by Rab Bruce’s Spider

SNP MP Pete Wishart has announced that he is putting himself forward to replace John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons. This is a move which has disappointed a number of Yes supporters, including some who are SNP members, and it’s not difficult to understand why.

The SNP MPs who were elected in the General Election of 2015 stated that they were going to Westminster to settle up, not to settle down. Yet Pete Wishart, who has been an MP longer than most of his SNP colleagues, appears to be happy to become part of the Westminster system – a system which habitually works against Scotland’s interests. He may feel that his move could help break the mould, but history shows us that Westminster will not change.

The one thing SNP MPs have achieved above all in the past four years is to reveal the contempt in which they , and Scotland, are held by the vast majority of Westminster MPs, but their actual impact, other than putting up a good show, has been minimal. This is not their fault, because Westminster is a place where change is unwelcome. As far back as 1922, when Labour sent a host of radical MPs from Scotland to Westminster, they soon discovered that changing things was next to impossible. In the near century which has passed since then, Labour has settled down and become part of the problem.

Pete Wishart’s bid to become Speaker may be well-intentioned, but in the very unlikely event that he is selected, his ability to change things will be virtually non-existent. All he will do is become an integral part of the system. When around half the population of Scotland (and very possibly more depending on who you listen to) want Scotland to abandon Westminster and become a normal country, for one of the SNP’s own MPs to declare an intention to become more closely linked to the very establishment his supporters want nothing to do with seems an odd decision.

Not that I expect he will be selected in any case. The SNP is so detested by the Labour and Tory MPs that it is very unlikely he will ever gain enough support. Even so, his declaration of intent sends an unwelcome signal that he is happy to settle down rather than to settle up. That’s not the radical sort of message most Yes Supporters want to hear.