by Colin Campbell
NO fewer than 13 SNP MSPs have now jumped ship on the increasingly turbulent voyage to the land of milk and honey.
All would have been guaranteed a return to Holyrood after next May’s elections on the basis that SNP supporters will vote for a monkey on a bar stool if its wearing a yellow rosette, and they’d have got their snouts straight back into the lucrative salaries and expenses trough. But they’re all standing down.
So why the mass exodus?
A series of dubious opinion polls have been produced showing that support for the SNP and independence has – supposedly – never been higher.
But this long list of departures tells a different story.
Have the quitters had enough of the sinister mind control exercised by Nicola Sturgeon and her shadowy husband who demand total, unswerving loyalty to The Leader and The Party with the cardinal rule being that they never, ever express a vestige of contrary thought or opinion? Are they fed up of being locked in lockstep for so long, and want to break free of this robotic lifestyle no matter the financial privileges and perks it provides?
Are they fed up being harried by zealots in “the base” who are becoming increasingly, ragingly frustrated over the SNP failure to deliver indyref2 and who view their paid politicians as hangers on just going along for the ride, and enjoying far too comfortable a lifestyle while they’re doing it?
Have they taken a realistic look into the future and recognised that no matter how good those dodgy polls seem and no matter how many seats the SNP win next May there is zero chance of Boris Johnson granting a section 30 order for a legal referendum, which would unleash a frenzy of anger among the zealots which they could also be targeted by.
And that the road to independence, if they ever get there, will be a long hard slog running years ahead with no shortcuts and will be a draining experience for those most centrally involved, with potentially damaging effects on their health and mental wellbeing.
It’s one thing spare time crusaders demanding “Independence Now!” but it’s something else to be one of those burdened by the level of impatience and increased expectation to deliver it.
Whatever the reason, a couple of MSPs going overboard could be explained away in “I want to spend more time with my family” terms.
Thirteen quitting runs deeper than that. As the level of rancour, division, bitterness and vitriol running through the nationalist movement grows ever more toxic, the simple answer may be that they’ve just had enough.