I won’t be voting SNP for the very good reason that I am not Scottish and don’t live in Scotland. For the same reason, I was tempted to leave the SNP out of this series. But if the SNP win a lot of seats in Scotland and no other party gets a majority in the Commons, it is not inconceivable that the SNP would be the kingmakers. So how do I feel about that?
For a start – much as it is good to see a husband who really loves his wife, it is always good to see someone who loves his country. Patriotism is an emotion that has caused no end of suffering and tragedy in history. But despite this, it still feels and looks rather wholesome. So when a Scot claims the right to an independent country it is hard to fault his impulse.
Anyone can be a patriot, but the SNP is a political party and consequently has to have a political personality as well as a national identity. They seem to have hit on a sort of pragmatic social democratic approach with a splash of liberalism in the mix somewhere. This is quite an appealing position to a lot of people, and certainly looks like it is somewhere about the centre of gravity of Scottish politics.
From my point of view south of the border there are two things I like about the way the SNP has gone about things. First, they have avoided too much in the way of anti-English rhetoric. Secondly, they have made clear their preference for a Labour government in the UK. This no doubt is a good strategy for winning over Scottish Labour voters. But it also means that they have tied their hands in any negotiations. They can’t play the Tories and Labour off against each other in the way one might expect cynical politicians to do.
So, to have a nationalist party that is not behaving in a divisive way and which has a reasonable programme is not something most of us need to lose sleep over. Whether it works for Scotland to have a big contingent from the SNP at Westminster we will find out – if it happens of course. It will be interesting to find out, and its an experiment I would quite like to try.