Non-Stick Nationalists

Colin Kidd

  • Constitutional Law of Scotland by Alan Page
    W. Green, 334 pp, £95.00, June 2015, ISBN 978 0 414 01456 5

Notwithstanding the 55:45 split between unionists and nationalists in the independence referendum last autumn, the major – if unacknowledged – cleavage in Scottish politics lies within the SNP itself, between its cannily cautious leadership and its enthusiastic rank and file. The SNP has grown phenomenally since last September, when it had about 25,000 members, to its current tally of more than 100,000. At the general election the SNP took 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland, and would have taken 57 and wiped out Labour entirely north of the border had the SNP’s candidate in Edinburgh South, Neil Hay, not been exposed shortly before the vote as the pseudonymous internet troll Paco McSheepie. Inter-party competition within a first-past-the-post system allowed the SNP to hoover up most of the pro-independence vote (give or take some support for the Greens). On the other hand, the pro-Union vote was divided among Labour, the Tories, the Liberal Democrats and, strange as it may seem, the SNP, which downplayed any talk of independence and masqueraded instead as Authentic Old Labour.

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