31 May 2010

Salmond leaps: "dropping independence for the time being"

I've been a mite busy these last few days, cheerfully but largely frivolously so. I wanted to anticipate tomorrow's post on the subject by drawing your attention, in case you missed it, to this story from the Torygraph of the 29th of May entitled '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.


  1. We should get real fiscal autonomy first. Then lets go all out for total independence!

  2. Like the Salmon the desire for independence will just keep coming back. Salmond is a shrewd operator, if someone has tipped him the wink that full fiscal autonomy may be possible if he backs of independence for a while then I would say that would be a good deal for Scotland. We can pay for the services we share with the UK, and so retain the union for a while. But independence for Scotland is inevitable. Scotland needs to be allowed to control her own destiny.

  3. After reading both your links, this is Ben Thomsons interpretation of this meeting. Is it any great surprise that the Telegraph would put an anti SNP/Salmond spin on it.

    The first point is, why would the Tories want to pursue a Labour party initiative? Surely they would want any outcome to be their policies not second hand Labour ones.I can understand the Lib Dems blindly following the Labour party on this. Calman was only ever a stalling mechanism and was to all intents unworkable.

    Can anyone on Calman answer why if the 3p variation on tax was never used, and was never likely to be used, why would a 10p variation be used?

    I do think however that this has got to be the biggest win-win situation that Alex Salmond will find himself in.

    He can point out all the Calman tax flaws, made even more unworkable by the coalition wanting to make the tax allowance start at £10000. The next logical step if Calman is unworkable is then full fiscal autonomy. That should get Lib Dem support if for no other reason than to try to save their own skin.

    Salmond said after May 2007 one of his aims was to show that the SNP would put Scotland first in everything they did at Holyrood, and to prove that they could run a responsible government.

    Negotiations with the Tories and their bag carriers about further meaningful powers for Holyrood, is another step, albeit a major one, on the road to independence, which is and will always remain the major objective for the SNP.

  4. Probably for the best. If we (the nationalists) lose a referendum now (which the polls suggest we probably will) then it could set independence back decades (the unionists constantly bringing up the failed referendum to stop any debate on the issue etc). Better to play the long game and slowly build up our support than risk an all or nothing charge toward the Unionist cannon.

  5. I very much appreciate all of your comments. They were particularly helpful as I tried to collect my thoughts for my main post on the subject this afternoon. However, I attribute no responsibility for the inflated length of the final analysis!