The Rise of the Scottish Nationalists, the Scottish Dimension and What Happens to England and the UK: A Symposium
Open Democracy, October 15th 2009
In a series of newly commissioned essays to mark the opening of the SNP’s Annual Conference in Inverness, the party’s 75th anniversary and the publication of the first ever study of the contemporary party, ‘The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power’ this week, Our Kingdom brings together four commentators on the changing nature of the politics of Scotland and the UK (1).
In an introductory essay, Gerry Hassan, editor of ‘The Modern SNP’ addresses the overall context, achievements and challenges of the first ever Nationalist administration under Alex Salmond. Despite constraints and obvious shortcomings, he finds that the SNP administration has had notable successes and has a historic opportunity to shape the future of Scottish politics, aided by the weakness of its opponents.
James Mitchell is the most respected authority on the modern Nationalist movement and has conducted a comprehensive survey of the entire SNP membership, some of the headline findings of which he explores here. He finds a party which in most respects, despite its far-reaching aims, is very much part of Scotland’s mainstream.
David Torrance addresses the post-election personal and political dynamics which may occur if the Conservatives are returned, and judges that the battle between Alex Salmond and David Cameron will pit two astute and wily political tacticians against each other.
In the final essay, Gareth Young looks at the English political landscape and how cross-border political traffic in Scotland may influence England and vice-versa.
All four contributions point towards the emergence of a more territorial politics across the UK and divergent political spaces and dynamics whether in Scotland or England, and by implication Wales and Northern Ireland. This environment post-election, influenced by recession, political crisis and public spending cuts, will provide plenty opportunities for political grandstanding and also for imagination and radicalism.