fonzsharkjump-300x300What, there’s more? Are you kidding? More context on #SP16 than you could fit in a voice-operated elevator in Burnistoun. This time round, Stuart Cosgrove, Isobel Lindsay, Douglas Henshall, Sunder Katwala.


Stuart Cosgrove (@detroit67book), author and tv titan, on how the shark was jumped in #SP16

It was the election that jumped the shark, vaulted the bison and humped the pig. Never in the history of social democracy have so many demeaning photographs been taken in the pursuit of votes.

This is something more than a sideshow for much of the election it was the show. Every morning in gleeful conspiracy, party coordinators and freelance photographers met at pre-arranged places to try to conjure photographs that would either humanise or bring dynamism to our political culture.

Hard hats and high-vis jackets for jobs and industry; building blocks and splash paintings for nursery care and white coats for everything from bakeries to science centres. No cliché is too hackneyed for this demeaning and often counterproductive festival of naffness.

But still they insist on humiliating themselves and us. My heart goes out to the leaders of Scotland’s nanotechnology sector: politicians have yet to find a suitable fancy-dress costume to represent this exciting and futuristic industry.

Lord put us out of our misery – no more cowboy outfits, no more go-karting and no more sound bites as pigs fornicate in the background. Give them some privacy please.


Isobel Lindsay, sociologist, Scottish CND 

“If you want a quick way of predicting where the SNP will do well, look at the unemployment figures in the area.”  I’m quoting from memory the statistical expert covering the results for STV.  Add to that the recent analysis that current Labour voters are to the right of SNP voters.

The SNP has to nourish its base. Being over-cautious, it did not win over the prosperous anti-independence voters.  They felt they could return to a Tory party that had pursued a very separatist policy of distancing themselves from Cameron and Osborne and everything that was happening in England.

The result may turn out to be a good one. On a range of issues the SNP will have to improve their policy positions.

Every other party is against the APD tax reduction.  This should definitely mean an end to fracking. And there has to be serious planning for independence if they are to sustain the enthusiasm of activists.

There are many good new SNP and Green MSPs.  Let’s hope they will be genuinely involved in policy-making rather than just being told what the policies are.


Douglas Henshall (@djhenshall) is an actor

The SNP have won, but will form a minority government. Scotland has voted the Tories into second place and Labour into oblivion. The Greens did well but… Oh what’s the point, I can’t be bothered.

What’s going to happen to the arts in the next five years ? Anybody care ? Not one party had the arts or culture anywhere near the front of their manifesto. In fact it’s so far down the list of anyone’s priorities that John Swinney managed to cut £20m from the arts budget and no one batted an eye.

Which is the equivalent of one of your neighbours kids having a limb hacked off and your only reaction was “That’ll need a bandage”

‘Culture’ in Scotland, which apparently we’re all so proud of, is disappearing down the drain, faster than the NHS. Wake. UP.


Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) is director of the think-tank British Future 

Had it not been for the impossible majority at Holyrood in 2011 and the sheer scale of the Scottish political avalanche of 2015, this 2016 result would be seen as a remarkable SNP victory.

How rare it is anywhere Europe, in this age of ever greater electoral fragmentation, for parties to even glimpse the chance of an overall majority in a PR election, though securing an unprecedented “double” has slipped just beyond reach.

Yet Nicola Sturgeon clearly understands the limits of the SNP position too. After the surge to 50% in the Westminster 2015 vote, the 2016 result suggests an entrenchment around the core political cleavage of the Yes/No referendum vote

This is confirmed too by the impressive rise of Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives, rewarded for their greater confidence than the squeezed Scottish Labour party in offering a clear contrast on both the constitution and domestic politics.

The referendum cleavage is a barrier to Sturgeon’s goal of building stable, sustained support for independence from six out of ten Scots. So the SNP dilemma is that its core misssion of independence now looks unlikely to be advanced further while independence remains the central political question.

Sturgeon’s pragmatic instinct is to govern, to seek a domestic track record in improving Scottish education, and to embark on the heavy-lifting of creating a stronger economic foundation for an independent Scotland. This is a daunting task made more difficult by so much uncertainty in the European and international context.

In June, exhausted Scottish voters will take part in their fourth defining national vote in just a year and three quarters. A UK vote to Leave could well bring the next independence referendum forward.

Such unpredictable drama may indeed deliver an independent Scotland before 2020. Yet Sturgeon must be quietly hoping that she gets to play her longer game instead.