Slow separation

[Monday]

This snippet of information was brought to my attention by the Wishart Standard:

Membership of the Scottish National Party has increased dramatically since the elections in May. Around 100 new members have joined the SNP every week, leading to an 8% jump in members since the turn of the year.

The organisation said it had been working flat out to cope with a flood of applications after the SNP emerged as the largest party in the Scottish election and entered government for the first time.

SNP business convener, Angus Robertson MP this evening (Thursday) confirmed to the Party’s national executive committee that the end of quarter membership figures showed a rise in members of over 8% in the last six months.

At 30 June 2007, the SNP had 13,585 members (12,571 at 31 December 2006).
Mr Robertson commented:

“SNP membership continues to grow apace as we carry forward the momentum of our election success.

“Around 100 new members are joining the SNP every week, making us Scotland’s fastest growing political party.

“The elections on May 3 saw the SNP win the most seats in the Scottish Parliament, the most councillors across the nation, end enter government for the first time ever.

“We expect to see the Party continue to grow as we start about the job of building a new and better future for Scotland.”

Opposition to war in the Middle East and private sector involvement in the NHS, along with positive health and education reforms might be behind the Nationalists’ increased membership – the SNP did win the “progressive” vote, after all.

I recall that Tommy Sheridan made great play during the election about having an independence referendum within the first hundred days of a new Scottish government. As he is no longer in the Scottish parliament, his attempts to push the SNP on independence have suffered a setback.

The SNP didn’t fight the election just on the issue of independence, but by dressing left and looking like a progressive party. Could this be a clever ploy by the Tartan Tories?

In terms of electoral politics, they appear to be doing quite well – but how will they deal with a national public sector strike? Denunciations or tacit support?

Salmond got out of a little scandal about his being paid two wages (one from the Holyrood, the other from the Westminster) despite having promised to just take one, during the election. His way out was to donate the second wage to charitable projects. It’s not the same as taking the average worker’s wage, but it too is part of the whole dress left approach.

In Wales, the Red-Green coalition has boosted the poll ratings of both Welsh Labour and Plaid at the expense of the other parties. Like the SNP’s sloth on an independence referendum, there is to be no rush for referendum on increased powers for the Welsh Assembly. Now that Plaid share power with Labour, both parties must rewrite their election literature, although it might be hard for the Welsh Labour MPs to keep quiet about the nationalists after all the fuss they made about the coalition delivering Plaid to the gates of independence…

The break-up of Britain won’t happen in the next few months, then. But the sense of discreteness is sure to increase. Nationalists are in power in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – Gordon Brown will the only politician from an all-Britain political party at the British-Irish Council meeting at Stormont in Belfast.

The Prime Minister will meet Northern Ireland’s First Minister Ian Paisley (DUP) and his Deputy Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) and the Welsh Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid Cymru), who is standing in for Rhodri Morgan, who is still recovering from an artery operation. Also present will be Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, whom Brown has yet to meet and who he famously took weeks to congratulate on winning the parliamentary elections in Scotland.

Note that the largest nation in the UK is not represented – and it is this lack of representation which is feeding anger in the public sector over pay increases which are in real terms pay cuts. Nurses in England could strike, their colleagues in Wales and Scotland will be paid a 2.5% “increase”, but they will receive 1.9%. Both figures are too low, and I am sure that strike action which does not disrupt patient care will gather wide support across the country…

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