by Colin Campbell
THE Derek Mackay scandal last week shed career-shattering light on the man who had been widely tipped as the front runner to succeed Nicola Sturgeon when she departs as party leader, which could be sooner rather than later. Drunk on power – and often just plain drunk it has emerged – here was a man who thought he could get away with anything. But another illumination shed more light on the SNP and, its propensity for trying to con people on a spectacularly grand scale.
It was the beacon of light beamed on to EU headquarters in Brussels on “Brexit day” which emblazoned the entire building with the words “Europe” and “Scotland”, with a heart shape joining the two. This was presented by the SNP as a joint EU-Scotland love-in, with them being as sorry to see us go as we are supposedly despairing at being “dragged out of the EU against our will”.
“Leave a light on for Scotland” was promoted as the heartfelt shared message on the EU building. Sturgeon herself said in a tweet about it: “If you look carefully you will see that they do appear to have left a light on for us.”
It has since emerged – as Sturgeon must have known at the time – that this was nothing other than a brazen SNP stunt. EU leaders knew nothing about it, and the EU Commission said not only did they have no part in it, but that the SNP had broken strict EU rules by mounting it. So much for the supposed “leave a light on” love-in. And so much for the integrity and honesty of the First Minister of Scotland.
But as the rot sets in at the SNP, all-powerful in Scotland for the past 13 years, it’s not difficult to find examples of the “beacon of light” party being comprised of too many holier-than-thou hypocrites.
Last week it also emerged that SNP Government minister have racked up at least 80 trips to European countries since the start of 2018. Ironically this was reported on in the pro-independence National newspaper, which said: “It levels out at an average of one ministerial jaunt to the continent every week for the past 24 months.”
Normally, “ministerial jaunts to the continent” are not discussed at all favourably in the media, unless they have a specific and identifiable purpose. But the National is of course the exception. It reported on these “jaunts” with thorough approval, and seemed to suggest they should be applauded. It must be the only paper in Britain fully supportive of politicians going on five-star freebies at taxpayers’ expense in an endless merry-go-round of extravagance. The top echelon of the SNP, so devoted to helping the poor and vulnerable, make sure they don’t miss out on the high-life while publicly condemning the hated English Tories for grinding them down.
The National’s coverage of this was yet another example of many in the SNP being unable to see its leaders doing anything misguided or plain wrong.
In the same paper a column appeared from Alyn Smith, an ex-MEP who’ll have accrued a gargantuan pension from his work at the Brussels coalface, and who in December was elected as SNP MP for Stirling. But he wasn’t writing from Stirling. No he was in “Washington DC” on another freebie jaunt, proud to be meeting low-level US politicians. Again, the purpose of the trip was unclear. But this character who professedly hates the Westminster system like the rest of them couldn’t wait to notch up the air miles and the five-star hotels, weeks after being elected.
Some angry grassroots nationalists doing the spadework have finally started demanding whether people like Smith really want a second referendum, or would they prefer to retain the status quo and their cossetted lifestyles. Good question.
Would Smith be so boastful about his ridiculously early trip to “Washington DC” if he wasn’t assured of slavish support from the vast majority of SNP supporters who believe an elected SNP politician can do virtually no wrong?
In these parts we have Ross MP Ian Blackford, who was a prosperous Edinburgh banker before reinventing himself as the permanently puce-faced champion of the poor.
And now he publicly claims to be “a humble 10-acres crofter” in Skye. Shameless isn’t the word for it. As I’ve asked before, is this an in-joke between Blackford and his supporters, a joke the rest of us just don’t get.
Would the rich banker who’s now so arrogant that he can make such an outlandish claim be so confident of doing so if he wasn’t standing for the SNP, and thus knows he’s guaranteed a winning majority whatever he says?
Inverness MP Drew Hendry may come out under a halo compared with that lot. But, while never once mentioning “indyref2” on his election campaign material, he couldn’t wait to grab the limelight and appear on Sky TV arguing vehemently for another referendum. Then he declared Scotland was imprisoned by the Union. But the “prisoner” of Westminster, I’m told by people he’s entertained down there, absolutely loves his world-famous, luxurious surroundings, and positively revels in being the grand host there. And I wonder how many freebie foreign jaunts he’s been on, although he at least is too discreet to boast about them.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the SNP has embraced many politicians who know all they have to do is wear a party rosette to guarantee being re-elected time and again. It’s a free ticket to ride here, there and everywhere, in a life of money and privilege. And in some cases to abuse your position of power.
Too many in the upper echelon are lazy, arrogant and complacent. They take their voters and their re-election time and again for granted.
As the marches continue and the demands for another referendum and “Independence Now” grow, the SNP – so all-powerful for so long – seems to be rotting from the head down.