Were I a member of UKIP this morning the news of the Populus poll in the Times about the Scottish election would have me worrying. Instinctively one might wonder why the Scottish elections should worry what is, perceived to be at least a single issue party around the on the matter of our membership of the European Union, but I shall explain.
If, as the poll suggests, and the SNP wipe out Labour in the Scottish elections then one of their key policy platforms is a substantive referendum on full independence from the United Kingdom.
Now, I don't know what the chances of winning such a vote is for a party that is predicted to achieve 50% of the vote in May, but what seems clear is that the possibility of a referendum being won by the SNP seems far more likely today than it has for some time.
Should such a referendum be held and won then it will effectively be Scotland that resolves the West Lothian Question with the nuclear option. The destruction of the Act of Union, and thereby the end of the sovereign existence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will remove all questions about English votes for English matters.
So where does UKIP fit into all this you may wonder? Well, as most people know, the European Union as it is today is the sum of its treaties. In the case of our membership, it was the UK that negotiated entry and agreed to become a signatory. An SNP referendum win on independence will effectively nullify all those treaties. After all, if the nation state that joined no longer exists, then, as they say, "all bets are off".
Scotland will, if it so chooses (and I can't see her not doing it when the money from England disappears), negotiate its own membership of the EU. Likewise, it will be down to what is left, be it separate nations or a new Union between England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to find a settlement on it’s relationship with the EU.
Consequentially, and party politically, as the United Kingdom will technically not exist it means the playing field on which UKIP places itself is suddenly, and dramatically, altered changed. The simple move of breaking the Act of Union will instantly propel each of the home nations out of the EU and will provide the means for renegotiation on whatever terms we so choose. Be it rejoining; be it EFTA; or be it "sod off".
The question is, what happens to UKIP? Now, I imagine my UKIPer friends will point out to me that their party is undergoing a re-branding strategy and will soon emerge as the Independence Party. This is all well and good, but how many members, and crucially voters will it retain? I’d suggest that many will simply flock back to the Tory Party that they originally left once the EU issue is resolved.
Consider this as well; many of the most active people in UKIP are libertarian free marketeers (which is not a bad thing in itself). However I’d hazard a guess that a large majority of its vote is simply made up of traditional Tories whose only problem is the single issue of Europe.
Arguably, the party that UKIP and Nigel Farage should fear if any is not the traditional three, but actually the SNP. It is the SNP who threaten to end the Union, and along with it the very relationship with Europe that UKIP (and a lot of Tories too) want to see changed.