Alyn Smith under fire for comments in leaked email

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Stirling MP Alyn Smith has come under fire for comments made in a leaked email about the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Smith MP claims “the NEC is too big, unwieldy, unfocused and, as recent events have proven, politically unsound.”

He further claims to have seen “anger and bemusement” amongst members at the NEC’s conduct and specific members.

Smith MP, who was elected MP for Stirling in December 2019, has claimed the NEC expansion to 42 people is “an experiment which has failed.”

Within the email, Smith MP makes suggestions for changes that he deems to be “concrete changes… urgently needed.”

Smith MP further said the Equalities brief expanding to around a dozen people was “of course important… equalities are close to my heart, but not as close as independence.

“I am not alone in thinking that too much of the Party’s oxygen has been taken up by discussions of peripheral issues like GRA (Gender recognition act) reform with a small but vocal number of NEC members focusing on these peripheral issues, however worthy, to the exclusion of all else.”

He claims this imbalance has not been served well and has led to push back and resentment from members.

Smith MP says the affiliated groups are important to the SNP and their members but does bring into question if these groups are actually representative at all.

He also says the governance and membership of these groups should be examined in more detail.

Smith MP says “My instinct would be that all Affiliated Groups should loose their place on the NEC, but I suspect I am proposing a significant enough change for now.

“The Regional Reps all have an important role to play, but I am not convinced we have quite identified what it is yet.

“In any event I am entirely unconvinced it is best served through NEC membership.”

In the leaked email, Stirling’s MP proposes two changes:

  • to move Equalities to the party structure creating and Equalities Forum to advise and hold the NEC to account but not sit on the NEC itself. The forum would include eight conveners including a Women’s Convener, a BAME Convener and a Disabled Members Convener
  • to create a Regional Forum with a similar role of advising and holding the NEC account when adopting a regional agenda but not sit on the NEC. This forum is to include all sixteen regional reps.

Smith MP claims these changes would reduce the number of NEC members from 42 to 18, while “maintaining the functions and advice of the roles within an only slightly altered structure.”

Labour’s Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murphy told The Scottish Sun: “This is confirmation that independence trumps everything for the SNP.”

A spokesperson for Alyn Smith said: “This is a nasty hurtful smear, pretending that a dry proposal to reorganise the SNP … is some sinister plot.

“In Alyn’s 16 years of elected public service he has at every opportunity voted for, advocated and proposed the equalities agenda and will always continue to.

“Alyn is seeking to open up a conversation within the Party about reforming the NEC as currently over 40 members sit on the committee

“Having campaigned for and championed equalities throughout his 16 years in elected office, these are matters very close to Mr Smith’s heart. 

“However, Scotland is held back from being the fair and equal nation that it can be by not having the full powers of a normal independent country

“Achieving that vision fully requires independence, which is what Mr Smith and his SNP colleagues are committed to building support for through talking to residents across the country.”

Feature Image Credit: The Scottish Sun

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Journalism and Politics student// Editor-in-Chief 2021/22

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