In a stunning piece of self-interested and unprincipled political hypocrisy, Angus Robertson, SNP MP for Moray and leader of the SNP group at Westminster, is calling for the Conservative-led Westminster coalition to continue in government of the UK for a further year, delaying the 2015 General Election..
This is the party whose independence prospectus is based solidly on:
- the claim of a democratic deficit for Scotland in the election of Conservative UK administrations;
- the claim of so alien a political philosophy in such administrations that Scotland will not grow until it is free of them.
Belief is not beggared in hearing of this. It is demolished.
The Robertson argument is also a breathtaking piece of reverse colonialism.
The entire United Kingdom is supposed to delay its General Election – already to run to a full five year term – because it would make things simpler in negotiations following a putative Yes vote for Scottish independence in September 2014.
It would mean the UK paying Scotland’s bills for another year after the country’s rejection of it. Would that be electorally acceptable in the continuing UK?
Such a delay would have to have been enacted before the independence referendum vote, with UK parties already in campaign mode – regardless of the outcome.
With the polls refusing to move, the probability – not the certainty – is for a No vote.
Yet, in the less likely possibility of a Yes vote, the entire UK – including Scotland – is to accept a year-long continuation of a government continually reviled by Mr Robertson’s own party.
So much for the vaunted compassion for those afflicted by the indefensible bedroom tax and by child poverty.
It can all carry on for a sixth year simply because it might suit the SNP if there were a Yes vote. The poor are of lesser account. This is unprincipled.
And if, as is more likely, there were a No vote, Scotland and the whole of the UK would, in the SNP’s eyes, be condemned to carry on for another year under the rule of a government which that party purports to see as damaging the economic prospects of the entire UK.
There is another angle to this.
The recently published White Paper on independence declared that the Scottish Parliament would continue in its present size of 129 MSPs.
With a population of 5.3million, Scotland has 129 MSPs – which is 41,085 of the population for each MSP.
The UK has a population of 63.23 million and 650 MPs – which is 97,247 of the population for each MP – over twice as heavy a representative load and for the parent government.
Apart from Mr Robertson’s comfort that it is acceptable for the tail to wag the dog, this nakedly hypocritical proposition will not be without a hefty degree of protectionist self-interest for him and his ilk.
There will be redundancies amongst both MPs and MSPs in coming to internal party decisions – in each of the parties – on who represents which constituency in a first election to a putative independent Scottish parliament.
Every devolved Scottish administration since devolution may have ducked enacting what was supposed to be an early reduction of the admitted over-provision of the number of MSPs – but an independent Scotland would immediately hit the buffers in internal party turf wars on this one.
It would seem that Mr Robertson is prepared to sacrifice the exposure of the entire country of Scotland to the perpetuation for a further year of a government to which he claims to be opposed on all possible counts – to give himself and his mates another 12 months on the Westminster gravy train.
There can be no credibility whatsoever in a claim that negotiations over an independent Scotland would be benefited by an exclusive 18 month long vulnerability to a government daily decried by the SNP as ill-disposed to Scotland.
If they believe what they say, Mr Robertson’s ridiculous notion would voluntarily expose Scot;and to an oppositional UK negotiating team for the 18 month duration to 24th March 2016; negotiating from the driving seat as the lead partner in the discussions.
With so many elements of the White Paper proposals in the fee of the UK, this would seem a suicidal hostage to fortune.
The alternative would have to be preferable, if the SNP mean what they proclaim as disdain for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.
This would be seven month negotiations with the current Conservative-led coalition which the SNP claim to be inimical to Scotland; and 11 months negotiation with a hypothetically Labour-led administration which the SNP would normally appear to prefer.
On the other hand, perhaps this means that the SNP do not actually see the Conservative administration at Westminster as quite the demonised fashion that suits them politically?