In September, the Scottish people rejected independence from the United Kingdom by a sizeable margin. The business community in Scotland made it clear just how damaging a vote for independence would be to the Scottish economy and to the living standards of the Scottish people. The subsequent slump in oil prices has crystallized the reckless risks that, through poorly thought out policies, the independence movement was taking with the wellbeing of the citizens of Scotland.
That said, Scottish pride in their own nation rightly remains high and a satisfactory formula has yet to be found to provide for Scottish self-determination within a United Kingdom. The various political parties are working towards that end. It is a significant challenge and the optimal solution is not obvious. All the parties, that is, except one - the Scottish National Party.
The SNP agenda is and will remain to work for Scottish independence. They have made it clear that they have no interest in working for the common good of the United Kingdom or to find a way for a harmonious co-existence of a proud and self-determined Scotland within the Union.
It is possible that the SNP will have a significant presence in a Westminster parliament after this coming election. How will they use that presence? Alex Salmond has made clear that, should he be in a position of power in Westminster (and should he get elected in the first place - which is not a given), he will use that to push the SNP agenda to the exclusion of all else. And why not? If your agenda is independence, a meaningful presence in Westminster presents a golden opportunity. Not an opportunity to engage in responsible discussion and seeking to find ways forward to tackle challenging questions. No. The opportunity for the SNP lies in being as unreasonable, objectionable and destructive as possible.
They did not manage to persuade the majority of the Scottish people to vote for independence. Their presence at Westminster could now present a golden opportunity to irritate, alienate and estrange as much of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish population as possible so that they can have everyone south of the border clamouring to get rid of the disruptive, unreasonable Scots.
Voters in Scotland should make no mistake about what is at stake in the upcoming general election. A vote for the SNP is not a vote to give Scotland a reasoned voice in Westminster. It is a vote for the next piece of the SNP's agenda for independence - the party's only reason for existence. That next piece of that agenda is to turn the people of the United Kingdom against Scotland. After five years in Westminster, nothing could be more pleasing to Alex Salmond's ears than to hear the English, the Welsh and the Northern Irish all scream - let these disruptive Scots go and good riddance.
One headline on the SNP web site shows a background picture of the House of Commons with the tag line - more SNP seats, more power for Scotland. Not so. More SNP seats in Westminster means more divisive, disruptive, gutter politics designed to turn all other UK citizens against Scotland as the next logical step towards an independence that the majority of Scots have already rejected.