Saturday, November 28, 2020

So where are all the good guys? You could be looking at them...

I was amused yesterday to see that someone had set up a website called "the SNP Good Guys", a name given by some Twitter users to Denise Findlay's list of preferred candidates for this weekend's set of internal elections. Cheekily, the site purports to have been created on behalf of the candidates in question, who it portrays as a sort of collective. That's highly unlikely to be the case - it's more like a 'fan site' intended to drum up support. A harmless enough wheeze, you might think, but if you listen to certain hysterical voices on Twitter you'd think it was somehow akin to Mussolini's March on Rome. The TV actor David Paisley (nope, me neither) penned a risible 'Sherlock Holmes' thread, and obviously expected everyone to gasp with astonishment when he pointed out the blindingly obvious connection with Denise Findlay, who he described darkly as "a former SNP member who resigned from the party following antisemitism accusations" and "an outspoken anti-trans activist attempting to influence SNP NEC elections". Well, perish the thought that any female activist should be "outspoken", eh, David? And I'm not sure it's really all that surprising or outrageous that someone who was an active SNP member for years and was on the Conduct Committee until only twelve months ago should still take a keen interest in the party's internal democracy. Needless to say, the antisemitism allegations against her were hotly disputed, and she also questioned whether the narrative that she had "resigned" was actually accurate - she felt she had been pressured in the heat of the moment into saying she would resign and that the proper resignation process had not in fact occurred.

Sherlock Paisley's investigation then uncovered the 'shocking' information that SNP Good Guys, ForWomenScot and the LGB Alliance all share the same internet hosting, that Denise Findlay follows ForWomenScot, LGB Alliance, WomensPledge and TransgenderTrd, and that - get this - they all follow her back. And that's pretty much it. Yes, I know what you're thinking - with this standard of cutting-edge investigative journalism we could have the makings of the dullest episode of Panorama ever. (And it would still only last twenty seconds.) 

Not to be outdone, the MP John Nicolson then ratcheted up the absurdity to a whole new level by claiming that the entirely circumstantial link with the LGB Alliance means that the SNP Good Guys literally are the LGB Alliance, and are therefore a "sinister far right" organisation. He then urged his followers not to vote for anyone endorsed by the "far right" - including several of his current and former SNP colleagues in the House of Commons, even though a) by definition no-one has any control over whether someone else endorses them, and b) the whole "far right" characterisation is a pile of nonsense anyway. Essentially Mr Nicolson is making a dog-whistle attempt to (deniably) paint highly respected fellow parliamentarians such as Joanna Cherry and Neale Hanvey as quasi-Nazis. I think he's jumped the shark on this one, and that SNP members aren't nearly as stupid or as gullible as he seems to imagine. 

Where does the "far right" accusation come from? Presumably the idea is that the LGB Alliance and the SNP Women's Pledge are "transphobic" and therefore "bigoted" and therefore "far right". Which is odd, because the standard term of abuse chucked at alleged transphobes is "TERF", in which the "RF" stands for "radical feminist". And whatever other criticisms might be legitimately levelled at radical feminists, it's a bit of a stretch to argue that they're on the right of the political spectrum, let alone the far right. Denise Findlay makes no secret of why she backs the candidates she does - she wants people who put independence first, and who will prioritise the rights of women and girls (ie. sceptics on GRA reform). I'm not as preocuppied as she is with the trans debate, but I'm certainly on the same page as far as putting independence first is concerned, and I do worry that some current SNP office-holders are culture warriors first and independence warriors second. It's ironic that the likes of John Nicolson, David Paisley and Alyn Smith should characterise "SNP Good Guys" as the work of "entryists", because to me and to many others it looks like the entryism has actually been in completely the opposite direction, and that there are now an awful lot of people in positions of influence within the SNP who care a hell of a lot more about their own identity politics zealotry than they do about independence. 

For that reason, if I had a vote this weekend, I'd probably end up voting for quite a few of the people on Denise's list. Not necessarily all of them, because I don't know enough about some of them, but it goes without saying that I'd vote for high-quality and high-profile candidates such as Douglas Chapman, Joanna Cherry, Neale Hanvey, Amanda Burgauer, Corri Wilson, Roger Mullin, Catriona MacDonald and Chris McEleny. (Far right, John? Really?!) I'd also give serious consideration to Denise's recommendations for the Women's Convener and Equalities Convener votes, because frankly I think the incumbents in those two positions have been far too divisive. Here's a suggestion - why not ignore John Nicolson's silly slurs and make up your own mind by checking out Denise's list of endorsements HERE. Whether you vote for them or not, I think you'll agree with me that they're impressive people and that there's not a Nazi amongst them. 

By the way, a bonus point for anyone who correctly identifies the episode of Blake's 7 that I took the title of this blogpost from.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Backing Joanna Cherry's slate for the NEC elections

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may be aware of my confusion a couple of weeks ago at a cartoon that had seemingly been created and shared by the so-called 'woke' tendency within the Yes movement. It contained people who were presumably meant to be gay, trans and from ethnic minorities, looking dubious and alarmed as they were asked by a couple of well-meaning Yessers to "let's all just be friends" with people from the movement who are apparently supposed to be beyond the pale - including Wings supporters, feminists with concerns about GRA reform, and most oddly of all the SNP Common Weal group. I can't pretend to know much about the Common Weal group - I'm not sure if they're a full part of Common Weal itself, or if they're just inspired by the same principles. But given that those principles are firmly rooted in the radical left, you'd think the 'woke' faction would see them as natural allies rather than as mortal enemies. A clue to what is going on is that the Common Weal group are supporting a slate of candidates for the upcoming NEC elections who have given their backing to a 'Manifesto for Democracy' - and that slate includes Joanna Cherry and Neale Hanvey, who are hate figures for a small minority of young activists due to the trans issue. Some of them openly wanted unionists to defeat Ms Cherry and Mr Hanvey in last year's general election, and boasted on social media about campaigning in any constituency but those two. 

For my own part, I think both Ms Cherry and Mr Hanvey would make ideal members of the NEC, and I can't see much to disagree with in the Manifesto for Democracy - which includes an urgent push for independence, a fairer complaints process, and a long-overdue reform to give all party members (rather than just delegates) the right to vote in internal elections, such as NEC elections. Of course this runs into the age-old problem with reforming electoral processes - to get changes through you first have to win a vote among the existing franchise, which is often weighted towards those who may have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. 

It's unlikely anything I say will have much influence on conference delegates, who are highly politically engaged and will know their own minds. But for what it's worth, I would urge anyone with a vote at the weekend to back change on the NEC. Let's democratise the party and make independence our number one priority going forward.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The SNP's defence submission is a 'modernisation' too far: it's time to reaffirm the long-standing commitment to *unilateral* nuclear disarmament