Voters to say yes?
Will the SNP’s policy revamp get Scottish swing voters to say yes?
The Scottish National Party is this weekend engaged in a revamp of policies on currency, Europe, migration, defence and other issues in the hope of winning over swing voters in the event of a second Scottish independence referendum. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon hopes to neutralise the issues that badly damaged the failed independence campaign in 2014. The new sense of England as a nation harks back to the nostalgic power of the unitary state. Freewheeling global trade is not part of that vision.
The SNP, which met this weekend for its spring conference in Aberdeen, is considering policies that would see the Scots having their own currency, joining the European Free Trade Association, which would allow access to the European single market without their joining the European Union or the euro, and welcoming migrants, in contrast with Conservative-run England. The SNP is already warning its parliamentarians and activists to adopt a less aggressive and less overtly nationalistic campaign than 2014’s in an effort to bring over the swing voters. A poll this month suggested that a referendum would be decided by a bloc of swing voters, mainly women, relatively well-off and predominantly left-leaning. Senior SNP figures rejected outright a plan put forward by Gordon Brown on Saturday to press for a UK federal system as an alternative to independence. In a BBC interview, SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson expressed scepticism about the ability of Labour to fulfil any such projects soon. “The Labour party is not in a position to deliver a pizza at the moment,” he said. The former first minister and now SNP spokesman at Westminster on foreign affairs, Alex Salmond, echoed this. “Let’s assume Gordon was sincere in 2014. The same difficulty presents itself now in 2017. His only route to delivering this … is via some future Labour government adopting his proposal,” he said. “The difficulty with that is obvious. Nobody believes there’s going to be a Labour government in two years or 20.” The Scottish parliament will, on Tuesday, begin a debate on a referendum and the following day is expected to approve it, backed by 63 SNP members and six Greens. The ball then moves to Theresa May and Westminster. Salmond, speaking on the sidelines of the conference, told reporters: “What I believe will happen is that the UK government will have no choice but to agree to an independence referendum and [that] that referendum will deliver a yes vote.”