Tuesday 23 October 2012


Two MSPs have resigned from the SNP as a result of the conference vote to join NATO.

John Finney and Jean Urquhart, who are both Highland Region list members, announced their decision this morning.

They don't intend to stand down as list members and will continue to support the government as independents.

Needless to say the news makes the headlines of both the Scotsman and the Herald. The Record makes it their second story.

It will not change the situation in parliament. The two new Independent MSPs have indicated to Alex Salmond that they support the rest of the government's programme and will continue to vote with them on matters other than Nato. They will, of course, continue to support the YES Scotland campaign.

Some will suggest that they should stand down and I can understand that, but I can also see why they hae deided to stay. They stood on the platform of a non-Nato Scotland. It is is SNP which, democratically, (vote of 426 - 332) changed its policy. There was bound to be fall out, and there may yet be more.

Whilst I'm sorry that the pair have felt it necessary to resign, I respect their position. Conscience is something that is sadly lacking in so many politicians. It is hard to be critical of it when is does show itself. 

Should members of other parties not consider their position?

There are, I am sure, on the Labour benches, many who take strong issue with Mrs Lamont's assertion that Scotland is a "something for nothing" country and with her move to the right, so welcomed by the Conservative group. Thus far none has had the guts to do what John and Jean have done.

Equally, when the Conservative Party leadership elections took place last year Murdo Fraser stood on a platform of drastic change, removing their connection to the English Tories and renaming them in an attempt to bury the Thatcherite past. He had a number of supporters on the Tory benches, and indeed came second in the contest. When, by fair means or otherwise, David Cameron's preferred choice, Ruth Davidson, won, thus ensuring totally loyalty to the English party, Murdo meekly accepted a junior role in the parliamentary party. There were no resignations from the party.

Murdo and his supporters were proposing a new right of centre party because the old one was no longer fit for purpose. Where, I ask, are the principles of these people?

In light of the SNP resignations, the parliamentary arithmetic still gives the SNP a majority, but one that is far slimmer than the one that they started with.

Tricia Marwick's election to presiding officer obliged her to stand down from the party, and Bill Walker left the party following the disclosure of his lack of disclosure in respect of his past domestic life. 


  1. Both of them are now free to campaign for the Yes campaign under a anti-nuclear stance. They can only help to scoop up those who believe in that position under the Yes Campaign Umbrella.

  2. These two ought to resign as MSPs as well if they are unable to accept the democratically decided direction of the SNP. It should be pointed out that neither of them was elected as a personality nor for their strongly held views on any issue. People marked a cross against a political party: the SNP and these two peoples names just happened to be at the top of their relevant party list. If they no longer want to be in the SNP they should get off the MSP gravy train and make way for the next two people on the list who are prepared to accept the democratic decision of the party.

  3. That's a very good point, Marcia. As a person who is massively anti nuclear and vaguely anti Nato, I can understand their position.

  4. I can genuinely see your point of view munguin. And you argue your point logically and forcefully.

    I assume that on the resignation of a list member, the next person(s) on the list assume the role?

    I suspect that they will find out soon enough from constituents what THEIR feelings are. Maybe they will change their minds if feelings in the Highlands run strong enough.

  5. I don't get it, I'm seeing some really angry responses from fellow Nats over this, but all I see is yet another example of pro-indy politicians having the kind of principles unionists could only dream of.

    We're always telling folk from other parties they should resign because their party has abandoned principles they hold dear. How many Labourites have we taunted for helping to prop up a party that is pro-nuclear when they themselves purport to be anti-nuclear? Did we not slag off Lib Dems for staying in their party despite all the promises the Lib Dems broke?

    People are under no obligation to stay in a party if it changes its stance on something which is fundamental to them. Particularly in a situation like Jean's, as she was in the CND 10 years before she joined the SNP. If anything, it would have been hypocritical for her NOT to stand down...

    This doesn't affect the YES campaign in the slightest. It'll make the headlines tomorrow, but then so did the sectarianism bill, equal marriage, Trump... It's just one of a long line of things that will excite the media and politicos, but will largely wash over the heads of ordinary voters. Truth be told, any lasting negative effects from all this are more likely to be as a result of changing the NATO policy so suddenly than from a couple of folk sticking to their principles.

  6. I have sympathy for Munguin's position though - nobody voted for them specifically, people voted for the SNP. There's certainly an argument there, although that then leads to accusations that list members are little more than party voting fodder...

  7. The SNP is a democratic party and in order to alter its position it is necessary to get a majority of the party’s members to vote for it. That is what has happened here. If John and Jean can no longer be in the party because their personal principles over NATO membership are stronger than their allegiance to the democratic will of SNP members, then they must resign. However, what happens to these vaunted principles when they are quite happy to remain as independent MSPs for the Highland region? Nobody, at all, voted for either one of them. They are, therefore, cheating the people of that region who voted for the SNP list in the 2011. Principles are not like a sweet shop where you can pick and choose according to what you think is right. They should move aside and let the next two people on the list who are willing to accept the decisions of the party membership take their place.

  8. Yes. It's really difficult to come down on one side or the other on this, Doug. And Munguin makes a strong argument for them resigning.

    It is to be hoped that in an independent Scotland we will have a proper proportional representation system which will do away with the two tier system and the idea (pretty widely held) that the list MPs are somehow second class members.

    I think, like you, that it will be a couple of days' wonder, but that at least the more thinking among the opposition will be careful not to lawy themselves wide open to the accusations of hypocrisy, as clearly many of their MSPs are completely at odds with party policy.

    I can imagine Lamont opening on this on Thursday, only to be asked if her members all agree that Scots are scroungers.

    Then because she is completely useless unless she has a dummy card in front of her, continuing to embarrass herself on the subject with 3 more follow ups... argh, the quality of the opposition!!!

  9. I think every one has hit the nail on the head over these two individuals.

    Personally I think they are being a wee bit childish over the NATO vote. After all it was an open, fair and honest debate. They lost the argument and joining NATO is now an S.N.P. policy. That's it nothing more nothing less.

    The problem they have though is that they are now looking like a pair of spoilt kids. They didn't get what they wanted so they're taking their ball home. Well that's fine by me but the problem still exists. The problem that is NATO membership.

    The vote last Friday did not result in Scotland joining NATO, far from it. All that has happened is that the S.N.P. has openly and democratically decided to alter its policy on joining NATO.

    Scotland can NOT join NATO until it is an independent country, which the last time I checked we were not, although that will change in 2014. It is only AFTER we become Independent that the moral issue of NATO membership comes into play in my view. It is only then that any application to join NATO will be made.

    In fact I'm sure that before any application to NATO is made there would have to be a debate and some sort of NATO bill passed in Holyrood. THAT is the time to bring your NATO to the fore and leave the party if you lose the vote, not now.

  10. Arbroath 1320

    - quite right, any decision can only be made after 2014. To me it will be a storm in a teaspoon to most people. However some feel more passionate that us.

  11. one week ago they were fine upstanding members of the snp.
    now they are to the snp (and Arbroath)two slags..

    ah well the snp metamorphosis into the nu-snp lots of slags to meet er we get to the final vote.

    as Groucho marx said these are my principles if you don't like them I have others.

  12. mungy

    do you not understand a representative democracy

    follow the party line very nazi way of ruling

  13. Oh dear, Niko was out on the booze last night and is still in the gutter tonight. Just a pity he was unable to sober up BEFORE trying to post a comment.

    Yo Niko I never referred to anyone as a slag still if the hat fits by all means go ahead and wear the slag label yourself, I'm sure you'd suit it!

    Unlike Niko's pretendy party the S.N.P. are at least an open party. Even we do not agree with the two individuals resigning at least WE can accept their reasons for doing so. As I said previously I thought their actions were a wee bit on the childish side but at the end of the day I accept their decision, now can any one say that about the behaviour of the Labour gang.

  14. abbi

    yeah yeah it all really helps the vote well for us uk voters that is.
    youse hill to indy just got a bit steeper.

    meet you at the top

    tried sober once never again

  15. As I said to Peter of Moridura at the beginning of this, it's now a Peoples Front of Judea moment.

    Just what the unionists want.

    Have we blown it?

    I hope not.

    But I remember the left wingers of the seventies, who hated each other more than the Tories...and we all know what happened next.

  16. I agree with Munquin 100%. Whilst I disagree with joining NATO they should realise that the party who afforded them their MSP status voted democratically for the decision and furthermore they must have realised that calling a press conference to announce would give the No Campaign an opportunity to denigrate the party.

    If their principles were that important then they should resign as MSPs because the only reason they are MSPs id due to being part of the SNP - that is the sole reason why they are MSPs.

    Personally, I've never heard of either of them and I understand they represent the Highlands and Islands?

  17. Mountains, molehills, knickers in a twist etc seem to sum up peoples thoughts over this non event. I will of voted for them on the Independence ticket via the SNP as the only party offering a referendum and that has not changed.

  18. That was well said Arbroath.

    We need to remember that the policies of an independent country may not be SNP policies.

    As the first minister pointed out the other day, the SNP doesn't have a god given right to form the government.

    It could be a Labour government, perhaps in coalition with a Liberal, or independent.

    We may not be in Nato... or we may be in Nato with Johann Lamont offering to house the entire American nuclear arsenal just up the road from Glasgow.

    It will depend on the people.

  19. A storm in a teaspoon, Marcia?

    I've never heard that one before, but it's a bobby dazzler!!

  20. I think, Niko, that what Munguin was saying was that the people of the Highlands and Islands voted for the SNP... They should have the SNP.

    You could however argue that they voted for the SNP complete with its non Nato stance... in which case they are better represented by the two MSPs who will continue to support the SNP in every other aspect.

    I should imagine that the leadership was aware that this would happen.

  21. I seriously don't think we have, Conan.

    Every time we do something that is unpopular people will suggest that we have blown it... Gordon Wilson suggested that allowing gay marriage would make people vote to stay in Britain, (which will also have gay marriage according to Caron's Musings).

    I imagine that people know that voting to stay with England means we will be in Nato, and will have no say at all where people put their WMDs.

    Not only that but we will be obliged to send our troops to anywhere America tells us to.

    As Kenny McAskill said... no poster boys for America here. And proved over the Al Megrahi affair (which again had people suggesting that we had blown it).

    I think we will be OK.

  22. Can we give it a rest. These are two of the most honest MSP's in Holyrood!
    Ok they wanted to hold to the anti NATO line which I am sure had they won would have damaged the Yes campaign. But they didn't. So they feel so strongly about it they resigned the party whip. To say they were not elected is crap. They stood on the list on a set policies which included no to NATO.The only thing they disagree on is NATO, they will behave as normal on other issues.
    Conclusion? We had a democratic debate, we had two resignations and we move on. Do our opponents look better or gain any advantage? No.
    Doubtless Brewr will try to make something of it? He should concentrate on the Beeb surviving Savile!!
    Let's get on with winning the referendum!

  23. Not high profile then, John.

    The system is wrong in my opinion. These people can remain MSPs and some do very little. I think Jackson Carlaw had the right idea when he said that they should have to prove themselves in some way before they automatically remained at the top of the list.

    On the other hand it seems to me we would be better off with a proper PR form of voting.

    I respect your opinion, and what you, Munguin and Doug have said, makes a lot of sense.

  24. Fair comment CH.

    It is possible that there may be some who voted for them on the basis of their anti Nato stance, but in honesty, it's unlikely.

    Most will have voted to ensure either a referendum, or the continued smooth running of Scotland with as little interference as possible from parties whose first loyalties lie elsewhere.

  25. I agree that it's something and nothing, FFS.

    I doubt anyone will make too much of it, because, as I said, there must be people in the Labour party who believe in socialism, and yet take the Labour whip. And in the Tories there are people who, despite wanting to ditch the party and its ties to London, are following blindly what Ruth repeats from the mouth of the Eton boy.

  26. re the latest nonsence re the legal advice (or no legal advice)
    Actually find it rather amusing. The opposition send in a FOI asking what the legal advice says about being in the EU. The Scottish Govt say they don’t discuss legal advise given to Ministers and reject the request which goes to appeal. Turns out none were asked for. Maybe the opposition should ask better questions in the future. I told a friend about this a little while ago this evening and he laughed. That from a non-political person. Not everybody takes politics seriously as we do, perhaps the vast majority actually.

  27. conan

    we are the only ones who know what is going on been there worn the T shirt..............

    There's nane that's blest of human kind,
    But the cheerful and the gay, man,
    Fal, la, la, &c.

    Here's a bottle and an honest friend!
    What wad ye wish for mair, man?
    Wha kens, before his life may end,
    What his share may be o' care, man?

    Then catch the moments as they fly,
    And use them as ye ought, man:
    Believe me, happiness is shy,
    And comes not aye when sought, man.

  28. tris

    , Sturgeon said. "I can confirm that the government has now commissioned specific legal advice from our law officers on the position of Scotland within the EU if independence is achieved," she said. "[The] Scottish government had previously cited opinions from a number of eminent legal authorities, past and present [but] has not sought specific legal advice

    Alex salmond lying Bastard

    'scomnishambles' you lot are fecked


  29. latest polling shows Alex Salmonds campaign down to 14% ha ha ha


  30. for every Alex salmonds snp down there is a Labour up

    Labour set for a landslide victory in Corby by-election

    A new poll gives Ed Miliband's party a 22-point lead in Louise Mensch's former constituency.

  31. Good one CH...

    The only thing that I can't work out is how the incredibly clever Mr Swinney hasn't found a way to stop it.

    It's not that he's up against much in the way of old First Class Ozzy, is he?

  32. Och Niko. There's advice a plenty.

    The only way that the aristocratic Hon Mr Martin, son of His Lordship, has managed to make it look like Alex was lying is by leaving out a great big section of what was said.

    The Hon Mr Martin should think carefully about his "honorific". He's really not up to it.

    Btw, I saw him on tv this afternoon. He looks awfully red and blotchy, don't you think? Is he quite well?

  33. Of course Labour will win in Corby. But 'une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps' as they say in Quebec.

    And could you tell your Russian cousin not to upload pornography on the blog. I was nearly sick at the site of his bottom!

  34. That was the site of the last Labour member stripped of all dignity disappearing into the abyss tris.

    The BBC and the Labour party in Scotland have both been caught with there trousers down over this EU liar nonsense, there must be a spider parody somewhere.

  35. it's particularly satisfying to see The Hon. Mr Paul Martin making such a fool of himself.

  36. I'd have thought 'hoon' was more appropriate.

    Thinking aloud I vote for two things for Scotland Independence and Nuclear free everything else is up for debate because unless those two objectives are achieved anything else in which I might desire are meaningless and unachievable.

  37. Ha, yes, it probably is, CH.

    For me, although being nuclear free is important...very important, because I wasn't to see Scotland's money do good, for Scots and for other people who need help (just imagine if the US and UK spent money on doing good instead of doing harm!), the really big one is being independent.

    I reckon most things can follow from that.

  38. I think this hasn't been a great day for the SNP, however, when put next to a bad day for labour or the tories (say, Lamont asking a question about a rape that never happened in Dumfries or Baillie (a loathsome oily creature) making up stats about patients in Dundee not having any blankets. Or say, Ruth Davidson opening her stupid mouth.)

    I think its the lack of clarity though, this thing about the legal advice, its a pretty sophisticated point, I sort of understand why they never just said, 'there isn't any to give' because if they had said that they would've been pilloried for not asking.

    What does annoy me, is Andrew Neil's question isn't clear, he's not being totally difinitive but it still looks bad.

    Two other things worthy of airing, both Andrew Neil and Paul Martin are first class cretins, this should always be taken into consideration when they're involved.

  39. Pa, the SNP has had better days.

    You could wish that the two MSPs hadn't felt so strongly that they had to resign the whip, even if they will continue to vote with the government. But they did.

    It's the kind of thing that should be past talking about in a few days.

    I don't fully understand the EU thing. But from what I heard the Hon. Paul Martin had to bend what the FM said, by leaving out the middle part, in order to make it seem like he had lied.

    This really isn't big or clever.Strangely I can imagine no one else being more at home with that kind of behaviour than the Honourable Martin.

    Neil is a arse.

  40. Thankfully I have missed Newsnicht tonight and the (dis)honourable Mr Martin and co. today.

    By all accounts it sounds like the Labour bunch grovelling along the gutter, as per usual. A bunch of incompetents trying to make something out of nothing. Oops sorry I shouldn't have accuse them of such should I, Lamont will be chasing them all down as part of her "something got nothing" cultural review.

  41. As far as I can tell, Arbroath, they got it wrong.

    But it's all part of their policy for talking down YES. And unfortunately, mud sticks.

    The impression that the FM lied over the EU will stay in some people's minds.

  42. If you agree with 99% of your party platform, but need to resign over a single issue; I'd suggest you are too ideological.

    The SNP are caught between a rock and a hard place with these types.

  43. You're probably right there Dean.

    I think maybe they should have stood down as MSPs too... after all they weren't elected personally, but as SNP members.

    The more that I think of that, the more I think that that is what should have happened.

    Indeed what should happen by law.