Michael Gray asks, “Is caution a good tactic for the SNP?”. We might, with only a hint of facetiousness, respond by wondering whether recklessness would be a better tactic. The point being that it is entirely vacuous to condemn an approach without setting out an alternative. The more so when that approach is evidently succeeding.
Indulge me, if you will, while I draw an analogy which could be illuminating. There are computer models which indicate that road vehicle journey times would be reduced and congestion relieved by imposing a blanket speed limit far below the current ones. The reasons being that at, say, 25-30mph vehicles can travel safely much closer together; accident rates are massively reduced; and road surfaces suffer less wear and tear leading to fewer delays caused by roadworks.
With only a little imagination, one can see how this might have parallels in policy-making. By taking a “cautious” approach, the administration can deal effectively with more legislation because less effort has to be expended on driving through measures for which some cross-party consensus can be found. Legislation is less likely to be delayed by challenges in the courts. And the implemented measures will tend to require less revision.
There are all manner of aphorisms which encapsulate this concept. ‘More haste less speed!”, for example. I well remember that my Grandmother when she saw me trying to carry more than I could manage would chide me saying that it was a “lazy man’s load”. Going back to pick up the things I’d dropped took longer than making two trips.
I understand the impatience of the left. And I appreciate the impetus that people such Tommy Sheppard and groups such SNP Socialists bring to the SNP. But the vehicle needs brakes as well as an accelerator. Driven with a modicum of caution, it will seldom be necessary to apply those brakes in a manner which is jarring to the passengers – or alarming to onlookers.
We might also question whether the SNP has been as been quite as lethargic as Michael suggests. Few would dispute, for instance, that more needs to be done in the area of land reform. But it would be counterproductive, not to mention unfair, not to acknowledge that more has been achieved than any other administration was even prepared to contemplate. And it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that the further measures which are now very much in prospect would have remained a distant aspiration but for those first cautious steps.
Would anybody else have had the nous and the political will needed to save the Dalzell steelworks?
The secret of the SNP’s success may be summed up as an approach best characterised, not as caution, but as ‘principled pragmatism’. Given the party’s crucial role as the political arm of Scotland’s independence movement, it would be folly to endanger that success by a rush to radicalism.Views: 2012
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