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Strategic approach

Brian Taylor | 15:43 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

Quite a weekend, all things considered.

Tense anticipation, delivery, then the struggle, the real struggle, to disdain gloating, to spurn smugness.

And it was even more difficult for the SNP. After all, I was only contending with yet another triumph for the boys in Tangerine. Routine, these days. Standard fare.

SNP leaders were experiencing their first party conference in power.

To watch them, it was as if Kevin Pringle had implanted a loop CD in their lugs, the contemporary equivalent of the medieval court jester.

Don’t grin too much. Remember Kinnock/Sheffield: punching the air is explicitly banned. The phrase “ya dancer” is to be excised from all published texts.

Announcements aplenty - but I was most struck by two events. Firstly, an item on the BBC Scotland live telly coverage (What d’ya mean, you didn’t watch it?).

I was interviewing two Jimmies, Halliday and Lynch respectively, about party history. We were discussing the tensions which had beset the Nationalist cause down the years.

Halliday, J, recalled his first conference, in 1955, dominated, he said, by internal disquiet.

Have those tensions utterly gone? Yes, absolutely, for now. What would bring them back? Same as always: differences over the strategic approach to winning independence.

Which is why Alex Salmond’s views on this were of passing importance. He said - on that same BBC telly show (you really should have watched it) - that he would table a bill for a referendum within the present four-year term, regardless of whether the bill stands a chance of success or not.

To clarify, he hopes it will succeed. He will strive to make it succeed. He hopes there will be a referendum. He hopes that too will……you get it.

But, if rivals continue to block his objective of a referendum, he will table the enabling legislation anyway.

In the Salmond analysis, that would oblige them to vote it down and to take the consequences at the subsequent election.

Why table a bill that will go down? Two reasons. As above, to smoke out the opposition on the presumption that the voters generally like the concept of plebiscites.

But, secondly, to assuage party activists that ministers haven’t forgotten about the objective of independence.


  • 1.
  • At 05:07 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • B.S.Camber wrote:

The most serious decision any government of any persuasion can make is the decision to take its people into a war. If and when the Scottish electorate have the opportunity to decide on the merits or otherwise of independence, it may be worth reflecting on whether an independent Scotland would have played a part in creating the current horror that is Iraq. I like to think not.

  • 2.
  • At 05:37 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Clever move by Salmond - can the three unionist parties really not see the way they continue to play in to his hands? Cameron the other day was a classic example. However, I cannot imagine that the same parties would be stupid enough to vote down a referendum in the final year (assuming the government lasts until then) with the prospect of an election looming!

  • 3.
  • At 05:47 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Love your blogs. thrilling reading. However, less of the references to Dundee U would be appreciated. It's a tad self indulgent and uninteresting. The rest, however, is simply outstanding stuff.

  • 4.
  • At 06:46 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Yes it is clear there is a danger in the potential for over confidence; my memory was a repetitious Oh Yea; hard work, genuine attempts to better the lot of Scotland’s population and highlighting the jiggery-pokery of Westminster and the opposition in Scotland.

Voters should be made aware these acts do not operate solely to the detriment of SNP members, these moves disadvantage all Scotland’s population.

  • 5.
  • At 07:23 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • N Mackenzie wrote:

Kevin who?
Brian, remember some of us have got real jobs that prevent us looking at politicians in self congratulatory mode (their normal state)

  • 6.
  • At 06:31 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Rosa wrote:

Auch Sam, perhaps you're not an east coast person? Brian you go ahead with your light hearted mutterings about your football club - they bring a sense of perspective to politics :)

  • 7.
  • At 04:35 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Iain Keddie wrote:

Comment on the mighty Tangerines all you wan't Brian. Sunday was a highly enjoyable afternoon down Tannadice way.

  • 8.
  • At 01:41 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • joe wrote:

Salmond doesnt need to be over confident or cocky. Just trundle along and the inept opposition "leaders" will show themselves to be the numpties ,we all know they are.

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