Eleven brief comments on the Scottish elections

Scotland Can... the Scottish Green Party's campaign banner

Scotland Can… the Scottish Green Party’s campaign banner

Eleven short comments on the Scottish election:

  1. I’m delighted my party did pretty well, electing 6 MSPs on various list votes, including Mark Ruskell in my own region. It is excellent news that Andy Wightman is now in the Scottish Parliament – serious land reform becomes more possible. I am very sorry that Maggie Chapman and Sarah Beattie-Smith in particular did not get elected.
  2. The SNP did amazingly well, in a system not designed for such large votes (156,000 more than last time). They polled more votes than Labour and the Tories together, and gained 59 constituency seats (previous record: 53 Labour in 1999, 53 SNP in 2011). Most of Scotland’s cities went to the SNP: Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Stirling. It’s also very good to see that the percentage of women who were elected SNP MSPs has risen from 28% to 43% (we Greens have one woman out of six MSPs…).
  3. The Liberal Democrats did badly, though I wish they had not even won the constituency seats they had (especially Orkney and Shetland, given the scandal of a self-confessed liar in the form of Alastair Carmichael as the Westminster MP): although the LibDems have the same number of seats as before, their constituency vote is down to the lowest level they’ve ever had.
  4. Labour did disastrously badly: the lowest Labour vote in Scotland in living memory. I was at the Stirling count, and was shocked when sampling at how few Labour votes there were – it was clear early on that this was shaping up to be an awful night for them. I agree with Paul Mason to some extent: I cannot see how the Labour party can be relevant in Scotland again until they sever the link to Labour in London and realise that independence is the only way forward. They’ll sink further into irrelevance if they don’t do this. It probably has to happen within 2-3 years – half-way through this parliament – and be genuine. That is going to be tough. I don’t know if it can happen, or if Kezia Dugdale can manage to get her party to do that.
  5. The Conservatives did well in certain regards: it’s still a lower share of the vote than they had in the 1992 general election, but it has been effective, partly because they are clearly the party of the unionists: I suspect most of their support is not about welcoming the vicious policies the Tories espouse, but about wanting a solid unionist bulwark against the SNP. This will become apparent very soon: Ruth Davidson will get to be the first to ask questions at Holyrood’s First Minister Questions, and this gives the SNP a glorious opportunity to make Davidson defend, week after week after week, the pernicious effects of Tory Westminster policies on normal people in Scotland. Whilst Ruth Davidson is good at media stunts, Nicola Sturgeon is far more accomplished as a debater and will relish the challenge, I am sure, of attacking the Tories directly on such a regular basis. This has the potential to cause the Tories considerable harm.
  6. Rejoice: UKIP failed dismally across the board.
  7. Unsurprisingly, RISE did not rise. I still think most people will go for the Greens if they want a party of the clear left with environmental concerns.
  8. Although the SNP are the largest party, they cannot form a majority, so need an alliance. The only realistic party they can rely on are the Scottish Greens (seriously, the LibDems?!). Whilst I cannot see a formal coalition taking place (and the Greens’ co-convener isn’t expecting that either), having the SNP reliant upon SGP votes to get legislation through will help keep the SNP veering to the left. This is important, because an SNP majority with the Tories as second party would probably not do this as they would then pander to the right, the natural home of several SNP MSPs, such as Fergus Ewing. We know that most Yes campaigners and ergo most newer SNP members were to the left of the party’s elected representatives – we’ll see if that has changed as a result of this election – and a connection to the SGP will help to solidify that.
  9. I think it was a mistake for the SNP to try and push the #BothVotesSNP line so hard. It was entirely predictable, after the Westminster election last year, that the SNP would dominate the constituency vote, and that then means to achieve anything significant in the list requires an absolutely massive number of list votes (for my own region, Mid-Scotland and Fife, results were: Conservatives (4 list seats) 73,293, Green (one) 17,860, Labour (two) 51,373; SNP had 120,128 but no list seats). That was always unlikely given the diversity of list parties on offer, and whilst no party will ever say “don’t vote for us”, a more nuanced approach might have led to better results for the broad pro-independence parties and therefore let fewer Tories in. This is something many people tried to argue, but certain die-hard SNP-supporters have done themselves no favours by shouting such voices down. The Scottish parliament is not designed for majority government and I don’t think the system can be gamed to achieve that – as reputable psephologists such as John Curtice repeatedly explained – so the 2011 result should be seen as an anomaly and not an expectation.
  10. In some ways, the future appears to be like the past shortly before the Scottish parliament: the main opponents of Scottish independence (or even constitutional change) are the Tories. The choice, articulated as putative in the independence referendum by many on the Yes side, is now clear: independence or the Tories.
  11. The SNP cannot deliver independence on its own, as the 2014 referendum showed, based as it was largely on an SNP approach. For example, arguments for reducing Air Passenger Duty, blind support for oil and gas with no vision for change, keeping the United Kingdom’s monarchy etc. were not things that most Greens could fully subscribe to, and we therefore had to make complex arguments about all these things being proposals that could be decided upon after independence. There are many who argue this case (for example, here), and I broadly agree with that argument. However, the SNP connecting with the SGP as another clear pro-independence party will help in this regard, and make independence a surer prospect when the next referendum comes. And it will.

Edit 7.5.16:  added Mid-Scotland and Fife results to point 9.


Manifestos and Mandates

Andy Wightman (Scottish Green Party candidate) tweeted last night:

Even if your manifesto is a joke, as UKIP’s clearly is (this interview with STV’s Bernard Ponsonby is a must), at least it’s possible to decide that for yourself if you have a manifesto you can read.

I read somewhere recently that Labour are only releasing a manifesto eight days before the election – I find this utterly incredible, given that we can use postal votes and therefore some people will decide their vote long before that. This morning, their manifesto page shows ‘A note from Jim Murphy’ on it! This is obviously from the 2015 Westminster election:

Scottish Labour website; screenshot, 15.4.2016 (click the image to go to this page)

Scottish Labour website; screenshot, 15.4.2016 (click the image to go to this page)

The SNP website doesn’t yet appear to include any mention of a full manifesto at all, as far as I can see (I can’t be bothered looking up the LibDems, but I’ll take Andy Wightman’s word for it).

Such lack of respect to the voters should be impermissible. Even a shambolic semi-democratic system like ours should be able to require parties to release a manifesto a set time before postal ballots are sent out – even if it was just a week or 10 days, that would probably be sufficient.

Expecting voters to place blind faith in a party that isn’t prepared to outline it’s proposed programme in some detail is a singular failure in the democratic process.


I’m delighted that my party, the Scottish Greens, launched our manifesto before the postal ballot began.  You can read all about it on our website:

Scottish Green Party; screenshot 15.4.2016 (click image to go to this page)

Scottish Green Party; screenshot 15.4.2016 (click image to go to this page)

You can also download our full manifesto as a PDF in two different formats:

Scottish Green Party; screenshot 15.4.2016 (click image to go to this page)

Scottish Green Party; screenshot 15.4.2016 (click image to go to this page)

Why vote for the SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections?

On 7.5.16 Scotland will vote for a new Scottish parliament.

It’s worth understanding how our voting system works. Stephen Paton’s wee video is excellent:

In thinking about how to vote, it’s important to know my background. Very simplistically put, I…

  1. … am broadly on the left;
  2. … am a vaguely active member of the Scottish Green Party (SGP) and have been involved at various levels for a few years;
  3. … campaigned alongside Scottish National Party (SNP) members and others in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and voted Yes;
  4. … voted SNP in the 2015 Westminster elections (I know, I know, it’s bad for an SGP member to do that when an SGP candidate was standing in my constituency, but I wanted to be absolutely sure the racist Labour candidate Johanna Boyd didn’t win, and I wasn’t trusting enough of the polls predicting an SNP victory… I also couldn’t campaign for the SGP at this time, so hadn’t sought to persuade others to vote in a way I wasn’t prepared to do… all this is one of the bad side effects of Westminster’s FPTP voting system).

I still want Scottish independence, and am sure it is coming. I cannot foresee any circumstances in which I’d ever vote Conservative or LibDem (the former basically hate everyone not part of the 1% and are profoundly racist, sexist, and just downright awful for anyone with a social conscience, whilst the latter are mendacious and equivocal, actively supporting blatant liars like Alistair Carmichael). Although I voted Labour solidly for years I doubt I’ll ever do so again: this is not only about having watched them celebrate the 2014 referendum outcome at the Stirling count with their Tory Better Together friends, but that is a potent symbol for their broader failing to represent the interests of the vulnerable in society, which I think is one of the primary roles of political parties. As the Greens are not putting forward a constituency candidate in my area (it’s just SNP, Conservative, Labour, LibDems), I therefore need to think carefully about how I vote. Many might see the options as:

  1. constituency vote: SNP, list vote: SNP
  2. constituency vote: SNP, list vote: Green
  3. constituency vote: SNP, list vote: RISE
  4. or…?

One of the things Paton points out in his video is that the list vote allows you to vote as you really want to. However, the constituency vote also impacts on the list vote, reducing the value of the list vote for parties that do well at constituency level – and that has serious implications for those who want to vote for a broadly pro-independence and left position. Lots of SNP supporters on Twitter and elsewhere follow the SNP’s line of arguing for #BothVotesSNP (option 1 above) – and of course the SNP would be a very strange party if it didn’t argue that people should vote for it whenever possible! But I don’t think option 1 is a good idea, in part because the SNP is likely to win most constituency votes with a substantial margin and so the number of SNP votes needed in the list to not let Labour, Tory or LibDem candidates in would have to be absolutely huge.

Many folk on the pro-independence left are therefore suggesting: vote SNP for the constituency, and then Green (option 2) or RISE (option 3). However, I am inclining towards another option – of not voting SNP in the constituency vote at all, and just voting how I want to in the list.

I like Nicola Sturgeon as a First Minister (and I certainly wouldn’t want Kezia Dugdale or Ruth Davidson as FM!), and Bruce Crawford, our constituency MSP candidate seems a decent person who mostly tries to work for the interests of the constituency. But the SNP as a whole is failing to do more than tinker with some of the great problems we face, such as:

  1. environment – the unbridled enthusiasm for oil and gas (and the SNP’s Energy Spokesperson’s equivocation over fracking) when we actually need to be moving away from fossil fuels and towards additional renewables;
  2. land reform – even the party membership recently rejected the cautious approach of the party leadership;
  3. economics – John Swinney’s fiscal conservatism at times seems remarkably close to Westminster’s Tory austerity: I wonder if he is so caught up in financial concerns that he’s lost sight of the purpose, the telos, of economics, which is to improve society;
  4. Council Tax – based on valuations from 1991(!), the SNP’s revised CT (after years of the anti-democratic interference of local finance through the CT freeze) still means those in the cheapest properties will pay proportionately far more than those in the most expensive properties, as these two tweets show (with the contrasting amounts proposed by key parties contesting this election);
  5. standardised testing in schools – a policy opposed by pretty much anyone in education (but with enthusiastic support from the Tories!), it is hard to imagine why the SNP wants to promote this.

There are many more examples. Although the SNP’s membership is now far to the left of the leadership, this appears to be having little effect on policy, at least for this election. Whilst the SNP has never, to my knowledge, described itself as a left-wing party (it’s broadly centre-left social democratic), its new members might see that differently.

In contrast, the Scottish Green Party is at core progressive, seeing independence as a way to implement progressive policies (as do RISE, but I doubt they’ll do well in May). The SNP – and certainly many of its supporters – see independence as a primary aim after which all other things can be sorted (see many of the comments on sites like Derek Bateman’s): for many, progressive policies are a tool to get to independence. This results in half-hearted and tepid efforts at the truly transformational politics that Scotland needs right now.

Of course Scotland should be freed from Westminster’s priorities, but we can do so much more in the meantime, and the SNP’s timidity in the face of the truly enormous challenges faced by so many people who, after the bankers’ crash of 2008, have suffered from Labour/Tory/LibDem policies at Westminster. The SNP is failing here: ignoring the huge injustices of unequal land-ownership, the reliance on fossil fuels, the Council Tax shambles – these are all things they could act on, but the assurances of electoral victory are perhaps making them too complacent to do so (just as happened with Labour in Scotland?).

I therefore have to ask: why should I vote for the SNP at all? They’re doing too little to earn my vote. After all, we’re not obliged to cast both votes. Option 4 then becomes: no constituency vote (blank or spoiled ballot), and Green (or another preference) in the list vote. And one day, the SNP’s members might help it to become the more radical party so many of them want it to be – in the meantime, my vote for them is hesitant, but I will give it. This time.

Edit 4.4.16: correction to list vote procedure.

Why it really is over for “Labour in Scotland”

Ewan MacAskill has written a measured and thoughtful article that I would recommend reading: “How disillusionment with Labour in Scotland has turned to raw rage“.

I agree with the picture MacAskill is painting here, but in some ways it’s actually months late. When I was chapping doors for Yes last summer in the villages in my area, that anger, that rage at “Labour” was already there.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all that, but barring some kind of radical transformation – and Jim Murphy’s election and his behaviour since then continually shows that is not happening – I see no discernible way back for Labour in Scotland from their current position. Looking back on the summer of 2014 now, I realise people were really angry at them for siding with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for the No campaign – and that anger made them think of all the other reasons they disliked Labour.  Some of those mentioned on the doorsteps included:

  • Trident (again and again)
  • austerity (no perceived difference in any of the three Westminster parties – they all want to make people pay for the bankers’ mistakes)
  • ignoring democracy (Scotland doesn’t vote Conservative, but look who’s at Westminster – and I suspect that is not changing at the moment, with all the hate-speech about the SNP and Scots more generally)
  • failure to improve social conditions (an older surgeon who commuted to a Glasgow hospital told me: “people have voted Labour all their lives, as have I, and inner-city health is as bad now as it was when I started working in Glasgow many years ago.  You don’t need to convert me to vote Yes: my patients have already done that”)
  • complacency (Labour politicians don’t care about their constituency, they just use it for their own political careers)
  • and so on… the key word again and again was: betrayal.

Siding with the other two large Westminster parties made people realise there were lots of other things they didn’t like about “Labour” and that the party bore little relation to what they had thought it actually stood for.

What we are witnessing now are the death throes of Labour in Scotland: even if there is understandable Schadenfreude at the party’s well-deserved fate, looming death is not pleasant to witness and people are badly hurt by it. Eventually, Labour in Scotland will die – and as is often the case with painful deaths, the sooner the better.  However, those of us who have long since moved on from Labour should not forget to look back occasionally, not just to remind ourselves of what not to do, but more importantly, to reach out a helping hand to those who are wanting to move on from the wreckage that was once a (justifiably) proud left-wing party.  We must be gentle in doing so: remember that death hurts all those around it.

Can Scottish voters trust Westminster civil servants to work with the SNP?

I think it’s pretty clear that “Frenchgate” has been comprehensively debunked. Even though that link comes from the Scottish National Party, which would obviously want it debunked, the overall evidence presented there and in numerous other places is pretty compelling. One of the people cited in that set of slides is Jamie Maxwell, who in offering a rebuttal on Bella Caledonia of the whole sorry saga, explained the apparent source as follows:

The Telegraph claims to have a copy of a memo written – take a deep breathe [sic] – by a British government official based on a conversation he/she had with the French Consul General based on a conversation he had with the French ambassador based on a conversation she had, in February, with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Err, yes. As I write, it seems the “leak” comes from Scottish Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael’s Scotland Office (you know, the one that “…ensure[s] the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Scotland… represent[ing] Scottish interests within the UK government and… represent[ing] the UK government in Scotland”), though Nicola Sturgeon has now called for an inquiry into the leak to find out what has happened, and the civil service is now investigating itself (ah, gotta love British democracy at work! Why isn’t the police involved?)

What is, I think, already clear, is that the old Better Together tag team of Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Labour parties, the right wing press, and the civil service are functioning together as well as they ever have. I’ve seen this comment made several times on Twitter today; for example, here’s Liam McLaughlan, Scottish Socialist Party candidate:

I think it’s hard to disagree. But I want to briefly look beyond all that and instead think about the post-7. May landscape. At the moment, unless there is some huge upset, the SNP will probably win a lot of Scottish seats, and some kind of alliance/co-operation with the Labour Party seems likely. This means that they might even have some kind of role in offices of state – and would therefore have increased contact with the civil servants who run these offices. But should SNP parliamentarians trust Westminster civil servants? Could the SNP act like a “normal” Party (i.e. Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democract) and seek to create and enable legislation, relying on civil servants who time and again have shown themselves to be partisan, opposed to the party democratically chosen by the Scottish people, and willing to operate behind-the-scenes to undermine and destabilise the SNP?

On what basis can we, the Scottish voters, trust the Westminster civil service to work honestly with our elected representatives if we choose representatives who are not from one of the three British nationalist/unionist parties? I don’t really have any answers for what the SNP might do about this, but as a normal voter (and not even an SNP member), I see no reason to assume that Westminster civil servants will not seek to constantly undermine anything the SNP might seek to do at Westminster if they were in a position of any power. Democracy in Britain, insofar as it could ever call itself that whilst maining First Past The Post and the un-/anti-democratic House of Lords, is truly broken. Perhaps the radical reform the SNP is advocating at Westminster is the only hope for salvaging it?

The Westminster right-wing and democracy – written and unwritten rules

One of the most notable things about the recent diatribes against the SNP and Scots in general that we are witnessing in the mainstream UK press as a result of polls showing increased support for the SNP, is the complete absence of any respect for the democratic implications. Of course, many right-wing politicians and media representatives pretend to stand up for democracy, but their current discourse simply highlights the disdain they actually have for it. What is astonishing to me is that they don’t seem to notice or care that this is so apparent.

Alex Salmond and Anna Soubry

Alex Salmond and Anna Soubry

For example, here is Conservative MP Anna Soubry speaking of how ‘terrifying’ it would be if Scots vote for lots of SNP MPs on 7.5. and Alex Salmond ends up ‘controlling’ the country (never mind that Nicola Sturgeon would be leading any post-election negotiations as she is, you know, the leader of the SNP – Westminster is still fixated on Salmond…).

Right-wing columnist Bruce Anderson is also at it in the Telegraph of 21.3.: “whatever the outcome in the rest of the UK, the next Parliament is bound to be disrupted by around 30 Scot Nats, intent on perpetual trouble-making” – when he says ‘trouble-making’ I think he means doing things like acting for what they see as their constituent’s interests. Bizarrely for a unionist, he proposes breaking Scotland up to preserve the union (I think – read it yourself if you must, but it’s mostly incoherent and malicious bile).

Now I’m a member of the Greens and not the SNP, but I find all this confusing – and SNP members will perhaps find it even more confusing. After all, wasn’t the argument of the British nationalist/unionist campaign that Scotland was a valued part of the United Kingdom and that it would be better to exercise its democratic rights within the political spaces offered by the UK, rather than going it alone?  Now lots of Scots have joined political parties and become politically active, but Soubry, Anderson and the rest don’t seem to want us any more. Surely it would be incumbent upon those who wanted Scots to continue participating in the union to welcome the new levels of engagement that we see in Scotland?

The problem is that we troublesome Scots appear to be playing the game by the written and not the unwritten rules. The written rules say that you can vote for anyone you like to go to Westminster and represent you and that choice will be respected. The unwritten rules appear to be that you can vote for anyone you like to go to Westminster and represent you – as long as they are in An Approved Party, meaning the Conservatives, the Labour Party, and sometimes the Liberal Democrats.  Substantial numbers of other MPs are clearly not wanted.

Soubry, Anderson and many representatives of these parties and various media hangers-on – all of whom, as it happens, subscribe to a broad right-wing neo-liberal understanding of society! – are clearly appalled that we troublesome Scots appear to be ignoring the unwritten rules. But that, of course, is the problem with unwritten rules! We were told by the British nationalists/unionists that we were wanted, that the UK would be diminished without us, that our voices mattered – and so a majority of Scots voted to stay in the UK. I was one of 1.6 million who voted for independence, but nearly 384,000 more voted to stay.  That’s fine: I and most of the 1.6 million respect that vote and so we are playing by the written rules and continuing to engage in UK politics.

That, however, irks the Westminster establishment. For a long time now, the British Parliamentary system has not been a great fan of real democracy – were it to be otherwise then there would be greater participation from the left, but the left has, to all intents and purposes, been excluded from any kind of meaningful participation in the political system. The title of Ken Livingstone’s first autobiography from 1987 is emblematic of this: If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it (Paul Foot’s review in the LRB is worth reading). The evisceration of the left by Tony Blair and his right-wing followers – even a left of the fairly weak kind embodied by the late John Smith – has put paid to a meaningful left in the two/three-party system at Westminster, at least for the time being. The SNP is a broadly centre-left party, and yet even that is threatening to all the others, partly perhaps because none of them are to the left of it – but many Labour people, at least, wish they were.

What is interesting about the reactions of Soubry, Anderson et al is that as soon as the comfortably right-wing status quo of Tory/Labour/LibDems is threatened by voters who indicate they might vote in substantial numbers for a party that is not part of the perceived establishment mainstream, then they see a problem with democracy, rather than a problem with the other parties.

The only reasonable response from Scottish voters is to say loudly and clearly:

You advocated for the UK and wanted Scots to remain part of it, and we voted to do so. We’re playing by the rules and voting for the candidates we think will best represent our interests. If those candidates are not from your parties, you need to ask yourselves why.
We are democrats – are you?

Better Together? Not according to Better Together’s members…

As many will know, I’m not a member of the Scottish National Party, but of the Scottish Greens.  I shall be actively campaigning for the Greens in the Holyrood 2016 elections, but in the meantime, I am very happy that the SNP appear to be doing rather well in the polls – something of an understatement! – and I hope for a substantial SNP contingent going to Westminster after 7. May.  The so-called “Scottish Labour” party (neither Scottish, nor Labour, in my view), who have had the most Scottish MPs at Westminster for many years now, have not served Scotland well.

During last year’s referendum campaign, the British nationalist/unionist/No campaign used several names for themselves, but the key one was ‘Better Together’ and was in fact the registered name of the campaign.  The substantive argument was that Scotland was better as part of the UK.  The Better Together website appears to have been taken offline now, but I wrote a longer blog about their arguments in 2013.

In the meantime, one might be forgiven for assuming that Better Together was an entirely altruistic affair – it seems Scotland would be Better Together with the rest of the UK, but rUK is not Better Together with Scotland.  After all, what else could explain the spate of stories that have emerged from English politicians and writers decrying the possibility of Scottish voters sending lots of SNP MPs to Westminster?   For example, this week we have former Conservative PM John Major (whose government, as you may recall, was such a good example of shamefulness!) telling Labour leader Ed Miliband that ‘it is shameful that Labour hasn’t ruled out a pact with the SNP,’ whilst in another right-wing newspaper, Max Hastings is being driven crazy by ‘the terrifying prospect of the Scots ruling England [that] is now all too real… [it’s a] nightmare scenario facing Britain after the Election.’  It’s not just those on the right arguing this: the Labour Lord Lewis Moonie (incidentally, I always think ‘Labour Lord’ should be an oxymoron, but…) said he’d ‘rather have a coalition with the Tories than the SNP.’ Meanwhile the coalition that was at the root of Better Together is being revived by Labour and Tories, who are co-operating to counter ‘the current nationalist threat.’

Hastings’s piece is of particular interest to me on various levels, much as I am repulsed by it.  There is much to critique, but let me just pick up one line.  He writes: ‘Like the French and Greeks, the Scots seem immune to rational argument about their circumstances and prospects.’  This is a particularly telling part of his article.  It is classical Orientalist discourse: by describing others’ irrationality, our rationality becomes clearer.  Scotland is being treated as a barbaric periphery, against which the civilised metropole must be defended (a few years ago a colleague wrote a book describing precisely this phenomenon, with the title Discourse on Civility and Barbarity – perhaps Hastings should read it?).  It is ironic that Hastings lumps together Greece (origins of the first democracy), France (arguably the first modern state following the 1789 revolution) and Scotland (home of the Enlightenment in these islands).  His own ignorance is revealing.

If, as seems likely, Scotland votes for a large number of SNP candidates and the SNP play a role in forming or enabling a government of some kind in Westminster, it will be one of the few times since World War II when Scottish votes make a difference at Westminster: in general, Scottish votes have not changed the outcome of Westminster elections, so that effectively, rUK has got the government it voted for (except on three occasions: in 1964 a Labour majority of 4 resulted from Scottish votes, otherwise the Tories would have won albeit with a majority of 1, and the government collapsed after 18 months anyway; in the second 1974 election, Labour won a majority of 3 on the basis of Scottish votes, but in the end formed a pact with the Liberals so wouldn’t have need Scottish votes anyway; in 2010 Scottish votes meant the Tories couldn’t get an overall majority without a pact with the Liberal Democrats, resulting in the present incumbents; incidentally, I suspect Wales hasn’t voted Tory too often, so actually, Westminster generally reflects English votes).

Surely, having Scottish voters’ wishes respected in a Westminster parliament is exactly what Better Together wanted, isn’t it?  Or did Scotland misunderstand the parties when they argued for being ‘better together’ – perhaps they meant the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are ‘better together’?  Or perhaps they meant we’re only ‘better together’ if we vote the way they want us to: we should be obedient colonial barbarians, just as Hastings wants? But, but… that’s not quite what most of us thought we were being told…

The only reasonable response to be made to the kind of nonsense now being peddled by British nationalists/unionists is to say loudly and clearly: ‘Get over the referendum, please – that was last year! You wanted us in the UK – well, we’re here, and you have to respect our votes.’


Incidentally, I note that whilst I was mocked on social media for suggesting some form of Labour-Tory alliance at Westminster (in November, in December, and then more flippantly in January), this is undoubtedly being discussed as a serious possibility, as the links above suggest.  As I said in November: ‘the Yes campaign members were not the only ones to have collaborated closely – the No campaign also worked closely together: I, for one, will never forget the “Labour” and Tory parties at the Stirling count early on 19.9. celebrating Stirling’s No vote together – who is to say that kind of cosy arrangement doesn’t herald greater cooperation in other contexts?  (Incidentally, it amazes me that few on the former Yes side seem to think this is important.)’

Ed Miliband is not stupid enough to go for a formal alliance with the Tories, but if the votes pan out in such a way that Labour decide to form a minority government rather than an alliance with the SNP (the SNP have said they won’t ally with the Tories), I think it’s safe to assume there will be informal agreements between Labour and Tories about not allowing the government to fall in case the wicked Scottish Nationalists gain in influence.  If that happens, so be it: that’s part of the FPTP system.  However, the British nationalist/unionist parties should bear in mind that this will further the argument for radical reform of Westminster – and Scottish independence.

Addition, 7.3.15: as if to make the points I’ve outlined here even more dramatically, here’s the cover story of today’s Independent: