Posted on June 12th, 2017
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
The dust still hasn’t settled after the General Election result, but there are a lot of comments flying around about the demise of the Indie movement. As usual, the media have consulted some disgruntled former SNP officials who have dutifully delivered the criticism of the Party that the media want. That’s not to say that some of the criticism may not be deserved, but we really ought to put the Scottish results into some sort of context.
For a start, the 2015 result was a freak, delivered by the iniquities of the First Past The Post electoral system. There was no way the SNP would retain all those seats. What dismayed so many was the number of seats lost but, in fact, again due to the vagaries of FPTP, the outcome is still very good, since the number of seats the SNP now hold is, while perhaps more representative, larger than their vote share would warrant. However the media portray the result, the SNP retain a significant majority of Scottish seats.
But the big question is whether it matters. Independence is not dependent on the number of Westminster seats the Party holds. All that the 56 MPs previously elected were able to prove was that Westminster could ignore their comments and concerns, and there was nothing they could do about it.
We must also remember that UK General Elections don’t allow 16 & 17 year-olds to vote, that non-resident citizens were excluded, and that the greens were hardly represented. There is also the fact that some Yes voters appear to have voted for Labour in the mistaken belief that Jeremy Corbyn might deliver a socialist Government. Now, while I would have been far happier to see Corbyn win the election than May, the truth is that he is pro-Brexit and, although he has made some conciliatory comments, he is against Scottish independence. Even if he had won an outright victory, the chances are that the Tories would be back in power within 5 years because English voters deliver a Tory Government more often than not, so anyone looking for a more socialist Government in the UK is ultimately going to be disappointed, especially given the inherent unfairness of the FPTP system which can deliver a massive Tory majority on a relatively low percentage of the overall vote.
The issue for Yes supporters, no matter which Party they support, must surely be to gain independence first, then vote for the sort of Government you want. With a more proportional voting system, a more representative Government could be elected in Scotland. But, to get there, the reality is that we need to back the SNP for now. Like it or not, they are the effective political arm of the Yes movement, and we won’t gain independence without them. Equally, though, the SNP need to recognise that we won’t gain independence without the wider Yes movement being given more support.
The Independence issue is not dead; it is still very much on the cards. The calls for the SNP to abandon the commitment are simply echoing the desires of the Unionists for the question to go away, for us all to fall back into line as nice little BritNats and not challenge the status quo. It is inevitable that any setback, whether real or imagined, will be used to promote this line of thinking. We know this, and we need to accept it. But the Yes movement is bigger than the SNP, something the media deliberately ignore and which many BritNats are incapable of understanding. Where the SNP need to up their game is in making the positive case for independence. We’ve heard lots of talk about how they are going to do this, but very little actual substance. It may well be true that people are fed up of Referendums and elections, but the Brexit clock is ticking, and the UK is leaving the EU, no matter which set of Westminster politicians is in charge. Leaving the EU is directly against the expressed will of the Scottish electorate, the SNP had a manifesto pledge to call an IndyRef if something like that happened, and that issue has not altered one bit. Whether the SNP has 35 Westminster MPs, or 59, or even only 1, the Brexit timetable is going ahead. Scotland will be ignored, our farmers and fishermen will find their demands dismissed, and we will be dragged into a bleak, isolationist future if we stick with the UK. Many Scottish BritNats will be happy with that because, for them, being British overrides every other concern, no matter how much harm it does to our society but, at the very least, we should be given the right to decide whether we, as a nation, wish to stick with the sinking Britannia or should take the chance of becoming a normal country. Nothing in the General Election result alters this very fundamental issue.
And here’s another thing to contemplate. It’s a hypothetical question which will hopefully never be asked in practice, but it might serve to make people realise the consequences of voting for Unionist MPs simply in order to block the SNP.
Let’s say, for example, that the Tory/DUP coalition goes ahead. Let’s say that the Tories decide they need to unify the UK and that the best way to do this is to abolish the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Power Sharing in Northern Ireland has already collapsed and there is no effective Government there. The Tories do not appear concerned at all about jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement, so they may want to go the whole way and take all power for the entire UK back to Westminster.
So, hypothetically, if it came to a vote in the House of Commons as to whether all the devolved Administrations were to be abolished, how do you think the Scottish MPs would vote? Would Ruth Davidson’s 13 MPs vote to keep the Scottish Parliament? Would the Scottish Labour MPs vote to retain Devolution? Or would they all fall into line with their Westminster bosses and vote to abolish the Scottish Parliament? What do you think?
Probably the very best we could expect from Corbyn’s Labour would be to abstain, but I’m pretty sure the Tories would happily vote to scrap Devolution. That would not only allow the Brexit negotiations to go ahead with no inconvenient sniping from the SNP, it would allow the Tories to expand their policies into Scotland. Goodbye to free prescriptions and University tuition; hello to NHS privatisation, the Bedroom tax and a host of other lovely policies on Education and Transport.
I’m not saying this is a likely scenario by any means, but politics has been crazy for a couple of years now, so nothing is impossible. The main thing is, people should think about whether, in a situation like this, the unionist MPs so recently elected would stand up for Scotland or would side with Westminster. Be honest.