by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

There are a few political commentators whose opinion I respect because of their past track record of being correct in their predictions, and who have derided the SNP’s latest plan for progressing Scotland towards becoming a normal, self-governing country. Given their expertise, it is difficult to argue against their opinions, and I will admit to having been very guilty of constantly hoping the SNP will come up with some clever plan, and being constantly disappointed.

However, some time ago, I myself advocated using Westminster’s First Past The Post voting system against them on the basis that we should use the number of seats won as our benchmark. In light of that, it is hard for me to disagree with the SNP’s latest proposal for moving us forward. My concern though, is that the timing could have been a lot better. If we’d used that benchmark a few years ago, I’d like to think that we’d be in a very different place to where we are now. The obvious concern is that Labour might actually recover a lot of seats on the basis that some voters will decide that the SNP has no chance of gaining independence, so they might as well vote to get the Tories out. While I can understand that thinking, I do believe it is the wrong path to follow. Labour are as Unionist as the Tories, and unless sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer does another U-turn, we won’t be any closer to becoming a normal country with a Labour Government in charge, especially since Labour have more or less adopted every policy the Tories come up with.

The other problem with voting Labour MPs into power is that the UK media will proclaim that independence is dead, and you can bet everything you own that the Scotland Office will be given even greater powers under a Labour Government. The Tories have laid the groundwork for undermining the Scottish Government, and I have no doubt that, egged on by the Unionist media, Labour will follow their lead on that, just as they are doing on so many other issues.

So I retain some concerns over the SNP’s chances of success, but after hearing Tommy Shepherd MP on the excellent Lesley Riddoch Podcast, it seems that the SNP do have a plan for what to do if they win a majority of seats and are still denied. That is encouraging, but the biggest problem will be winning the required number of seats, especially since the media will be advocating loudly for a Labour Government.

As for the plan itself, I was a little concerned that proposals to count votes for any pro-Indy Party have been knocked back, but if we are in a First Past The Post election, then votes for other Parties won’t count anyway. The cynical will undoubtedly say that this is merely another ploy by the SNP to retain seats at Westminster, but I honestly believe we need to give them the benefit of the doubt – again. A lot will depend, however, on what we see over the coming months in terms of leadership. On that point, the buck stops with Humza Yousaf, and I must say that, until now, I’ve been less than inspired by what I’ve heard from him. However, his speech to the SNP Conference was excellent, and I am hoping that we will genuinely see the beginnings of a strong campaign making the case for independence. We need a vision, not a whole load of detailed processes, and perhaps Humza Yousaf will actually follow through on those promises. Time will tell, and I will keep my fingers firmly crossed, not because I am necessarily a supporter of the SNP, nor because I think they have better domestic policies than other pro-Indy Parties, but because the reality is that they remain, at present, the best political vehicle for bringing about the change we so desperately need. If this promised campaign falls flat, though, I suspect I won’t be the only one looking for an alternative choice.

As for Humza Yousaf’s speech, the media are concentrating on his promise of a Council Tax freeze. While that is important, it is noticeable that few outlets of the UK media in Scotland have bothered to mention the compassion and humanitarianism Humza Yousaf displayed, especially when talking about the crisis in Israel and Gaza. This is probably because his heartfelt words on this and on other social issues are in stark contrast to the cruel racism of the Tories, as well as to the awkward, insincere mumblings from Keir Starmer who seems to have offered support for war crimes as a reasonable response to terrorist attacks.

What is happening in Gaza is a humanitarian crisis. Advocating for innocent civilians to be protected is not the same as supporting terrorism. Yes, Israel is in a very difficult position, and any person with an ounce of humanity will understand the horror and grief Israelis must be suffering after the Hamas’ atrocity. But committing atrocities of their own is not the way forward. So far, Humza Yousaf is the only leading UK politician to have the courage to say this, so he deserves immense credit for that. I sincerely hope that he continues to demonstrate the same leadership qualities when it comes to making the case for Scotland to become a normal, self-governing country. Above all, we need strong leadership now.

This will be a real test for Humza Yousaf, and he cannot afford to delay, but let’s give him a chance to prove that he’s got what it takes. After all, if the SNP fail dramatically at the next General Election, he'll be out of a job, so it is in his interests to drive a strong campaign. After so many disappointments, I’m wary of being too optimistic, but we must all retain some hope and, quite frankly, the SNP remains the only game in town at the moment for those of us who want Scotland to become a normal country.