'Alex Salmond “drops independence for the time being”'. Naming their source as Ben Thomson of Reform Scotland, the paper outlines, albeit in loose detail, Salmond nodding and winking to Thomson that his central goal is making Scotland “fiscally responsible” and “dropping the ideas of independence for a time”. This statement, suggests the article, is not denied by that most slippery of Scots fishes, the Greater Tun-Bellied Salmond. I stress, no promise here of ditching the anticipated bill to hold a referendum. Rather, I fancy, a question of emphasis. Emphasis on securing new - and permanent - shifts towards the economic empowerment of Holyrood and Scots institutions. In short, the dynamics seem to have changed since Labour left office and the Liberal Democrats entered it. A possibility presents itself to advance the gradualist position in a way that the independence referendum, at present, seems unable to supply.
Is this a leap upstream? Or a painful smack in the guts for Scottish nationalist politics as it impacts against the naked rock and sharp shoals that seem to be shoring up a new Unionism? Will it propel Eck towards independent spawning grounds - or send his form bouncing bruisingly back out to a sea of electoral sterility? Is failing to emphasise independence a problem, or a strength? What might such institutional changes - if extensive and convincing - do to the Nationalist movement anyway? Are there risks here as well as prospects, which we would do well to try and think about nowish? There has been relatively little discussion of this in the Scottish blogosphere as far as I can make out, supportive or critical. I intend to have my say about some of these issues, some time tomorrow.