Sticking with the full-on sneer mode that he's preferred over the last couple of weeks (or arguably since he first learned how to scribble his name), Kenny Farquharson wondered aloud whether these new members were "natural gradualists", while Commentor yesterday expressed the hope that they wouldn't prove to be a "Scottish Tea Party". I don't think we need have much fear on either score - the real fundamentalists will have signed up years ago. The new members will largely be those who have only recently been fully persuaded that democratic control of our own affairs can bring about transformative social progress, and it's risible to suggest that such people will be shy about making the case for Devo Max if that's the best option on offer for the moment.
Commentor also poured cold water on the notion that the membership surge had any relevance to how the SNP and other pro-independence parties might fare in future elections. I have slightly more sympathy for that reaction, because it's reasonable to assume that anyone joining the SNP would have voted for the party anyway. But what's happening is obviously symptomatic of the enthusiasm gap that existed throughout the campaign between the Yes and No sides. That didn't count for much last Thursday, because it seems that people who were scared of a Yes vote (and they were scared for a whole host of radically different reasons) were driven by their fear all the way to the polling stations. With less at stake next May (a strange thing to say about a general election, but true) it could just be that enthusiasm will matter a lot more, and differential turnout might in itself be enough to deliver a 1% or 2% boost in vote share to the SNP, or more ideally to a pro-Devo Max electoral pact between the SNP, Greens and others.
Talking of which, it's fascinating to see Nicola Sturgeon stress that she won't be going into the devolution discussions "secretly hoping" for failure. I think most of us are imagining that the SNP and Greens will fight the general election on the basis that the powers on offer from Westminster are inadequate, but is it possible that a deal could be negotiated that is sufficiently good that Sturgeon will think it's worth "banking" it? If she does, the price will probably be putting her weight behind the new package in a wholehearted way, because from a Westminster point of view the biggest inducement for making a much more generous offer than they've hitherto contemplated might be that it would lead to a period of constitutional stability. Would the SNP really be prepared to fight next year's election without seeking a mandate for further powers over and above the ones that have just been negotiated? It's an interesting one. If the talks do break down, probably the ideal scenario would be if Labour were seen to be the party that pulled the rug from under everyone else's feet, while the SNP had negotiated in good faith. That's scarcely inconceivable, because even the Tories' proposals (which are ironically part-authored by Brit Nat fundamentalist Adam "IT'S THE LAW!!!!!" Tomkins) go considerably further than Labour's.
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