The speculation is over. The SNP has gained a historic third Holyrood victory, Labour’s Scottish branch has reached a new low by finishing in third place behind the Tories and the LibDems could only manage a feeble fifth behind the Greens. Nicola Sturgeon plans to put “party differences aside and work together and place people’s needs first to unite and not divide” and promises to serve all.
Sparks are set to fly in Holyrood though. Just contrast the words of Nicola Sturgeon today “There is a clear and unequivocal mandate that I sought to implement the bold government people want”, to the position of the opposition leader, Ruth Davidson who oddly said the SNP “have no mandate, majority or cause“. Perhaps Ruth should remember her boss Cameron’s smaller mandate in Westminster.
Despite not winning quite as many seats as 2011, the SNP actually increased their constituency vote share by 156,982, which interestingly is almost the same as the 154,202 NO voters that are now YES as shown by the recent Survation poll. If anyone tells you this is somehow a bad result for the SNP or the wheels have came of the indie juggernaut, I suggest they’re likely to be a disingenuous unionist.
One thing this election has proved is that there is a significant amount of blinkered bigots in Scotland that are happy to interchange their vote between unionist parties and that their vote has nothing to do with socialist values, social structure, education policy or an efficient NHS but instead only a narrow unionist nationalism. The term ‘red and blue Tories’ has never been truer.
Tory policy is both more toxic (they only got 1 vote in 5) and inequality causing than ever before but in Scotland, unionist tactical voting will happily mean the blinkered and intellectually challenged lending them a vote anyway as for some it’s all about the flutes and flags rather than concern due to living at the wrong end of the poverty gap. It can be difficult for the sane to understand this position.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon should be voted in as First Minister and the SNP will form a minority government like they did back in 2007. This was confirmed by Nicola Sturgeon earlier, who in a statesmanlike speech outside Bute House, said
“I will ask the Scottish Parliament to formally re-elect me as the First Minister of Scotland and I will formulate and lead an SNP government. I will seek no coalition and will reach out and work with others to find common ground and consensus.”
It’s always difficult for a party of governance to conserve high levels of support anywhere, anytime but the SNP have largely achieved this. No ‘breaking’ of the system this time for the SNP although they came within only 2 seats of doing so and actually won more constituency votes than they won in 2011, with the largest number of constituencies ever achieved and polled over 1 million votes, another first and have won all Glasgow constituencies.
There will be some disappointment about the failure of the SNP to win a majority government and the possible ramifications that this may have. The most distinct ramification is the often-vaunted scenario where next months in/out EU referendum provides a ‘remain’ vote in Scotland but is usurped by a ‘leave’ vote by the rUK.
However, the lack of a majority for the SNP who polled 46.5% of the popular constituency vote in a system deigned to deliver near PR, the outcome of falling 2 short is arguably fair.
Nicola yet again emphasised that education will be the driving theme of her tenure and that she should be judged on that, so expect a significant push there and for her to continue to ‘make the case for independence on passion, patience and respect’.
The Still Toxic Tories
The Scottish government are now up against a Tory opposition who are propped up by a Westminster Tory majority. It’s clear where the vast majority of power still lies. In a London centric plutocracy in the hands of selfish and greedy people hell bent on legislating against the poor until they literally kill them.
If the Scottish Parliament is to use the few powers it has to provide the strongest possible opposition against Tory rule for the benefit of Scotland, it is clear what the next step should be outwith a formal coalition, namely an SNP/Green case-by-case efficient relationship to lock the unionists from the sphere of influence.
Ruth Davidson ungraciously said “Now that she has failed to win a majority, whatever claims the SNP were pursuing with regard to constitutional brinkmanship over the next five years have now been utterly shredded.”
It’s time for Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and the wider independence movement to step up and take the fight straight to the Tories. We are the real opposition against the toxic tories and have to fight harder than ever to remove our country from their damaging greed agenda and murderous foreign policy .
Labour’s Scottish Branch
In their worst Scottish performance since 1910, they have been wiped out entirely in their former Glasgow heartland and now have to look inward to decipher why they finished third behind the Tories and why their manifesto has been well and truly rejected by the electorate. There was the odd highlight such as Jackie Baillie holding on by 109 votes in Dumbarton, but these were few and far between.
Scottish Labour must make sense of the constitutional question. Until then they are caught in no mans land with voters confused about what they stand for. The ‘traditional’ Labour voters are a dying breed and a more radical approach from them is required if people are to understand what they stand for in Scotland.
Kezia Dugdale, who still chooses to ignore this rather obvious point, says “We will continue to argue for Labour values and ideas” and looked for some solace by saying it wasn’t so bad as in the General Election last year where “46 fell to 1 whereas we only lost a third this time”. In a letter to members today, Kezia said “I hope this result will act as a rallying call for everyone who shares our values to join us.” Kezia admits to a failed strategy but plans to continue with it regardless with no new ideology, no radical thinking and no coherent vision or new messaging.
Henry McLeish who was their last credible leader has the rights of it when he says Labour is “moving to the left in isolation without embracing identity politics”. He also admits Labour can’t say they stand up for Scotland. He is a political intellect who realises that when Labour were doing well, it was when they were ahead of the curve on the constitutional question. He says Labour should not look to ‘suffer from a lack of entitlement, but work with others.
They didn’t live up to polling expectations and will be a little disappointed not to return an MSP in all eight regions, but they have moved forward and Patrick Harvie described it as “best result to date and something to build on”. The Greens have a test ahead of them. Patrick Harvie also said they now have “opportunities to have influence on policy and push the Scottish Government towards being a bolder Holyrood”.
I would suggest to Patrick they will have to compromise and make sure they support policy such as the named person act and ensure the SNP economic policy and John Swinny’s budget get a smooth ride. Only then will they have an opportunity to push the SNP very hard on their own policies such as raising revenue for improving pubic services or their own core environmental issues such as protecting Scotland from fracking and importantly, be the champions of a more radical Land Reform Bill by leveraging the skills of their new MSP and expert Andy Whiteman, which is something that is also popular among most grass roots voters as witnessed by the SNP delegates demand for more radical plans to be proposed.
The Lib Dems
They have made no progress since their rather disastrous 2011 performance and in terms of vote share and seats it’s very much ‘as you were’. Despite having lost 47 deposits, an overly enthusiastic Willie Rennie focussed on where they won and claimed everything was fantastic, wonderful and great. I think Willie was just happy to slightly unexpectedly win his own constituency of North East Fife and avoiding any backlash from the liar Carmichael damaging them further.
UKIP got what their policies deserve, nowt. Solidarity polled as the best of the rest with Tommy Sheridan racking up a few thousand in Glasgow, while RISE didn’t rise to the occasion, barely making a ripple and are probably destined to do what the radical left always does and implode.
Regardless of how the EU referendum goes it is highly unlikely to spark another referendum during the Scottish Parliamentary term due to the lack of an SNP majority and the Green’s preferring a patient approach, something today also being voiced by the SNP. The thought of losing a second indie ref under those circumstances and the resulting damage to the wider independence campaign, the words ‘dodging a bullet’ come to mind. It seems clearer than ever that the independence movement needs a little more time than the lifetime of this parliament will provide, to convince enough Scots that independence, a country’s normal state, is the best route forward for the country.
Anti-indie Labour voters have shown they are happy to cross the line and jump into bed with the toxic Tories. If Kezia Dugdale cannot be the architect of a rebuild she will have to step aside and allow someone with a vision for constitutional change to provide leadership. That certainly does not mean the talentless James Kelly who bizarrely said “We didn’t misjudge policy but somehow it didn’t show itself in votes.”. That sums them up their talent pool.
The further political polarisation emphasised by this election will only act as a constant reminder of what living in this union means. Rule from an ultra-right wing Tory majority government aided and abetted by their Holyrood apologist and cheerleading stooge in opposition. We have work to do, let’s get on with it.