The SNP talks up another vote on independence
He may have stepped back from frontline politics in Scotland, but Alex Salmond still knows how to set the agenda. Three days after the former First Minister told a Sunday talk show another referendum on independence was inevitable, and the Westminster government finds itself locked in a war of words with the SNP about whether there can be a re-run of last September’s vote.
Opponents of the SNP have been quick to attack the party for reneging on its suggestion that the 2014 referendum was a ‘once in a lifetime’ occurrence. But there is a rationale behind the SNP’s latest salvo. The Cameron government is anxious not to let the nationalists stir discontent about further devolution – it has brought plans to transfer powers forward to before the Scottish Parliament elections – and the SNP probably thinks it can get more out of Westminster via a bit of sabre-rattling.
The SNP leadership is also likely raising independence again with an eye on its newly-expanded grassroots. Hopes for another vote among the party’s large membership are high after last year’s close result and the SNP’s smashing victory in May. Nicola Sturgeon and her team may also be feeling the urge to unite the party on the constitutional question as differences emerge between the leadership and activists over contentious issues such as fracking. Sometimes, the old tunes serve you best.