I think Alex Salmond does a very good job as First Minister, but I fully respect that he’s not everybody’s favourite politician. However, apparently this dislike is making many people vote No:
In the Survation poll of 1003 Scots, 36 per cent said the thought of Salmond running an independent Scotland is pushing them towards a No vote in September’s referendum.
Only 12 per cent of voters say Salmond has made them more likely to vote Yes, while 46 per cent say their view of him won’t change the way they vote and six per cent are unsure how it will impact on their decision.
This is barking mad! It would be like being against the Act of Union in 1707 solely because of a personal dislike of the Earl of Seafield (one of Scotland’s most prominent politicians at the time).
Also, Alex Salmond is 59 years old, so he’s unlikely to continue to dominate Scottish politics for many years. In twenty years’ time, when he’s been a pensioner for a good number of years, how will it feel to have voted note just because of a personal antipathy?
However, even if getting rid of Salmond seems like the most important goal in politics (which is absurd given the very real problems this country is facing), voting Yes is the best way to achieve this.
After a Yes vote, the Scottish political landscape will change dramatically, and one of the main victims of this process is likely to be the SNP.
The SNP is a very broad church, and the glue that holds the party together is the quest for independence. Once that has been achieved, it will need to redefine itself in different terms, for instance as Scotland’s Social-Democratic Party, and while that might keep a majority of the party’s current supporters happy, many activists and voters will be lost to other parties. Even if Salmond wanted to, it’s by no means obvious he’d survive this change as leader.
On the other hand, if it’s a No vote in September, I expect activists will flock to the SNP in even greater numbers. The two-year referendum campaign has convinced so many people that independence is the right way forward for Scotland, and a No vote will just be seen as a temporary hiccough (unless No wins by a landslide, and that’s clearly not going to happen). It might even force Salmond to remain as leader for longer than he had anticipated, because his experience will be invaluable in the struggle to prevent Westminster from running roughshod over Scotland in the aftermath of a No vote.
The conclusion is clear. If you hate Salmond and the SNP, and you just wish Scotland had a “normal” political landscape rather than one defined primarily by the independence question, you should vote Yes to independence.