I was delighted to see First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indicating that Scotland’s place in Europe will be .rmly at the heart of the SNP’s forthcoming General Election campaign.
Down in London the Westminster dinosaurs are busy obsessing about Europe and trying to .nd ways of out gunning UKIP who continue to set the political agenda with their hostile, right wing agenda.
Meanwhile, here in Scotland, a colossal wind of change is blowing through our political system which threatens to shake the Labour Party to its very core. Not only has the SNP been polling at record levels for Westminster intentions for several months, but additional polling has found that support for Scotland remaining a member of the EU has increased by 19 points since 2012.
Strong Scottish support for staying in the European Union is not at all surprising -not least because withdrawing from Europe would put 336,000 Scottish jobs at risk. Not only that, but Regional Development Funds and European Social Funds bring just under €1 BILLION to Scotland, helping to boost growth, employment and tackle poverty.
With each passing day of this campaign, we are continuing to see yet more clear blue water between the SNP and London parties. On austerity, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are all signed up to more cuts which continue to have an adverse impact on the most vulnerable in our society. As a result, we’ve seen more people than ever before using food banks.
You would think the soaring rise in food bank usage might ring the alarm bells for the London parties, making them admit that their spending priorities are totally out of kilter. Unfortunately not – when it comes to trident, all the parties – except the SNP – are committed to spending another £130,000,000,000 on a new generation of nuclear missiles.
Scotland stands at a fork in the road at this election. If we sign up for more of the same with the London parties, then our place in Europe is at risk, Westminster will continue with the austerity agenda, welfare caps will be further tightened but at least we will have a new generation nuclear weapons to defend our many food banks.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
With opinion polls consistently pointing to a hung Parliament as a consequence of the general election, the SNP is better placed than it has ever been to hold the balance of power. A vote to send a strong group of SNP MPs to Westminster will mean that London has to think again when it comes to its austerity agenda, its bene.t cuts, new nuclear weapons and an unhealthy obsession with Euro scepticism.
The First Minister is therefore right to put Europe at the heart of the SNP’s campaign. I .rmly believe that these themes will carry the SNP to a historic victory in May’s general election and shake Westminster to its very foundations. And that’s no bad thing from Scotland's viewpoint.