An SNP Debate on Policy is not Synonymous with Scottish Policy

I read recently that the BBC was getting much better at covering devolved issues, but some things will still fall through the cracks. One important problem is that, sometimes, SNP policy is equated, outside Scotland, as Scottish Government policy. Or, in the case of the future of Trident, an SNP debate at a party conference may be taken to mean Scottish Government policy after a ‘yes’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum. I will confess that I heard this not on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme but, instead, on their news quiz (I just need things to listen to while walking my dog – please don’t judge me), but still I will blame the BBC as a whole, since this is now the done thing.

Another phrase that caught my ear related to the criticism, by HEPI, that the UK Government was calculating the costs of its tuition fee policy on ‘an assumption that the future will be like the past’. If we apply this assumption to a hypothetical independent Scotland considering the Trident issue, what can we say? Let us assume that the SNP still has a small majority and that I am contradicting myself by basing my prophesy on the SNP’s draft constitution (discussed by Bulmer ): (1) the Scottish Government will pass legislation to remove Trident from Scotland (assuming that it needs to do so); (2) there will be enough opposition in the Scottish Parliament (40% is required) to force a postponement of 12-18 months; (3) the SNP Government will feel obliged to trigger a referendum on the issue. Only then can the decision become Scottish policy.

But what will the people of Scotland say? I got briefly excited when I noticed a House of Commons Defence Committee arguing last month that ‘Opinion polls show maintaining Trident is unpopular throughout the UK , but nowhere is it less popular than in Scotland’ before I realised that this argument came from written evidence by the CND . It is also the view of the Scottish Government drawing on polls in 2007 . The debate can be followed on blog sites such as Better Nation , which won’t make the synonymity mistake.

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