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Why the SNP are hoping for a minority Tory government

02/04/2015 17:29 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 10:59 BST

The people of Scotland have spoken. In the highest turn-out referendum that you could possibly hope for in a Western country, 55% of us have said that we should remain as part of the UK. The SNP has committed to respecting the will of the Scottish people, a stance repeatedly confirmed by both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. However, it is also convenient that the "will of the Scottish people can change. Therefore, respecting it is not the same as a commitment to respect the outcome of the referendum. Should there be a strong mood-swing in the Scottish electorate towards independence, for whatever reason, why would it be terribly undemocratic for the SNP not to force a second referendum as the earliest opportunity. In fact a strong mood-swing is not even necessary. A mere perception of it would be enough.

What might cause the "mood" to swing? What might lead ordinary Scots to accept the "wisdom" of the SNP's core aim, independence? The answer - a boy man. Or in political terms - a Westminster Tory government. Especially a weak, inept minority government which is the most the Tories can hope for as polls stand at the moment. Scots would obviously hate that, and it would be obviously undemocratic to deny them the opportunity to protest-vote against the outcome of a general election.

But surely, you will say, no SNP politician could be quite so callous and cynical to be secretly in favour of a minority Tory government, even while Alex Salmond promises to "lock out the Tories". Or could they? A senior journalist with top SNP contacts has told me that the senior party officials are privately hoping for such a minority Tory government. Even if Salmond and Sturgeon are sincere in their promises, it is difficult to believe that the SNP organisation as a whole would resist the opportunity to further question the legitimacy of 'Westminster'. They will claim that any Tory government would be illegitimate. Another Tory government that the people of Scotland did not vote for. Ruled from London by toffs who might not even have a single MP North of the Border.

Nevermind that a referendum result in favour of continued union with the rest of the UK is as good an evidence for the legitimacy of a Westminster Parliament as you can get in a democratic society. According to the SNP rhetoric, Parliament is only legitimate if you like the outcome of the last election. From which it must also follow that if Scotland gets Independence, all the constituencies that elect Unionist (whether Tory or other colour) MSPs are then allowed to secede from Scotland and rejoin the UK, and other such absurdities. Nevermind also that at the last general election there were 413,000 Tory votes in Scotland to the SNP's 491,000, so the argument that the SNP is somehow so much more representative of Scotland than the demonic Tories is also rather thin on the ground.

So here we have Salmond and Sturgeon beating away at the anti-Tory drum for their Scottish base, and all the while going out of their way to irritate English voters. With ever more assertive suggestions of involvement in English matters, combined with a dogged insistence of associating themselves with Labour and poisoning their campaign, the SNP seems determined to lend as much credence as they can to Tory propaganda that a Miliband government would be an SNP Trojan horse. Keep this up, annoy enough English voters to push them towards Cameron, and any promise of a Tory 'lock out' becomes irrelevant.

This is not to suggest that the SNP don't sincerely hate the Tories. I'm sure they do. What worries me is just how much they seem to love to hate the Tories. Especially if you hate them too! If we all hate the Tories, and if by who knows what accident they once again take power at Westminster, well surely then it stands to reason that we should have another referendum.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of the Scotland Institute