Springingtiger's Blog


SNP: One Million Members.

What if the SNP had One Million Members?

That’s the sort of question that’s guaranteed to trigger all sorts of reactions, many of them, particularly from non members, quite negative. Is it even possible? Numerically, obviously it is possible, but is it realistic? Not as long as we remain bound by negative beliefs of what is possible, but we live in a new Scotland where our old certainties have been turned upon their heads, do we even know what is possible? In both the Holyrood and General election the expectations of experts have been far exceeded despite our own people trying to talk down the expectations. At one point SNP leaders were pointing out that any advance on six seats would have been a victory, later they were suggesting perhaps a count of more than forty seats was possible, but few dared predict fifty-six Westminster seats for the SNP.

I am not suggesting One Million Members as a target or a goal, but as a possibility to live into. The power of a possibility lies in the questions it stimulates. What would we need to do to win One Million Members? What sort of vision for the future of Scotland would we need to have, to enrol One Million Members into the possibility that the Scottish National Party is a cause into which they wish to invest their time and energy?

I suppose about now some Labour people are preparing to launch in with attacks on ‘Tartan Tories’, however I would like to suggest they ask themselves the same questions. What vision of Scotland’s future will engage Scotland’s people? They might also want to ask themselves, why attacking nationalism did not win votes? What sort of Labour vision would make the Labour Party appeal to the Scottish voter? Looking for answers is a better use of time and energy than mudslinging.

What Labour and many others missed is that SNP does not stand for Scottish Nationalist Party. The SNP is the Scottish NATIONAL Party which is a very different thing. Yes it contains some nationalists, but so does every party be they English, Welsh, Irish, Scots, or British nationalists. What the SNP has managed to do is to be a ‘National’ party, an inclusive National party, it presents a vision of a Scottish people based upon residency in, love of, and commitment to Scotland. The Scottish People are not a race, they are a community and the SNP contains within its ranks, and indeed is represented by, people of different races, all committed to a shared vision of Scotland.
No one could deny that some of the nationalists within the SNP are racist against the English, but when one compares the campaigns of the parties it can be seen that Scots of any party have also been on the receiving end of racism, indeed the Conservative election campaign in England was largely based upon the threat that a vote for Labour would hand over control of Westminster to Scots. Whereas the SNP campaign was based on the possibility of making Britain better and speaking up for  Scotland. In the modern SNP, as in the Yes Campaign, there are many people who were born and brought up in England, as well as other countries, who support the SNP because of the possibility it represents.

The SNP thrives now because its identity is given by its vision of the future. There was a time when it was a party of Jacobite nutters in kilts and its identity was given by looking back to the imagined glories, but also the injustices of the past and the SNP accomplished very little. The modern party has taken a position that does not ignore the past, but it does not seek to return to it. The past is in the past, the point is to learn from it, put it behind us and move on. The SNP is criticised for not being a Socialist Party. It does not try to be, its vision is not communist but Communitarian, it wants Scotland to belong to the people of Scotland. It wants a Scotland where the resources of Scotland, whether they be manufacturing, mineral, or land, are owned by the people of Scotland primarily for the benefit and enrichment of the people of Scotland.

Why does the SNP not yet have One Million Members? Because, while levels of political engagement are greater than ever in Scotland, it has not yet presented enough people with a vision that makes them want to be active campaigners for the SNP. I don’t pretend to know what that vision will look like, but I do know it will be generated by the people of Scotland, not by think tanks and consultants. We are edging towards that vision in stages as more people engage with it. It is a vision of Scotland not merely as a place, or an economy, or a colony of England, or even an independent country, it is a vision of Scotland as a possibility that transcends and surpasses previous thinking and belongs to all the people of Scotland.

What would it take for the SNP to gain One Million Members?
What would it take for the Scottish Labour Party to win a million members?

It’s time we stopped the petty squabbling and seized the opportunities within our grasp, it’s time to explore new possibilities for Scotland. Will any Scottish Political Party ever have a million members? Is it even desirable that a party should grow so large? Perhaps not, but what is desirable is a populace engaged in working for a vision that excites them. Do we need an SNP with One Million Members? What would happen if instead the political parties and campaigns of Scotland were able to share a vision and take the people with them? What if we put aside all our beliefs and prejudices about politics and just worked together to accomplish the dreams we share of social justice, a revival of Scottish enterprise, an education system second to none, a healthy population served by a health service that not only treats ill health, but prevents it and actively promotes good health, a peaceful country that propagates peace and justice. A Scotland that stands on her own two feet and owns the envy and respect of the world.

Where do we start? By asking questions like, “What if the SNP* had One Million Members?”

*Insert organisation of choice.

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