Market forces or party patronage. These are the choices. It’s all very well complaining about the pricing structure for space at the SNP Conference, but what is the alternative? What criteria should be applied if not ability to pay? If the party is allocating specially reserved space, how does it avoid accusations of biased subjective judgement? How does it avoid even the perception of favouring organisations that are helpful to it politically? Or of ‘punishing’ organisations that have been unhelpful?
What is being demanded is that SNP members should subsidise external organisations. The SNP is not a charity. When people like myself give money or other resources to the party we do so for the purpose of supporting the aims of the SNP. We fund the party to fight elections and take forward the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. If I want to support this or that charity or campaigning organisation, then I will do so directly. The onus is on those charities of campaigning organisations to persuade me that I should support them – just as the SNP does.
Worthy as the aims and objectives of these external organisations may be, those are not necessarily or immediately the aims and objectives that I seek to progress by helping to fund the SNP. In principle, at least, these external organisation could have purposes that I would never choose to support. Why then should I condone resources that I have contributed being diverted to them?
Why is the SNP being held to a different standard? Why should the party’s ability to raise funds be constrained by considerations that don’t apply to other parties? Where are the demands that other parties subsidise external organisations – or be branded as ‘unethical’?
Who stands to benefit benefits from the financial hamstringing of the SNP being urged?
Whose agenda is served by the smear implicit in complaints about the pricing structure?
Ask the awkward questions!