Monday, July 22, 2024
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Square One

We’re still trying not to pay attention to the election because it’s so tedious and awful and pointless, but this is worth putting on the record because it’s in The National and otherwise nobody’s going to read it.

Short version: all the way back to surrender.

Let’s be clear: Swinney’s just told everyone that 18 months after the Supreme Court judgement, the SNP’s policy has fully regressed to what it was before it: begging Westminster for a Section 30 that it’s never going to concede, and then when they say no, just shrug your shoulders and cash the lovely paycheques for another five years.

The party’s manifesto isn’t even out yet, but the leader has just destroyed the much-vaunted “page one, line one” declaration that a vote for the SNP was a vote for independence. Now, once again, it’s just a vote to ask whoever’s in 10 Downing Street to please please pretty please give us another indyref.

And we know how that goes, and how it will go.

Labour’s position has been clear since the moment Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn, and is both rational and credible. He has absolutely nothing to gain from allowing another indyref, just like his Tory predecessors didn’t, and just like them he’ll have a valid political mandate to refuse even if – implausibly – the SNP win most Scottish seats, because he will have won the election on a manifesto saying that.

The “strategy” of begging for another referendum has been dead for at least the last five years, and after being belatedly forced to face up to it by the Supreme Court, it almost defies belief that a succession of SNP leaders have watered down and watered down their subsequent positions until we’re right back where we started.

John Swinney is now effectively the Lord Halifax of the independence movement. He’s so terrified of a war with Westminster that he’s hanging white flags out of every window in the desperate hope of a peaceful accommodation in the Commons for five more years. The word “independence” has been removed from the ballot paper. Swinney pens lengthy newspaper articles during an election campaign without a single mention of it. It barely appears on campaign literature.

The contrast with the man who succeeded him on his first stint as leader is an impossible one to avoid. Swinney is the epitome of the poem oft quoted by Salmond:

“He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
That puts it not unto the touch
To win or lose it all.”

It remains to be seen how many MPs the SNP can cling on to. Polls are all over the place and the shambolic, shell-shocked Tories are the main opposition in nearly half their seats.

But whether they end up with 25 or two, the party has already lost everything it ever stood for. The grim truth is it would make absolutely no difference either way. They could win 57 out of 57 and they’d still be a total irrelevance, because they’ve just told us that all they’d be doing would be whining and pleading and getting fatter like they have for the last decade.

For anyone who believes in Scottish independence the SNP are the definition of a wasted vote, and at this point you’d be better off with Count Binface.

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