Tuesday, 23 September 2014

John Wilson MSP Quits SNP

John Wilson MSP
John Wilson, list MSP for Central Scotland, has resigned the SNP citing opposition to party policy - primarily the 2012 decision to support Scotland remaining a member of NATO after independence.

He joins former SNP MSPs in the Highlands and Islands Jean Urquhart and John Finnie in having resigned from the party over the issue.  Wilson's own partner, Cllr Frances McGlinchey (North Lanarkshire, Strathkelvin) also resigned the party over the same issue back in 2012 (The Herald), which at the time led to speculation that Wilson too would resign.  Wilson instead hung on, and has now revealed that he didn't want to interfere negatively with the independence referendum campaign, and thus had delayed his resignation until now.

It has been speculated that he may join the current technical group of Greens and Independents in the Scottish Parliament, which includes Urquhart and Finnie.  This group was recently deprived of its representation on the influential parliamentary bureau after the death of Margo MacDonald reduced its numbers below the minimum required group size of five MSPs.  Wilson joining this group would allow the Greens and Independents to again gain more speaking time in parliament, and guaranteed representation on parliamentary committees.

The SNP meanwhile have their total seats in Holyrood cut now to 64 - a majority of just one over the combined 63 MSPs of opposition parties with one seat left vacant by Margo's death, although they can also rely on the casting vote of the formerly SNP presiding officer Tricia Marwick.

Of the 69 SNP MSPs elected in 2011, three have now defected to Independent (Wilson, Urquhart and Finnie), one (Marwick) was appointed the presiding officer, and one was expelled from the party and subsequently resigned from parliament, resulting in the Dunfermline by-election that was won by Labour.