It it with some interest that I noticed in The Times this week that Alex Salmond confirmed rumours that first came to light last month about the SNP’s stance on Scottish Independence. Following the poor results for the SNP at the Westminster election they are clearly rattled and Salmond has put Independence on ice in favour of greater fiscal responsibility for the Scottish Parliament.
While his interview in The Times tries to make light of this major strategic change you would be forgiven for asking the question “What are the SNP actually for”? If the grassroots of the Lib Dems are having a hard time with the current coalition at Westminster then Salmond’s comments must make the Nationalist supporters practically apoplectic. It’s stated aim of ‘releasing Scotland’s full potential as an independent nation in the mainstream of modern Europe’ seems to no longer be the SNP’s raison d’etre. This change by Salmond is the equivalent of the Lib Dems giving up on Freedom and Liberal Values.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had late night conversations with Nationalists, Socialists, Conservatives and Liberals as to what the SNP are actually about philosophically. Apart from independence I don’t really know what they stand for and I think the public probably thinks the same.
SNP blogger Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting also highighted how the new UK Government is slowly killing off the selling points for independence one by one.
The SNP would have also seen box counts from recent elections and realised their vote is very soft in those areas they took from Labour in 2007. There is also the issue of Salmond himself whose bluster is now seriously turning off a lot of voters.
My hope is that the Lib Dems push for ‘Calman plus’and argue for even more transfer of powers to Holyrood. The result could be that the Lib Dems end up the beneficiaries of more would-be SNP votes. If this is coupled with a truly progressive set of policies from the Scottish Liberal Democrats then 2011 could shape up to be a very interesting year.