We would like to think that Plaid and the SNP are serious in their commitment to a Europe of small nations and historic regions. (And if they have any influence in the next parliament that they might like to promote the idea, alongside a genuine brand of localism.) They are both, after all, members of the European Free Alliance. That’s not how it looks from here. Or perhaps from Cornwall, where fellow EFA members Mebyon Kernow are similarly beneath recognition. It doesn’t take much: all you have to say is, in Cornwall or in England, vote for your local party of self-government and if it’s not standing then, and only then, might you like to consider the second-rate option of voting Green. Because in Scotland and Wales, the Greens are part of the opposition. Why should it be any different anywhere else?
Nicola Sturgeon’s final suggestion, a vote for ‘progressive’ Labour candidates as part of keeping David Cameron and his (cross-party) ideology out of power, is similarly off-target. There’s no ‘progressive’ Labour Party in Scotland: that’s the SNP’s winning card. Why should it be any different anywhere else? A vote for Labour is a vote for Jack Straw to imagine a ban on the SNP as a separatist menace. Over-enthusiastic SNP evangelism on behalf of Labour risks a Labour majority government that could set about doing great damage to the nationalist cause. Telling English voters that the Tories are worse than Labour is, sadly, an own goal. The truth is we know they’re as bad as each other. The more that leaders of the alternative act as if the terrible twins are an ineradicable fact of our politics, the more they help to keep things that way.