by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

This article is a couple of days late due to technical problems with the blog site which are hopefully now resolved.

So Labour, as expected, won the Rutherglen & Hamilton West By-election. Also as expected, the UK media are crowing about the severe blow to the cause of Scottish independence, apparently unaware that there is a big difference between support for the SNP and support for independence. It is not at all unusual for a governing Party to lose a By-election, especially when that Party has displayed levels of incompetence and disarray in the way the SNP has done recently. I sincerely hope that this will be the kick up the backside that the Party needs in order to re-focus its priorities and to up their game on domestic policies. I suspect I am likely to be disappointed in that, but that won’t stop me hoping.

As for the result itself, there are several things I take from it. First, as mentioned above, the SNP got a deserved kicking for messing things up. Yes, they’ve done a lot of good work, and things like our NHS, while far from perfect, still perform better than the Health Services in other UK countries, but that’s a pretty low bar anyway. Of course, if we were a normal country in full charge of our own economy, we would hope to do a lot better, but that is precisely why the SNP need to get their act together and really come up with some strong pushes towards independence. They could do a lot worse than read Robin McAlpine’s proposals for the way ahead.

But there are other points to be gleaned from the By-election result. The most obvious is the low turnout which is, once again, traditional in By-elections. Voters, for whatever reason, seem reluctant to turn out for these elections. If only they would realise the glee they are causing for the UK media by not supporting a pro-Indy Party. But that is how By-elections have nearly always gone.

The other point which has caused some merriment among Yessers is that the Tories lost their deposit. Funny as that is, I strongly suspect that a major factor in that is that Tory voters switched to Labour with the sole intention of kicking the SNP out. The Tory vote collapsed, but Labour’s went up considerably, so tactical voting, a ridiculous aspect of First Past The Post, probably played a big role, and that is a major danger for Yes Parties in future elections. Yessers may be split, but Unionists rarely are, and FPTP gives Unionist voters a huge advantage if they vote tactically. Pro-Indy Parties need to learn from that.

Another issue was Voter ID. So far, reports are only anecdotal, but it seems that a not inconsiderable number of people were turned away because of lack of acceptable ID. This really should not have happened, and the SNP must take a portion of blame for not getting the message out. Generally speaking, people in lower income brackets are more likely to be Yessers, while also being less likely to have documents like passports or Driving Licences. The SNP really should have worked harder at telling people about the Tory disenfranchisement policy, and helped them to obtain suitable ID. It would not have made a difference to the overall result because Labour’s majority was considerable, but it is a lesson that needs to be learned for future elections which are run under UK laws.

I must say that I am disappointed, although not surprised, by the result of this vote. My main hope now is that the SNP pay attention. They really need to display some very strong leadership, and get their message out far more clearly than they have done so far. It is vital that we become a normal country as soon as possible, and anyone who does not believe there is urgency about this should refer back to the recent Tory Party Conference where all sorts of fascist views were on display for the world to see. It will be little comfort if Labour win the next UK General election because they have promised to maintain Tory policies as far as possible. And even if they do several U-turns and actually try to help the majority of people rather than big business, history shows us that English voters will soon elect a Tory Government again. Scotland needs to become a normal country before that happens.