Gerry Hassan (@gerryhassan): Scotland and Independence are about more than the SNP
This has been a fascinating Scottish election result – more nuanced and subtle than most expected and the campaign predicted.
Scotland is bigger than the SNP. Independence and self-government are not synonymous with the Nationalists. We have possibly passed the point of Peak SNP (the May 2015 UK election) when the party won nearly half the popular vote.
Post-indyref there has been much SNP triumphalism and Presidentialism along with self-congratulation. This has been combined with a risk averse politics which has taken for granted that the Nationalists are the inheritors of Scotland’s radical traditions – and don’t have to do too much to occupy that ground.
Voters have burst some of the Nationalist bubble and conceit. They have given the SNP a mandate and victory – but a conditional, qualified one. This should be taken as a salutary lesson – that unthinking loyalty to one party, coupled with trying to shut down open debate and dissent, doesn’t produce healthy politics.
The rise of the Tories to become the main opposition to the SNP, along with the continued decline of Labour, shows that not all of Scotland is the imagined left-wing country of indyref rhetoric. The often OTT language of some indy supporters of seeing all unionists as the same (red and blue Tories), or not being a legitimate part of the country, has been counterproductive.
Green successes could help a politics of self-government being about a more pluralist Scotland, and ultimately that could assist the SNP. Fundamentally, Scotland (indyref apart) has been ill-served by majority government, and our journey to greater self-determination has to be about more than the SNP.
Some in the Nationalists may find that difficult to take, but we urgently need a deeper, more honest public debate which talks about real things – rather than abstracts such as ‘austerity’ (which most voters are confused by) and indyref2.
Can the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon change course and tone from what we have seen over the last 20 months? Safety-first politics from the SNP – or anyone else – are no longer adequate, and that is a welcome development and opportunity.
Elaine C. Smith, actress/enterpreneur/activist: Exciting Times, Eh?
The shock for many scots waking up this morning will probably be articulated along the lines of “How could this happen? The Tories? Main opposition party? Are we now in a parallel universe – especially given the neoliberal right wing agenda being pursued in Westminster?”
The answer in my opinion is simple and complex all at the same time.
We are still fighting the referendum campaign here in Scotland. The Tories have witnessed the collapse of Labour and capitalised on that to pull all the Unionist forces together so they can present themselves as the real defenders of the Union.
To a certain extent they are correct, too. Labour always seemed to be confused and overwrought about their abandonment of the Home Rule agenda in the pursuit of power. They certainly looked ill at ease sharing a platform with the Tories during the referendum campaign.
The voracious unionists have devoured Labour, the LibDems (and thankfully, the buffoons of UKIP). They have become the party seen to be protecting the UK in Scotland. And they’ve managed to do it by hardly really mentioning that they’re Tories.
Love the pugnacious (and at times quite nasty) Ruth Davidson, or loathe her, she and her team have done a good job of being Tories while pretending not to be, and garnering all the pro Union forces to vote for them.
That means many of those Perthshire Tory toffs or Edinburgh bankers or Ayrshire, Southside or Glagow West End rich folk who felt happy voting for the SNP before the referendum (where they had no fear of any radical talk of real land reform or tax, as well as a toxic Tory party) are now unfettered. They are back to their natural habitat and voting for self interest, land and tax.
Voting No in the referendum seems to have freed them up.
But please let’s remember that 20% of Scots have always voted Tory and their voices have a right to be heard. Surely that’s the parliament we want? Where all the voices of Scotland are heard? Where real political discussion, argument and consensus can be found?
There’s other factors too.
A voting system that allows a party (the SNP) to win outright, increase their share of the vote, and in regional areas win more than all the opposition parties combined, yet lose seats? This is far from the best system. But a plague on the many houses that set up this system (amid much criticism at the time). A system that was designed to preserve the power of Labour and to ensure no overall majority. Well, that worked, eh?
The Tories and all the opposition parties hammering on about a second referendum – all the time – played into the fear factor, again. And they know that works. Those in the 45% would have been fine and unmoved, even cheered by that thought. But others were angered by it and it gained traction – especially with a right wing media willing to help.
I support another referendum. But not till we can we win it and for that we on the pro-Indy side have to be ready.
There is also a hangover from the Yes movement that has moved to the Greens.
I’m not a member of the SNP, but I support independence and self determination (though in Scotland that meets with the same reaction as saying you’re a Celtic supporter but you’re non-Catholic!!). I’m also a friend, ally and supporter of Nicola Sturgeon and have been happy to vote SNP for the last 20 years or more. I still did this time – but my second vote went to the Greens.
The #BothVotesSNP strategy left me and many others – on the left in particular – a bit uncomfortable. It felt greedy, with a whiff of entitlement – and that sat uneasily with us. I’m sure that the intention was a purely political and strategic one – but it played into the hands of a currently resonant narrative about unchallenged power, both on the right and the left. The release of The Sun endorsement last weekend didn’t help either.
So here we are! Scotland has spoken again. The mandate for the SNP and the Yes movement is actually stronger than ever – with both increasing their vote share. The enemy is now in plain sight. That’s where the battles will take place in our Parliament in future. This will push the SNP towards a more radical agenda, while exposing the Tories as the party of greed and self interest – which is where their belief and defence of the Union is actually based.
And of course there’s that European vote to deal with too!
Exciting times eh?
Dougie Strang (@dougiestrang) is an installation artist
I’m gutted that the Conservatives have won the constituency in Dumfriesshire, but given the strong NO vote here during the referendum, it’s perhaps no surprise. With Labour slipping away it was a straight fight between Joan McAlpine and Oliver Mundell and the local lad now follows his father into politics. I’m pleased for Joan, Emma and Paul that they are through on the regional vote.
The Greens have done well, and I’m intrigued by the prospect of them holding the SNP’s feet to the fire with regards to environmental issues. Surely Fergus the Fracker’s days as energy minister are now numbered.
After the fervour of the referendum and last year’s remarkable general election, this Holyrood campaign never really sparked, and the low turnout reflects that. June’s EU referendum feels far more significant.
Meanwhile, my family and I contemplate an escape north, away from the true blue Tory shires.