Last year, I posted about Labour’s ability to read the mind’s of people who voted Lib Dem at the Westminster Election. In particular, their assumption that Lib Dem voter’s were disappointed about their jumping into bed with the Tories. This year’s post election Mystic Meg award winner is Alex Salmond who seems to think that he has a new mandate to contribute to the current Scotland Bill and to propose extended powers for Holyrood.
The SNP won on a ticket of freezing Council Tax for the next five years, free education and protecting investment in the NHS. All laudable policies, which were more than the other main parties were offering (though I did like the look of the Green’s property tax – which is why they got my “list” vote). The SNP were proposing to hold a referendum on Independence, something the other parties were fearful of, and the SNP had a decent in the circumstances kind of a record in government. Grey, Goldie and … um… you know the other one really failed to make themselves look remotely First Minister material. Yet since the election, the SNP’s judgement has been questionable to say the least.
Before we come to Salmond’s mind reading act, we really should touch on Supremecourtgate. Salmond’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Nat Fraser case was wrong, and was a rare sighting of the most unsightly thing in Scottish politics – Salmond the Smirk. Instead of Salmond & MacAskill’s gracelessness, they should have pledged to look at the irregularity within Scot’s law that lead to this verdict. Scots law is not fit for purpose, and this was an opportunity lost not to reform it.
Since the Election, the SNP have pushed for further extensions to the current Scotland Bill. In pushing for control of the Crown estates, for control over alcohol duty and, controversially, control over Corporation Tax rates, the SNP have claimed that they now have a mandate to push for these measures. Having looked again at the election literature received during the campaign, I can’t see why this claim is being made. There is no mention of pushing for these powers. There is mention of “Win new job creating powers for the Scottish Parliament”, which is pretty vague and at the bottom of the leaflet – not a huge priority then!
I don’t quite understand the claim of a new mandate, as I’m sure that a lot of people voted SNP for reasons other than constitutional issues. That’s not to say that the SNP are wrong in pursuing changes to the Scotland Act, after all the Calman proposals are flawed and continue the disincentive to tax raising powers that the current powers have. The SNP have exactly the same “mandate” to push for change as they had on May 4th. They could have commented on Calman as it was being drawn up. It’s just that they had no desire to contribute to the Calman Commission in the last parliament.