Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Even James Bond Can't Make Scotland Independent

We hear today that Sir Sean Connery, of worldwide but essentially kilt wearing James Bond fame, yesterday helped launch the SNP's new web TV channel. Expectations of a crushing SNP victory over Labour are growing by the day as the may election date looms. But there are signs that the canny leader of the would-be breakaway Scots, Alex Salmond, is having to exercise significant wriggle room.

According to The Sunday Times poll the SNP(35%) are seven full points ahead of Labour,(28%) with Lib Dems and Tories both on 13%. This would translate into the respective seat allocations: 50, 42, 18 and 16. So a coalition with the Lib Dems would sweep away Labour's traditional hegemony in Scotland but there is a wee problem or two. Firstly,the Lib Dems are not too keen on ending the union and the Salmond proposed referendum in 2010 would be a major stumbling block on his ambitious road to Holyrood. Instead we now hear he is prepared to compromise just a tad or two. Instead of a 'yes' or a 'no' questions, he is prepared to offer a range of options. He hopes this will appear less scary to the party usually associated with nations coming together rather than splitting apart.

Secondly the ST poll showed that only 26% are in favour of complete independence while 37% prefer a strengthened Parliament. Given that voters can soon lose faith in governments an SNP dominated government might find that by 2010 its prime political aim has been well and truly holed below the water line.

Finally, there is the tax. We all know an independent Scotland would lose the 23% per head additional public spending it receives compared to England. 68% of poll respondents accordingly expect an independent Scotland to put up taxes. Now I happen to recall an awards ceremony back in Thatcher's time when the brave tax exile Sir Sean, received his award with remarks congratulating the Tories on bringing taxes down. Given that he's promised to come back and live in Scotland should the SNP win, he might be relieved that independence still seems so far off in terms of practical politics.

Was it really wise to admit just before the election that he's willing to compromise on the format of the referendum?
I think that's why his concession has been interpreted as a 'wobble' by some commentators: he wants to send signals to the Lib Dems and assuage potential SNP voters who are wary of the independence route.
Good for people to know.
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