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by Staff Reporter
10 July 2024
SNP losses could be ‘good thing’ for independence cause, says ousted MP

Alyn Smith lost his seat to Labour last week | David Anderson

SNP losses could be ‘good thing’ for independence cause, says ousted MP

The SNP’s defeat at last week’s general election could be a “good thing” and help the drive towards Scottish independence, former MP Alyn Smith has said.

Smith – who lost his Stirling and Strathallan seat to Labour’s Chris Kane – said his party’s campaign had been “lacklustre and reactive”, and did not “give the voters a reason” to back the party.

And he said that beyond the campaign, the SNP had “collectively looked out of touch and unresponsive” in recent years.

But he defended SNP leader John Swinney, who is facing calls to resign from some quarters of the party, suggesting the result “could have been worse” had he not been at the helm.

The party dropped from 48 to nine seats, as a huge swing towards Labour saw many seats in Scotland go red. But the SNP also failed to win seats where it was challenging the Conservatives, with the exception of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

Joanna Cherry, who lost her Edinburgh seat, blamed Nicola Sturgeon. She said the former first minister had caused the party to take “its eye off the ball on big issues”.

While she did not call for Swinney to step down, others – including former cabinet minister Alex Neil and former deputy leader Jim Sillars – have.

Speaking to The Herald, Neil said the Swinney was “not a fresh leader” and suffered from being “associated with the Sturgeon”. He said the first minister must “hand over” the reigns to the new generation, singling out deputy first minister Kate Forbes.

Sillars also called for the “tarnished old guard to step aside”, accusing the leadership of having “lost its common sense in government, promoted marginal issues as national priorities” and not dealt with the “real priorities of the people”.

But former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Sunday Mail there “isn’t really anybody else” who can lead the party. He added: “I don’t think anyone is pointing the finger at John and saying he has to go. He’s inherited this and he has to own it in terms of fixing it.”

Writing for The National, Smith said his party had “ignored” the view from voters that this election was about public services and the cost of living. He said the party had not linked independence to these priorities.

He also said the SNP had not defended the record of the Scottish Government, stating: “Too many people do not believe us when we tell them things are better in Scotland. They are unimpressed that we seem so unresponsive to their genuine criticism and concern.”

But he said the loss of third-party status at Westminster would “free up [SNP] MPs from pointless busywork” and allow them instead to focus on independence. He added: “The party has seen a crucial number of our people who should be driving independence achieve elected office, with all the demands on their time that entails.”

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