Troubled times for the SNP in the Highlands, recently Highland Councillor Donnie Kerr left the party claiming the administration whip was hindering him representing his constituents. Now the SNP lose respected MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart over the NATO issue. This weekend readers will note that Liz also tweeted her chagrin with the recent SNP decision to keep an independent Scotland in NATO.
Many Gurnites will know John Finnie, he is no stranger to Nairn and has made many trips here on campaigning issues during his time both as a Highland Councillor and a MSP. You can see him here in the right of the picture signing a petition to stop the mooted closure of Nairn Swimming Pool in 2010.
Donnie Kerr going was one thing but the loss of John Finnie and his colleague will be a big blow to the party, they are not without respect and influence well beyond the ranks of the SNP. Will rank and file members follow? A press release has been issued that details the reasons given by the two MSPs.
"John Finnie MSP and Jean Urquhart MSP have tendered their resignation as members of the Scottish National Party following the SNP’s adoption of a pro-NATO stance at its Party Conference last weekend. They will continue to sit as Independent MSPs for the Highlands and Islands with no official party affiliation.
The two Highlands and Islands list MSPs announced their decision at Eden Court in Inverness, describing their decision of principle as “heart-wrenching”.
“I understand that there are those who wish to stay within the SNP and to continue to fight our corner in this essential debate, and I accept their reasons for doing so.
“However, I cannot continue to belong to a party that quite rightly does not wish to hold nuclear weapons on its soil, but wants to join a first strike nuclear alliance.
“Although I envisage that I will continue to share common ground with the SNP on many issues, I cannot in good conscience continue to take the party whip.”
Jean Urquhart, who has been a supporter of independence for 25 years and a CND member for 35 years, added:
“The issue of nuclear disarmament and removing Trident from Scotland’s waters is a red line issue for me, and I could not remain committed to a party that has committed itself to retaining membership of NATO.
“We are both steadfast in our belief that Scotland should be an independent country, and will actively and positively campaign for a Yes vote in 2014.
“We believe in an independent Scotland, not a NATO-dependent Scotland.
“John and I will continue to work with MSPs across the Chamber for a fairer and more peaceful Scotland.
“Importantly, we look forward to continuing to represent the residents of the Highlands and Islands as we have done since May 2011.” "