A leading Scottish National Party member, Mike Russell, in a new book ‘Grasping the Thistle’ has advocated a stepping stone approach to Scottish independence. He calls for the establishment of a ‘New Union’ with more powers given to Holyrood. This suggestion is similar to the “Sovereignty Association” concept developed by Quebec nationalists. Russell’s idea jars with the SNP’s present proposals of a referendum within a year of forming an Executive and if his suggestion is popular it could reignite internal SNP tensions just as polls show growing support for the party and independence.The aim of Sovereignty Association was to tackle the fear among soft opponents of full separation about the degree of change. It was intended that this would enable the Bloc Quebecois to extend beyond its base of Francophones. Despite this 50%+1 has proved illusive. It is worth noting that in the Canadian context strong regional government has been a proven barrier to Quebec independence. Essentially when the separatist party has run the region well voter contentment meant no demand to go further and when there were problems the party and the idea of independence suffered. Also specific policies enacted have motivated opposition. The strict language laws, enacted after concerning Census figures about the state of the French language, motivated the Anglophone and minority ethnic groups against spearatism.
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