Alex Massie Alex Massie

2013: Can the SNP move beyond preaching to the already converted? – Spectator Blogs

Alex Salmond is back in Bute House, refreshed and chippered by a much-needed holiday. If 2012 was a year in which the Referendum Guns were first deployed it was still, in the end, something of a phoney war. At the risk of exhausting an easily-exhausted electorate, 2013 should see more action.

This week’s column at Think Scotland argues that the SNP need to broaden their vision and approach the campaign with a greater sense of generosity than is sometimes seen. At present they depend too heavily – in my view – on the idea that independence is a way to Tory-proof Scotland. That’s a negative, not a positive, case. Moreover it’s one that muddles a short-term inconvenience (A Tory-led government with little support in Scotland) with a long-term reality: independence is for life, not Christmas. Are you really asking people to dump 300 years of history just because you think David Cameron a wrong ‘un? He won’t be around for ever.

Anyway, this is the thing: if anti-Toryism is the SNP’s favourite stance then what is the point of the SNP? We already have the Labour party for that kind of thing? No, Labour and the Tories are not “just the same” and no, this line does not become any less ridiculous the more often or the more loudly it is repeated.

Suppose, however, that it did not contradict people’s own experience of politics? What message are the nationalists sending? Vote Yes to “save” Scotland from conservatives who cannot – we are told – possibly have Scotland’s best interests at heart. Vote Yes to “save” Scotland from a Labour party that is – at best, we are told – some kind of bizarre collection of Tory stooges.

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