Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Calling a Scotsman's bluff

Will someone in Scottish politics please find the guts to stand up and face down Alex Salmond, he's been allowed to prance around as the court jester of British politics for far too long.

Scottish independence is not an issue that will go away if we keep dodging a straight fight over it, the SNP are far too well established for that. The only choices we have are how we meet it.

Evading a straight argument does three things,

1. It postpones the inevitable, to no advantage I can see, the opposite in fact.
2.It gives Salmond a campaign target to unite his party around both as a long term aspiration and an achievable short term goal. It motivates the party and supporters to campaign, vote, etc.

3. It makes us (and the other unionist parties) look weak and scared of the issue (and vice versa for Salmond).

Not only is the policy hurting us but it's missing a golden opportunity. We get few enough issues where we can take the initiative distinctively from the other main parties, even fewer where we can make a difference with our voting power on them.

Sooner or later the SNP will have the power to call such a referendum and will have to call one. Our choice is being seen to be dragged unwillingly and fearfully in front of the Scottish people to argue the case for union (and hidden behind the other parties) or we walk in confidently, head high, and ahead of the other two main parties still dragging their feet. Make the choice as stark as possible, in or out, yes or no. No complicating middle grounds, no third choices. Show that you've got something under your kilt.

We're currently taking an issue that is potentially a major benefit and turning it against ourselves. Tavish Scott seems to be holding firm against a referendum but there are rumblings of a rethink. Hopefully it'll result in a policy reversal.

We should never be scared to take our case to the public, least of all on an issue that could be so beneficial to us.

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