by Colin Campbell
A FEW days I reported on a vicious attack on newly-elected SNP MSP Emma Roddick, on the influential and widely read nationalist website Wings of Scotland.
Ms Roddick has had the last laugh, earlier than might have been expected. Two days ago Wings owner Stuart Campbell penned a long, angry and bitter farewell to his readers, saying he was packing it all in. After 10 years of battling for independence, he couldn’t face another five years of Nicola Sturgeon “kicking the can down the road” while SNP MPs and MSPs enjoyed their lives of perk and privilege with no serious intent to pursue the cause while trying to con SNP supporters into believing they were desperate to get indyref2.
This rabid nationalist, a nasty piece of work it has to be said, on this occasion has my sympathy. His disgust with the usual rubbish from Sturgeon, Keith Brown, Blackford and co. is understandable. Before long they’ll start again, and we know the well-worn script. Westminster opposition to another referendum is “unsustainable”, it’s “an affront to democracy”, “the people of Scotland not Boris Johnson will decide” and so on and so forth.
After the election, Stuart Campbell can take no more of this horsesh*t, believed only by the most gullible saps in the SNP.
The only way Sturgeon can get a legal referendum which would be accepted by the international community is with a section 30 order permission from Boris Johnson. When he refuses that they could challenge it in the courts but that would be thrown out. All they would then have left is holding an illegal or “wildcat” referendum which would be boycotted by more than half the population and would be a national and international farce. There is nothing else they can do.
And Stuart Campbell and many of his followers are convinced that Sturgeon and her acolytes do not want a referendum in any case. If they did over the past seven years they’d have made a serious effort to address the host of questions surrounding one – currency, pensions, the deficit, a hard border with the rest of the UK and so much more. But they still don’t have answers on any of them.
So he’s closing down and giving up. And in the nationalist movement, where a sense of disillusionment is spreading rapidly in line with his thinking, that is significant.
But back to Emma Roddick. Her first public statement after election was a first of its kind. Essentially she said she’s broke and has accepted loans from a few people before she gets her first month’s salary as an MSP.
What an unusual contribution to make. Normally I would say that any MSP who hasn’t got the foresight to have a few quid in reserve for an income gap month may not exactly be prime material when it comes to involvement in multi-millon pound decisions on spending on education, health and so on at Holyrood.
But she’s only 23 and is still a young person and everyone knows people of that age who live from one pay cheque to the next. She’s done a reasonable job since her election in 2019 to Highland Council and has at least some experience of public affairs. When the SNP achieve their dream of pandering to child voters by electing their first 16-year-old MSP the kid will probably have to ask his parents for a month’s advance in his pocket money.
But Emma need have absolutely no fears about spending any length of time on the breadline. The SNP gravy train is coming rolling down the tracks and she has gained party backing to clamber aboard.
And she’ll find plenty company, travelling first class.
A huge salary and expenses awaits her. And for SNP politicians this could be a job for life. Look at Fergus Ewing, elected at Inverness for the sixth time and raking it in since 1999. And the brilliant thing about being an SNP politician is that no matter how, average, poor or completely useless you are, you are guaranteed re-election every time by hordes of independence supporting SNP supporters who’d vote for a monkey on a bar stool if it wore a yellow rosette. And the absolute icing on the cake is that when you fail to deliver independence they’ll still turn out in droves to re-elect you again. It just doesn’t get any better.
Emma Roddick may be brimful of youthful idealism just now but I wouldn’t bet on that lasting. Her freedom to speak out will be severely curtailed by Central Command. In fact it will be non-existent if it differs in any way to the view of The Party. Total, unswerving loyalty is demanded. Freedom of speech is prohibited.
Her new SNP colleagues, Inverness MP Drew Hendry, basking in the high life at Westminster, and Ross MP Ian Blackford, who at the last count claimed £256,000 in expenses, know the game and play it for all its worth. Not once since their election four or five years ago have they uttered one single word of dissent, far less criticism, of The Party.
Happily and lucratively ensconced in lavish surroundings down south, they adhere rigidly to the rules and sometimes wind up their supporters with the independence charade. And their reward is a lifestyle where it rains money. I’d like to think young Emma would turn out differently. But, regrettably, it has to be said that precedent is not on her side.