Obama’s shadow now looms long over Scotland

The US President has provided a significant boost to the Better Together campaign.

The US President has provided a significant boost to the Better Together campaign

President Obama’s intervention yesterday in Scotland’s ongoing national conversation about the merits or otherwise of independence will have infuriated Alex Salmond and cast doubts over the position an independent Scotland would fill in the world.

Obama, who was quick to make clear that it was up to the people of Scotland to determine their own destinies, provided a clear signal that the US would much prefer one of its closest security and nuclear allies to remain intact.

His declaration that the US has an interest in ensuring that the UK remains “strong, robust and united”, and that the Union “had worked pretty well” has provide a significant boost to the Better Together campaign, which continues to enjoy a clear lead in the polls.

What will cause concern for the SNP is that the words came not from an unpopular conservative, but from a Democrat providing a progressive case for keeping Scotland within the Union.  Indeed, following his election in 2008, Alex Salmond was fulsome in his praise for Obama. Inviting him to attend events to mark Scotland’s Year of Homecoming in 2009, Salmond declared:

“This was a victory for optimism over pessimism, for hope over fear.

“It is time for a leader with your commitment to cooperation, and your belief that the improbable can be possible with goodwill and hard work.”

Whilst on one level Obama’s comments were a clear articulation of where US interests lie, it casts a significant shadow over the SNP’s plans on central issues of security and international partnerships.

As the Herald’s editorial today concludes:

“What Mr Obama’s comments certainly do is add to the impression that the momentum in recent weeks has been with the No campaign, which left the nationalists with the delicate task of how to respond. They could not dismiss Mr Obama as an unpopular foreigner, as they do with David Cameron, but in the end Mr Salmond played it well when he said his message to the president was “yes we can”.

“Clever as that was, it does not change a central fact, one implied in the president’s comments: the idea of independence raises deep questions about Scotland’s place in the world, its influence and its security, and most of those questions are still unanswered.”

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