UKIP’s identity crisis is a lesson for the SNP | The Friday Article

UKIP is in crisis. It’s been 10 months since Britain made the historic decision to leave the European Union, and one would have thought that the far-right political party would have at least had a name change by then. Instead, UKIP has seen two leadership elections, an ‘altercation’ outside European Parliament, and most recently, the party’s only MP Douglas Carswell quit the party to become independent – “job done”, the Parliamentary representative for Clacton said in a blog post last month.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall. Photo: European Parliament on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

Then there’s the current leader Paul Nuttall, who is no doubt overshadowed by his predecessor, Nigel Farage, despite the latter saying he “[wanted] his life back” after the vote of June 2016. Two shoddy leadership elections have meant that some media companies still have Mr Farage on speed-dial for anything Brexit-related, even when Nuttall is the one at the helm.

All of this makes for a hilarious but important case study for the SNP as they plan to call for a second referendum on Scottish independence. As the only other major party so devoted to one political cause, they must now consider – in plenty of time – what would happen should their end goal be achieved.

As Nicola Sturgeon and her party prepare their arguments for a ‘yes’ vote should the UK Parliament grant the referendum, they must also get ready for the party’s next steps if they get their own way. The fact that UKIP were only asking the ‘what now’ question after Brexit is no doubt responsible – in some part – for politicians leaving the party to become independent or, in most cases, to join the Conservatives. After all, what use is it being a member of a party championing for Brexit when one could join the team with the seat at the negotiating table?

In the case of the SNP, they are fortunate in the sense that they do not have to watch from the sidelines. If the vote for independence is delivered, then they will still be in government until 2021 and will have to deliver a positive outcome for the Scottish people. Yet, at the same time, they must also establish a clear political stance away from independence now this would have been achieved.

Whilst it’s incredibly unlikely that Sturgeon’s party would fall into an existential crisis as bad as UKIP if independence occurs (a leadership election would probably only occur if it was another ‘no’ vote), there will no doubt be another party – probably the Scottish Conservatives – who will oppose the SNP’s plans for Scotland.

If Sturgeon’s ideal scenario is to occur, then as well as considering the future of Scotland, she must contemplate the future of the SNP.

As UKIP continues to scratch its head and Labour comes under fire over its power as an opposition, some may consider it fortunate that neither party is in government when they have internal conflicts at their heart.

This is where the SNP should take note. After all, if a party in government have an existential crisis, then their future – and indeed the future of an independent Scotland – could look very bleak indeed.

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#indyref2 was to be expected – a vote for independence will be too | The Friday Article

The Tory Government possesses a dangerous arrogance at present. It’s one that chooses to fight against the ruling of the judiciary (High Court) on Brexit, the Lords’ recommendation that they should secure the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and now Scotland’s plans for a second independence referendum – which was announced by Nicola Sturgeon on Monday this week.

NICOLA STURGEON
Photo: First Minister of Scotland on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/.

The announcement was always to be expected – the referendum hanging over Theresa May’s shoulder ever since it was found that the Scots voted for remain – but what wasn’t predictable was when the call by the SNP would be made for ‘indyref2’. However, just as Prime Minister May was about to relax in the fact that her Brexit parade could no longer be rained upon (thanks to the Brexit Bill being passed at the start of this week), the Scottish Government decided to announce their plans for the referendum. Oh dear.

You have to be thankful that our Government possesses a different sort of stubbornness to that of Donald Trump. When the latter’s initial ‘travel ban’ was blocked by a judge, he angrily tweeted that ‘THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!’. Yet, when May’s Brexit timetable was thrown into question by the judiciary and the laws, she may not have been happy, but she showed it with professionalism. Although this implies some separation between how the two governments operate, let’s not forget that both are becoming worryingly isolationist. Trump has once again tried to reinstate a travel ban, whilst the UK has to ensure it does not shut itself off when it severs ties with the EU after Brexit.

The Tory government has a dangerous tunnel vision – one obsessed with a hard Brexit that threatens the EU with a no deal despite making no economic evaluations of said deal, and one that is willing to do this without considering the wishes of the Scottish people.

To once again compare to Trump’s administration, there’s cries of ‘fake news’ whenever the US President sees any critical articles about him in the media. Now, as Sturgeon and co. publicly declare their discontent with the UK Government on Brexit, May accuses the SNP of playing a ‘game’ – which is somewhat hypercritical coming from someone who still refuses to secure the rights of EU citizens living here as though they are some sort of bargaining chip.

However desirable a forever United Kingdom may be, one has to understand that the treatment of Scotland by the Tories is more than enough evidence to show why a ‘yes’ vote is entirely possible. David Cameron’s sweet-talking from 2014 where he said: “I speak for millions of people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and many in Scotland, too, who would be utterly heart-broken by the break-up of the United Kingdom” has apparently gone out of the window with May. She’s resorted to the trusty ad hominem attacks that the Conservatives know and love.

As Trump’s shouts of ‘fake news’ show weakness and do little to stifle the criticism against his administration, you have to consider what the PM’s comments about the SNP ‘playing games’ conveys. Zac Goldsmith’s disgraceful mayoral campaign remains a constant lesson to the Tories about how bad personal attacks are in politics. In that case, it led to people supporting the alternative candidate: Sadiq Khan.

If the Tories maintain their arrogance, ignorance and tunnel vision, it will only benefit the ‘Yes’ campaign even further. Scots, angry at the fact that they are being ignored and mocked by the UK Government, will vote to leave the United Kingdom – and I wouldn’t be surprised.

The EU Referendum: Why I’m voting to stay | The Friday Article

With Britain Stronger In Europe, Vote Leave and other groups beginning their campaigns from today, now is a good time to explain why I’ll be voting for Britain to remain in the European Union.

EU Building
Photo: ’50 European Union’ by annarouse on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

My reason for this comes down to a simple question:

At a time of a deficit and threats from numerous countries, is it really wise for us to leave a single market and risk damaging our union with other countries?

Granted, some voting to leave have argued that we could still access the single market through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but the loss of EU’s single market would impact many jobs which rely on our relationship with the union.

It would also be a matter of negotiating with the EU and EFTA in order to still access this market. What is not to say that us leaving the EFTA in 1972 has tainted our relationships with the association? Similarly, leaving the EU would surely damage our ties with EU member states.

Whilst the UK will have to renegotiate certain laws and regulations regardless of June’s result, surely it’s best to renegotiate whilst we’re in the EU, rather than attempt to reach agreements on our own? What if we leave and don’t get everything we wanted? If we stay in the EU – even if we don’t achieve new deals – we still have this ‘special status’, the rebate, less issues with travel and many other benefits.

Another reason for voting to stay in is extra devolution of power that the EU brings us. The ‘leave’ campaign thinks this is restrictive, but that is the point – it holds our government to account. If you were unhappy with the government’s decision on a matter which affects you, you would want a body like the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to fight our corner. A recent example of this is the Investigatory Powers Bill, which the ECJ is looking into. If we leave the European Union, we are stuck with our country’s decisions – what if we don’t like that? We need that extra level which the ECJ provides. On top of that, the European Arrest Warrant has given us more police powers in the UK. The ECJ, EU rulings and laws all hold our country to account whilst also granting us the UK new freedoms in law enforcement.

Aside from law and the devolution of powers, unity is another issue. There’s no doubt that leaving the EU would taint relationships at a time where we must remain together in order to fight numerous world threats.

Speaking in February, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that a ‘leave’ vote could lead to another independence referendum. Is a vote to leave a great idea, when it can affect our unity not just in Europe, but the United Kingdom?

Lastly, I think the new EU agreement on immigration is fair, where EU migrants only gain access to specific benefits after 4 years. However, there have been talks that these reforms are not ‘legally binding’, but I can only hope that they do become bound by law once a remain vote is confirmed.

On a more general point about immigration, leaving the EU would mean the UK as a nation would have to deal with a European problem on its own. We need to work together to solve the refugee and migrant crises, not as one nation on our own.
For these reasons above and – admittedly – the opportunity to annoy UKIP leader Nigel Farage, I am voting for us to remain in the European Union on June 23.

How are you voting in June? Are you voting for us to remain in or leave the EU? What are your reasins? Comment below!

Liam