The Scottish Government’s independence referendum consultation ends this week. One Dynamic Nation has submitted a response to the consultation and we have done so in a positive and constructive manner. We hope the findings will be published as soon as possible so we can get on with planning the referendum and settle this issue.
This month we will also see the SNP launch its official campaign for independence. Media reports say Friday 25 May has been pencilled in by Alex Salmond as the date he will launch the cross-party “yes” vote for separation.
The launch was apparently lined up for May because it’s the same month as when the consultation ends and more importantly it was after the Council elections in Scotland. The SNP set ambitious targets at the recent election, including winning Glasgow City Council, and planned to use the election results as a platform to launch the campaign. But in light of the poorer than expected results it seems the launch will not have the same impact as the SNP would have hoped.
The SNP of course argue that Scotland’s future is bigger than a bad set of election results but it is clear they had wanted to say if the SNP can win Councils across Scotland then it could win Scotland – but they have lost this narrative.
It is also clear, from anecdotal evidence, that Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat party activists believe the results reflect the fact that people are unhappy with the SNP government’s focus on constitutional issues and want the SNP to deal with bread and butter issues like jobs and the economy. Many activists we have spoken to have said the independence referendum did not come up once on the doorsteps and if it did people were saying they wanted a straightforward question and it sooner rather than later.
Interestingly on the issue of the question, this week the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee has concluded that the question proposed by the Scottish Government is biased and needs to be changed. It argues the wording should be set by the Electoral Commission and not by politicians at Holyrood.
So far no date has been set for the official launch of a cross-party pro-union campaign. One Dynamic Nation was the first grassroots cross-party and apolitical organisation to launch in September 2011. Since then we have grown in terms of supporters, donations and influence. Other organisations have sprung up but in terms of the major unionist parties, only the Conservative Party has launched a pro-union campaign but it is solely focused on its own members and supporters. Conservative Friends of the Union was established at the party’s recent Scottish conference.
There has been no indication of a Labour or Lib Dem equivalent although rumours are that a pro-union campaign will be launched in the autumn and include all the major parties. However once the SNP launches its own campaign there will be a void. We at One Dynamic Nation will therefore be working hard to tackle head on this new movement in the absence of this umbrella group.
The local election results may have been a set back for the SNP and it isn’t the best platform for them to launch the “yes” to separation campaign but we should not underestimate that this month sees the start of the fight to save the United Kingdom.