The race to the UK general election on 7 May has begun, it has to be said in a pretty predictable way with poster launches, leaders’ statements and all other knick-knackery of modern democracy.
Non-party political types like me might be tempted to batten down the hatches for the next few months. On social media (now a critical bellwether for election strategy according to Euan McColm in The Scotsman – see Twitter classes show their power in politics) the groundswell and speculation are already building.
Can either Conservatives or Labour gain an outright majority? Will the Lib Dems exist in any other than penny numbers after May? What will happen if the SNP/Plaid Cymru/Greens/Sinn Fein/DUP/UKIP in some combination hold the balance of power? Will Salmond be the king maker in a hung parliament? And so on and so on.
Amidst all the speculation just remember one thing.
All, but ALL, of the information emanating from any one political party has only one purpose – to get you to vote for them.
That’s fair enough. After mumble-mumble years of voting (clue – Harold Wilson lost the first general election I voted in) I’ve worked out that’s what it’s all about and can usually see my way through the claims and counter-claims.
But in casting my vote in Scotland a critical distinction marks out one political party capable of winning seats from all others. Uniquely, it wants to destroy my country through separation.
‘It’ of course is the SNP.
Already they’re saying that a vote for them is the only way to ensure more devolution or to keep the Conservatives out. These and any other claims should not be believed. They’d support any party in Westminster if it moved them towards separation.
There is no possibility that other political parties will co-operate in Scotland during this election period to minimise any post-referendum bounce the SNP might enjoy. I understand that.
The position of individual voters is obviously different and many people I respect have already written of the importance of tactical voting to minimise the number of seats the SNP win. Anyone with a vote in Gordon, where the return of Alex Salmond would send a particularly unfortunate message, already has the advice of the estimable Effie Deans on what to do.
There is of course a slightly longer term question that is within the control of the unionist parties – whether they do some sort of deal with the SNP in Westminster after the election. If any of them are tempted in order to gain power, it will show once and for all that they value short term party advantage above the continued existence of their country. The majority of the population of Scotland who want to remain in a United Kingdom would feel, and be, betrayed. They would not easily forgive that sort of sell-out.