CHRIS HANLON….A GOOD GUY! Leading up to the November SNP CONFERENCE a group of members organised as best they could an attempt to wrest the Party back from the small group of minority zealots who had seized control of the NEC and were wreaking havoc with reckless policies that were splitting the Party asunder. TheyContinue reading "A FEW SHORT MONTHS AGO."



Leading up to the November SNP CONFERENCE a group of members organised as best they could an attempt to wrest the Party back from the small group of minority zealots who had seized control of the NEC and were wreaking havoc with reckless policies that were splitting the Party asunder. They were successful but since their electoral success they have been sidelined as they saw their resolutions and attempts at change rejected by the Chair with the full support of the Party Leader.

In frustration, Chris sought to advise members of what was happening. Some members received his communication, others did not. When those members tried to contact the reply address it had been shutdown and their communications were marked undelivered. I have been sent the communication by other members and I reproduce it here at their request.

FORTUNATELY, once again, the Thought Police division have failed in their mission and concerned members ensured Chris’s communication reached the free world and is reproduced here below. It is clear that nothing has changed even though many of the
NEC are now members of the Alba Party. This update from Chris completely justifies their decision to leave. I admire his openness and honesty however I fear it is too late for the SNP and until it gets new leadership in all departments it is doomed to cataclysmic collapse after the election as it will no longer be possible to hide the financial meltdown. It is of course not just the financial plight that looms, politically the potential for more splits and widespread resignations are massive.

Policy Development Update

Well, it’s been an exciting few weeks and a lot has changed since I last wrote to you all.

So much so in fact that I hardly know where to begin.  I will endeavour to start at the beginning as the best place to begin any story.

I chose to run as Policy Development Convener last year because I had become, in common with many other ordinary members of the party, increasingly frustrated by what seemed like a lack of democratic accountability in the party’s NEC and in the manner that it governed the party, particularly with regard to the vetting and selection process and the policy development process.

The events of last year had brought things very much to a head with a widespread outcry at the manner in which the selection process for this year’s Holyrood election appeared to be being gerrymandered to suit the objectives of a small group with clear policy objectives and a desire to prevent those that disagreed with those objectives being permitted to stand in that election.

Our party has one over-riding objective and that is independence within the wider family of European nations.  All other considerations are secondary.  Attempts to purge our broad church coalition of independence supporters to exclude voices that disagreed about such secondary matters struck many members as anathema to the founding principles of the Scottish National Party.

Combined with the abject failure to even attempt to hold a Spring or Summer Conference as mandated by the party’s constitution and the complete disregard for the normal democratic process of forming the agenda for the eventual Annual Conference that was held in November many members felt that their party was being stolen out from under them and resolved to do something about it.

As a member of both Conference Committee and the newly formed Policy Development Committee I had witnessed all of this first hand and I too had resolved to act to put our party back on the path to our common objectives.

A large number of candidates chose to seek election to all of the various national committees at that Annual Conference on a platform of reform and of repudiating the policies that had been implemented by that 2019-2020 NEC.

In the event Conference Delegates strongly agreed with us.  Over 50% of those elected to the NEC were elected specifically to reform that body and to repeal the bad decisions that had been made that year without the blessing of the membership.  It was very nearly a rout.  Less than a couple of dozen more votes for reform candidates would have resulted in a supermajority.  Fewer than a hundred of the three thousand delegates voting the other way would have translated to 90% of the NEC representatives elected at that Conference being reform candidates.

An impressive result for a disparate group of disaffected members that had little or no coordination or organisation that just all sort of turned up at the same time with the same goal in mind and with something like six weeks to achieve anything.  The lack of organisation was so laughable that in one instance two candidates stood for the same post, didn’t coordinate their transfer strategy, and the incumbent candidate retained their seat with a majority of zero by mere fluke.

Those that survived that grassroots surge did so by being non-controversial or by making hollow promises to do things better this year.

Members gave leadership a very clear message.  Change tack, you answer to us, and the course you have plotted in this past year is unacceptable.

And what was the reply?

We don’t care.

The NEC is not composed entirely of members chosen by Conference Delegates.  It also comprises members appointed by Parliamentary and Council Groups, and of members selected by Affiliated Organisations. 

Representing over half of the members elected at Conference is insufficient to control the direction of the NEC.  Those that were elected by the members to make changes gave the rest of the NEC the opportunity to play nice and to work together to implement the reforms democratically mandated by the membership through their Conference Delegates.

They slammed the door in our faces and tore our party in two.

National Office Bearers with direct responsibility for the strands of policy members were most keen to demand an about face on were sidelined and ignored by Affiliate Groups and HQ staff who have refused point blank to do anything they have been asked to by reformers but have devoted resources the NEC have not approved to Affiliate Groups to undertake work in direct opposition to the mandate issued by members at Conference.

It has been made clear that the upcoming vetting process for the Local Authority Elections next year was likely to be used to purge those National Office Bearers in direct contravention of the letter and spirit of the party’s Candidate Approval process.

Our party has been effectively broken in two by the obstinate refusal of a small group with voting rights on the NEC to obey the wishes of the party’s members.

For my own part I am not elected to any public office so I cannot be threatened with losing my livelihood or home by being purged from the Register of Approved Candidates so I will remain and fight for our party and our Independence.  Time will tell if enough of the members that sought change last year can bear to stomach what has happened and remain to mount another defence of our core principles this year or if they have all given it up as unfixable and chosen a new party that doesn’t have any bad habits yet.

In the meantime I will continue to fight for the changes that I promised to fight for when I sought your support to fill this role.  It is clear that without a substantial change of direction many of those things cannot be achieved this year but I will continue to make the case and do what I can to put grassroots members back in the driving seat of policy making and decision taking in this party.

I shall endeavour to help members with the stomach for it to draft competent and effective reform proposals for Summer Conference.  It does not seem likely that what remains of Conference Committee has the backbone to do their job properly but we should give them the chance to obey our Rules and Standing Orders before they come up for re-election.

My committee will continue to attempt to do the work of coming up with an effective prospectus for the Independence Referendum we have committed to holding and we will continue to work to help you develop the policies that ought to fill the pages of our next manifesto and put a stop to it being written in secret by ministers and the entourage of staffers and advisors they choose to employ without any oversight or accountability.

This is quite literally your party and I will do whatever I can to put you firmly back in control of it.


Chris Hanlon
Policy Development Convener

My Comments

I wish Chris every success but I think without a change of Leader and Chief Executive it won’t be long before we will be welcoming Chris and many thousands of other SNP members to the Alba Party, a party dedicated to operating on a broad church basis where all supporters of Independence are welcome.

That this has happened to the SNP, a Party famed until the last few years for its exemplary democratic traditions is a clear warning of the dangers of allowing a cult mentality to develop.

I hope and expect the Alba Party develops to build strong democratic principles where members always retain control over the direction of the Party and have a huge say in its Policy Development. The Party has already attracted many talented and experienced people, we have nothing to fear in ensuring everyone has a fair say on how the Party develops in the future. A wise Party uses all the talents. I am sure Alba will.

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