Over the next few days, David Cameron will ‘offer’ some kind of ‘Superfuckinmaxdevoplus’ deal to the SNP. “Hey, we recognise that Scotland has spoken and so have all these tax-raising powers beyond the Smith document (which is obviously dead now)”, he’ll say. He’ll probably call it ‘Home Rule’, or ‘Federalism’, or some such.
The SNP leadership, though, not being stupid, will not much fancy being saddled with a configuration of powers which would lead them to be hit with the biggest budget deficit in the history of budget deficits. Imagine; the SNP wins every seat in the world then agrees to a set of powers which would require them to make savage cuts and wreck their popularity within a few short years? Don’t think so.
And yet, the astonishing 50% vote-share the SNP took yesterday in Scotland isn’t quite high enough to be too bolshy about demanding another referendum quite yet. So what to do?
That’s where Alex Salmond and his experienced Westminster colleagues, and their 50 or so new buddies come in. They’ll talk, of course, but they’ll always find fault (often with justified suspicion of Tory intent). Meanwhile, they’ll keep going left of Labour in their demands for Scotland. They’ll do all the stuff I mentioned here for fun and games, and they’ll exploit the horror with which most Scots will view the Tory government.
Listening to English commentators, it really feels like they don’t understand what it means for the union or Scots that the SNP is now the only party at Westminster with anything other than a tokenistic Scottish presence. I’ve even heard one or two question the SNP group leader’s right to two questions at weekly prime minister’s questions. PMQs and Scottish Questions are going to be a hoot!
None of the main parties has any political reason now to take risk on Scotland, so they won’t. And the SNP won’t be ‘asking’ for anything; it’ll be taking it. But at a time of it’s choosing. My guess is a referendum paving bill after the 2016 Scottish elections combined with guerrilla warfare and Tory-hate until the Yes figure goes above 60%.