You might remember that back in March, when it briefly seemed possible that there might be a Falkirk by-election, TheUnionDivvie raised the idea that the SNP could stand aside in favour of Dennis Canavan running on a Labour for Independence ticket. Well, we now know for sure that a Dunfermline by-election is in the offing, and on the previous thread Tris mentioned that a commenter on his blog had once again suggested the idea of a Labour for Independence candidate. There are of course a couple of key differences this time round -
1) In Falkirk there would have been an overwhelming logic to a Canavan candidacy, given that he had represented the town as both an MP and MSP.
2) The SNP rather than Labour are the defending party in Dunfermline, and a failure to even put up an official SNP candidate might be interpreted as defeatism.
I don't think the latter point is a killer argument by any means. In the early-to-mid 80s, the Liberals repeatedly stood aside in favour of the SDP in by-elections they might otherwise have won, and yet that was a sign of strength rather than weakness. Ultimately, you're only seen as weak if the tactic doesn't work.
And that's where we come to the crunch. It would only be worth doing if the Labour for Independence candidate was a big-hitter, and realistically that means Dennis Canavan or nobody. He may not have previously represented the area, but he's a local man all the same (born in Cowdenbeath), and in any case he's a well-known and well-respected figure throughout Scotland. With the SNP's endorsement, he might well start as the favourite to win. But on the other hand, if he isn't prepared to stand, a Labour for Independence candidacy would probably be a waste of time, and might even be counter-productive.
My guess is that the SNP aren't even considering possibilities like this, because it isn't the done thing. But this is scarcely the moment for politics as usual - if you want to make things happen, you have to think outside the box now and again. There would be difficulties to be ironed out - current Labour members would risk expulsion if they campaigned against the official Labour candidate, so it might not be possible for Canavan to officially stand on the Labour for Independence platform. But even so, the symbolic power of a successful pro-independence Labour candidate would be beyond value.