WHEN we should have been concentrating on taking Scotland forward to independence others, to their shame, are more interested in defending their positions of power.

There was a time when the SNP was really focused on independence. However, that was before our present First Minister was consumed with the power that her position gave her. Now there is more talk about anything else but the very thing elected SNP members were voted in to achieve.

A recent letter in the National (July 11) claimed that there had been unwarranted attacks of a personal nature aimed at Nicola Sturgeon and other elected SNP MPs and MSPs from people claiming to be independence supporters.

The writer accepts that constructive, well-thought-out criticism, delivered with respect to the intended recipient, can be extremely beneficial but it should never be in the form of a personal attack. I certainly agree with his last sentence. However, the rest of his letter was in effect advocating that one should only defend the indefensible. The letter completely ignores the besmirching of Alex Salmond by the FM at every opportunity even during a Covid information broadcast.

Some of our MPs and MSPs, while representing their electorate, took a lead from the FM and took it in turn to attack not only her predecessor but anyone who would associate with his views or indeed had a different point of view to that held by the leadership. The letter could have been more conciliatory if it had chastised the leadership and the NEC for gerrymandering candidate lists and for being anything but transparent.

The writer could have criticised those MPs who descend into an acrimonious world on Twitter with foul mouth rants against fellow independence activists. It is wrong for the author of the letter to defend those MPs who refer to those independence supporters who happen to have an alternative viewpoint on when to hold a referendum, the Hate Crime Bill, self-ID or the lack of transparency and democracy within the leadership particularly when they refer to them in the most vile language which would certainly be ruled out in any parliament debate. Words such as cranks, abusers, vicious, poison, creepy, and vile are a few examples. By no stretch of the imagination can anyone say that the aforementioned comments used were in anyway constructive or well thought-out criticism.

Or what about the ditty from the MP who thought he would really lower himself into the sewer by targeting the FM’s predecessor? Yet the writer defends those responsible for such outbursts. Others put on their rose-tinted glasses and fall into line behind the leader, no doubt thankful that they are out of the firing line.

Anyone who believes that Joanna Cherry, Joan McAlpine and the women who were elected to the NEC were treated with respect have not been doing their homework. This would not happen without the approval of the FM and Ian Blackford. It never fails to amaze me that parliamentarians who spout vitriol are perplexed when the recipients of their bile have a nibble back.

The vast majority of our elected members, at best, get on with their constituency work without getting involved in the unsavoury melee on Twitter. At worst, they look the other way. Being an elected member of either parliament brings a responsibility to represent Scotland and the SNP with something more than slanderous comments. Some believe that loyalty without recompense is hard to come by in politics, yet it happens.

I recall attending an SNP conference when John Swinney was getting a hard time from some of the delegates when Alex Salmond came to the assistance of his colleague with a barnstorming speech in his defence. He also brought Nicola Sturgeon along gently in what could otherwise have been a bumpier political road just as he did with others. When he saw ability he nurtured it. Not everyone remembers or appreciates those moments if it’s not presently in their interests.

Plainly, the FM and her acolytes in the NEC together with those MPs and MSPs who seem to take to Twitter at every turn, indeed they appear to enjoy the appalling Twitter exchanges, ignoring the fact that they are putting their personal interests/beliefs above the interests of the independence movement. Instead of making out how committed they are to independence they should act on it. They should remove themselves from the Twitter abuse and work alongside Alba party to achieve independence.

Bill Clark
Fort William