The End of the SNP?

The has a piece in which the SMP’s former deputy leader, Jim Sillars, refutes an idea floated by the Independence campaign’s chief strategist, Stephen Noon, that a “Yes vote for independence could see the end of the SNP.

It’s an interesting question and one that goes a bit deeper than Mr Sillars seems to contemplate.   If there were a vote in favour of independence then the electorate would be faced with electing to government a party that they felt would best manage the affairs of a new, small country.  There is no guarantee that they would reward the SNP by returning them to office.  Faced with a new reality, all bets would be off.  History would seem to suggest that Scotland would elect a left-of-centre party (so either SNP or Labour) but even that is not certain.  Voters might feel that a right-of-centre focus on small government, low taxes and business would better deliver the future that had been voted for.  Stripped of their current raison d’etre, the SNP would have to stand on its record of economic management and competence in office. 2012’s repeated controversies over misleading Parliament and the people are no feathers in their caps.

The evidence of polls suggests that the SNP are currently in power because voters felt them better at fighting Scotland’s corner within the union rather than through support for independence.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if the SNP’s best chance of survival were for a No vote in the independence referendum?

UPDATE: In the comments below, Peter Bell shares the link to Stephen Noon’s original article.  Well worth a read.


You would have been well-advised to read Stephen Noon’s article rather than relying on the dishonest reporting of it by British nationalists. ( Nowhere in the article does Noon suggest that independence would be “the end of the SNP”. Noon would not be so stupid as to suppose that a political party might disband at the moment of its greatest triumph.

Thanks Peter. Noon’s original piece is a great read and one that actually tries to see beyond the vote itself. Like Noon, I am interested in what the future might mean. I don’t see the SNP folding up and disappearing but I also think its future success is not a foregone conclusion once the “constitutional question” is out of the way.

It may be necessary to rethink the very concept of “success” in party political terms. Scotland’s politics is already very different from that of UK, and it is going to become even more markedly different after independence. This is something the mainstream media just can’t get to grips with. They continue to analyse on the basis of a straightforward two party contest and winner takes all. The concepts they use are simply wrong.

It is likely that after independence success for any political party in Scotland will be measured not so much in terms of absolute power as in terms of the ability to form and maintain alliances. Politics will be much more consensual. There will be space for radical ideas such as the British state has learned to stifle at birth. Over time, even the notion of a political class will fade as politics becomes more inclusive and participative.

We can see the “green shoots” of these changes even now. The concern is that a NO vote in 2014 will kill this transformation.

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