Honestly, like many foreign observers, I am looking at the situation at Scotland with mild amusement.
But like in many other cases like this particular situation in history, I find that some points are worth mentioning.
Alex Salmond is no braveheart or Robbie Burns.
Like mentionned in this article, the SNP breakthrough is not really about ideological matters or nationalism but about a leader being at the right place at the right time.
Since 2007, Scottish politics seems to be in a political vacuum north of the Hadrian’s Wall.
Having been Scotland’s main party and this even with the party good score in the 2010 elections with a Scottish leader, the Labour Party seems to have problems to find a charismatic leader. When I am talking about charismatic, I am talking about as charismatic as John Major or Gordon Brown.
Even with a PR system that some people are raving about in some other jurisdictions of the Commonwealth, there was not a big of difference in the last Scottish Assembly election between the SNP, Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems in term of policies.
Also, all three other parties in the horse race were not very unpopular in Scotland.
The Labour Party seems to be searching his way after the 2010 general election loss, the Tories are pretty much a »rotten » brand in Scotland and the Lib Dems are impopular because of the coalition gouvernment with the Tories.
So, in conclusion, the SNP was avantaged by the MMP system because it was able win many direct seats to win an overall majority.
The SNP don’t care about your liberty, only more liberty for politicians at Holyrood:
Since their foundation, the SNP seems very difficult to pin down in term of ideology except of course of being considered a »Scotland First » party. With Salmond as leader, the party have become even »personalist » in some ways.
Historically, in Westminster, the SNP was known for many years as a protest party which tended to do well at by-elections to give other parties »a message » (or for the lack of other choices like in the October 1974 general election).
But again, in practice the SNP don’t seem to be very keen on individual liberties whatever on supposed »hate speech » in football matches or for other elements of the nanny state. Yes, the SNP is for »freedom », but if you consider freedom as being more power and cash to spend for politicians.
The position of the SNP on bank bailouts is also quite strange, they seems to be for bailouts when it is for a bank in Edinburgh but not when the bank is south of the Border.
We must also add also the fact that the SNP wants to make the independance from the United Kingdom, only to be part of a bigger bureaucratic and anti-liberal super-state which is the EU. Personally, I am at 100% for Europe, but I am against what the UE had become today. Their position on the Euro is also ironic, considered that the future of the Euro is quite uncertain.
Also, there is the famous »It’s Scotland Oil » or let’s be »A second Norway » logic. Well, even through some jurisdictions have become more prosperous due to oil, the price of oil is very volatile which makes oil a very risky investment. Even in Norway, a great number of revenues which comes from oil goes directly to the payment of the debt which don’t seems to be sexy for politicians in the campaign trail.
The myth of a red Scotland.
Another myth vehiculated by some Scottish nationalists is that Scotland is more socialist or left-wing that the rest of the UK.
Well, in a way, I think this is a myth based only on the fact that Scotland had generally voted for the Labour Party en masse since the 1960’s.
But again, outside of Glasgow or central Edinburgh (like in any other big city in the UK), Scottish people are not that different as you would find in the rest of the United Kingdom or in Ireland.
Even that in some places, social conservatism is still there even more then any other parts of the UK.
In conclusion, I think that each Scot is capable of great things and to enjoy freedom and individual responsability. But please, the SNP is not representing the Braveheart or the Robbie Burns spirit at all of individual freedom and personal responsability like mentionned by another son of Scotland which is Adam Smith. In fact, under Salmond as first minister, it’s more an hybrid between Stalin and Mr. Bean to quote a critic of Gordon Brown which is ironically representing Adam Smith’s birthplace.
PS: Talking about globalization and the fact then open borders leads to more prosperity, it’s ironic to see that the place where I am buying all my books is in…Scotland more thousands of kilometres away. Of course, this means I am spending of my own money to help some Scottish individuals voluntarily of my own will.