It’s not about the SNP. Oh yes it is. Oh no it isn’t …

One of the more frequent cries of frustration from online Yes voters who are willing to engage sensibly with those of us who have a different view of Scotland’s future is

It’s not about the SNP!!!

I sympathise. Genuinely. Although anyone casting their eye over my No Thanks! blog might be inclined to return fire with ‘Hypocrite!’ I seem to mention the SNP one way or another in most posts.

I understand enough of the desire for independence to know that many Scots, albeit a consistent minority, want independence for many different reasons, even if I don’t agree with most of them.

But the truth is that in terms of organised political forces, the SNP is the only one on the Yes side who matter. I respect the Greens. I can tolerate the SSP. But as I’ve said elsewhere, they are minnows compared to the SNP.

Moreover, the SNP are the Scottish Government and will continue to be until 2016 whether or not Scotland votes for separation.

And in the event of a Yes vote they would lead, and dominate, any negotiations with the UK.

That is why they and their proposals for an independent Scotland need so much attention.

They first set out those proposals in Scotland’s Future, a fatally flawed document with so many holes it looks more like a wedge of Emmental cheese than a serious prospectus for an independent nation.

It has given ammunition to everyone who disagrees with them to find fault in everything from the costs of setting up an independent state, to the future of offshore oil and gas, to the party’s claims on the NHS.

Much of what they’ve had to do since has made them look like hamsters running furiously on a wheel they can’t stop, aided and abetted by a loose federation of cyber-hamsters scrabbling away in adjoining cages.

And lurking behind all the furious activity are some truths that will never be articulated during their campaign.

  • They don’t want the monarchy
  • They don’t really want the pound sterling but have no credible alternative (Herald 10 November 1999: ‘Salmond in call to dump millstone of the pound’)
  • They know the idea of a ‘social union’ is nonsense
  • They don’t care about the BBC
  • And, whisper it not, some of them don’t even like the English.

Lots of Scots like all these things. So SNP lips will stay sealed on these and other contentious issues until after 19 September. When there may be a party bloodbath. But that’s another story.

So I’m sorry for people who want independence for all the reasons I can understand even if I think they’re wrong. The SNP isn’t the best standard bearer you could have but it’s most of what you’ve got. And it does need continued forensic attention over the next four weeks.

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