Nicola Sturgeon is to be congratulated for refusing to back off from the goal of independence, and the right of the Scottish people to self-determination, under pressure from Andrew Marr today.
The truth is that the SNP’s potential for a stunning electoral result in Scotland is based on our success in holding together the Yes coalition under the SNP umbrella. All of the recent Scottish opinion polls put the SNP vote in precisely the same range as recent opinion polls on Scottish independence, up from September 2014. Given the very low polling for other pro-independence parties, it is beyond any doubt a myth that there is a significant vote for the SNP which does not want independence but is voting SNP to ensure Devo-Max. There is simply no evidence of that. The opinion polls show the opposite, and anecdotal evidence from canvassers shows the SNP vote overwhelmingly an independence vote.
In fact, I suspect that the SNP will get less unionist votes in this election than ever before. In Dundee East, which I know extremely well, there is no point denying that historically the SNP benefited from Tory tactical voters wanting to keep Labour out. That is no longer happening, due to the polarising effect of the referendum. Dundee East SNP voters are now all committed nationalists.
In fact what we are now seeing, quite openly, is the Unionist parties advocating tactical voting between Red, Orange and Blue Tories against the SNP throughout Scotland and even Labour Party activists in places canvassing for the Tories. This is of a piece with the Labour tactic of pitching its austerity policies to southern English Tory voters: Miliband’s message today is that he will be the Tories’ champion.
All the SNP have to do is continue to hold together the overwhelming bulk of the Yes coalition and, due to FPTP, we can sweep much of Scotland. That is why Nicola’s stance today was not only right in principle, but wise in preventing seepage to the Scottish Greens. That does not make FPTP a better system. And we should not allow the media to build up expectations of the SNP taking every seat, so they can claim Murphy has triumphed if he hangs on to a dozen.
But one thing we should say, loud and clear. An SNP vote is always a vote for independence, and it is absolutely a myth that there is now any significant swathe of unionist SNP voters out there.
The SNP vote is an independence vote, end of.