I’d like to start by clarifying that I am a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and I am proud of that fact. However, no party is without flaw, and the SNP is no exception.
Research conducted after the EU Referendum suggested that 36% of the party’s vote in the general election in 2015 voted to Leave the EU, including 10% of its membership. These numbers bring about the idea that Scottish nationalism could possibly be more dangerous than I used to think, with some believing that an independent Scotland should be inward-looking and self-obsessed. That is not the image of an independent Scotland I believe the SNP wants to associate itself with. However, it may become an issue the party must try to avoid if it wants to achieve its main goal.
To clarify, I am fully in favour of an independent Scotland. I believe independence is how we can achieve the equal, outward-looking society I wish to see in Scotland. However, the independence movement undeniably changed after the referendum in 2014. The movement seems to have lost its understanding as to how we achieve independence. In the past year, I have heard calls from many in the movement for Nicola Sturgeon to unilaterally declare independence, something which even I recognise would be an absolutely terrible idea considering the most successful county to do it was Kosovo in 2008, who to this day lacks any UN membership.
Another idea being suggested right now is the option to “dissolve the union,” an idea whose basic principle lacks one crucial element: possibility. This idea has no precedent in politics for the one reason that there is no possible way for a treaty between two nations to be unilaterally dissolved by one party. Even an attempt to repeal the Union with England Act by the Scottish Parliament would, rightfully, be nothing more than an open-and-shut case for the Supreme Court.
It is no secret that the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence hasn’t been without its problems. Many teachers, and indeed pupils, have fallen victim to the flawed implementation of the new system. I myself have experienced this. The teachers in my school had to take time from teaching us the New Higher Physics course in order to first teach us content we should have been taught at the previous level but hadn’t been due to the implementation.
The outcomes for the new curriculum were vague enough for one school in Edinburgh to instead opt to offer its students the GCSE qualification for English.
It is clear that the main problem with the new curriculum was always a lack of communication with the teaching profession. More should have been done to include the input of the profession on the implementation, and indeed the structure itself, of the new curriculum.
On LGBT Issues
I admit It would be wrong to fault the SNP when it comes to the LGB part of the LGBT community. Both same-sex marriage and the so-called “Turing law” were passed under SNP governments. However, there is still a long way to go in regards to the rights of transgender and intersex individuals.
The Scottish Government has committed to reforming the Gender Recognition (Scotland) Act and I believe this is a step in the right direction. However, a recent YouGov poll found that only 20% of Scots believe that a transgender person should be able to self-declare their gender without approval from a doctor, suggesting that this government policy is perhaps not one they should be pursuing at this time. I would argue that they should instead be educating people around the issues that concern transgender and intersex people in order to increase the level of understanding of transgender and intersex people in Scotland.
This brings me to my final point: the leadership of the SNP itself. I am beginning to realise that if the SNP lose the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021 there is no single obvious candidate to replace the First Minister as leader of the party. Indeed I am also realising that Nicola Sturgeon may not be the best person to lead us into another independence referendum, except that at present there does not seem to be a person in a better position to achieve the party’s main goal.
My opinion is that Sturgeon should stay for the time being, until either the party loses its place in government or successfully achieves another independence referendum.