The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Whither Scottish Independence?

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 30, 2009 @ 08:27

Tough times ahead for Alex Salmond, methinks. We won't be seeing too much of this in future...

This morning, on St. Andrew’s Day, Alex Salmond publishes a white paper laying out what his government would do, if only it could get the backing of the Scottish Parliament…

The Telegraph have called his blueprint “doomed” – and that’s probably right. The SNP will not get the necessary support to get the referendum plan through. The consequence of this is that we’re probably not going to see an independence vote before the next Scottish Parliamentary election, to be held in 2011.

Polling data suggests that support for independence is almost unchanged, roughly hovering between 20-30%, a lower figure than SNP support, suggesting that a large number of their voters simply picked them as the alternative government to Labour.

This is not how the SNP hoped it would work out. Upon their success of 2007, the big plan was to govern competently for two years, at which point they would have convinced enough people perhaps not of the needs of independence, but definitely that the Scots deserve the right of self-determination.

Unfortunately for them, no other Scottish party have chosen to play the game. Wee Wendy Alexander nearly did, but her deathbed conversion to the referendum cause was too little, too late. The Scottish Tories obviously want nothing to do with it.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have sort of toyed with the idea, but their latest leader is resolutely opposed. They’re worried that they may appear to be dancing to Alex Salmond’s tune.

But they are wrong. The Scots do have the right of self-determination. I accept that there is no clamour for a referendum, but that’s because people tend to be poor at compartmentalising things. People see support for a referendum as support for independence. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with asking people the question.

And where better for the Scottish Lib Dems – who are, let’s face it, in dire need of a little limelight – to be at the front of a public debate for the best part of a year. A year in which there will be a UK General Election.

It strikes me as a strategic blunder by Tavish Scott. Not only would he have gained the right to a little quid pro quo from Alex Salmond at some point – a favour to be cashed in – but, since the Tories and Labour had chosen to sit on their hands, the Lib Dems would have achieved all the publicity, and could have painted themselves as the true defenders of Scottish national interest, pushing for a federal UK.

But no. There will be no independence referendum. Not in this way anyway…

There does remain one last throw of the dice. A hung Parliament at the next election… the Tories pretty close to a majority… an SNP with at least 10 MPs… combining with a little Welsh nationalism… in exchange for…

Independence and more powers referendums in both countries.

It’s a long shot. But from all previous experience we know one thing.

Alex Salmond enjoys a gamble.

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One Response to “Whither Scottish Independence?”

  1. […] the latest in my Bill Withers instalments, today I turn my attention to that venerable institution, BBC One’s Question […]

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