BEFORE being elected, the new SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn promised that he was going to shake up the party's front bench team.

That reshuffle has now started, although it will take several days for all the new appointments to become clear.

Yesterday, the new SNP chief whip was announced – West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes takes over from Midlothian MP Owen Thompson, who was appointed chief whip in March following the resignation of Patrick Grady. Ian Blackford's attempts to defend Patrick Grady after the latter was alleged to have inappropriately touched a young junior staff member created considerable disquiet among the SNP group, setting off the chain of events that led to Ian Blackford standing down and his replacement by the much younger Stephen Flynn.

However, there was also a widespread perception, shared within the SNP Westminster group, but more especially within the wider independence movement, that a new and more assertive approach was required from the SNP's Westminster contingent in the face of the naked contempt towards democracy in Scotland from the Conservatives – a contempt which is shared by Keir Starmer's Labour Party.

This perception only grew stronger following the recent Supreme Court judgment in the indyref2 case, effectively ruling that the so-called voluntary union is a myth.

It doesn't matter how Scotland votes, Labour and Tory leaders will stick their fingers in their ears and lecture us on what they think Scotland's priorities really are. Spoiler alert: these will never include any acceptance that Scotland has clearly voted for a Parliament committed to holding another independence referendum.

As the SNP front bench reshuffle gets under way, some of the party's Westminster spokespeople are jumping before they are pushed.

Today, SNP veteran Pete Wishart resigned as the party spokesman on environment, food and rural affairs. He announced his resignation in an ill-judged and barbed letter in which he expressed his “bemusement” that the change of leadership had taken place – a letter which will provide ammunition to the SNP's opponents and the anti-independence media and does nothing to assist the smooth transition that the party and the wider independence movement so badly need.

Stewart McDonald announced he was standing down as defence spokesman, doing so in a far more graceful resignation letter. Hopefully we can now look forward to a more combative and robust SNP group in Westminster which is less willing to play by the rules of a Westminster game so heavily stacked against Scotland. A group which is willing to use Westminster's arcane rule book against that sclerotic institution, and to grab headlines in order to draw attention to the democratic deficit Scotland must endure as a part of the UK. Both Stephen Flynn and his deputy Mhairi Black are young – 34 and 28 respectively. They belong to a generation for which the idea of Scotland making its own decisions is normal, a generation which is overwhelmingly in favour of independence. They have the tools and personalities to energise and enthuse that generation, and to make independence a reality.

However. the broader picture for the party, away from the bruised feelings of certain parliamentarians, is very positive. More results from yesterday's Ipsos Mori poll for STV have been published which show that the SNP would win an absolute majority in Holyrood, winning 67 seats by itself, easily enough to give the party a majority even without the support of the Greens. The Greens would almost double their representation in the Scottish Parliament, jumping from their current eight seats to 15. This would give the two main pro-independence parties a total of 82 seats in the chamber, which is 10 more than they currently have.

The big losers would be the Tories, who would see their current representation more than halve to just 15. Labour and the LibDems would both make gains, with Labour adding five seats and the LibDems one – a result which would make them insist that Scotland had rejected nationalism and didn't want another referendum.

Although given that the next Holyrood elections are not due until 2026, after the next UK General Election which is going to stand in for an independence referendum, we can hope that by the time the next Scottish Parliament elections take place, Scotland will already have voted for independence. In 2026, we will be voting for a Scottish Government whose main task will be to negotiate Scotland's transition to an independent state.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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