Cowgate – By Duncan Harley

As the Scottish National Party publicly bicker amongst themselves over who said what to who in the muddle over the sexual harassment allegations against a former First Minister, I have to wonder if the independence movement is heading towards an inglorious end.
Many Scots had high hopes when in far off 1967 a bi-election in Hamilton saw a so-called safe Labour seat swing to the SNP in a landslide victory which saw the party take around 46% of the vote over Labour’s 41%.

As a new-voter in those heady days, I well recall the scene when Winnie Ewing emerged from the counting office – in the assembly hall of St John's Grammar School – to loud applause.

Widely heralded as a watershed in Scottish politics, the Hamilton victory spawned a new pride. Not only had a woman emerged as a voice for Scotland – remember, these were the days of the male-dominated Scottish Office stranglehold on everything north of the border – but a measure of Saltire seemed at least possible.

Then came Margo MacDonald. Eventually side-lined by the bickering party, she left and then re-joined the SNP a couple of times before seeing the light as the independent MSP for Lothian.
And now, on the very eve of Brexit, the Scottish Nationalist Party, as it was once known, are again tearing themselves asunder.  Corbyn and May must be laughing politely up their sleeves as Sturgeon and Salmond rip the independence movement apart in a what may simply be yet another fit of internally nationalist pique.

As for me. Well, I kind of gave up on the SNP some years ago. I did join for a bit but got fed up with the constant harassment from the local party members. For a tenner-a-month I received daily e-mails, occasional texts and not-a-few phone-calls demanding my presence @ meetings and asking why I had failed to sign-up for door-to-door leaflet campaigns. Eventually I decided to leave the party, just as Margo had done. Not to say that I may not re-join of course. But that will be on my terms and not on terms dictated by some jumped-up local dictatorship.

In the meantime, I am watching with interest as Alex and Nicola jointly destroy the gilded palace in what might perhaps be seen a re-run of some flaccid version of Watergate.

Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire - due out in March 2019


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