I was out all day yesterday, so I didn't get the chance to properly catch up with the contents of the Sunday papers, but I gather that several different SNP people floated the idea that the various pro-independence parties and groups should come together again and form an alliance for next year's general election, presumably seeking an unambiguous mandate for full Devo Max.
It would be fascinating to know if it's just coincidence that various individuals came to the same conclusion simultaneously, or whether this is a sign that the SNP leadership themselves are interested in keeping the Yes coalition going in a new form. I think it would be absolutely fantastic if that happened - it would be the clearest possible sign that we're not returning to politics as usual, and that we're going to finish the job of realising the unambiguous democratic will of the "45% plus", ie. the clear majority of the electorate who either voted Yes, or voted No on the specific basis of a promise that sweeping new powers (repeatedly described by the media as Devo Max) would be granted.
That's probably the best way of ensuring that the dynamism and passion of the Yes campaign continues beyond the referendum, because it would be pursuing much the same objective as before (democratic control in Scotland to enable transformative social progress), but in a realistic way that seeks to organically build on the referendum result, rather than overturning it.
Of course it takes two to tango, and I've no idea if the Greens would be interested in the idea. But if I put myself in their place I can see plenty of advantages. They get a reasonable amount of airtime in a Holyrood election, but in a Westminster context they become practically invisible, and a "Devo Max alliance" would be a fantastic opportunity to have Patrick Harvie as the de facto joint leader of a high-profile movement, just as he was during the referendum. To make this an attractive option for the Greens, though, it would have to be clear that the alliance wouldn't just be the SNP with the Greens tacked on - it would need to be as broadly-based a movement as the Yes campaign itself was.
And I'm wondering if there may be an opportunity to take it a step further, and use the momentum generated by the referendum to set up a temporary pan-UK alliance of progressive parties that are seeking radical constitutional change - namely the SNP, the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party, Plaid Cymru and perhaps Mebyon Kernow. With a formal alliance on that scale, putting candidates up throughout the UK, and involving parties with existing parliamentary representation in England, Scotland and Wales, it's very hard to see how broadcasters would be able to do anything other than give the same coverage during the general election that they would to the three London parties - and that crucially includes equal coverage in any leaders' debates. I certainly wouldn't object to sometimes being represented by Natalie Bennett, as long as she was making the case for full Home Rule for Scotland within a package of wider constitutional reforms.
Of course, none of this may come to pass, and the SNP may have no choice but to try to build on the momentum generated by the Yes campaign as a stand-alone party. That's not a hopeless task, but yesterday's Survation telephone poll showing a handsome lead for the SNP at Holyrood also showed them 4 points behind Labour for the Westminster election. That reaffirms the difficulty of fighting on 'away soil', and it's likely that Labour's lead will only increase as the London media's focus turns away from Scotland. To keep the relentless pressure up for a huge transfer of powers to Edinburgh, we really need to be aiming to win a majority of Scottish seats next May, not for the business-as-usual respectability of 25% of the vote and a few gains from the Liberal Democrats.
So if we all want what we say we want, I think we urgently need to think out of the box, and find a way to keep the spirit of Yes going for the general election, and hopefully even expand it beyond the borders of Scotland.
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