Wednesday, August 15, 2007

 

Too Soon for Salmond to be too Thumbs Up


It's odd that two Scots on either sides of the border, should both out-perform expectations by so much. To the south we have concentrated on Gordon but north of it Alex seems to have been even more successful to date and the once hostile Scottish media now can't get enough of him.

When his minority government-recall the MSP for Gordon(that's his Scottish constituency by the way) managed only one more seat than Labour's 46 a few months back- set up few believed he had much chance of achieving much. But as The Guardian comments this this morning:

Some politicians have a natural ability to shape the political agenda. Others shine brightest at getting things done. Only a select few manage to do both. For the past three months Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, has done the first in some style, reshaping the party argument north of the border.

Yesterday he launched a document which cunningly included independence as an 'option' among several for the debate he hopes to initiate about the country's future. Uniting all his opposition parties in condemnation, Salmond is unabashed as he knows:

i) continued good governance by the SNP is the best possible case he can make for eventual independence. Currently the SNP stands at 48% in the polls.

ii) his initiative will almost certainly lead to more powers being given to the Scottish Parliament as Brown seeks to outflank the SNP.

However, perhaps he's just done the easy bit to date:

i) so far Salmond has not encountered any really major problems- in politics waters seldom stay calm for very long and he will be tested more sternly soon enough.

ii) Gordon might well reduce enthusiasm for the radical trauma of independence by salami slicing off a bit more power to Holyrood.

iii) support for independence has not risen above a third for some time(see chart above).

Mostly people don't like change, or at least not too much too quickly, so Scottish nervousness at suggestions of divorce from England, is understandable, especially as relations have not been so bad of late. What is interesting politically is that these two hugely talented politicians are fighting over the body politic of Scotland because, for Gordon, his majority after the next election might well depend on how many Labour votes, on that occasion, Salmond is able to poach.

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