In November, I left the Scottish National Party (SNP) over a multitude of small differences in opinion, the sum of which made me want to leave the party. On Monday of this week, I announced I was re-joining the party. Here, I wish to try and explain why I left, and more importantly, why I chose to return.
To understand the reasons behind both decisions, consider the following two views on general political party membership: members of a political party should agree with the majority of policies, and the general ideology of the party; or members should agree with ALL policies. I believe the former of these two options, but those in my primary social group in November subscribed to the latter approach. And thus, felt that my answer of “I don’t agree with that particular policy” was unacceptable regardless of what was being discussed.
This ultimately influenced my decision to leave far more than it should have. The small differences of opinion I had with the party were easily reconciled in my own mind if I’d had no outside influence from anyone.
Another factor which influenced my decision was my role on the SNP Students National Executive Committee (NEC). While I loved my role, I was and still am struggling academically, and it was a much larger time commitment than I could handle at the time. I was spending far more time than I had on SNP Students events and activities, and it was affecting my academic work. I realised this and felt I needed to sort out my priorities, and I tend to do things like quitting wholly or not at all.
So in summary, the main reasons I left were time commitments and small differences in opinion on minor policies. And the reasons I’ve returned?
I never stopped being in favour of Scottish independence, but I feel after article 50 has been triggered that it is increasingly important that we become independent and make our own path rather than following the inward-looking, right-wing path the UK seems set on following. The SNP still are the best chance we have of gaining independence. For now, though, as part of the UK, it is important we have a voice for Scotland in Westminster as Brexit negotiations begin, and with a general election around the corner, now is the time to get involved again.
The six months I was gone have given me time to reevaluate where the priorities lie in my opinions, as there are a few contradictions in there. In doing so, I’ve realised that those small differences I spoke of are far down my list of priorities, whereas on the major issues that are very important to me*, I do agree with SNP policy.
Being a member of a party, and still disagreeing on one or two things does not conflict with my own principles, even if it would to the principles of my friends. And it is time I stopped allowing myself to be influenced by peer pressure on political issues (or indeed, anything else).
These six months have given me a welcome break in which I have had time to sit down and fully consider what I truly believe, and where my priorities and principles lie. And so, I am now excited to be returning to political activism with greater enthusiasm and understanding of my beliefs than I did before.
Bring on the general election campaign!
*Excluding things that receive so little attention, no major party has many policies on them, or any policies that would actually do anything.