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Grangemouth analysis: Embarrassment saved by reopening

In his conference speech, Alex Salmond had made the competence of his government one of the arguments for trusting the SNP. Picture: Jane Barlow

In his conference speech, Alex Salmond had made the competence of his government one of the arguments for trusting the SNP. Picture: Jane Barlow

  • by MATT QVORTRUP
 

THE reopening of Grangemouth has saved Yes Scotland and the First Minister from an embarrassment that could have derailed efforts to win the referendum in September 2014.

Events on the Forth were never part of the campaign that was launched at the SNP conference in Perth last weekend but they threatened to derail the plan.

In his conference speech, Alex Salmond had made the competence of his government one of the arguments for trusting the SNP and for voting for independence.

Had the 1700-acre site closed, a central plank in the referendum campaign strategy would have melted.

As it is now, Mr Salmond and his government’s claim competence is intact.

The First Minister was careful not to take credit for the outcome, describing it generously as “a great team effort from all concerned”.

Any attempt to make political capital out of the deal could have backfired.

The deal was undoubtedly a success for the quiet and persistent diplomacy of Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, and John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance. Yet given his high profile it was the First Minister’s voice that was heard across Scotland.

Undoubtedly London’s role was as great as Edinburgh’s. But the absence of David Cameron and George Osborne means that voters are unlikely to give the coalition government its share of the credit.

The rescue has not strengthened the prospects of a Yes vote, but had Grangemouth closed, it would have undermined Mr Salmond’s claim that the SNP is a safe pair of hands.

l Matt Qvortrup teaches politics at Cranfield University

 

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