I have supported independence for Scotland for as long as I can remember. I was never a party political animal, but immediately after the 1992 general election – that of the failed “Free by ’93” slogan – I joined the SNP as it was the only independence movement we had and I wanted to do something, anything, to help.
I was then living in the south of England and so joined London Branch. I served on the executive committee of that branch in various capacities for a number of years, was a conference delegate and spoke at both conference and national assembly. I also used holiday entitlement to travel to Scotland to help with several election campaigns during that time.
When I returned home to Scotland I joined Tweeddale Branch and again served on the executive committee, for a time as vice-convener. I took part in a great deal of campaigning both for elections and for the independence referendum, and in fact made myself ill during the summer of 2014, so hard was I working for a Yes vote. I also stood as the SNP candidate in the Tweeddale West council by-election in 2013.
During the first 25 years of my membership I made many friends and had many wonderful experiences. I never imagined for a moment that I would leave the party before independence day.
However the past four years have been an entirely different experience and that time has now come. I cannot remain a member of the SNP for the following reasons.
1. Lack of any progress towards independence since 2015, including the lack of any preparation of the infrastructure that will be needed by an independent country.
2. Failure to capitalise on the very real opportunities which arose between 2016 and 2019 in the run-up to Brexit.
3. Explicit ruling-out of viable routes to independence, and the imposition of conditions which would stand in the way of viable routes to independence.
4. The insulting dangling of “vote SNP for a new independence referendum” when an election was at hand, followed by the inevitable kick into the long grass soon afterwards.
5. The lack of rebuttal of unionist attacks and talking-points, combined with currying favour with the unionist mainstream media while attacking and indeed monstering pro-independence online media. The donation of a substantial sum of public money to prop up the Unionist print press was absolutely inexplicable.
6. The fitting-up of Alex Salmond on false allegations of sexual assault intended to prevent his returning to politics to do something about points 1 to 5.
7. The obstruction of both inquiries into this affair by withholding and redacting incriminating documents on the completely false pretext that they would identify complainants to the public, and the blatant lies told under oath by Nicola Sturgeon in her appearance before the parliamentary inquiry.
8. The unshakeable determination of the party leaders to erase the meaning of womanhood by allowing males to self-identify as women, and the resulting destruction of all female single-sex spaces, protections and categories.
9. The appalling Hate Crime Bill which will criminalise simple disagreement if someone chooses to take offence at that, and the exclusion of women as a protected category while including men in drag on their way to a stag night.
(I can’t believe I’m even writing that, and Humza Yusuf’s sneering jibe that a woman would be protected in the event she were mistaken for a transwoman was simply the last straw.)
10. The failure to use our devolved powers to protect Scotland from the coronavirus, resulting in a death toll approaching 10,000, worse than Sweden on a per capita basis and indeed one of the worst in the world.
Instead we were treated to a repackaging of the lethal Westminster strategies with better media presentation somehow causing that to be hailed as a triumph, despite absolutely nothing being done to achieve zero COVID and the virus being allowed to re-enter and spread across the country in the autumn without hindrance.
11. The destruction of the SNP’s internal accountability to members resulting in corruption, cronyism and extreme partiality as to which interest groups are heard and which are consigned to the outer darkness. This goes hand in hand with the promotion of some absolutely appalling individuals who should never have been near the centre of power in any responsible political party.
12. The selective application of party disciplinary proceedings to expel members who were out of favour on flimsy, trumped-up grounds (including but not limited to Gareth Wardell), while ignoring numerous complaints highlighting truly reprehensible behaviour by members who are the darlings of the leadership.
The covering up of what appears to be genuine sexual misbehaviour on the part of a favoured MP is contrasted with the witch-hunt against Alex Salmond for such alleged crimes as touching someone’s knee or hair.
13. The rewriting of the rules with the obvious express purpose of preventing Joanna Cherry from being considered as a candidate in the Holyrood election.
14. The pauchling of the list rankings resulting in candidates prepared to self-identify as disabled (on some very flimsy pretexts) being propelled to the head of the lists over the people the members actually voted for.
15. The apparent disappearance of around £600,000 in donations earmarked for a “ringfenced” independence campaign. Even if it is implausibly true that that money still exists and “will be spent in the next financial year”, that is a complete betrayal as the money was donated for use in an actual referendum campaign which is not going to happen in the next financial year.
It appears to me that the purpose this money has been and is still being put to is to continue to pay large salaries to high-ranking party employees including the First Minister’s husband.
16. The use of party funds to pay money that elected representatives and/or party officials had made themselves legally liable for, when there was no requirement for the party to meet these obligations on their behalf.
17. The obstruction of Martin Keatings’ court case to establish whether or not a Section 30 order is legally required in order to hold an independence referendum. The party should indeed have mounted this case itself, in 2016.
18. Lamentable performance on animal welfare issues including the backtracking on the tail docking of dogs and the failure to ban snares.
19. Lack of progress on land reform, and indeed an obvious bias in favour of big business, big landowners and right-wing interests in general.
20. Promotion of highly unsuitable sex education material to young children.
I have cancelled my direct debit to the party, and I would be grateful if you would remove my name from your membership records with immediate effect.
Morag Graham Kerr, membership number 1128566.