To say this is bad news for SNP is to misconstrue party’s stance

SOME might be surprised that declining Scottish ethnicity was a issue highlighted by the Scottish Nationalists, given that logic might suggest it undermines their case for separation.

But this fails to understand the subtlety of the modern SNP’s position, which is all about broadening its appeal and moving away from nationalist stereotypes.

The reason that the SNP was so successful with running the Homecoming Year in 2009 was not just First Minister Alex Salmond’s adoration of Rabbie Burns, but also because the party more than any other understands the concept of “affinity Scots”.

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Homecoming’s ultimate appeal, rather like the SNP’s, was about its ability to reach beyond cultural and ethnic Scots to people who like and identify with Scotland.

For the SNP it is the logical step of its doctrine of “positive nationalism” not being about hating England but about loving Scotland.

While some of the old anti-English bigotry still strongly exists below the leadership, the SNP under Alex Salmond has successfully conveyed this message to a wider public.

This is why victory is possible in an independence referendum, the SNP already having built success on two Holyrood election victories.