SNP conference: Alex Salmond’s programme is like a colander: full of holes

The SNP’s argument is full of so many holes that it’s difficult not to conclude that it is fast resembling a colander.

The SNP come out of their annual conference in Perth fired up for the fight of their lives ahead of next year’s independence referendum.

Make no mistake about it, Alex Salmond gave a rousing speech to his party faithful on Saturday; and for all the polling, it would be unwise to bet against his political prowess being able to edge Scotland over the independence threshold.

But for all the emotion that was on display in Perth, the reality is that the SNP’s argument is full of so many holes that it’s difficult not to conclude that it is fast resembling a colander.

Firstly, it was striking how much of his speech was not so much a clear and coherent case for independence than a manifesto for what an SNP government would do under independence. In doing so, Salmond is somewhat arrogantly putting the cart before the horse.

No mention was made of the terms ‘defence’, ‘army’, ‘navy’ or ‘air force’; nothing was said on his vision for Scotland being part of a euro-style currency union with the rest of the UK; and there was no mention of Scotland’s place in the European Union if it votes for independence. The silence on these crucial issues was deafening.

Secondly, a recurring theme that SNP ministers persistently mentioned throughout the conference was the idea that independence would enable Scotland to rid itself of government’s that it did not vote for.

Given that the SNP came to power in 2011 on the back of under half of the votes cast, what are the majority of Scots who didn’t vote for them supposed to do, faced as they are by a government they did not vote for?

The SNP’s argument proves also that their case for independence can only ever be made when a Conservative resides in Downing Street. For 13 years, Scotland voted Labour and got a Labour government – they got what they voted for. It is only now that the SNP talk of Scotland getting a government they didn’t vote for.

Far from a positive vision for a sustainable and long-term future for an independent country, Alex Salmond et al are basing their campaign on petty, cheap party politics that cannot be the basis of such a huge constitutional decision to be made next year.

Thirdly, confusion now reigns over who Alex Salmond will or will not debate with. Despite his deep seated opposition to Conservatives, it’s strange how obsessed he has become with wanting to see David Cameron in a debate.

Speaking to the conference, Alex Salmond said to David Cameron:

“You and I must debate. First minister to Prime Minister. The choice is yours. Step up to the Plate – or step out of this debate! After that I will take on whichever of your substitutes you care to put up.”

The inference was clear – Alex Salmond will debate with the pro-union campaign only after David Cameron has debated with him first. This isn’t going to happen, so is Alex Salmond really going to get through the next year without debating live on TV directly with anyone?

Last Friday, however, speaking to the BBC’s Daily Politics, the SNP’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon declared that there is ‘no question’ Alex Salmond will debate with Better Together chief Alistair Darling and Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael between now and the referendum.

How does this unequivocal statement fit with the bar that Alex Salmond has raised to debating with them? The confusion is palpable, and the reality is that for Scotland the serious question would be not why David Cameron is not debating, but why Scotland’s very own first minister won’t debate.

And finally, Alex Salmond attacked Labour for being too right-wing for the SNP. How does this tally with his pro-active call for and readiness to support what he described in 2010 as the formation of a Labour-led ‘progressive alliance’ following the General Election?

What does Salmond really think of Labour? Is it too right-wing, or is it the progressive force he suggested it was in 2010, before Ed Miliband took on the might of Salmond’s chum Rupert Murdoch and called for the energy prize freeze?

Confused doesn’t even cover it.

19 Responses to “SNP conference: Alex Salmond’s programme is like a colander: full of holes”

  1. SimonB

    Being in England my greatest concern is the possible consequence to us if Scotland votes for independence. Perpetual government by the posh boys? Thus would our downfall be ensured!

    If I was a Scot I’d be concerned at how readily Salmond cosies up with Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch.

  2. tadramgo

    LFF – is this article reporting or opinion?

    As your Scottish content is notably from a ‘British Nationalist’ perspective – whereas the majority of the ‘left’ in Scotland is ‘Scottish Nationalist’ – would it not be appropriate to have opinion pieces from a pro-independence perspective?

  3. tadramgo

    LFF – is this article reporting or opinion?

    As your Scottish content is notably from a ‘British Nationalist’ perspective – whereas the majority of the ‘left’ in Scotland is ‘Scottish Nationalist’ – would it not be appropriate to have opinion pieces from a pro-independence perspective?

  4. tadramgo

    Watch Salmond’s speech to see why Scotland is moving in a different direction to the rest of the UK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfHEYMZhrzw

  5. Jake Church

    rubbish, Salmond and the SNP are standing up to that obnoxious prick Trump trying to lecture us about wind farms spoiling his millionaires golf course and Murdock…..Wken up for f–ks sake

  6. uglyfatbloke

    LFF is a Labour-supporting site, it should come as no surprise that it is ant-SNP. The gnats can build their own sites.
    OTH,,….pots/kettles, etc. If Labour won on a small turn out the cry would be that decisions are made by those who turn up.
    Traditional strength in Scotland is also rather misleading. getting 80% of the seats sounds pretty good, but there are two major factors to consider. At a GE people have tended top polarise because they are voting for who will be the next Westminster government…. AKA keeping the tories out. That has n’t really worked very well. The raft of Scottish Labour MPs in the Thatcher and Major days did n’t achieve anything much and it would be unreasonable to expect anything better of the current bunch. Mostly they are silent and the ones that are n’t are fairly dreadful.
    There is also the nature of FPTP; I doubt if Labour have ever had 46% of the popular vote in Scotland, but if the gnats get anything like that at the next GE a whole bunch of Labour MPs are going to be spending more time with their families as will virtually all of the Scottish glib-dumbs. One of their senior activists told me recently that they are resigned to being reduced to just four MPs; when I said I thought they’d be lucky to manage even that she shrugged and said ‘probably’ but that she was putting a brave face on.
    Also, the gnats did win an outright majority under a system that was specifically chosen – by Labour and the glib-dumbs – to ensure that they could never become the largest party, let alone actually win. That was a pretty spectacular bit of gerrymandering; even the BBC’s Brian Taylor, who is very ant-gnat, was shocked.
    It’s certainly the case that a lot of people vote gnat but won’t vote for independence and vice versa, so we have to ask why. It may have something to do with providing reasonably efficient social democrat government.
    Cameron is in a very sticky situation. If he does n’t debate with Salmond he’ll look scared – happy to use the departments of his government to influence the voters, but not willing to stand up in public. If he does debate Salmon he’ll get a kicking.
    Salmond surely will debate with Darling id and when he’s debated with Cameron, but not before. In the normal practice of TV jousting, opposition backbenchers don’t get to debate with PMs or FMs. It would be much easier to make a case if Johann Lamont was leading the campaign and she would have a perfectly good case – as leader of the opposition – for a slot against Salmond…anybody think that’s a good idea? Thought not.

  7. Iain S

    This reads like the sort of petulant schoolchild essay we’ve become accustomed to from Labour apparatchiks in Scotland.

    As a member of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) I am out arguing in the streets and on the door steps the Left/Green case for an independent Scotland and I’ve lost count of the number of times Labour’s position has been brought up.

    For a party that considers itself ‘Socialist’ to be in the same campaign as the Tories and LibDems, financed by the dirty money of Ian Taylor, and on the same side as UKIP and the BNP, should, you would think, give them cause for concern, but not a bit of it.

    As Labour activists defend the right of David Cameron to impose his policies on a country which has rejected them, some of us are busy fighting for a more equitable society.

    Now six years into government the SNP continue their popularity in the opinion polls while Labour flounder. As the SNP shows itself to be further Left than Labour on so many issues, perhaps the lesson to be learnt is that a return to Socialism is needed in order to defeat them, a task that seems to be beyond the right wing apologists currently running Labour.

    Oh, and perhaps Labour should also take note of the fact that as much as Johann Lamont bangs on about Alex Salmond he didn’t refer to her once in his speech. How has the leader of the opposition made herself so irrelevant to the debate and, as polling has revealed, unknown to a third of the electorate?

  8. SimonB

    “Wake up!” It’s always a bad sign. You missed out calling me a sheeple.

    That Trump golf course, Salmond was chummy with Trump over that, wasn’t he?

    Anyway, the real point is that divided we fall, and that’s what the SNP are arguing for. Just when we get a chance to rid ourselves of the true enemy, the Tory party, Scotland threatens to scupper our chances. Whatever bloody romantic Braveheart tosh you might base your independence ideology on is nothing compared to the real damage the posh boys are doing.

  9. Andrew Mackintosh

    Would one of these SNP supporters like to explain what is so left wing about centralising power to the Scottish Government and reducing the ability of local councils to control their own income. The Council Tax freeze provided no financial benefit to the less well off who were in receipt of Council Tax rebate. These people are also the biggest users of council services which are being savagely cut as a result. This is one of the most right wing decisions by adevolved Scottish Government. A nationalist is someone who adheres to an idea, philosophy or geographical area regardless of left or right, regardless of right or wrong. The desire to follow this nationalist path comes first and the reasoning later.

  10. Baxter Parp

    Unfortunately, the Scottish Government does not yet control the financial levers that would assist those already in receipt of a rebate. Obviously. The freeze is saving ordinary hard-pressed people hundreds of pounds per year, something that the Labour supporters and Unionists can’t acknowledge. It must make them sick that the SNP is a far more left-wing and progressive organisation than their pet neoliberal party.

  11. K Marx

    What a load of shit this article is.

  12. franwhi

    What about the Labour/Unite machinations at the Grangemouth refinery which have acted as a catalyst to put over 1300 Scottish jobs in jeopardy ? I hope Stephen Deans, Len McClusky, Karie Murphy and the Scottish and UK Labour leadership who are “friends of Unite” are worth it. They are in this debacle up to their necks and frankly way out their depth. Unfortunately it’s the refinery workers and not the Labour politicos or Unite officials who are now frozen under the sword of Damocles. Yes, this issue is too big for politics and I pray fo successful outcome for the workers but sometimes you need to call a spade a spade.

  13. Bob Hilton

    The voters of England have always changed their voting habits from time to time. Do you remember 1997? Labour won so many seats in England that they didn’t need any seats in Scotland or Wales, so it’s clear that Labour is capable of winning without that block of seats in England. What Labour needs to do is to be pro-England, in order to win in England, but it needs to admit first that it is an Anglophobic racist organisation, just as an alcoholic needs to accept that he/she is an alcoholic before the problem can be solved.

  14. Ayrshore

    Wind farms will ruin our country. We need the SNP out so that we can build at least one new nuclear power station before Torness and Hunterston are decommissioned. The ‘target’ of 100% renewable energy is a pipedream that can never be fulfilled, but as Alex Salmond is living in cloud cuckoo land, he’ll never realise it.

  15. bigfish

    I hope Scotland gets so called independence , after that they get the best benefits in these islands and we in south can sit and watch as all the scum move north.

  16. Alec

    Talk about missing the point (deliberately, I assume). And, oh look, guff about “neoliberal”… I think we all have met someone who says “poo” and “fart” a lot. Normally only in playschool.

  17. peterg

    Personally I could not care less if Scotland goes independent you never have been a fully paid up member of the union anyway, you Scots are boring me to tears with this debate you do nothing but moan and drone on about your lot in life, to be honest your no worse off than us & no better off than us, just all of you do us a favour vote yes and leave please, even pretty please, nobody will miss you down in here in England or anywhere else in the union for that matter nobody likes a party pooper anyway, nobody owes you anything & nobody gives a fig in England about Scotland or your future, you really are the most boring people on the planet, believe me if we English people had a vote on this you would already be gone, you can have the oil it will run out soon anyway we will be ok god looks after his people that’s why he’s English & made you slaves to us for a while after culloden, most of the forces ranged against you were your own people then just as they are now lol, goodbye

  18. Baxter Parp

    So bored that you’re replying to a comment that I made in October?

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