08 May 2015
May 8, 2015

The coming SNP storm


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%.


11 Responses to The coming SNP storm
  1. Have the events of the last few months (and especially last few days) changed your mind, Eric? Do you now support independence or do you just think it’s inevitable while continuing to dislike the prospect?

    • I think either the majority of Scots want independence – in which case they should have it, or they’re using the independence argument to squeeze more out of the UK budget than other more needy areas. The latter’s a depressing prospect. I don’t think Scots will be better off if they ditch the union, but it is certainly a matter of self-determination. If Scots decide to be independent, then they all need to make it work – not just the ones who voted for independence.

      • I’m inclined to think there’s a third option: that the majority of Scots are content to remain in the Union (or, indeed, would prefer that), but that they also want to run their own affairs within that context – that is, they want Devo Max (where that is defined as “everything except defense and foreign affairs”).

        Whether that’s a reasonable thing to want, or whether it would actually be desirable if we got it, is another question of course.

        • That’s absolutely true, Stephen. It’s possible that if Labour had taken the proper Home Rule thing seriously they may have tapped into the inchoate demand for deco-max. At the time, the orthodoxy was; “you can’t out-nat the nats”, but it led to a mean-spirited approach to Scots and I think that helped drive people away.

          I’ve always said that for practical purposes there’s little difference between the SNP vision of independence (Band of England, Armed Forces, BBC, Queen, etc all remain pertinent to Scotland) and a kind of extreme Home Rule. The question would always boil down to representation. If Scotland needs representation at Westminster, it isn’t independent. It’s not the same for Brux because the EU isn’t a sovereign state and everyone understands the difference. My own instinct is that the SNP group at Westminster, combined with the SNP government, will be able to exploit much of the debate at W around the EU and Scotland, and regular legislation which applies to Scotland, so that Scots will prefer full independence. best, e

  2. And still you don’t get this?

    You asked yourself yet Why has this happened?

    The public no longer truly believe your outdated stories.

    There are other fiscal reports stating the contrary. You only need to ask why the likes of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, new Zealand bla bla all manage fine.

    The truth of the matter is these made up stories no longer hold water.

    The only country that is and would struggle is England and rUK. The fact we are in 1.6. trillion debut with a vast deficit is the ironic part.

    Get with it and start the road to labour recovery. Keep up this crap and remain where you are. Last polls suggested 80%+ wanted Devo max. Listen to the people ☺ if Cameron doesn’t he and the UK is finished

    • Hi, I don’t doubt that Scotland would eventually ‘manage fine’ as an independent state. Why wouldn’t Scotland be as successful as any other small, north European state? The very large deficit Scotland would run is real, though, and much of it is for perfectly good reasons we all know about and accept, surely? For one, it’s simply much more expensive to provide public services here than in England, which is the most densely packed country in the world (leaving out city states). For most Labour MPs I know, the question is whether Scots would be better off in future under independence than remaining part of the UK. Two points, though. Leaders in small countries know that their countries are buffeted about in international waters – they’re largely ignored. And what you call devo-max is – I’ve come to understand – just a term of convenience which doesn’t mean anything specific at all. It could very well mean, as I’ve implied in the blogpost, that Holyrood takes responsibility for raising taxes in ways which will mean its budget will be considerably smaller than it is now. My own view, however, is that Scotland is in the quick lane to independence and that being so people who are not fans of independence should at least be considering whether it would be best if the best way ahead is to simply make the situation clear and, if independence is upon us, then it’s done in a way which involves the least transitional pain and angst. Mark my words – if a Tory government makes an offer to the SNP defining ‘Home Rule’ as essentially independence without ditching the Queen or the Armed Forces and a few other institutions, then the financial settlement hiding beneath those warm words will be brutal for Scots.

  3. Eric, you are correct, lesson learned from Indyref 1. Next one will be held when odds are better than 55 %.
    BTW, do you know which committees new SNP MP’s will serve on as 3rd largest party ?

    • The ‘usual channels’, whips, divvy up the committee places according to number of MPs, mainly. The SNP will get 2 chairships (?) of main select committees, maybe one or two more, and some other key appointments. They’ll have a place, sometimes 2 in pretty much any committee they want. 60% will be the level this time, though. I think.

    • I disagree Robbie, the first indyref was necessary to fuel the fire. 60+% only now possible because of 2014 campaign.

      • I don’t think it was necessary exactly, but I do think it emboldened the Indy cause. We were always told support was between 20-30%, 33% max. Actually it was 45%, that has changed perceptions and afforded new possibilities. Next time will be a huge Yes. Polls showing 55% would be enough to kick start the process


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