Angus Robertson: the SNP campaign enters non-election phase
The last decade has been truly amazing for the Scottish National Party and Scottish politics
Angus Robertson: Picture credit - Paul Heartfield
The last decade has been truly amazing for the Scottish National Party and Scottish politics.
The SNP has the most MSPs, MPs and the most councillors in the country. The SNP has won the last seven elections in a row, at all levels: local government, Scottish Parliament, Westminster and for the European Parliament.
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Notwithstanding the disappointment of losing seats in the recent Westminster election, the SNP still won a majority of MPs in Scotland, something that neither the Tories nor Labour could do across the UK. In contrast, the SNP returned the highest percentage of candidates from any party in the UK.
Remarkably, the SNP has more members than all other parties added together in Scotland, and as has been reported in recent days, more members than the Tories and Liberal Democrats across the whole of the UK. Think about that for a second; the SNP has more members in a country of five million than large UK-wide parties have across a UK of 65 million people.
For more than a decade, the SNP has led the Scottish Government with strong approval ratings from the public. While political opponents might wish this all to be on the wane, the most recent opinion poll put support for the SNP up and with a double-digit lead over the Tories and Labour.
This amazing success has come about because of the commitment and hard work by members, our elected representatives and great leadership from Nicola Sturgeon and before her, from Alex Salmond.
Not changing a winning approach might be an understandable ambition, but we cannot simply rerun past campaigns and expect the same outcomes.
For the first time in a decade we do not face an imminent election. The next parliamentary poll to take place across Scotland will be in 2021.
This gives the SNP an opportunity to involve our mass membership, reach out to voters, build our identified support and raise campaign funds. With the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showing an unprecedented 72 per cent of 16-24 year olds supporting Scottish independence, there is a new generation of young voters who should be natural SNP voters and potential new members.
SNP branches and constituency organisations should be planning with all this in mind. For the first time in recent memory, we actually have the opportunity to get beyond voter identification, communicate more effectively with voters about the issues that matter most to them, reinforce support for the SNP, convert the undecided, boost the use of postal votes and sign up new members as well.
Everyone has a part to play. Every member, councillor, MSP, MP and all local branches.
Already some local SNP organisations have been running training and planning sessions. There is plenty of good practice going on around the country and we should be replicating the best ideas everywhere.
There are about 1,300 days between now and the next Scottish Parliament election. There will also be a referendum on Scottish independence. We must be ready, which means we have to start right now.
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