Opinion Piece by Fiona Grahame
We are indeed lucky to have a Scots language able to provide us with words which more accurately than any others describe the situation we now find ourselves in: A Bourach. After the unnecessary snap General Election we now have a Tory Government led by a Prime Minister under attack from within her own disloyal ranks and having to go cap in hand to the DUP, a party which doesn’t want to go back to the 1970s (Labour) or to the 1930s (Tories) but to 1690.
For the UK as a whole the Tory vote was up at 13,667,213. People opted for a hard Brexit Britain with welfare cuts, rising Foodbanks and selling Arms to Saudi Arabia. Well done Jeremy Corbyn who stood by his convictions battling against his own MPs and producing a manifesto with policies most of which are already implemented in Scotland where the SNP introduced them through the Scottish Parliament. Ironically Scottish Labour MSPs voted against free school meals one of Corbyn’s winning policies. 12,874,985 people voted Labour so Corbyn still lost whichever way you look at it.
For the SNP the 2017 General Election has been dreadful – essentially dropping their vote back down to 2010 levels although because of the first past the post system they do have 35 seats and are still the dominant party in Scotland (by a long way) and the third party in the UK. Where did it go wrong for the SNP? Did they become complacent and think that they could just rely on all those pro Independence votes they got in 2015 on the back of the Scottish referendum result? They never mentioned Independence in any of the leaflets I saw. And was the electorate convinced that any Scottish MPs could ever be a strong voice at Westminster when they are so outnumbered no matter which party they belong to ?
The LibDems are very chirpy at their seat tally of 12 in the UK with 4 of those in Scotland. Their actual vote went down particularly in Scotland where it has been steadily declining at each election. The LibDems target seats and just throw humongous amounts of money into those constituencies and it means they look like they have succeeded nationally when indeed they have not. It’s the nonsense of our electoral system where you can have fewer votes than you had last time but win more seats.
And what of UKIP well their vote disintegrated with much going to the Tories and some to Labour and yet it seems the BBC still interviews Nigel Farage.
So what is happening now?
The Brexit time bomb is counting down. Negotiations have still not commenced (at the time of writing), no deals done, no citizens with their residency rights protected whether they be UK migrants living in the 27 nations of rEU or the rEU migrants who have made their home here. People are planning to leave, some have already done so. It is not looking great for our fishermen either who have put their trust in electing Tory MPs and Alistair Carmichael for the LibDems, pledged to protect their fishing grounds. No deal is not a good deal.
And for us the electorate, many of whom were persuaded to 1.vote tactically (all parties promoted this idea were they that unsure of their own policies?) and 2. to vote for a Prime Minister. When you need help from your MP, as many people do find, there is no point phoning Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May (who may be gone before this is even published). It will be your local MP who you will turn to. So were people thinking that when they threw out by a whopping amount someone as capable as Angus Robertson for Douglas Ross who demonstrated his commitment to his constituents in the past by choosing to referee a football match rather than attend the Scottish Parliament?
Is a Referendum on Scottish Independence off the Table?
The problem with this idea is that commentators and many members of the SNP seem to think that the Yes Movement and the SNP are one and the same thing. The SNP is a very important part of the Yes Movement but it is in no way the same thing. The Yes Movement has continued to grow in strength with its #buildyes campaign and the Scottish Convention where people discuss different options for an independent Scotland. The 2017 General Election was incredibly bad for the SNP especially coming after their victories one month previously in the local elections. But those who believe that the UK is still the place where Scotland’s interests can be best protected would be foolish in the extreme to think that the Yes Movement feels defeated. If anything the Yes Movement will argue that the bourach we are now in is the strongest argument yet for an Independent Scotland.
I cannot see the current UK Government lasting. Tories are experts at turning on their own and sacking them without a tad of regret if it puts their control over the governance of the UK under any threat. Corbyn, despite his successful campaign is still a loser and has a parliamentary party, especially those from Scotland, ready to scupper any ideas he may have of socialism taking hold again in Labour. The SNP have to have a good hard look at themselves and what they stand for. The LibDems are hanging on in the peripheries of politics and will always be assured of a seat on BBC Question Time despite their declining relevance in the UK.
The only thing that emerged strong and stable from the whole slaistering guddle has been the EU which is now assured that no country will ever leave it once the UK has gone.
For the electorate – get ready – we’ll have a few months of rest, take it – we’ll have to go through it all again in the Autumn.
These views are entirely my own but here are some interesting tables for your delight. They show the UK General Election results in Scotland from 2010 to 2017