One of my thoughts, when I read that membership of the SNP had overtaken that of the LibDems, was that it will now be more difficult for the unionists to exclude the SNP from any televised debates involving party leaders in the run-up to the next general election. Then I thought, maybe they will try the argument that the SNP is merely a regional party and therefore does not rank alongside the UK parties.
This led on to another idea – could the SNP take a lesson from the Robert the Bruce’s fight for Scottish independence, when he raided deep into the North of England, not to seize and hold territory but to keep up the pressure on Edward II? What if the SNP were to make a statement similar to the following one?
The three main UK parties all pledged substantial additional powers for the Scottish Parliament, but it may be difficult to deliver such powers in a satisfactory way, unless there are substantial constitutional changes for the whole of the UK, such as the introduction of a federal system or of something similar – hence the recent proposal for a constitutional convention. There is therefore a possibility that a consequence of the recent referendum may be a major overhaul of the relationships between all the constituent parts of the UK.
There are many people in the North of England who have long been unhappy with the London-centric nature of UK politics, and believe that their part of the country has been unfairly treated in comparison with London and the South of England. At present, they do not have a party to represent their interests at Westminster, in the way that Scotland has the SNP and Wales has Plaid Cymru; all their MPs belong to parties which have pursued London-centric policies. Now, when possible further devolution across the UK, or even federalism, may be seriously considered in the near future, the lack of such a party may make itself felt.
There is now little more than seven months left until the general election, which leaves little time for any new party to form, become organised, select candidates and contest the election. The SNP therefore proposes to invite people to put themselves forward for selection as SNP candidates for constituencies in the North of England. All selected candidates will be asked to pledge that, should they be elected, they will immediately form a new party; the SNP will then ask all its members who have addresses in England if they wish to transfer their membership to the new party.
Apart from anything else, there must surely be many voters in the North of England who would welcome the chance to vote for a centre-left party, now that Labour has moved so far to the right, or even just register a protest vote without having to vote for UKIP.