Monday 28 June 2010

Don't believe what you read in the papers....

There was a wee flurry of gleeful excitement among the unionist press last week, suggesting that Alex Salmond had somehow given up on independence. This kind of splash aims to both undermining the SNP's central aim in the mind of the public, and to sow seeds of doubt and disgruntlement among the membership. Various people were called to comment, and advise on where the SNP and the independence movement should go now.

There was a similarly annoying talking heids feature on Politics Now a few weeks ago, with three non-SNP journalists musing on what our party should or shouldn't be doing in the run up to the elections next year. I'm not really convinced of the wisdom of taking the advice of three particular people who have absolutely no interest in seeing the SNP succeed or the independence movement progress! Nevertheless, their views were given the credence which comes with the medium.

The following letter in the Herald this morning from Alex sets the record straight- I wonder if the same newspapers and commentators will give this response equal attention?

Your report on my interview with another newspaper was headlined, in quotation marks, “Independence is not key aim’” (Herald, June 26), despite the fact that no-one – least of all myself – actually said this, and the reference to independence “no longer” being the SNP’s central aim was just silly.

I was in fact making exactly the opposite point – that the centre of gravity in Scottish politics is shifting towards independence not away from it.

A generation ago it was for an Assembly, then for a Parliament, then for Calman, now for fiscal responsibility, which is currently galvanising a range of opinion across Scottish society.

At each stage in that road, the SNP campaigned in favour of more powers for Scotland as well as pursuing the independence campaign. There has never been any contradiction in doing that – nor is there now.

Indeed, one of the essential ingredients of gaining more power for Scotland is the vigour of the independence campaign. It is the engine which fires the debate.

The publication of the Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland report – showing in 2008/09 a Scottish current budget surplus of £1.3 billion, compared to a UK current budget deficit of £48.9 billion – is a strong illustration of the argument which both increases the urgency of fiscal responsibility as an alternative to a dismal decade of Westminster spending cuts, and also shifts the centre of gravity in Scottish politics towards independence.

Alex Salmond, Edinburgh.

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