DOREEN WACHMANN COLUMN
Beware clout of the SNP 'bullies'

LAST year, soon after the Scottish referendum, I read Another God by David Brauner. The author, who had studied at Edinburgh University where he had supported the nationalist cause, devised a nightmare scenario in which an independent Scotland would become so virulently anti-Zionist and antisemitic that it arrested a rabbi for delivering a pro-aliya sermon.

At that time, I thought the storyline to be rather far-fetched. Now I am not so sure as I become aware of Scottish Jewry's nervousness over the recent SNP election landslide.

Immediately after the election victory, the Scottish First Minister called for a ban on arms to Israel, causing Scottish Jewish leaders to talk about their unease and nervousness in the wake of the election result, particularly as key Labour Friends of Israel members lost their seats in the election.

Yet ironically, the Conservatives, who ideologically are the left-wing SNP's biggest opponents, helped to land the massive Scottish victory they gained.

By not agreeing to a face-to-face leaders' debate and insisting on giving minority parties equal status in the debates, David Cameron accorded star status to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who particularly excelled in the first debate. Cameron added to that by using the race card to deter voters from voting Labour by claiming that Ed Miliband would be in the SNP's pocket if elected. This tactic won Cameron the election, but at what cost?

As the Labour Party is currently tearing itself apart in an agony of soulsearching as to what went wrong, how many politicians and commentators have taken stock of the total effect of the SNP's recent surge in popularity in the recent election?

It was not just the huge amount of seats Labour lost in Scotland which swung the day, but also the fear factor. How many potential non-Scottish Labour supporters were put off voting for the party of their choice for fear of bringing the SNP into power in the UK in a Labour-SNP election victory?

However much most of us non-Scottish residents of the UK may like our Scottish neighbours, most of us think it is an absolute chutzpa for the Scots, who wanted to break away from their hated Westminster, to seek to wield power over it and even reverse their previous policy of not interfering in English parliamentary matters.

It is as much a chutzpa as UKIP being elected to - and enjoying - all the perks of the European Parliament from which their No 1 policy is to disengage.

Were the Conservatives in a secret league with the SNP in order to gain short-term election success? It seems incredible but it worked for both of them - at least in the short term.

In fact, Cameron's election victory was incredibly similar to that of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel just a couple of months before. Some pundits have even suggested that Cameron took a leaf out of Netanyahu's book in his election tactics.

Both eschewed TV debates. Both gained unexpected victories and both used the race card, Cameron pitting Scottish against English nationalism and Netanyahu warning of a massive Arab turnout in his election.

While the election victories of both Netanyahu and Cameron may contribute to making the world a safer place by their tougher stands on fighting extremism, particularly of the Islamic and antisemitic variety, race is a dangerous element to be introduced into any democratic election.

UKIP made it an acceptable subject of debate by stoking up anti-immigration fears in Britain. I am delighted, therefore, that they came out so badly in the recent election and seem to be tearing themselves apart even more since.

I am even more delighted that the good citizens of Bradford booted out Respect MP George Galloway.

But I am far from happy about the amount of Westminster clout the SNP gained through their sophisticated ploys in order to promulgate their ultimately divisive policies.

And I am not alone in my fear of SNP power in Westminister.

I admire Times columnist Melanie Phillips' strong stand in support of Israel and against Islamic terror, but in general her deeply-held political views are rather to the right of mine.

But I agree wholeheartedly with her analysis of the SNP last week when she wrote: "As austerity measures slice further into public services, the SNP will pose as Westminster minority martyrs unable to blunt the cruel Osborne knife. They will seek to increase the already high level of English irritation with Scotland in order to harness English nationalism to further their own independence cause."

She concludes: "The Scottish Nationalists are manipulative bullies. The way to deal with bullies is to face them down."

Cameron, you have been warned of the divisive elements currently at work within the UK.

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