The Demise of the SNP?

In my first post, I touched on the future of the Labour party in Scotland, and so now I will balance this by speculating on the future of the SNP, assuming that Scotland becomes independent in March 2016.

One possibility is that, since the primary reason for the SNP’s existence is to achieve Scottish independence, the SNP will then wither away, its aim having been achieved. Voters who have voted for the SNP in recent years because they want independence or increased devolution, or because they want an SNP government to protect Scotland from the right wing policies of Westminster, will drift away to other parties. Perhaps, without the common goal of independence to strive for, the SNP will fission, with those on the left and right of the current party setting up new parties.

The opposite possibility is that the SNP, for at least the first few years following independence, will attract even more support. People like to back a winning team. More importantly, it is likely that even by Independence Day events will have exploded many of the scare stories emanating from the unionist parties. People who are still using the pound and do not need a passport to travel to England may not trust those politicians who claimed Scotland would not be allowed to use sterling and that border posts would spring up from Berwick to Gretna.

In reality, both these effects will co-exist, and tend to cancel each other out. My guess (and it really is only a guess) is that the SNP will win the 2016 election by a modest margin. I hope I am right, because the first few years of independence call for a government which is dedicated to achieving the best for Scotland, and I do not see the potential for that amongst the current Labour MPs and MSPs. Even after independence, there may well be outstanding issues to be settled with the rUK, the EU, NATO and so on, and there is the vitally important task of developing a Scottish Constitution.

In the longer term, I do not know to what extent the current parties will maintain their identities; perhaps they will split into smaller parties. The electoral system used for the Scottish Parliament does not favour big parties in the way Westminster’s crude ‘first past the post’ system does. There is something to be said for coalitions of small parties, to avoid the risk of an ‘elected dictatorship’ when one party is too dominant.

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