Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Putting his mouth where his money is ...

Malcolm sees that, at 10.55 pm on 14th April, he made a prediction:
Scotland will be going substantially SNP next month. On current form the Nats will be the largest single party, though well short (say high 30s, low 40s) of the 65 seats for an absolute majority. The SNP won’t get its referendum; but the voters will have to be assuaged by additional powers to the Scottish Parliament.
And, here today, the venerable Scotsman is publishing its eve-of-poll prediction:
According to the latest and last Scotsman/ICM opinion poll of this crucial campaign, Labour has made significant progress into the SNP's lead...
The SNP would have 43 seats to Labour's 42, with the Liberal Democrats on 23, the Conservatives on 17, the Greens with one and the others three.

Salmond, desperate to keep the LibDims [sic] in play, has already softened the devolution-referendum commitment:
Alex Salmond has announced he is prepared to compromise on the nature and timing of a referendum on independence.

The SNP leader said he was prepared to do a deal with the Liberal Democrats on a vote on independence if the parties gain enough seats in May's elections to form a new executive...

Until now, Salmond has put a vote on whether Scotland should leave the UK at the heart of his policies.
What makes this even more smoky-and-mirrored, is the referendum was the only firm, definable and bankable commitment that Salmond was prepared to make when Adam Boulton interviewed him, a month ago:
We’re offering Scotland progress, progress in government, in health, education, on the economy in particular where we have got to do a lot more and a lot better and obviously the opportunity for people in Scotland to take the future into their own hands and to vote for independence in an independence referendum which will take place in the second half of our four year term.
And the SNP manifesto laid down, as an essential responsibility of the First Minister:
Publication of a White Paper detailing the concept of Scottish independence in the modern world as part of preparations for offering Scots the opportunity to decide on independence in a referendum, with a likely date of 2010
How often does one witness a party ditch its manifesto in mid-campaign?

In the 1979 Election, after the Winter of Discontent, there was a telling anti-Labour graffito: "Cut out the middle man. Vote TGWU." Let's be brutal here: the SNP were the Tartan Tories, and so they remain. Absent the issue of independence, and their sole function in the Scottish game is an alternative to Labour. Supporters and financiers include former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson, multi-millionaire Donald MacDonald of the eponymous hotel chain, Tom Farmer of Kwik-Fit, and (most ominous, perhaps) Brian Souter of Stagecoach, Christian fundamentalist and arch-privatiser. Salmond himself was an economist with the RBOS; and his spokesman for economic affairs, Mather, is an accountant and businessman. So an SNP vote looks like a being "anti-socialist under a saltire".

Now, if the SNP is not going to stand by its first and only distinctive policy, what bloody use are they? Why buy Salmond's snake-oil? Where's Billy Wolfe when he's needed? Wolfe had some principles: he needed them to hold his corner against Tam of the Binns. By comparison, Salmond's SNP is an opportunist creature of Edinburgh capitalism.

Money and mouthpieces, indeed. Sphere: Related Content

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