Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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SNP supporters, the brides who can’t see past the wedding day

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WE’VE all been there. Taken a romantic view of something or someone and saw only what we wanted to see. When our feelings have wiped the floor with logic and reason and we are awash with possibility, smiling giddily when someone tries to talk us out of our happy madness. 

The Scottish Nationalist Party supporters are heady with excitement at the prospect of independence. They can’t be talked out of their romantic view of an independent Scotland. Not for them the tedious details about whether Nicola lied (yawn) or the fuddy-duddy thinking about outcomes and fiscal accountability. Like brides fixated on their big day, the SNP followers can’t see beyond the party to the reality of married life. There is no talking them out of their rose-tinted vision of an independent Scotland.  All you can do is wait until the mist lifts and for them to hang their head asking ‘What was I thinking?’ and ‘How did I end up here?’

What do they want? Independence. When do they want it? Now. Why do they want it? That’s less clear. A cultural hangover from history, a dislike of the Conservatives, a belief in Scottish exceptionalism? Scotland already has significant devolved powers and a clear cultural identity within the UK. It is not terribly clear what advantage independence will bring.  

But independence, independence, independence. It’s a good thing apparently. We love independence up here. Although the same politicians who rail against control from big, bad Westminster do seem to seek increasing control over Scottish lives. Interference from Westminster? Bad. Nanny state? Good.     

But logic has no place in romance. The dreamers pray for independence. Maybe the gods will seek to punish them by answering their prayers, but is it the best thing for Scotland, really?  If voters were to leave aside sentiment it would be much less likely that the SNP would return to power in May’s elections, because even the most ardent follower might have difficulty seeing the positives in the SNP track record.

A clear-eyed look at measurable outcomes including educational attainment, drug deaths and ill-thought-out legislative changes which embarrassingly need to be later dismantled, reveals a poor show by the SNP. In the greyer area of their general approach and ideology, they show a tendency for favouritism towards certain groups (such as giving the NHS bonuses and pay increases), they can be petty to their enemies (changing the law retrospectively around Alex Salmond) and they could teach Donald Trump a thing or two about populism. 

But criticisms that they seem incompetent and imprudent don’t seem to be getting a foothold with their voters who are being swept along with the romance of the idea rather than consideration of the reality. 

When emotions cloud the debate, it is to the disadvantage of logic and reasoning.  Nicola Sturgeon puts good use to the encouragement of disregarding hard facts with emotion. She is personally affronted if it is suggested that she ‘embraced’ the pandemic. This question seems not unreasonable, given the amount of time that she’s spent on TV, and how little she seems to want to share this particular part of the job. Criticism of what she does she takes as criticism of what she ‘is’. Hard questions are met with emotion as though she is personally aggrieved or angered by their audacity. Targeting the heart rather than the head seems to be a strategy employed from the top of the chain.

Siren-calling the ‘canny Scot’ away from evidence and facts is undeniably a successful strategy in winning voters. But how to lift the veil, and show my fellow Scots who think that voting in the SNP will be a positive change? 

Big government doesn’t work well, not for the little people anyway. Nicola Sturgeon enjoys a world stage. She may arouse the world’s interest if the nationalistic dream continues to take over our logic and common sense. A world where we have the combined forces of being worse off financially, yet having state interference in our every endeavour. Don’t be distracted by a nationalistic flag. You love your country? Do what’s best for it.  

The past is another country. Let’s look at our present and our future.  The SNP are incompetent now. They will be incompetent then.  Romance has no place in politics. Politics should be about thinking ahead and cautious consideration of how policies will impact on the people. If instead you have a central idea which rules the heart and not the head, then we will have incompetence and disarray in Scotland.

Some suitors you date and some you marry. The SNP were a fling but they are not marriage material. Send them packing.

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Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald is a professional psychologist and writer. Views expressed here are her own.

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