Source: BBC (click to enlarge)
Well my prediction, not I concede a difficult one to make, was right. The SNP voted as one (or 53 – one was a teller and couldn’t vote) against air strikes in Syria.
I have no problem with the vote itself but I think we can learn some lessons from how they performed in and around the Commons debate.
First, their unanimity. We know they have a rule of neither voting against a group decision nor criticising it, even on something that every other party in parliament accepted was a matter of personal conscience requiring deep thought. That deep thought extended to what can only be described as a solemn and for some MPs heart-wrenching debate lasting ten hours.
Of the SNP a Scottish Conservative councillor tweeted
I seriously don’t believe there isn’t 1 of the 54/56 that doesn’t agree with intervention, so sad they have no view.
We’ll probably have to wait for a grand falling out within the SNP or one of their MPs’ memoirs written in retirement before we see the likely truth of that judgement.
Of course Alex Salmond had demanded two full days of debate but more time would have added nothing. His own contribution, if the clips on the news bulletins were to be believed, focussed on phoney outrage that the prime minister had not apologised for some slur or other. He’s taken to Twitter subsequently to repeat his Daesh-defeating cry of ‘Take down their web sites!’ And listeners to LBC had the pleasure of him presuming to know that Tony Benn would be ashamed of his son Hilary’s views. No need to say any more on that slur: CAPX’s Iain Martin has done the ultimate demolition job on that and on Salmond generally in his Hilary Benn is worth ten Alex Salmonds. Definitely worth a read.
If you want to know the heights the Commons can scale on these occasions, listen to Benn’s closing speech for Labour. More assiduous observers than me have called it one of the greatest parliamentary speeches they have witnessed. Amongst other things he wrestles with the dilemma most MPs faced yesterday and pays gracious tribute to the contributions from a whole range of MPs from both sides of the argument. Using parliamentary convention he refers to them by the names of their constituencies. Not one is in Scotland. He wasn’t in the mood to play party political games. None of their speeches were worthy of his attention and I doubt if one was anything other than small minded, bitter and, at the end of the day, all about their own party and about promoting separation.
Some say the SNP are the masters of social media. If the Commons’ debate was anything to go by the claim is not only over-rated, they are a social media busted flush. They seem to have tweeted prolifically throughout and after the debate. After all, I suppose they didn’t need to listen too hard since their minds had already been made up about how they’d vote. In the circumstances, you’d expect the most statesman-like comments to come from their leader, Angus Robertson. Here are two of his contributions.
First, Angus under the delusion that there are ‘Scottish forces.’
No there are not. The Royal Navy and RAF have no squadrons or vessels that are ‘Scottish.’ Some army regiments carry a geographical designation but are as British as the rest of the forces.
Worse than that, here is Angus as recruiting sergeant for the SNP.
Or, stuff Syria, we can get some new members out of this.
There was much more, not least the unloveable Paul Monaghan, who posted a photo of a bomb exploding somewhere with the caption
Remember this in the weeks, months and years to come as pensions fall, benefits are cut and people in Syria die.
Mickey Mouse politics from a Mickey Mouse politician.
By the end of a long evening I tweeted
I find it difficult to express how deeply I despise the SNP.
A day later I see no reason to change that judgement.