The SNP nowadays is an entirely different beast from what it was in the 1970s. The main demographic of SNP voters had always been exactly the same as the NSDAP (The Nazi Party) in Germany in the 1920s: those living in rural areas and small businessmen. Seats were won in other areas in by-elections but these gains were never held in subsequent general elections and were viewed as a protest vote. The electoral demographic of the party was reflected in its concerns in the 1970s; SNP politicians in the 70s usually went on about farming subsidies and fishing quotas. They also went on about oil a lot. A vote for the SNP seemed to envision an independent Scotland where we would all be drinking oil with a herring to dip in it.
The party also appeared to be quite nepotistic, with the Ewing Clan effectively running the show. We had Winnie, Margaret, Fergus, J.R., Bobby, Miss Ellie and all the rest holding top jobs in the party. It was also quite backward-looking, with many adherents of the party speaking in 'Lallans'; Robert Burns's language which none of us could understand. The SNP seemed to offer nothing other than independence, which, to many of us, was quite a frightening prospect. We had all come to believe that it was only membership of the UK that stopped the worst excesses of Scottish religious bigotry from running riot. In fact, looking at Scotland prior to 1707 it was an impoverished, backwards, hate-filled little country. The famous Darien scheme, for example, didn't only fail because of bad planning and English opposition; religious bigotry played its part as well. Many of those that went to the Isthmus of Panama died of malaria. The only known cure for malaria, then as now, was quinine, which at that time was made from the bark of the chinchona tree. The cure had been discovered by Jesuit missionaries, so was known as 'Jesuit's Bark'. Scottish people refused to use it and Scottish physicians refused to recommend it, purely based on its name. That wasn't the kind of Scotland I wanted to live in!
The electoral collapse of the SNP in 1979 is popularly ascribed to the SNP MPs voting against Labour in the vote of no-confidence. At the time, though, most of the papers seemed to be convinced that it was because of Ally McLeod's team's performance in Argentina! Real studies, however, show that the truth is entirely different. The SNP's manifesto in 1979 was more left-leaning than in previous years, outlining what could be done with tax revenue from oil in an independent Scotland. This lost the party a lot of votes among its traditional supporters, who were more right of centre. The subsequent internecine quarrels within the party were a result of this electoral failure, with Margo MacDonald and others leaving the SNP when the traditionalists won.
The party has come a long way since then and is now even more left-wing than that manifesto of 1979. It has also become a forward-looking party, while the mainstream UK parties appear to be content to rest on their laurels. As for the electorate; it used to be argued, and often still is, that Glasgow has more in common with Manchester and Liverpool than it does with Inverness or small towns in the Highlands. That, however, is no longer so cut-and-dried. A shared experience of the devastation of industry has affected the Central Belt and the Highlands alike. Shipbuilding, steel manufacture, coal mining, farming, fishing; everything that provided work in Scotland has all but disappeared. Every area of Scotland experienced the destruction of local industries; in many cases to protect jobs in England. Even when Westminster moved Civil Service departments to Scotland, supposedly 'creating jobs', English workers were moved to Scotland along with the jobs, revealing the whole exercise as a sham! And then there was the Poll Tax; something else that the whole of Scotland had to suffer while England did not.
What's influenced me to change from Labour to SNP, though, and I'm sure plenty of other folk are the same, is that England has moved dramatically to the right. There's a TV producer, called Adam Curtis, who's made some interesting documentaries about how governments nowadays rely on fear to get us to support them; frightening us half to death with tales of all the horrors potentially facing us. All three parts of 'The Power of Nightmares' are available on YouTube and I can highly recommend them.
Politics in England seems to have become about fear and hatred: of immigrants, who simultaneously appear to magically steal jobs while claiming unemployment benefits, of Europe, which has the nerve to bring in laws making sure that we all have basic, human rights, and of Muslims, who are all congregating together to seize any chance to murder us all in our beds and rape all our children. We also, apparently, need murderous nuclear weapons to protect us from all those maniacal countries out there that are planning to invade us. Social concerns have been tossed aside in favour of the politics of fear.
The SNP, on the other hand, is all about social justice, taking care of the unfortunate and the politics of optimism and a better future. Much of Scotland, including myself, has clung to these seemingly old-fashioned ideas while England has gone down the path of least resistance. That's why I support the SNP now; I don't want to be dragged along with England into some right-wing nightmare. Of course, there are those in Scotland that would be more than happy to espouse the UKIP dream. I don't think the rest of us would shed any tears if they pissed off out of an independent Scotland; I'm sure the South of England will welcome them with open arms!
Meanwhile, condolences to the family of Turnbull Hutton, who passed away on Sunday. In 2012 Hutton stood up to be counted, standing up for the integrity of the game of football in Scotland while others wanted to put the pound sign first. He and his associates at Raith Rovers received numerous death threats for their trouble, with members of The Peeppul even threatening to torch Stark's Park. Bravely, Hutton continued to argue for the rules of the game to be upheld, while others, including those at our own club, kept silent on the matter. The Peeppul, of course, see things differently, as evidenced by the petulant post on Phil Mac Giolla Bhain's blog by somebody calling herself 'mslucyblue'. http://www.philmacgiollabhain.ie/turnbull-hutton-rip/ She quotes Morrissey, believing that it somehow proves her point. I wonder if she'd still feel like quoting him if she was aware that Morrissey is of Irish descent and, as he has said on numerous occasions, is proud of the fact!
Speaking of The Peeppul, I see they're getting a bit carried away with that victory against Hearts. Every team, if they already have the league sewn up, tends to take its foot off the pedal in the remaining games. We've seen Celtic do it on numerous occasions and, in the past, when Rangers did it, the media was always there to remind us in case we hadn't noticed. Strangely, nobody's mentioning that scenario now. On the contrary, Stuart McCall is being touted as the greatest manager of all time. It seems they're a dead cert for promotion now and McCall is even talking about signing Vuckic on a permanent basis next season. Three questions: where the hell's the money going to come from, what makes McCall so sure he'll still be there next season and what makes McCall so sure that the club will even be there next season? Talk about counting your chickens!
And I think it's time Stephen Thompson had a word in the ear of Keith Jackson; or perhaps a letter from a lawyer might be more appropriate. Whatever anyone thinks of the business with the transfer fees at Dundee United, no club's financial matters should ever be compared to the catalogue of theft, fraud and other chicanery at Ibrox!
Lastly, can I appeal again for some reviews for 'Fear and Smear' on Amazon? I'm getting paranoid now. Has anyone that bought the book actually enjoyed it? Come on. Don't be shy!