There are, of course, people telling bloggers like me to calm down, that the polls are in our favour – which they are, but the polls don’t matter when we don’t have a party in government in Scotland with the minerals to act. All we are getting from the SNP-led Scottish government in Edinburgh are deeply problematic and divisive policy suggestions and dogmatic calls for loyalty and blind obedience – to the party and not the cause for independence.
Other than depriving unionist voters of political representation in the Scottish parliament, many in the movement are asking, what will a manœuvre like this achieve? Certainly, this is the most intelligent question being asked of the plan. It doesn’t deny that it will work, of course it will work. Rather, this question is about the point of doing it. Yes, capitalising on this vulnerability will deprive about a million Scots of their political representation, sure, but we needn’t lose much sleep over this – unionists are happy with the status quo...
The conditions that prevailed in 2011 are no more. The 2014 referendum and the ongoing constitutional war of attrition have fundamentally changed the dynamics of how we do politics, of how we think politics. Unionist support is continuing to rally behind the Conservatives, and this, along with the continued success of the SNP in the constituency vote, will now always work against the SNP. Yet, Stewart McDonald is right. The SNP strategy in 2011 has been the only one that has worked, and it has won an SNP majority. It can win that majority again – theoretically, at least.
Conclusion: a single party dominating the Scottish parliament is a mathematical impossibility, it cannot be done. This of course applies, mutatis mutandis, to a single pro-independence party dominating the Scottish parliament so as to stop anything like the 1918 Dáil Éireann election result from happening again; when Sinn Féin took 73 (that is 76.7 percent) of the available 105 Dáil seats. Granted, however, this system was not designed with a view to penalising the SNP in particular.
Yet, the SNP campaign of 2012-14 was itself the product of change. On the eve of devolution, in the 1997 general election, Salmond’s SNP won a paltry six seats. It made no impact on the major population centres of the central belt, had no appeal to the socialist heart of Scotland, and failed to attract meaningful numbers from the country’s minority populations. At that election the SNP felt the full force of a New Labour landslide that swept across the whole of the United Kingdom and brought us the painful disappointment that was Tony Blair.
What Pete Wishart is making here, especially when he writes about taking away ‘the whole democratic case of withholding a referendum’ by winning another majority, is a moral argument – and a good moral argument, but a moral argument nonetheless. Absolutely, a democratic majority would morally require the British government to do the right thing. Historically speaking and as our own experience of the British government since 2012 tells us, Britain and ‘the right thing’ seldom appear in the same sentence. As Rob Johns, Professor in Politics at the University of Essex...
Westminster is not the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as it pretends. The massive democratic deficit in the House of Commons – in which English seats more than double the combined seats allocated to Scotland, Wales, and the occupied counties in Ireland – ensures that Scotland is not represented in what is mathematically and for all other intents and purposes the English parliament. Westminster is where the democratic will of the Scottish people – an entire nation – is dominated and so silenced by the will of England and its people.
Less than fifteen minutes in I was too dejected to listen any more. The social media feed was telling me I wasn’t alone. Another over-hyped empty announcement from ‘the only person who can win our independence,’ another dead-end from ‘the only show in town,’ and another painful frustration from ‘the only party that can do it.’ Of course, I bought none of this. Reason and the experience of the past six years warned me to expect nothing, but hope – that twisted trick the psyche plays on us – had me thinking there was a chance; slim and unlikely, but a chance.