There were two obvious possibilities for the SNP's pitch in the European elections - they could either make it all about independence and seek a 'quadruple lock mandate' for an independence referendum, or they could urge Remain voters to use the SNP as a vehicle to stop Brexit. It's clear from the campaign launch that they've plumped full-bloodedly for the latter option. There's a paradox here, because that may well prove to be a strategically sound decision from the SNP's own party interests - it does seem intuitively likely that favourable showings in recent opinion polls can be partly attributed to the clarity of the 'stop Brexit' message, and after all the Remain constituency in Scotland is somewhat bigger than the Yes constituency. But ultimately the SNP exist to bring about independence, and any strategy that maximises the party's support while squandering an opportunity to win an independence-specific mandate may be counterproductive in the long-run.
It's important to stress, however, that this doesn't mean that the SNP have entirely failed to learn the lesson of the 2017 general election. One reason why refusing to campaign hard on independence in 2017 was such a mistake was because there was no alternative message that was going to inspire people to go to the polling stations - all we had was the vague "Stronger for Scotland", which couldn't even begin to compete with the directness of the Tories' "No to Indyref 2" as a get-out-the-vote device. This time, the alternative to a straightforward independence pitch does have every chance of capturing people's imaginations. And because it's only a couple of weeks since Nicola Sturgeon restated her intention to hold a pre-2021 independence referendum, a good result for the SNP is bound to be seen as some kind of endorsement of an indyref, regardless of the exact campaign message. So although I would have preferred this election to be used for an in-your-face push towards independence, it's fair to say I can live with the decision that's been made.
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Somebody posted the Euro ballot paper on Twitter, and what leapt out at me is that Nigel Farage appears to have missed a trick by registering his party name as "The Brexit Party" rather than "Brexit Party", which means he misses out on being top of the ballot on alphabetical order. (I had actually been assuming for months that one of the main reasons he chose the name was precisely because it started with a 'B'.) Instead, pride of place goes to Change UK, whose presence on the ballot as an independent force may spell trouble for the Liberal Democrats. I wouldn't by any means dismiss the Lib Dems' chances of nicking a seat in Scotland - although their success in the English local elections was wildly exaggerated, they'll still have gained momentum from the way in which it was reported. But they're fishing in the same pond as Change UK - both parties appeal to hardline Remain voters who oppose independence, and if that vote is split, it could make it much harder for the Lib Dems to reach the de facto threshold for a Scottish seat, which in turn could create an opening for other parties (including the SNP).