Increased membership means changed behaviour for SNP.

August 2, 2015

The referendum, for whatever reason was lost.  We should bear in mind falling foul of Einstein’s definition of idiocy, that being a person who repeats the same action but expects different results.

Something was wrong with the substance or presentation of the case for Independence. (Granted, something was probably sorely amiss with the procedures as well, but almost undoubtedly not in sufficient numbers to affect the result in a two horse race).

The major policy stances need to be explored in depth, and considered in the light of the main purpose of the SNP, to secure independence.  The question on those issues needs not to be what will rest most comfortably with the party members’ ideals, but what will attract the missing 6% that would be needed for a different outcome, whilst not scaring an equivalent or larger number away through radicalism.

Of course policy needs to be acceptable and justifiable to the members, but that may involve swallowing some bitter pills, as well as some hard work to achieve success.  With the hugely increased membership now settling in, the next few conferences should be prepared to examine some radical rethinks over issues like Currency, NATO, and Monarchy. These have the potential to bring about serious debate within the party, which will be pounced upon and undoubtedly will form the headlines.  Safe to say too that the focus and muckraking will be the subject of huge efforts and will almost certainly uncover some scandals; it can only be hoped that they will be minor and not attributable to any of the household names. The 56 in particular need to be beyond reproach. Beware honey-traps, bar-talk, behavior that may be seen as public drunkenness, expenses impropriety and the company you keep.

There will be a demoralising effect as the troops go off the boil, and we may see the huge numbers of newly inspired members drop in a year’s time.  It is only to be expected, but this will be taken up by the press and propagandists and used as weapon.  The holding of repeated rallies is a gift to them as people burn out and numbers dwindle. Better to focus the efforts on real community activity. Bearing in mind that all politics is local, a mass clean up or vegetable planting in common ground will go a lot further with those outside the party than a mass rally which will only ever be a feel good event for the faithful. Sinn Fein successfully used community activism for years, and there are a few lessons to be learned there.

The party now needs to adapt to large numbers. The subscriptions are useful, however what is far more useful is the number of activists, but activists are only useful if they are active!  They will need to be managed and kept alert and involved until needed for the main battles. Focus at a local level is absolutely essential as members need to feel part of the operation and know that their contribution is valued.  There also needs to be constant interaction at all levels of the party, to avoid perception of an elite. The establishment, via the press, will attempt to create and exploit such division. Moving from a small family to a large community will bring its own problems, especially when there will be those that are not quite aware of SNP policy beyond independence. If the local leadership is of the same quality as the elected representation then there is not a problem. If they do not rise to the challenge there will be no sorrows to seek.

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