The Guardian view on the SNP’s protests: signs of weakness and strength | Editorial

Scotland’s governing party has been in power for 11 years. Independence is stalled and Nicola Sturgeon has low ratings, but the party still shapes the agenda

Scotland was short-changed in this week’s Commons debates on changes to the EU withdrawal bill. Because of the way the timetable for debate operated, less than 20 minutes of the 12 hours set aside for the bill was devoted to the devolution impact in Scotland and Wales. MPs from all sides were angry about that, and rightly so. On Wednesday, the SNP’s Commons leader, Ian Blackford, duly got himself thrown out of the chamber for his protests, taking all the SNP MPs with him, triggering some much-needed good headlines and a surge of new members for his party. On Thursday Mr Blackford promised more parliamentary guerrilla tactics.

There is a big hinterland to this week’s row. Almost no part of it is anything like as black and white as the issue of the absurdly short time allowed for the parliamentary debate, on which Mr Blackford was right to protest. The SNP walkout – a tactic straight out of the 19th-century Irish home rule party playbook on Westminster obstruction – was a bit of a stunt. It has given Mr Blackford and his MPs some visibility they have lacked over the past year. But there are serious issues in Scottish politics that cannot be dismissed as gestures.

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