Big challenge ahead for SNP MPs

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What is the real challenge facing the SNP’s enlarged Westminster contingent on the Scotland Bill? Joyce McMillan (Perspective, 29 May) identified correctly a number of the pitfalls involved in the implementation of the Smith Commission proposals.

To maintain a semblance of credibility the Nationalists need to do two things. The first is to outline clearly to voters just exactly what new powers they want Westminster to enact and why.

The second is to use all their parliamentary acumen to get sufficient amendments through the House of Commons. If they are thwarted by the Conservative government’s majority (and perhaps even Labour inertia on the matter) then at least the public will know who is to blame.

It would be difficult to see how the party could lose in terms of keeping public opinion on its side so long as it is clear about what it actually wants to achieve.

Voter interest in the convoluted Smith proposals will surely wane as next year’s 
Holyrood election approaches. The campaigning is likely to begin in earnest after the SNP’s conference in the autumn.

Interest in more mundane issues – health, housing, the council tax, roads and transport, concessionary travel, free prescriptions, college places, tuition fees, business rates, small business development, the quality of education and care of the elderly – will get more and more attention.

When that phase begins the enthusiasm and energy of the party’s new House of Commons intake will be put to the test.

But if they can claim to have done everything they can to get the Smith proposals and even more on the statute book, if they can make a positive case against austerity measures and their impact, they will have honoured the Scottish public’s faith in sending them south in such large numbers.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes

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