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.

CommonWeal and Tommy Sheridan (again) – and the Scottish Greens

I wrote recently about Robin McAlpine of CommonWeal trying to rehabilitate the liar and misogynist Tommy Sheridan.  Rather bizarrely, as you’ll see from reading my earlier blog posting, Bella Caledonia appeared to be supporting this attempt, though they claimed simply to be opening up debate (I understand a woman submitted an article arguing against rehabilitating Sheridan to Bella but for some reason it was rejected, which on the face of it hardly sounds like opening up debate).

I gather the CommonWeal board met and discussed this issue and came to a decision, which, rather strangely, is available if you ask for it by email, but does not appear on their website, and has not, as far as I am aware, been widely publicised.  I was sent the statement yesterday:

At a Board meeting on Monday 11 May it was agreed that Common Weal practice would be to decline invitations to speak on behalf of the organisation at any event which includes Tommy Sheridan on the platform. No public statement will be issued.

What is very strange about this is that apart from deciding to make no public statement, it’s unclear if  CommonWeal’s branches know about this policy.  The statement above came to me after tweets I sent to them that picked up on an event by Lochaber CommonWeal planned for tomorrow, with Sheridan one of the speakers:

Lochaber CommonWeal invites Tommy Sheridan (screen grab, click to see the original tweet)

Lochaber CommonWeal invites Tommy Sheridan (screen grab, click to see the original tweet)

What’s the point in having a decision not to share a platform with someone like Sheridan if branches of the organisation either don’t know about it, or don’t feel bound by it?  There is – with good reason, it seems to me – considerable scepticism about CommonWeal’s commitment to avoiding work with Sheridan, as the tweet at the bottom of this conversation shows:

CommonWeal normalising Sheridan? (screen grab, click to see the bottom tweet)

CommonWeal normalising Sheridan? (screen grab, click to see the bottom tweet)

Of course, there is another issue that concerns my own party, the Scottish Greens, in that John Finnie MSP, who joined the Greens in autumn 2014, seems to have been happy to be on a platform with Sheridan, as the tweets above show, as well as others, eg:

Sheridan and the Scottish Green Party (screen grab, click to go to the original tweet)

Sheridan and the Scottish Green Party (screen grab, click to go to the original tweet)

I am not aware of any response to this from the Scottish Green Party, but it is something I want to follow up.  I also don’t know if tomorrow’s event is still going ahead as originally planned.

It is worth noting that CommonSpace (the news service part of CommonWeal) have recently published some proper discussion pieces on Sheridan’s place in Scottish politics.  For example:

(I know that these are all men, but it’s hard to find whether there’s anything written by women because CommonSpace doesn’t appear to have a search function – at least not on my browsers; I’ve scrolled through a few pages of links and I don’t think they’ve had any women comment recently – but I may have missed that.)

I really welcome this kind of clear discussion, and Tommy Ball’s piece is particularly worth reading.  Despite all the misgivings about CommonWeal that exist (and there are quite a few, from staff pay to wider programmatic and cultural issues in society, some of which are expertly discussed by Mairi McFadyen in this rather brilliant piece), in general terms I support the work of CommonWeal: the aims are mostly ones I can agree with, and I know some of the rather wonderful people involved, which gives me hope that they really can sort out their position on working with people like Tommy Sheridan. Not least because I don’t want to write about the unrepentant hypocrite again if I can help it.

Now, I’m off to tweet John Finnie…

——-

Postscript, 8.8.2015

Yesterday Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens wrote to me and confirmed that John Finnie was not, in fact, sharing a platform with Sheridan:

Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens confirms that John Finnie will not be sharing a platform with Sheridan (screen grab, click to see original tweet)

Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens confirms that John Finnie will not be sharing a platform with Sheridan (screen grab, click to see original tweet)

I’m very glad to hear that!  Thank you, Ross for getting in touch.

The Labour leadership contest is about the true identity of the Labour Party

I read this story with some incredulity: Labour Leadership Race ‘Should Be Halted’ – rather than welcoming new members, establishment Labour figures appear to be wanting to keep them out:

[Backbencher John] Mann told The Sunday Times that acting party leader Harriet Harman should step in, as speculation grows that 140,000 people may have joined the party since the General Election – just so they can vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

After last year’s Scottish independence referendum, which decided that Scotland should remain part of the UK (at least for the time being), the tremendous upsurge in political energy sparked by the referendum resulted in several of the key political parties in the former YesScotland campaign becoming much bigger. My own party, the Scottish Green Party, went from about 1,700 members to now well over 9,000, perhaps more – a five-to-six-fold increase.  The other two key parties involved, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish National Party, also saw remarkable increases in their membership.

All three parties have welcomed their new members, and delighted in the increased popularity and influence this affords them, and they have been willing to change as a result of their new members.  And increased membership brings obvious electoral success: without so many members and volunteers, it is unlikely that the SNP would have won 56 of the 59 Westminster seats in May, for example.

Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate the public actually likes - Labour or otherwise

Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate the public actually likes – Labour or otherwise

The Independent had an interesting article a few days ago showing that Jeremy Corbyn is not only the most popular leadership candidate amongst Labour members, but also amongst the population overall. He represents something that the other candidates, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham, do not: a clear understanding that the present neo-liberal agenda is not working, which is something that most people know, even if neo-liberal Labour do not. Corbyn offers Labour a chance at electoral success that the other right-wing candidates quite simply don’t: he could offer voters a Labour Party worth voting for. It’s not that there are not enough Labour voters in the UK, it’s that there’s not been enough Labour for most people to vote for.

The defeat of Labour in May and the resultant rise in membership as a decent leadership candidate emerges certainly has some parallels to the defeat of the Yes campaign in last year’s referendum and the subsequent rise of the defeated parties.  If 140,000 people really have joined Labour recently (though how John Mann knows they’ve all joined in order to vote for Corbyn is not clear to me), that should be cause for the party leadership to be rejoicing.

Instead, what responses like Mann’s clearly show is that the establishment Labour Party is not interested in winning against the Tories, but would rather preserve its own self-interested and cosy position as part of the Tory-Labour duopoly at Westminister – which, incidentally, also explains why it struggles so much with the SNP.  If the establishment Labour Party is allowed to get away with such anti-democratic measures as fixing the leadership election, or ousting Corbyn as soon as he’s elected, then they really are doomed in the rest of the UK (and not just in Scotland, where they won’t manage to defeat the SNP any time soon anyway, even if they elect Corbyn).  What the inclusion of Corbyn in the leadership election has shown above all is that this leadership contest is really about the core identity of the Labour Party, and perhaps that explains why it is such a heated debate – the neoliberal right is aware that it faces a real threat to its dominance of not just the Conservative Party, but also that traditional party of the broad left, the Labour Party.  The parallels to the Scottish independence referendum, the rise of Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain all show that resistance to the neoliberal consensus is growing, and that is tremendously encouraging.

The Labour Party is not my party, but… you know… go, Jeremy, go, go, GO!!

—-

PS Rather than exclude Corbyn supporters, perhaps what should be happening is that people like Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall should be excluded from the party for infiltrating an ostensibly left-wing party from the neoliberal right, thereby killing off the old hunger for winning elections in order to bring about change that benefits the people they supposedly represent…

My part in the #Jockalypse

I’m dangerous, and I know it: I’ve just voted. And not for one of The Approved Parties.

No, I voted for the Scottish National Party candidate, Stephen Paterson. He’s the only one who can realistically defeat the candidate from the largest of The Approved Parties (incidentally, she has racist views, as I found out recently, so it’ll be A Good Thing if she’s not elected – despite being from one of The Approved Parties).

If the numbers work out as they might, and Ed Miliband realises that he needs the SNP if he wants to be Prime Minister, things will change across the UK. Since I come from Jockland, I thought I should warn you of some of the Jockification that will be happening, starting from tomorrow. You’ve still got time to run to the shops and prepare.

For a start, everyone will have to have porridge for breakfast. No, not with sugar. A healthy breakfast is important, especially considering what the rest of your day is going to be like.

Mid-morning coffee? Only if you’re eating half a packet of shortbread with it.

Your organic lettuce and hummus lunchtime sandwich will be no more. Pies. That’s what you’ll be eating. And depending on the time of year, you’ll be doing so outside. “Ah. At least we’ll be outside!” I hear you say, “In the sunshine – how lovely!” No: it’s outside in the winter, and inside in the summer. How else are you going to keep your skin pale and your vitamin D at an unhealthily low level?

Late afternoon you’ll be allowed a Tunnock’s tea cake, or maybe, on a Friday, a Caramel Wafer (put the last of those organic oatmeal biscuits in the dog bowl – it’ll be appreciated, honest). Tea will need at least two spoons of sugar.

Dinner time? If it’s not been fried, don’t eat it.

Before bed, you’re allowed a snack and a drink. Something like a deep friend Mars bar, washed down with Irn Bru.

See, Jockalypse isn’t so bad. Honestly, you’ll get used to it…

—-

Or maybe, things will be rather more mundane, and the SNP will do as it has done governing Scotland for the last few years, and be very competent, work towards a more just society, and engage with people. Not everything they do is perfect by any means: I’m a member of the Greens and have plenty to say about how they really need to buck up their ideas on a whole host of issues, including renewables, living wage, NATO and so on – but they listen, and that’s more than can be said about most of The Approved Parties.

(If you want more sober comment from me on contemporary affairs, take a look at other postings here, and if you want to know why I think the Labour candidate in Stirling has racist views, click here, and for a blog about The Approved Parties, click here.)

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: