Sketch: Annie Wells stages an intervention
The Scottish people need an intervention. They’ve needed one for a while, to be honest. They have been lost for too long. Confused. Muddle-headed. They need help.
The good news is that newly promoted Scottish Tory deputy leader Annie Wells is at hand, and she is willing to step in and do the dirty work.
So what’s the problem? Falling life expectancy? Rising child poverty? A growing housing crisis?
Well, no, not exactly. This goes far deeper than that. As the Glasgow MSP explained in an open letter, published on Twitter, the Scottish people hate the SNP, but they can’t stop voting for them.
That’s genuinely what it says. “I know you’re angry that the SNP keep winning elections and dividing Scotland,” she explains. “You tell me you are frustrated that they don’t get challenged enough.”
Exactly. How can Scottish voters stop the SNP from getting votes? Is there no mechanism voters could use, in elections, to stop them winning elections? It’s certainly very worrying, so you can see why Wells felt compelled to take unconventional action, even if an open letter isn’t the traditional vehicle for an intervention.
You can only assume the party felt it impractical to send the new deputy leader of the party round to speak to voters, one by one. Which is a shame, really, because it would be quite interesting to come home and find Annie Wells waiting on your doorstep. In your living room. Sitting at your kitchen table, ready to explain kindly but firmly that she is concerned about you, and your recent decision making. You haven’t been yourself. You keep voting SNP, despite the fact you don’t want to.
Wait, what? The SNP has an army now?
One more vote, you tell yourself. Just one more vote for the SNP. I’ll vote Labour next time. Maybe the Lib Dems. I’ll give Jackson Carlaw a go. But you just can’t stop.
It really is a very good letter. In fact, scrupulously fair in her approach, Wells wants you to know that you’re not the only one to blame for your political views. She also holds herself responsible.
As she explains, while talking you through your own opinion: “You’re disappointed Nicola Sturgeon gets her way too often at Holyrood. I agree with you. I need to step it up, we all do. Our new leader, Jackson Carlaw, has said the same thing. You’re demanding more of us and we are ready.”
Are we demanding more of them? Have I been doing that? Surely you would remember?
Of course it’s easy to laugh but, equally, it’s quite possible Wells is right. Maybe we have all been leading double lives. Sort of like in Fight Club, except instead of taking part in underground bare-knuckle boxing contests we have all been writing letters to the Scottish Tories, demanding more robust scrutiny of SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary committee system.
Well, the good news is that these fictional letters have worked and Wells will now take action, with the Glasgow MSP promising “the fightback starts now”.
That sounded good, even if it can be quite hard to keep up with the status of the Scottish Tory fightback against the SNP. They were leading the fightback in the 2016 election, in which the SNP won 46 per cent of the constituency vote, they led the fightback in the 2017 general election, in which the SNP won 37 per cent of the vote in Scotland, and then they continued the fightback into the 2019 general election, where the SNP increased its vote to 45 per cent. And with the 2021 election looming, the party is fighting back against the fightback against their previous fightback.
She continues: “I stood for election so I could help people. I didn’t get into politics so I could talk about flags and referendums. So I’m going to use this opportunity for one thing above all else – getting tore into the SNP and beating them in next year’s elections.”
That all sounded fine. They should have done it sooner, if anything. So it should be pretty easy?
Well, no. “It won’t be easy,” Wells explained, with the confidence of someone who has spent the last five years proving that very fact.
“Beating nationalism is going to be a struggle. They know what they’re doing. They can only be stopped by a movement that can match their own. And they have an army.”
Wait, what? The SNP has an army now? She should probably have opened with that, to be honest. It’s one thing to blame voters for their continued insistence on voting SNP and another to learn the party has seized power through the operation of a functioning military wing. The intervention may need to be bigger than expected.