Party over Policy? Scottish Nationalism and the Politics of Independence



The Scottish National Party (SNP) won control of Scotland's devolved government in the 2007 election yet opinion polls show no majority for its objective of independence in Europe. While the party is adept at exploiting short-term political opportunity structures in the wider British context, as well as appealing to the ‘opinion electorate’, it appears less successful at persuading a majority of Scottish voters to agree with its core ideology. Helpful parallels can be drawn between 2007 and the last time the party polled over 30 per cent of the popular vote in Scotland at the 1974 (October) British General Election—then, as now, the Scottish voter appears to be willing to distinguish between party and policy.