Scottish National Party driving Scotland to edge of independence

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond arrives to deliver the closing speech at the pro-indepence party's Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, April 12, 2014The Scottish National Party (SNP) has gone from being a fringe force to within touching distance of taking Scotland independent from Britain, its defining purpose, in 15 years. To most Scots, the party means two things — First Minister Alex Salmond, the combative horse-racing fanatic who has led it on and off since 1990, and independence, at the party’s heart since its foundation 80 years ago. “They’re either going to win narrowly, which is just a possibility, or they’re going to poll so high that the union is never going be the same again,” said Gerry Hassan, an academic and leading commentator on Scottish politics. The opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 under Britain’s then prime minister Tony Blair gave the SNP its big boost.

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