Nicola Sturgeon SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

The establishment’s anti-SNP hysteria is aimed at the post election world – they want to nip in the bud any chance of real change

The election hasn’t even happened but the Tories have already started a campaign of subversion against the likely next government.

Whilst their scare stories are in part meant to weaken both the SNP and Labour, in reality they are unlikely to have much effect. Nuclear weapons have not played any significant part in general elections since the 1980s.

No, this hysteria is aimed at the post election world. They want to nip in the bud any chance of real change.

Deligitimise and demonise

The headlines today say it all: “We will hold UK defence to ransom, SNP warns” screams the front page of The Times.

It is the connotations which matter here, and the connotations are with crime, the illegal and illegitimate.

The campaign to demonise and brand as undemocratic any radical agenda, or in fact any policies associated with the SNP, is underway.

Unionist hypocrisy

The hypocrisy of this is stunning, even by the Tories’ own often twisted constitutional logic.

In the referendum campaign last year the Tories were desperate to preserve the constitutional status quo, and they succeeded: Scotland is still in the Union.

Defence policy, along with numerous other areas of policy (devolution being in fact being fairly limited) notably including Social Security) is a “reserved” matter, a national issue which only Westminster has power over.

As such even by the Tories’ own logic SNP Members elected to parliament have every right to press their position on it.

Nor is opposition to Trident, in itself “illegitimate”. There are plenty of opponents of Trident in the Lib Dems, with whom the Tories have just served a full term of government.

First Past The Post comes home to roost

The last throw of the illegitimacy dice is that the SNP will enjoy influence in parliament far out of proportion to their share of the national vote. They will, as seems likely hold 7% of seats on 3% of the vote.

This though is a result of the “First Past The Post” system we use to elect the House of Commons, a system the Tories defend as fanatically as they do the Union.

State of panic

That the Tories are getting themselves in to such contortions is a real sign of the state of panic they are in.

They thought that they had saved the Union (screwing Labour in the process) and that the general election would be a shoe-in.

They planned after their inevitable victory to finish off a radical neoliberal restructuring of the economy and to create permanent Tory government in England through English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).

How different things are now looking.

Alastair Stephens

Alastair Stephens has been a socialist his whole adult life and has been active in Unison and the TGWU. He studied Russian at Portsmouth, Middle East Politics at SOAS and writes regularly for the Counterfire website.