failing UK. It is not what you know, whether you have done a good job, if you have the experience but just WHO you know and who your friends are.
Given my long standing membership and my staunch believe in self determination for Scotland I do not resign from the party lightly.
I hope by airing the issues mentioned above that this will in some way start to resolve the problem. The actions of the ruling elite in this branch have led me to feel ashamed of being in the party. However given that a letter from a larger number of activists has led to no response I don’t suppose you will really care.
This resignation comes despite my strong belief in Scottish independence and my long standing activism, even if this activism is severely limited at present by my own life circumstances. I shall continue to fight for independence outside the party as I can’t morally remain a part of it due to the issues highlighted above.
Due to the above I will not be voting SNP, not even lower down in my preferences, in the forthcoming local elections as I know the people selected by the Glasgow Provan cabal for my council ward are sub-standard or do not have any experience and have only been in the party for 5 minutes, and therefore have no right to be councillors. I shall be voting Green as my first preference as I know the person standing and she was an active Yes campaigner during the independence referendum and therefore actually deserves it.
After 25 years the response was swift but disappointing. Indeed it included a grammatical error which just shows how much they care...