EVEN by his own standards, Alyn Smith surpassed himself on Wednesday (OK. So you defeated me. Now it’s time to deliver”, December 2). Hard to know where to start.

First the conspiracy theory – “they wanted me out”, despite his loyalty to the party, the leadership and the cause of independence. Congratulations to Chris Hanlon, who defeated him, appears qualified. He will support him on “anything positive and constructive”, which probably means he won’t support him on anything Alyn disagrees with.

Alyn blames his defeat on the “scratchiness of life” in these Covid times, and to the fact that you only had to pay a delegate fee to vote. Wasn’t that how it worked when we had to pay £36 a head to attend SNP conferences and vote? He is, you understand, only “perceived to be part of” the establishment in the party, not part of the group which had a stranglehold on party policy.

READ MORE: Alyn Smith: OK. So you defeated me. Now it’s time to deliver

He also blames social media for telling the rest of us what is going on in the NEC. Alyn, there was a reason for this, and it was that the NEC wasn’t telling us. Covid is also to blame for him “not having a track record of organising National Assemblies over the year”.

One of the most spectacular offerings, though, surely has to be the assertion that it isn’t him that is responsible for policy development, it is the whole policy development committee who deliver these “tablets of stone” and “encourage the wider party to formulate policy ... and encouraged 130-plus motions” from branches. Trouble was, Alyn, they were all binned unceremoniously.

Wailing about not liking factions in the SNP does not ring true. He was part of one of the biggest factions in the NEC. He then resorts to warning that the “cobbled together” alliances will fall out. No sour grapes there, then. He bemoans the lack of unity, but the boutique policies which took over the SNP meant there was only one way forward, not to independence, but to a woke agenda on speed.

READ MORE: Gloating over NEC election results is not helpful to our cause

He disapproves of members of the party being allowed to OPENLY disagree on policy, but seemed okay when policy was taken over by a minority and any dissent was not only quelled, but those dissenting were vilified as bigots. Do you think Joanna Cherry had police protection for nothing last year?

Being “disloyal to our leader” made me think we were suddenly in North Korea. He wants opponents to be disciplined by the party, but does not seem to want any sanctions for those who call their opponents bigots. Maybe hashtags and blogs are all that is open to critics who basically hear about SNP policy via The National (thanks for that, National, otherwise we would not have been aware at all).

Denigrating the winners as a “gathering of opposing filter bubbles and WhatsApp groups” is the level of debate we have come to expect from those who elevated niche policies to party policies by stealth, and who tried to silence their most effective opponents. Alyn, it is you who misjudged the mood of your own party. It is people like you who have made me and many others leave the party, in some cases to join parties like the Independence for Scotland Party who do not try to have a stranglehold on their members’ thought processes.

For sheer brass neck, though, to describe policy differences over the GRA and Hate Crime bill and the over-promotion of minority viewpoints as narcissistic “small differences” or to blame it on personalities and egos is right up there. That is the trouble, Alyn, when you elevate niche agendas to become party policy there will be a backlash. And to equate women’s rights with Alex Salmond was just a cheap shot. Don’t forget, Alex Salmond was found not guilty, and was himself possibly the subject of an engineered campaign against him.

I am not sure what Alyn means by “magic bean currency options” as he does not explain. I presume he means the ridiculous (NOT) idea that Scotland should, indeed must, have its own currency as near day one as possible, plus its own central bank.

In case we didn’t get the message, Alyn ends by claiming he is only out by virtue of being bullied and out-organised. This from the man who has relentlessly told us about the formidable campaign machine he has behind him in Stirling. And as for “this too will pass”, yes, Alyn, that is what most of us are thinking about the niche agendas, and don’t kid yourself you are William Wallace.

He also then ridiculously claims that independence will be won on the “centre ground” (Middle classes? They are hardly going to vote for radical change), on an “inclusive, radical, progressive internationalist platform”. But these things are pretty much mutually exclusive. You cannot court the centre ground – which is what the SNP have been doing with their Growth Commission, Advisory Group on Economic Recovery chaired by Benny Higgins of Buccleuch Estates fame, and general devotion to all things neo-liberal, including the EU – while at the same time being radical, which would involve tilting the pendulum back in workers’ favour and enacting legislation with teeth on things like rent controls and taking back the grouse moors from being a rich man’s playground, as well as addressing pressing problems like fuel poverty. (The Scottish Government’s own statistics have revealed 613,000 households in fuel poverty, about half of these in extreme fuel poverty, that is, paying over 20% of their income on heating).

Instead of pursuing niche agendas and calling themselves progressive, Alyn and the SNP should be really progressive in eradicating persistent poverty in our inner cities. To do this, Scotland needs independence, so perhaps the SNP should start with being really progressive on that.

Julia Pannell
Friockheim, Tayside

I HAVE just seen the article by Alyn Smith and I feel I must respond to this undemocratic pronouncement. Perhaps in a world where Donald Trump can try to use his own version of "reality" to try and convince people that he really won the 2020 presidential election in spite of all the objective facts, this new concept of creating your own reality might be the new style, but really I don’t think it will work. I think good old-fashioned objective facts are probably still important in debate.

As a democrat I firmly believe that if I voluntarily decide to join with others in an organisation then that means I support the general objectives of the organisation and I am in general agreement with the other members of that organisation. If I do not agree with the objectives, or the other people in the organisation, well I should not have joined it, or I should now leave it. Now I may not agree with the current policy of the organisation, or the tactics they are adopting, but I can do that while still respecting the individuals involved.

What emerges from Alyn’s recent public pronouncements is that he does not concern himself with objective facts on the issues of debate – he prefers to insult other individuals. That is what Trump does too.

Alyn claims that Joanna Cherry QC is suggesting a policy which would be "unlawfu". He implies he is better equipped to judge that than Joanna is; that seems unlikely. He says that economist Dr Tim Rideout is engaged in a “magic-bean currency” discussion, which again suggest he has more understanding of economics than Tim; once again I doubt that assertion. What is clear in his conduct is a complete disrespect for proper debate, based on his disrespect for the opinions of others.

Alyn promises the SNP members that he will not go away, and that he will not be bullied. Well losing office in a democratic fraternal organisation does not require a member to "go away", nor should it ever mean being bullied. What it might or could do for Alyn is that it could teach him to have a bit more respect for other SNP members, even if they hold different views from him. If it does that it might be helpful to him in the end.  

Andy Anderson