As the SNP tries to recover from the devastating blow of losing last week’s independence referendum, its former treasurer Ian Blackford has called on the party to set out a new political stance acknowledging the independence issue is settled for the moment.
With the constitutional position taken by the SNP sure to be a key issue as the party’s leadership moves from Alex Salmond to Nicola Sturgeon, Blackford has tried to reignite a fresh debate.
His comments came as Scotland published an article on Sunday by influential SNP MSP Marco Biagi, who admitted it was ‘inconceivable’ that his party could stand in next year’s general election with a manifesto containing a promise of a referendum on independence.
Blackford, a former Deutsche Bank chief executive, said now was the time to reframe the constitutional debate by fighting for Home Rule – a settlement that would delegate all domestic politics to Holyrood, just defence, foreign affairs and the international relations being reserved for Westminster.
Blackford said: “This is the kind of debate we need to have. We need to go beyond the garish headlines. Because that’s how you make people’s lives better, that’s the problem, whether it’s in a decentralized or independent structure.
“I would always say independence is what we need, but what we have to recognize is that we got a vote on Thursday and that door has closed, at least for now.
“We have to get through the next 18 months and I think we have to participate in Scotland’s body politic. Voters expect us to do that. They have made it very clear that they want change in Scotland.
Blackford said the SNP should participate in discussions about the options for constitutional change put forward by Westminster parties.
“We do this by saying that we know people voted for change and that we believe that in order to come up with something that makes sense, makes sense and is fair to the rest of the UK, as part of this process we should call to full Home Rule for Scotland – anything that can be considered domestic business. The logic of doing this is that then you don’t have an unbalanced UK, because Scotland is then responsible for all its domestic activities and pays Westminster to be part of the Union.
Blackford said that position would allow the SNP to run on a ticket in 2015 that would appeal to the 45% of the electorate who voted Yes and the proportion of No voters who rejected independence based on more powers. future.
He added: “None of this will be enacted into law before the UK general election, so it allows the SNP to stand on a ticket for the Westminster election where you call on people to lend their vote to the SNP so directs that we obtain the most powerful powers possible.