WITH an impending Westminster General Election concentrating minds, many commentators are getting busy considering and comparing the two main electoral options available to Scottish voters, and not surprisingly, this makes them look like equally-matched opponents; Unionism versus independence . But comparing Labour and the SNP is like comparing chalk and cheese.

Labour’s days are in the past and they have nothing to offer a new Scotland. Although elements of the manifestos will be similar, the SNP are self-funded by members and, unlike Labour, have little to no access to state funding or trust funds of the wealthy, donations from industry tycoons or landowners or trade unions – as repeated news stories around the so-called “ongoing investigation into the finances” of the SNP have made painfully clear.

Labour are a party of the British establishment and use every single opportunity offered by the panoply of state to embed themselves in the body politic. Retired or defeated, or unelected, Labour politicians and supporters cluster like engorged maggots on the rotting corpse of the Union.

Labour have always been able to reward and entice support by offering public sinecures and of course a seat on the leather benches, green or red, and a salary and countless other perks. Unlike the SNP – whose members stand to achieve power for their nation – Labour supporters campaign for themselves. Even the lowliest cooncillor or party donor who has never expressed a single original thought but toed the party line through thick and thin can be “ennobled”. As Burns described them: “Ye see yon birkie ca’d a lord, wha struts an’ stares and a’ that …”

In this way, over decades, Labour bolstered themselves across Scotland and even their radicals and original thinkers have been co-opted and subsumed. Are there republicans in Labour ranks? If so, they keep pretty damn quiet about it. Shusht for Starmer, indeed!

By contrast, the SNP struggled for decades to find money for campaigning, struggled to keep volunteers, struggled to climb above the credibility gap. Only really in the last 20 years, by dint of success at parliamentary and council levels, have they been able to offer short-term – and often only part-time – posts working for parliamentarians at Westminster and Holyrood.

And yet some social media warriors would have you believe that elected SNP politicians are like fat cats – only in for the money. Pull the other one!

Yet, despite the vast gap between the resources and rewards on offer, SNP support remains high, they continue to win elections as around half of all voters in Scotland continue to stand up against the all-encompassing forces of the Union.

Whatever the short-term gripes with the Scottish Government – and there are many – the fact remains that the national movement – and the SNP at its sharpened tip – continue to hold fast to the democratic principles of Burns.

None of their supporters have been enticed by the indulgent pleasures of the House of Lords and only a very few have bent the knee and been tapped on the shoulder by a royal sword.

This brings me to the question of why the SNP and the national movement do little to reward their volunteer army. They could do something. They could create permanent memorials to activists who have died, perhaps plaques, and maybe a national independence campaign memorial.

They could surely find some funding, perhaps even crowdfunding, to set up a decent alternative honours system for political services to Scotland. There is the Oliver Award, of course, run by the Scots Independent newspaper, but little else.

There should be statues. Winnie Ewing in Hamilton town centre, Donnie Stewart in Stornoway. Why should this work have to wait until we are independent?

Once we are independent of course, we will have very many priorities, but hopefully also time to reconsider our culture and our history which will need to be rewritten.

Our media will need to step up several gears to become the media of an independent state. At the moment it is a regional cheap and cheerful, five-day-a-week ghetto, obsessed with the doings of football managers’ gossip when not attacking the institution of the Scottish Parliament and gleefully unearthing new depths of despair about Scotland.

The national movement needs to take stock of itself and how far we have come and do something to commemorate all those who have given so much for so little reward. If we don’t take control of our history, including our movement’s history, it will either be ignored or our opponents will continue to write it.
Andrew Murray Scott
via email