Everyone knows that Martin Luther King had a dream. It featured eloquent, high-minded ambitions about little white girls and little black girls playing together in harmony. Alex Salmond has dreams too. In an utterance that should have resulted in immediate committal, he compared Kenny MacAskill to Mahatma Gandhi, and then, with the rhetorical panache of a Scottish Judge Jeffries, told the SNP conference that he wanted to see “Westminster dangling from a Scottish rope”. As visions of the future go, capital punishment is not as appealing as Dr Luther King’s evocation of Christian brotherhood; but, in the event of a hung parliament, Salmond’s dream might be realised.
Salmond's experience of minority government has shown him how he can influence budgets and legislation at Westminster. In the event of a hung parliament, the SNP would challenge the government’s financial resolutions. He told Sky News (link unavailable as yet) that he sees a hung Parliament as an opportunity to promote an exclusively Scottish interest. Salmond has pledged spending increases, partly funded by scrapping Trident but predominantly afforded through tax increases – you can see where this is going. Adam Boulton asked: shouldn't Holyrood raise the cash? Salmond’s response was that raising taxes would endanger economic recovery, though apparently not in England. This is a call to get voters to vote SNP in a general election; if the SNP sustain their recent electoral success and the Conservatives do not secure a working majority, it is plausible that Salmond will have a bargaining chip of say 20 MPs with which to assert influence. Even another 5 years of Gordon Brown would be preferable than dancing to Salmond's Scottish tune.