Dr Tim Rideout is one of the most serious and respected people in the Yes movement and the SNP. As convener of the Scottish Currency Group he’s presently engaged in trying to solve the party’s self-inflicted weakness over its lack of a coherent currency policy, and he’s sufficiently highly rated by SNP members that earlier this month he was elected to the party’s Policy Development Committee.
So you might think he was entitled to a view on, well, development of policy.
Yesterday Dr Rideout sent a polite email to the SNP’s MPs, advocating abstention on this week’s Brexit-deal vote (a view shared by this site) and making some constructive, sensible and rather uncontroversial suggestions on general European policy.
From: Tim Rideout
Sent: 28 December 2020 15:08
To: SNP MPs
Subject: Commons Brexit Vote – Just Don’t Attend – Hold an Alternative EU Policy Event
I am sure thousands will be emailing you just now, but this is obviously an important symbolic moment.
To my mind by far the best option for the SNP MPs is to not dignify the Commons vote on 30th December with your presence. Your vote is entirely irrelevant to the result (unfortunately), but voting NO is not a vote of principle. If your votes might make a difference you would not vote NO and thus risk No Deal.
So just do not attend at all. Make the point that next to zero Scottish MPs have had anything to do with something that is not in any shape or form what their constituents want. Being present, even making speeches to an empty room, just allows the Tories to carry on maintaining that this is a UK decision rather than an English one.
You can go better than that, too. Hold a special event (on Zoom or similar) on Wednesday instead for all the SNP MPs on the subject of “The Transition to Independence – SNP Policy on EFTA / EEA and Re-joining the EU”. Take the results of your deliberations and send them to us in the SNP Policy Development Committee. We are currently setting up a Working Group on exactly this subject.
Personally I think the SNP policy should be: On Indy Day join EFTA / EEA to achieve a ‘Norway’ relationship with the EU. Within a year or so of Independence hold a referendum on whether Scots wish to apply for EU membership or not. If the answer to that is YES then commence discussions with the EU. That will take several years and the results are not fully predictable. If the negotiations result in an offer that is acceptable to Scotland then proceed to join, otherwise stay in the Norway position.
Negotiations might result in an unacceptable offer in areas such as Fishing, but also on what are probably more important economic issues. Those would include whether the idiotic 3% deficit rule of the No-Growth and Instability Pact is still in place and if there is any attempt to force (as opposed to present policy of being just ‘in principle’) Euro membership.
Lothians Member, SNP Policy Development Committee
Convener, Scottish Currency Group
We thought readers might like to see the response (addressed rather disrespectfully to “Mr Rideout”) that he got from Pete Wishart, who appeared not to know who he was. It was passed to us by one of the other addressees, not by Dr Rideout.
“From: WISHART, Peter
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2020 6:57 pm
To: Tim Rideout
Subject: Re: Commons Brexit Vote – Just Don’t Attend – Hold an Alternative EU Policy Event
Dear Mr Rideout
Thank you very much for your advice about how I should do my job and what I should do to represent my constituents. I have only being doing this for about 20 years and I don’t know how I have managed to be re-elected 6 times without your assistance.
If it’s OK with you, I will maybe just continue to put my constituents interests over and above what you think I should do on their behalf and make sure they are properly represented in one of the biggest decisions of this session of Parliament. Though, they like me, are no doubt grateful that you think you know better than I in how their interests should be looked after.
I also want to thank you for your suggestion about what the Scottish National Parties European policy should be. Call me old fashioned, but I have this naive belief that party policy should be determined by our membership.
This ‘zoom meeting’ on ‘The Transition to Independence – SNP Policy on EFTA / EEA and Re-joining the EU’ does indeed sound like a real engaging public pleasing initiative, but unfortunately I might have something else to do that evening, though I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what it is….
Thank you for all your very welcome suggestions. Please feel free, etc.
Pete Wishart MP”
Wishart confirmed today, incidentally, that if it was in his power to decide, Scotland WOULD have a no-deal Brexit inflicted on it rather than the deal 27 EU countries bent over backwards to negotiate to at least partly protect the UK from its own stupidity:
Anything we could add seems superfluous.
[EDIT 1.53pm: Wishart’s response to the email becoming public has been to double down on the abuse of Dr Rideout for the “arrogance” of being a democratically elected member of the SNP Policy Development Committee who had the unforgivable temerity to express an opinion on SNP policy development.]