Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

SNP Conference 2015: Dominant Scottish Party Receives Warning On Arrogance

The Scottish National Party has been one of the most dominant political forces in any free country since first coming to power in 2007. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon influences almost every aspect of Scottish politics, and is adored by Scotland as a whole. The SNP first won a minority government in 2007 and then a majority in 2011, as reported by the Guardian.

Politics in Scotland changed dramatically in 1999, with the creation of the first minister position. Previously, a secretary of state appointed by the prime minister of the United Kingdom was the head of Scotland. A referendum in 1997 created the current Scottish Parliament.

A 2014 referendum was held to determine if Scotland should seek independence from the United Kingdom, a move that was supported by the SNP. Fifty-five percent of Scots voted “no” to independence, as reported by the BBC.

The SNP received a warning on arrogance.
Queen Elizabeth, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and Prince Philip ride a steam train on September 9. [Photo by Andrew Milligan – WPA Pool / Getty Images]
When oil was first found in Scotland, in 1975, a paper studying the issue concluded that an independent Scotland would be as “prosperous as Switzerland.” The paper was buried and only came to light with a 2005 freedom of information request. The SNP had suspected what the paper stated all along, reports the Independent. Scottish currency could have “become the hardest in Europe, with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian Kronor.”

The SNP will be holding its 2015 Annual National Conference from October 15 to 17 at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. The party reports that its membership has increased by “300 percent” since the referendum for independence.

Holding 64 seats in the Scottish Parliament, compared with 37 for the Scottish Labour Party, which was formerly the dominant force, 15 for the Scottish Conservative Party, five for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and two for the Scottish Green Party, the SNP has been warned by conservative journalist Allan Massie that it must be wary of “arrogance” and mind its criticism of other parties “that itself is now falling into,” in his column in the Scotsman.

The arrogance that Massie refers to includes the personal life and business dealings of former SNP MP for Edinburgh West, Michelle Thomson. In August, it was revealed that her name was included in those released by Ashley Madison hackers, though she denied having ever used the site, as reported by the Guardian. Then, in September, Thomson came under police investigation for a series of property deals where she scooped-up distressed properties at bargain prices and then resold them, sometimes the same day, for tidy profits, as reported by Herald Scotland. The police investigation marked her boot from the SNP.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets to discuss the refugee crisis at St. Andrew’s House in Edinburgh on September 4.

“It is now vital that the SNP come clean about this situation, and who knew what, when. Michelle Thomson was vetted by the SNP and deemed to be an acceptable candidate for an election. Senior cabinet ministers have backed her citing her business dealings,” a spokesperson for the Scottish Labour Party was quoted.

Massie’s second beef with the SNP is what he describes as “the continuing saga of T in the Park and the £150,000 Scottish Government grant to the profitable private company that runs the music festival.”

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Cultural secretary, has been accused of “alleged cronyism,” owing to the fact that the grant was given and that the festival just happens to employ an ex-SNP aide.

Massie describes the Thomson and T in the Park matters as “small beer,” but points out that these incidents must be monitored by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Massie describes the SNP as presenting itself as “a party of high ideals.” One too many T in the Park or Thomson affairs could easily sour voter sentiment.

“I feel sorry for generations of Labour voters and supporters who must look and wonder what has gone wrong and what Labour is for,” First Minister Sturgeon was quoted. “In Scotland, it’s not rocket science. Labour got lazy, complacent, arrogant, and lost any sense of purpose.”

For the SNP to maintain its dominance, it would appear that Massie’s position is that it must never appear to be the pot calling the kettle black and, perhaps, that reeling in any arrogance would go a long way toward reducing the chances of that happening. Given Massie’s conservative leanings, the advice would appear to be quite charitable and made with the best intentions.

[Feature Photo by Andrew Milligan – WPA Pool / Getty Images]

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