Young SNP activists joined the protest against the Tory leadership hustings in Perth last year

As voters go to the polls in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, the profound crisis consuming the Scottish National Party (SNP) shows no sign of abating. 

The crisis was triggered by Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as first minister and the financial scandals involving leading figures in the party. 

But for many activists, it has revealed deep-rooted problems within the SNP and its strategy to win independence and bring about change.

Dugald Macfarlane, Dundee:

“I was 11 during the first referendum and Scottish independence was the original reason I got political. The SNP’s line was that they’d get indy via parliamentary means—they’d get permission from the British state to leave. 

“It became clear to me that that was never going to work. Compounded by the more recent leadership contest, I realised it is too broad-church a party to ever achieve the vision for Scotland I had in my head. That contest saw 48 percent of the membership voting for a right wing candidate who took a stance against gay marriage and disagrees with having children out of wedlock, 

Imperialist Britain will never willingly dissolve the union, and a new Scotland needs to be a socialist Scotland. 

“The only way forward is through truly radical action, and the only properly organised radical group here is the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). That’s why in the past 6 months, I have resigned from the SNP and moved over to the SWP.” 

Beinn Grant, Edinburgh:  

“The party I joined in my early teens and once supported has descended into division and inaction, highlighting its top-down party structure. The SNP has become part of the very establishment it set out to change. 

“For me, this was encapsulated by the SNP’s response to the protest at Tory Party hustings in my hometown of Perth last year, where I first met the SWP. Young SNP activists like myself who attended the event were threatened with expulsion by senior party officials. 

The British state will not allow independence through parliamentary democracy, we clearly need stronger action. Young activists in the SNP are supposed to fight for independence by sitting passively and voting every five years. 

“But in my two weeks in the SWP, I’ve been all the way to Manchester to demonstrate against the Tory party conference and campaigned on the streets engaging with the public. And importantly, it’s shown that there’s more to politics than just your vote!” 

Maryam Hally, Glasgow: 

“I was completely demoralised in the SNP and deep down knew they were not going to deliver independence. I was attracted by the odd anti-imperialist statements attacking Trident nuclear weapons and condemning Israel’s attacks on Palestine. 

“But this was just rhetoric. The war in Ukraine and the SNP’s support for Nato and Western imperialism was the last straw. I was left politically homeless. 

“I joined the SWP because we link independence to a wider struggle for social change. We’re involved in battles from the strikes to the anti-war and the climate movements, resisting the far right and demanding justice for Sheku Bayoh, who died after contact with the police under the SNP’s watch. 

“We need to overthrow capitalism, and I joined the SWP because it had a bolder strategy to truly smash the hell out of the British state.” 

Join the SWP here

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