Subtle it wasn’t. At the Scottish National Party’s conference in Aberdeen in October, the yellow stars of the European Union were projected onto a giant backdrop of the party’s initials, flanked by two Scottish flags.
The party’s in-your-face Europhilia is not just a signal to Scottish voters — who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU — that membership of the bloc is part of its vision of an independent Scotland. SNP leaders have been aggressively courting their counterparts across Europe, laying the groundwork for the next time the nation holds an independence referendum.
Next Friday morning, British voters will wake up faced with one of two stark political realities.
Either the Conservatives will have a majority in the House of Commons and Boris Johnson will return to No.10 Downing Street, primed for a full term in office and ready to trigger Brexit at the earliest possible opportunity.
Boris Johnson is beatable.
That’s the core lesson from the first few days of this general election campaign.
At the start of June, when he was still in the running to replace Theresa May as prime minister of the UK and leader of the Conservative Party, Tory politician Michael Gove raised a nightmarish spectre for the British right.
At all costs, Britain must avoid falling into the grip of a “Jeremy Corbyn government propped up by Nicola Sturgeon and the [Scottish nationalists],” he warned. “That would mean Brexit was lost, the future of our Union at risk, and the levers of power handed to a Marxist.”
This weekend, the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) meets in Glasgow for its annual conference.
After more than a decade in power at Holyrood – Scotland’s devolved parliament in Edinburgh – the party continues to defy all the established rules of mainstream politics.
In the strange and obscure world of Scottish constitutional politics, something can be utterly inevitable – until it suddenly isn’t. For most of the past ten years, and certainly for the past two, a widespread consensus has existed in Scotland regarding the inevitability of independence. That consensus has been based on the almost total dominance of Scotland’s electoral landscape by the Scottish National Party (SNP). Last month, the landscape changed.
At the UK’s snap general election on 8 June, the SNP shed 21 of its 56 Westminster seats and saw its share of the vote slump by 13 points. Angus Robertson, the party’s chief strategist, and Alex Salmond, its former leader, both lost their once rock-solid constituencies in the rural north-east. Towering nationalist majorities across Glasgow and the central belt crumbled. Even the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a modest Caledonian revival, adding three new Scottish MPs, in Edinburgh, Dunbartonshire, and Caithness, to their previous, solitary total of one.
Not that long ago, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon was the most exciting social democrat in European politics.
She took charge of the SNP – and with it an absolute majority at Holyrood, Scotland’s devolved national legislature – in the aftermath of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The SNP lost that referendum, but left-leaning Scots, many of them former Labour voters, flocked to her side.