The SNP are coming, the SNP are coming!! Look outside, they’re probably wearing a lot of yellow. Have a funny little logo that look like an upside down fish.
Now that it’s certain that the SNP are forming another minority government for the second time since 2007, this is quite an achievement for a party that has spent decades in the political wilderness in Scotland and that was viewed by many as being confined to the “Celitc fringe” along with other smaller parties.
How has an aggressively nationalistic, left wing party with social justice overtones, that believes in a large measure of state interference and control achieved such a feat?
Partly, it is the utter collapse of the Labour and Conservative vote in Scotland and people choosing another left leaning alternative. The SNP themselves are a “broad church” organisation. Don’t like Trident and believe in “Bairns not bombs”, vote SNP. Don’t like fracking and GM crops, vote SNP. Believe in open borders and that Scotland can assimilate an unlimited number of refugees, vote SNP. Don’t believe in armed intervention or are an absolute pacifist, vote SNP. In many ways it is the political equivalent of a chameleon, able to change its colour depending on what background it’s in front of.
My own opinion is that the SNP appeal to a new type of voter that has appeared since the end of the Cold War. The phenomenon of the “mass man” was first noticed by the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega in the 1930s but I believe it has reached its pinnacle in the 21st century. It has been described as a person:
“Lacking individuality or social responsibility, as drawing his stereotyped ideas from the mass media, and as easily manipulated by economic, social, or cultural elites.”
This describes some of the more zealous SNP supporters. Many of them see Westminster and the London “elite” as being responsible for all Scotland ills, but yet they seem to be just as easily manipulated by Nicola Sturgeon and her cohorts. Scotland would have started its journey into independent nationhood with £15 billion of debt, no say in the European Union and no membership of all the major global financial forums. But many of the more zealous acolytes refuse to acknowledge this and would gladly march of the edge of the cliff with everyone else in tow.
Jose Ortega continues with the following description of the “mass man” and how they deal with the realm of ideas and policy:
“Why should he listen if he has within him all that is necessary? There is no reason now for listening, but rather for judging, pronouncing, deciding.”
The SNP hierarchy know what would have happened to Scotland had they won in 2014, they would do the same again in an instant, even though the economic and social price would have been vast. Alec Salmond’s adviser Alex Bell has been on record as stating that the idea of Scottish independence , as promulgated to the Scottish people by the SNP was “wishful thinking”. Despite this, Nicola Sturgeon has stated that a new push towards the own-goal of Scottish Independence will begin in Summer 2016 , whether over 2 million of her fellow citizens want to join her or not.
The few lines from Ortega pretty much sum up the SNP and their stance to indyref2 and Scottish politics in general. It used to be that people would vote for a party that would suit them best at that particular time in their life. I’m in my early 30s but I have voted for the Scottish Socialist party (Their manifesto had a picture of a pizza with how they would divide the slices up to the grateful proletariat. I was young at that the time), Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat and even for an SNP candidate at the local council elections (He was the best man for the job, despite my dislike of his parties primary policy). These have been largely based on contextual evidence at the time and sometimes, selfishly, what I thought would benefit me. I tactically voted for Labour at the 2015 General election to stop the SNP. I voted Green at the European level as I believe having a party with a more environmental outlook in a supra-national institution such as the European Parliament is the best way to modify national state policy. I voted Liberal Democrat as they believed in implementing a proportional representation system for elections to Westminster.
The SNP “mass man” has simply chose to ignore the opinion of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the 22 newspapers (Including 6 based in Scotland), BP, BAE Systems, Lloyds banking Group, Bank of Scotland, the GMB, CWU and USDAW who all actively supported the Better Together campaign or voiced concerns about Scottish independence in 2014. To this day, these organisations are still ignored, and why not, when many SNP supporters have “all that is necessary” already.
Here, another two lines from Ortegas’ work are pertinent to the direction of travel in Scotland under an SNP government:
“There is no question concerning public life, in which he does not intervene, blind and deaf as he is, imposing his “opinions.”
“Suppose that in the public life of a country some difficulty, conflict, or problem presents itself, the mass-man will tend to demand that the State intervene immediately and undertake a solution directly with its immense and unassailable resources.”
The SNP have a corrosive and endemic habit of “judging, pronouncing, deciding” on the affairs of others as well as a seemingly benighted need to “intervene, blind and deaf.”
Just have a look at some of their most intrusive social policies. In their 2016 manifesto they have pledged to give every new mother a “baby box”, further relegating individual responsibility and the idea that people can actually plan ahead for a child. Like most ill thought out social policies the cost will probably grow exponentially over the years and this will have to be met by future generations.
On the subject of parenthood, a pilot scheme was undertaken in Glasgow, where pregnant mothers were given £400 of vouchers to stop smoking in order to not damage their unborn child. Of course, once it’s born and starts to walk, one of the most pressing issues is detergent liquitabs. To combat this scourge of the infants, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde distributed 16,000 cupboard catches as part of the “Not for play…keep them away” campaign in 2014. This is in a nation where people actually have real illness like cancer and asthma. My mother used to keep bleach and cleaning products in a high cupboard so I couldn’t reach them. I’m sure the vast majority of you managed to make it through childhood without ingesting bleach or soap powder. Wouldn’t it have been far easier, cost effective and better for Scotland if the parents involved were given a mild telling off and told to put cleaning products in a safe inaccessible location by a health professional?
Of course, once the unfortunate child grows up and attends school they will have to contend with the recent named person legislation. It wont get much better on their eighteenth birthday either, where the SNP are planning to introduce minimum price alcohol and have already tried to introduce alcohol only check outs a few years ago. At no point have I ever heard an SNP representative just utter the words “Stop eating and drinking so much. Exercise a modicum of self control. You have complete control over what you decide to eat and drink.”
I can see the logic in some of these SNP schemes. Scotland has crippling health issues and the “culture of excess”, rampant hedonism and the vague, male dominated, “West coast” attitude exacerbates these health issues. However, there is an arrogance in these schemes, in the notion that it only takes a few years to change an ingrained culture with a mere snap of the fingers and a new piece of legislation. It also negates that idea that people are responsible for their own actions and behaviours. In other words, that they are adults. Also, why should the responsible be punished for the actions of their irresponsible fellow citizens, but the SNP “mass man” doesn’t particularly like being told what do to and lacks the idea of “social responsibility” to their fellow citizens.
In Scotland, under the SNP, it’s now considered “right-wing” to say that people should take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of any dependents. I have heard someone being described as “such a tory” because they owned a house and a car. I was once informed by a chemist, while trying to purchase antihistamine, “what are you buying these for, you can just go to the doctor and get them for free”. Paracetamol is the 4th most prescribed drug in Scotland. Something that only costs 25p for 16 pills. Yet, despite the cost, many Scots will not countenance buying them any more, thus diverting resources away from other health care needs.
The future trajectory of Scotland is something that genuinely worries me. We have had over a decade of being told by the SNP that we cant raise our children, that all must be pay the price because a sizeable minority cant reign in their junk food and alcohol intake. Many people now lack the ideological flexibility to even consider voting for another party. The Scottish state would rather pander to individuals with gimmicky schemes rather then tell them that they are wrong. The most worrying trend is that many Scottish people are quite happy with this. The long term economic and social implications of anything are now a distant second priority to immediacy and nationalistic politics.
To finish, I’d like to give just one more quote:
“This is the new thing: the right not to be reasonable, the “reason of unreason.”
Now go and look at some pro-Independence groups on Facebook and tell me I’m wrong.