Letter from Neale Hanvey MP to friends across the Yes Movement
Following considerable reflection, I am writing to tell you of a decision I have reached and to set out my reasoning. My primary focus is and always will be achieving our shared ambition of independence for Scotland.
As you will know this coming election is vital for our nation. Brexit is a reality with all the social and economic harm that we predicted. Unfortunately, worse is to come as desperate trade deals are struck, harming our economy, threatening our NHS and risking all of the progress we have made with devolution. Austerity is back on the Tories agenda as the economic costs of the pandemic are loaded on to the shoulders of those least able to afford it. Finally, the ability to mitigate such hardship and protect our communities is now threatened by Westminster’s attacks on Holyrood’s powers.
The need for independence has never been clearer or greater, and the opportunity to achieve it has never been more favourable. Yet, Scotland is burdened with a rightly loathed Prime Minister leading an incompetent government, riddled with cronyism and accusations of corruption. The supposedly prestigious benefits of a Global Britain have been exposed as fake as the vow; EU membership has been lost, the strength of sterling has plummeted, and the green economy is stymied by ruthless and inflexible Westminster rules.
It is now clear to increasing numbers of folk that the true risk was always with the Union. Nuclear proliferation as the UK arsenal is increased, low-wage-low-security jobs, all are part of the delusional New Age of Empire. That’s why not only winning the election, but winning it well is absolutely essential. Boris Johnson must not be able to reject Scotland’s democratic rights, Scottish democracy must prevail. Westminster can be afforded no veto on our ambition.
To pull this off I believe we must not only return David, Annabelle and an SNP Government but we must work to deliver a supermajority for independence. This will ensure that Scotland, not London decides.
At the moment our electoral system works against that. The regional list system sees the SNP stack up votes with few list SNP MSPs returned. Almost a million votes were cast for the SNP in 2016 but only 4 SNP list MSPs were returned, and in only 2 of the 8 regional constituencies. This allowed 24 Tory and 21 Labour unionist politicians to take up the parliamentary seats.
In 6 Regional list areas no SNP MSP was elected. In Mid-Scotland and Fife, 120,128 votes were cast for the SNP list, yet this returned not a single MSP and other regional constituencies were even starker. Even in South of Scotland 3 SNP list MSPs were successfully elected but, as happened in Mid-Scotland and Fife in 2016 a victory in a constituency will likely see the loss of a list seat and no net gain.
With all of this considered I now believe that supporting an independence list Party is an absolutely essential step for the Yes movement to take. Removing unionist list MSPs and replacing them with those committed to Scotland’s independence provides the best chance of delivering a supermajority. This would enable the Holyrood parliament to speak as one and challenge London’s contemptuous and outrageous diktats.
Currently SNP HQ strategy opposes such a move. I think that’s a mistake and harms our cause. As someone who has demonstrated a dogged determination never to throw in the towel on independence this has understandably perplexed me.
So, it is for all of the reasons set out above, and after considerable thought, I am relinquishing my SNP membership to support, what I hope will be the final push to achieve our nation’s independence.
As of midnight, I joined the newly formed Alba Party with the intention of delivering an independence supermajority. This will be achieved by standing with other candidates on the list vote alone. While some members have contacted me to say they have already joined Alba, they are doing so for their own reasons. This is a personal decision for each of us and all I can do is hope you’ll understand my own reasoning.
My constituency office will continue to operate virtually, and I will work with fellow Alba Party MP Kenny MacAskill and the SNP Group in Westminster to oppose the harm being inflicted on Scotland by the UK Government. I will likewise continue to support David and Annabelle’s successful re-election as constituency MSPs.
Whether in the SNP, Alba Party or Yes Movement, independence is our shared goal. I hope you’ll agree that it’s time to speak as one.