Letter to The National (13/02/16)
The article in Friday’s National, “Hundreds have quit our SNP branches” cannot be comfortable reading, but it is not unexpected. I am one of many people who have approached SNP headquarters with valid complaints about some of the issues alluded to in that article. At every turn I saw my concerns ignored, and I became so frustrated with being fobbed off that I actually had to resort to doorstepping SNP HQ in Edinburgh and to referring complaints to the Data Protection Commissioner who had to intervene to obtain a response on my behalf.
There have been a number of allegations about local members which have been slipped to the press and which would appear to originate within the SNP; Councillor David Baird accused of financial wrongdoing, Councillor Julie McNulty accused of racism, Councillor Imtiaz Majid accused of hiding money from a divorce settlement, the list goes on and on. There was me thinking it was the opposition parties role to dig the dirt. This isn’t to mention the resignations of many SNP councillors who now sit as independents, all citing bullying or a lack of democracy in the party as reasons for their departure. Initially I thought I would be very surprised if the secret internal report prepared by Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh MP and Alyn Smith MEP would shed any light on the subject, as to my knowledge no-one who has left the party that I am aware of has been approached to ascertain reasons and establish basic background knowledge. Then I learned that this report actually predates the referendum and the influx of new members by almost two years! That is simply outrageous. If the report is simply a summary of chats with the two local MSP’s, Dick Lyle and Alex Neil, then it will be beyond pointless.
I wrote to Nicola Sturgeon some time back about this issue. I emailed Ian McCann, Peter Murrell, anyone who I thought could help. Every plea was ignored. Many members I have spoken to foolishly thought that perhaps there were moves afoot in the background; that the party didn’t want to wash its dirty linen in public and would root out the cancerous behaviour in private. That was a thought which could be sustained only so long, and which I know see to be completely without substance. On this issue Nicola Sturgeon has sadly reaped what she has sown. I only hope that it she now takes the action she should have taken a long, long time ago. If not then all her talk of fairness, openness and equality are simply hollow,weasel words, and the SNP, and more importantly Scotland as a nation will be all the poorer for it.