The SNP, you’ll be distressed to learn, are having a time of it.
The party is embroiled in a deputy leadership contest that could have been designed by their worst enemies. Angus Robertson, who lost his Moray seat last June, has resigned, depriving the party of one of its most formidable and respectable advocates. His departure couldn’t have come at a worse moment. The SNP has tried Scots’ forbearance for constitutional agitation and now has a reputation for banging on about independence that more justly belongs to Ruth Davidson’s Tories. After more than a decade in power, the SNP government shows signs of wear and tear and perhaps some structural damage too. At Westminster, the Nationalists have been rendered irrelevant by the shoddy alliance that props up Theresa May – not with the DUP, but the unofficial Tory-Labour Coalition for Brexit.
Against this backdrop the SNP are choosing a new deputy leader. Naturally, the party prefers the Scottish spelling ‘depute’; mindful of this, we shall continue to use ‘deputy’. Westminster leader Ian Blackford has ruled himself out, as if his performances at Prime Minister’s Questions hadn’t done that already. So far the only definite candidate is James Dornan but Pete Wishart is said to be considering standing. Henry Kissinger quipped about the Iran-Iraq war: ‘It’s a pity they can’t both lose’; as I contemplate the prospect of Dornan vs. Wishart, I find myself thinking: If only they could both win.