Angus Robertson is correct to state the SNP have an opportunity to act as a real opposition to David Cameron’s Conservative government (your online report, 17 May). I genuinely hope that in key votes it will constructively support the Labour Party in its efforts to undermine Mr Cameron’s slender majority.
However, I am a little uncertain about what issues the SNP will oppose the Conservatives on. This weekend, Mr Cameron confirmed the Conservatives will soon give Westminster an opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act – a move that will reintroduce fox hunting in England. The SNP’s stated position is to abstain as this is an English-only issue.
This is the first of many issues where the SNP will be torn between their nationalist ideology, populism and a strong moral argument – what is most important to them?
Over the next five years, Scotland will see no opposition to the Tories from the SNP on issues they judge not to impact directly on Scotland. For example, will they abstain if the Bedroom Tax increases in England?
This position the SNP has adopted on the Hunting Act also highlights the extent to which the SNP would have backed a minority Labour government. It is now clear the SNP would have abstained on a whole range of Labour’s plans to tackle poverty in England. Is this the stronger voice Scotland voted for?
(DR) SCOTT ARTHUR
David Cameron’s overall majority at Westminster means he doesn’t have to listen to the SNP and can do as he likes. The Tory party’s new-found omnipotence is something the SNP has had at Holyrood since 2011. But numerical superiority relies on being able to dragoon the troops into voting for things they wouldn’t normally agree with. This leads to bad legislation and injustice.
Take the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 (OBFTC Act). It seems to have been dreamed up by Stephen House, then Chief Constable of Strathclyde, and Kenny MacAskill, then justice secretary, and was pushed through parliament despite being opposed by all opposition MSPs, football clubs, supporters’ groups and most right-minded people.
Because the police want new powers/laws is hardly a good reason to legislate and this was the case with the OBFTC Act, making Scotland unique in the world in criminalising one very small group in society (football supporters, mind, not rugby or cricket fans) for a new crime of “offensiveness”.
Enforcement of this draconian legislation brought organised, peaceful, political protests from football fans, which were dealt with in a brutal manner when the aggrieved demonstrators were “kettled” by 200 police officers, many with batons drawn, in Glasgow’s Gallowgate.
I have no doubt that there are Tory MPs in England who will see their Westminster majority as the signal to push for bad legislation on ECHR and foxhunting, simply because they can carry the vote.
As with the SNP and the OBFTC Act, draconian laws and policies being pushed by “hang em and flog em” little Englander types will end up being opposed by the people on the streets.