The Scottish National Party (SNP) conference in Glasgow this week met in a subdued mood. It follows a general election where the SNP fell from 56 MPs to 35.
Although the SNP is still clearly the most popular party, current polls suggest that the Scottish parliament would lose its present
pro-independence majority in new elections.
And Labour is recovering at least some of the ground it lost so disastrously in recent years. Jeremy Corbyn’s net approval in Scotland has risen by 62 percentage points from -42 to +20 in just over a year.
In an effort to recover some of its radical gloss the SNP this week tried to highlight policies that will help working class people. These included an increase in free childcare.
But the detail shows how meagre such plans are.
On Monday Scottish finance minister Derek Mackay told delegates the public sector pay cap would go. But he added that there would be no large increases unless the Tories stumped up more cash.
Unions responded that “public workers won’t wait for Westminster” and said Mackay should use his tax powers to produce rises above inflation.
At the same time, despite party leader Nicola Sturgeon’s call to “put Scotland in the driving seat”, the SNP is not pushing for a quick second referendum on independence.