Separate independence from SNP policy

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I WONDER how George Kerevan’s piece “Break-up of Europe leaves Scots with a choice” (Perspective, 1 November) has gone down with the SNP leadership?

Mr Kerevan’s opinions have moved some way from his defence of the SNP’s “sterling currency union” (Perspective, 15 June, 2012) when he wrote: “Who cares if interest rates are set by the Bank of England? We have that anyway.”

In reply, I wrote at the time that the SNP had little credibility on the currency issue and if it continued with that argument, then it would have none at all by the time of the referendum. Given the level of known opposition to the SNP’s policy, both in political and academic circles in Scotland, my prediction has come true with almost a year still to run until the referendum is held.

In his latest piece, Mr Kerevan writes: “I suspect that Scotland could do well inside a looser European arrangement, provided we kept our own currency … otherwise we should consider emulating Norway and retaining our economic independence.” Some of us have been making that argument for well over 30 years, but I am glad to see that some influential figures in the SNP are beginning to see the light.

There is far more opposition to the leadership’s policies on the European Union and the currency within the rank and file of the SNP than is evident from the disciplined behaviour of the party membership.

That discipline may make the work of the party managers and the leadership a great deal easier, but it has allowed the party leadership the freedom to promote arguments – some of which are risible – that are doing the cause of independence considerable harm.

It is important, therefore, that the people of Scotland are made aware that the vote in the referendum is not about SNP policy, however much the No campaign tries to make it so, but about the principle of Scotland’s existence as an independent nation state.

I find it inconceivable that any Scot would vote to ensure that Scotland would be anything other than independent, but that is another argument. It is vital that those of us who favour independence, but who oppose the SNP’s interpretation of it, make it crystal clear our opposition is to the SNP, not to independence per se.

The more often SNP commentators such as Mr Kerevan are prepared to contradict official SNP policy, the clearer that will become.

Jim Fairlie

St Ninians Court

Crieff, Perthshire