Sunday, 31 May 2009


Alex Salmond’s letter in The Observer is the clearest indication yet that he misses his national profile, and that he pines for the age-old real capital of upper-middle-class Scotland.

He doubtless sees himself as the natural leader at Westminster of a Nationalist-cum-Green bloc such as exists at Strasbourg. And he might very well have a point: a voice from deep in small town Scotland would be a most welcome moderating influence on the Greens and on aspects of Plaid Cymru.

But he seems quite content with party lists. But then, which Party Leader would not be? And he either cannot see or (much more probably) cannot say that giving the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies proportional representation was an expression of the Scottish and Welsh Labour Establishment’s disdain for them even before they existed, just as its introduction for Strasbourg was an expression of such disdain by the Labour Establishment as a whole. It would never have been countenanced for anything that they thought really mattered.

Salmond is also taken with fixed terms, in this country a mark of local government. The power to force a General Election by passing a motion of no confidence, or by defeating a government’s own confidence motion, is a defining characteristic of elected parliamentarians rather than elected councillors, and an integral part of their greater and higher authority.

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