SNP has achieved 'diddly squat' at Westminster since 2015 landslide victory, claims Alba MP

By Chris McCall

The SNP has achieved "diddly squat" at Westminster since the 2015 general election which saw the party win an historic landslide in Scotland, a former Holyrood minister has claimed.

Kenny MacAskill - who quit the Nationalists in March to join Alex Salmond's breakaway Alba movement - said there was a growing frustration among independence supporters over a perceived lack of strategy on how to secure a second referendum.

The former Scottish Government justice minister stood down as an MSP in 2016 and was returned as MP for East Lothian at the UK election three years later.

The long-term Salmond ally is now one of two Alba members in the House of Commons and today accused his former party colleagues in Westminster of not delivering.

He told the Record there was a growing sense among grassroots activists the SNP was failing to put pressure on Boris Johnson over the constitutional question.

Kenny MacAskill with Alba party leader Alex Salmond before the Holyrood election (Daily Record)

"There is no strategy for the SNP at Westminster or Holyrood," he said.

"What you have is empty rhetoric about a referendum.

"There is disquiet at the grass roots of the Yes movement. That's where frustration, if not anger, is mounting.

"The pressure will grow on the SNP to match action with rhetoric, and not simply give platitudes, or take steps that frankly should have been taken a long time back.

"In the interim the grassroots Yes movement is getting on and taking steps to prepare.

"People have decided there is no leadership from the SNP. Therefore they are getting on and doing it themselves."

MacAskill has previously called for Nationalist MPs to adopt a policy of semi-abstentionism, which would see them head to Westminster only when absolutely necessarily.

Asked if he could see a time when pro-independence members refuse to take their seats in protest at the UK Government's referendum stance, he said: "That would have to be considered at some stage.

"In the same way if the UK Government refuses a referendum, we must consider alternatives to a referendum.

"It's why the Yes movement is frustrated at the SNP's lack of strategy, and why I think it will take steps to give us far greater control of our destiny, and not leaving it to the whims of Boris Johnson."

He added: "I've never argued for abstentionism - I have argued semi-abstentionism is a better position.

"We get nothing going to Westminster but there is a platform there and an opportunity to use it.

"Since 2015, the SNP has had its backsides glued to seats in Westminster and achieved diddly squat for it.

"I don't think the Scottish people would support the replication of some form of Sinn Fein's abstentionism.

"But I think they would accept us using Westminster in a manner that is much more supportive of Scotland - maybe less deferential, and less supine."

Asked what Nationalist MPs could be doing differently, MacAskill added: "We have to ramp up the action at home.

"A lot of the job for an MP is not what you do at Westminster, it's what you do in Scotland.

"It's not for me to dictate SNP strategy. But since 2015, they have not been delivering and that's why there is growing frustration at grassroots."

The Record has asked the SNP for comment.

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