The election campaign is bumping along quite nicely so far and there is still 3 weeks to go for issues to be drawn out and debated, not to mention a few manifestos still to be published (SNP tomorrow, Greens several days hence).

The main battlegrounds thus far have included local taxation, minimum pricing and policing but one policy that has been conspicuous by its absence is independence. Indeed, it is the pro-UK parties that are making the most noise around this issue, warning voters of a broken up Britain that their main rivals, the SNP, seem surprisingly nonplussed about.

The expected logic from the outset of the last session was that competent Nationalist Government coupled with a Parliamentary defeat for a Referendum Bill would see Salmond campaigning hard on ‘the Scottish people being denied their sovereign say on the future of our great nation’, or something else similarly overblown.

It hasn’t happened and we are left with the Jim Sillars of the independence movement flying the flag for separation. How has this come to pass? Why does the SNP PEB ask what the Scottish Government has done for us and not what you can achieve for your country? I appreciate that many Scots misundertand the N in SNP to the party’s electoral disadvantage but it has snapped back the other way quite dramatically.

There are reasons why of course: the Referendum Bill never did get voted on, let alone down, the economy went haywire, Scottish confidence freefalled and polling figures for independence sank as a result. This, as far as I can see, shouldn’t dim the SNP’s appetite for independence so why is the party immersing itself in the snug embrace of devolved Scotland and what is the strategy for the coming term?

Well, the answer to the first question is simple – suppressing its independence aims is the only way for the SNP to win this coming election. This contest is about preaching to the converted and a recent poll has shown that the NHS, policing and free university education are Scotland’s top priorities, while independence (and an extra Forth Road Bridge) are seen as irrelevant.

So, what can we expect during the next parliamentary term on independence? Nothing referendum-related unless there is an SNP/Green coalition as the other parties can, quite reasonably, claim there is little mandate for the barely discussed issue.

Perhaps a bedding in of Calman and a hope that Coalition rule from London will drop independence into Scotland’s lap is sufficient for the SNP over the next five years but one would expect that, for a party whose stated objective is independence, it might want to talk about it in some detail and make its case once in a while.