2007 - 2021

#SP16 Report: More reflections from Riddoch, Williamson & MacDonald

The last of the short reflections on the election, from three people who refused to go to bed, but have all now retired.

Lesley Riddoch, journalist, campaigner and author of Blossom author contemplates Schadenfreude

Can it be a good thing that the Tories have overtaken Labour as the main opposition in Scottish politics? Putting all Schadenfreude aside – and actually I feel no sense of triumph witnessing Labour’s death-throes – the advent of a muscular Tory party may be good news in all sorts of ways.

Firstly, it acknowledges that the constitutional issue is now the primary fault-line in Scottish politics. For unionists the Tories are seen as more combative than Scottish Labour in standing up to the independence “threat”. Fine. As Oscare Wilde once said, it’s better to be talked about than not talked about. And with Labour as the “go to” opposition party, Scotland’s constitutional position wasn’t getting a look-in. At least now we have two feisty female leaders who aren’t walking on eggshells when they discuss independence v the Union.

Secondly, it has purged many Tartan Tories from the SNP – a right-wing presence that’s held the Scottish Government back from enacting vital reforms in land ownership, council size and funding and taxation policy. If the SNP is still feart, it will be hard-pressed to blame the need to appease its monster-sized, unwieldy rainbow alliance. On May 6th the spectrum of SNP support just got usefully smaller.

Thirdly, UKIP won nothing in Scotland despite (or perhaps because of) David Coburn’s participation in every televised leaders’ debate. The Scottish Tories are as right wing as Scots to prepared to go. That’s not a bad discovery.

As a result of the SNP’s failure to form a majority government – mostly due to the Tories success — Scottish politics will become more cooperative, will remain distinctive within Britain and will be alive with contradiction and possibility.  A bit like the weather. And today that feels pretty good too.


Kevin Williamson, Co-founder of Bella

Congratulation to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP for winning a third term in office. But the SNP need to look seriously at why they lost 400,000 voters since last May. Steady as you go inspires no one.

When you cut through all the hype around Tory gains – who still have no access to power at Holyrood – the main story of the night is the Scottish Greens having the balance of power. I’m especially delighted for Andy Wightman, who needs to be involved in framing tougher legislation on land reform. The next 5 years are crucial for the Greens. They need to focus on key strategic objectives that can be delivered in conjunction with the SNP and not be diverted by oppositional grandstanding.

RISE need to lick their wounds, re-think, and be honest about last night. But overall Holyrood is interesting again and last night was a victory for both the YES movement and progressive/radical politics.


Rona McDonald, Bella Editor

My first text this morning was from my 19 year old daughter who is studying at Edinburgh Uni. “I’ve got Ruth Davidson as my constituency MSP mam.” There were no expletives but the use of the word mam was telling enough.   At her age it’s a word which is rarely used now and only when something is seriously wrong.

Rewind a few years.  During the indyref the biggest impact on our family was the brilliant policy allowing 16-17 year olds to vote.  The kids rocked. They knew the issues and talked about it in school, sometimes even enlightening us old fogies.

I was chuffed not only because my oldest was voting YES, but she was really getting involved and doing stuff she’d never done before like TV interviews and radio debates, she’d got the bug bad.  Inevitable devastation followed for her on 19/09/14 and she became disengaged because she realised, with her first foray into this arena, despite her efforts she couldn’t make the difference that she’d hoped.

This political melancholy has been with her since then and yesterday I found myself trying to persuade her not to give her two votes to Green, despite her being a fully paid up member of SNP.  Rightly she’d not listen. Meanwhile my other daughter (aged 16) was voting for first time and she was giving her vote SNP and Green. [To top it off on the way to the poling station my 13 year old was provoking me with “if I was voting it would be for Labour” which was funny as she thought that was more insulting to me than the Tories.]   Infuriatingly I had no influence!

The irony is I remember in 2014 bleating on about how folk were not voting like their parents, as had traditionally been the case and we had to let the next generation make their own minds up and push through – it’s okay when it other folks kids eh?

On reflection, it was a good result for us and I’m happy because Green and SNP will offer more radical reform and my kids are seeing their own choices materialise, but mostly I’m happy because in response to the aforementioned text this morning I asked the 19 year old what is she going to do about Ruth “I’m going to get involved again mam” she said.

Comments (10)

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  1. Auld Rock says:

    Maybe it is a good thing as it might just mean that the Tories have to do their own dirty work from now on, that is if SLAB have any sense.

  2. John Page says:

    All very interesting comments, thank you.
    I wonder what the prospects are for fracking? On that question does anyone know definitively if the Scottish Govt secured legal advice that they could not go beyond a moratorium because of the Westminster issued licences? Or was that spin to wait for the outcome of this election?
    Thank you
    John Page

  3. Justin Kenrick says:

    Rona’s piece cuts to the heart of it for me.

    This is about letting the future shine and, in the end, being overjoyed they’re shining even if it may sometimes mean they’re putting us in the shade.

    Shine on

  4. Justin Kenrick says:

    P.S. Good to see Lesley and Kevin’s string piece above. Kevin have a look at James Kelly’s excellent piece in the IB Times – you’ll find for all the conflict in the run up to the vote, in the end he agrees with you more than it seemed. It’s always seemed to me those of us on the same side can be more fiercely angry with each other than with those we’re genuinely up against. Just goes to show we’re family I suppose.


  5. Bert Logan says:

    All as I saw in the morning. Green saving the day – stop fretting, its still indy bound. It will be wonderful if the SNP and Greens move more radically together. The planet is for our children.

  6. Tony Rozga says:

    Good piece. I like “two female leaders not walking on egg shells when it comes to talking about independence v the union.” Andy wightman getting involved in tougher land reform. And how the 19 year old is going to get involved again.

  7. EricF says:

    I’m glad we’re now hopefully past the childish bickering over voting. SNPX2 “bullying”? [Party in maximising vote scandal – in contrast to all other parties SNP expected to say “vote for somebody else” and outrageously don’t]. Alison Johnstone lets Ruth Davidson win by standing in Edinburgh Central constituency. [Party in standing candidate for seat scandal.] Thousands of List votes for the SNP wasted as they didn’t return List seats. A tiny fraction more SNP List votes gained and they would have had another overall majority.

    We’ve ended up with a mighty SNP presence at Holyrood, a strategically strong Green party, and an overall pro-independence majority (in an election where Tories and media unashamedly pushed the constitution to the top of the agenda). I’d call that a pretty decent, democratic result.

  8. leginge says:

    If my figures are correct around 4.5M voted – sad to say that 1M or so scots (and others living in scotland) voted for Tory austerity unionism …but 3.5M did not vote for the Tory unionists. We already have 2M of the 3.5M in the YES camp – the goal now is to ensure that the majority of the remaining 1.5M anti-tories transfer to the Indy side. There is every optimism for that to happen when we have committed youngsters joining the political fray.

  9. Bill Melvin says:

    Some great comments in this piece. I think SNP should reconsider talking to the Greens about coming together to create a pro-independence coalition that would form a majority. Both groups would have to compromise but they can find plenty of common ground on many of the big issues. This would be good experience for Greens who I am confident have more support than the election would suggest, but that support is currently with the SNP which many understand is where our route to Independence lies. In an Independent parliament I think the Greens would gain more seats and the SNP would have achieved its primary aim to give Scots control. Great to see Andy Wightman in parliament and have always been a fan of Patrick Harvey. On Ruth Davidson’s election, my son was also peeved to see her get elected where he voted after voting SNP himself, however he made an interesting point about many of the young new voters in that constituency possibly being English students from Tory supporting families but resident themselves while at uni. I’ve not seen the numbers yet but suspect her majority was marginal so this could have been a difference. However, even if that is amongst the factors which swung it for RD thats still good for our political system which shows what can be done with a well targeted choice of constituency and effort.

    1. John Page says:

      An excellent suggestion!
      My earnest wish is to see SNP and Greens collaborate to sweep Labour out of Glasgow to start it to “flourish” again in 2017……..what scope does STV give for such a partnership/coalition/understanding?
      Thank you
      John Page

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