Thursday 26 March 2015

Cap in hand no more!

English: Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland
Let's start by pointing out to Simon Jenkins that Alex Salmond is NOT "the putative Scottish leader in the commons". (An antidote to Alex Salmond: offer the Scots home rule) The denizens of the London bubble have only convinced themselves otherwise because his name is conveniently familiar. If they actually knew anything about the politics upon which they pontificate, they would be aware that Angus Robertson is the leader of the SNP group at Westminster. And there are no plans for this to change after May.

Doubtless commentators such as Simon Jenkins will protest that he is the "obvious" candidate. By which they mean that he is the individual who comes closest to being the kind of high-profile political celebrity that makes easy, eye-catching copy for commentators such as Simon Jenkins. If the SNP were to allow itself to be forced into the mould of British party politics, Salmond would certainly be appointed leader of the party's MPs. But the SNP is more into breaking moulds than being shaped by them.

In Angus Robertson the SNP already has a formidable and experienced leader at Westminster. It is entirely possible, even probable, that Salmond would prefer to take a role such as spokesperson on constitutional affairs and make his presence felt in the committee rooms rather than the chamber. He may even be attracted to the freedom that being a simple back-bencher would afford him.

As Salmond himself has pointed out, he's already held the highest office he might aspire to. His place in history and the hearts of Scotland's people is assured. The trappings of status within the Westminster system have little to offer him.

Of course, we will not know for certain what role Salmond will take until after 7 May. And he still has an election to win. But there is no good reason to assume that he will be the SNP's Westminster leader.

As to the suggestion that Miliband offer "Home Rule", we've already been there. Through their deniable proxy, Gordon Brown, the British parties promised Home Rule - or something very close to it - in return for a No vote. They have already reneged on that promise. If any of the British party leaders had the will or the authority to give Scotland Home Rule, they had the opportunity to do so through the Smith Commission. Even if they were to offer it now, nobody in Scotland would believe them. Nobody is even listening to them.

Scotland's politics has changed. Our future will be decided, not by the Milibands and the Camerons, but by the people of Scotland and those we elect to represent our interests. Talk of "giving" Scotland Home Rule is as pointless as it is condescendingly offensive. We are not waiting to be given anything. We are taking that to which we are entitled.

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