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by Staff reporter
27 August 2020
The SNP has ‘drifted from its radical roots’

SNP conference 2018 - Image credit: Tom Freeman/Holyrood Magazine

The SNP has ‘drifted from its radical roots’

The SNP has “drifted from its radical roots”, according Edinburgh University academic Professor James Mitchell.

In an article for Holyrood examining the changes in the SNP over the last few decades, Mitchell says that while the SNP “continues to project a left-of-centre progressive image”, it “diluted its radicalism” when it became more focused on winning elections. 

Mitchell argues that far from moving to the left since the 1980s, the SNP’s policies in the 1970s “were further to the left than anything pursued by the party since 2007” and the SNP projected a more progressive image in the 1980s simply by re-packaging existing policies.

What has changed in the party, Mitchell says, is the way the party is governed, moving from a system where party members were sovereign and set policy through debates to a centralised leadership.

He says: “The SNP was gradually transformed from a self-governing institution into a centralised machine around a dominant single leader. 

“Party members and activists have largely acquiesced as electoral success was delivered. But doubts exist and concerns lie just below the surface.”

Mitchell also suggests that the SNP was caught out by achieving a majority in 2011 because it had been more focused on winning elections than developing the case for independence.

The independence white paper of 2014 “owed more to the skills and professionalism of Scottish Government officials than SNP officials and spokespeople,” he says.

You can read the full article here.

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