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by Chris Marshall
19 May 2023
If SNP voters want rid of the Tories, it is they who should be lending their votes

If SNP voters want rid of the Tories, it is they who should be lending their votes

After the 2015 general election in which his party took 56 out of 59 Scottish seats, then SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson spoke of the importance of what he called “the Big Mo”. 

“It’s called the Big Mo, it’s momentum and you know when you’ve got it – the SNP has had it since the referendum,” Roberston said in an interview with this magazine.

In truth, the SNP has had a fair wind at its back since the party first got into government in 2007. But it was after the 2014 referendum, despite defeat, that it became a political juggernaut under Nicola Sturgeon.

Then the wheels fell off.

If the SNP was once in sole possession of the Big Mo, then that is clearly no longer the case. Since Sturgeon’s resignation in February, a bitter leadership contest has revealed a party at war with itself while a police investigation into the party’s finances has shone a light on its murky, potentially criminal, internal goings-on.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough there’s also another problem to contend with: a resurgent Labour party. After 13 years of dispiriting Tory rule at Westminster, a change is finally coming – and the SNP knows it. 

The signs of incipient panic have been there for all to see at Prime Minister’s Questions of late where, over the past few weeks, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has pivoted from attacking the government’s record to attacking the government in waiting over its position on Brexit and tuition fees. 

Earlier this month he used one of his two allotted questions to ask the prime minister whether – like David Cameron with Nick Clegg in 2010 – he intended to “take the credit” for convincing Labour leader Keir Starmer to drop his pledge on scrapping tuition fees. Rishi Sunak could hardly believe his luck. Once the laughing had died down, the PM answered with a smile: “I thank the Honourable Gentleman for the question”. 

In the days that followed, Flynn called on Labour and Lib Dems voters to “lend their vote” to the SNP as a means of kicking the Tories out of Scotland at the next general election, which is expected to take place in the second half of next year. That’s right, a party which until recently planned to fight the election as a de facto referendum on Scottish independence is now attempting to woo unionist voters.

This week provided a reminder of the ugly side of this current Conservative government where figures such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Home Secretary Suella Braverman are willing to share a platform with those dog-whistling to the far right at the National Conservatism Conference or where culture warrior and Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden can respond to an opposition plan to give the vote to settled EU nationals by saying, “While the Conservatives will stop the boats, Labour will rig the votes.” 

It was the same Tory party that, albeit under a different leader, was in charge back in 2015 before the disaster of Brexit and when, under Angus Robertson, the SNP had not only the “Big Mo” but also all but three of Scotland’s MPs. 

Contrary to the party’s current half-baked strategy, it is SNP voters who should be lending their votes if they’re really looking to bring an end to this desperate Tory government.

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Read the most recent article written by Chris Marshall - Picking up the Pieces: Time is against John Swinney as he attempts to reunite the SNP.

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