Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Scotland's Made it's Choice

On the 5th of May, Scotland made it's choice. The build-up was pretty poor to be honest - all of the parties were looking rather samey and indecisive. The leaders were lacking in charisma, the policies were largely being ignored and there was almost an intangible sense of apathy radiating from the public. The voter turn out was roughly 48% at the end of the day, and I kinda get why. Hell, more than a few times I sat back and looked at the candidates and considered letting my slip go unused.

We have four main parties here; well, okay, we have two. Like Britain as a whole, Lib Dems have never been a big political force, but the Tories are not particularly bigger in more recent times. Last election was something of landmark, because it was the first in the history of the Scottish parliament to see Labour knocked off their seat, replaced by the Nationalist party (SNP).

Now the SNP have the first ever majority government in the Scottish parliament. Hell, the Scottish parliament was first constructed in a manner so that there wouldn't be a majority government. The ethos behind proportional representation is that it forces parties to deal with each other, so more than just the majority's interests are represented in government. The SNP have taken the system designed to make an outright victory incredibly difficult, and have won an outright victory.

This is made more confusing by the fact that during the last elections - the British General Elections - Scotland went Labour by an almost unanimous landslide. Despite being a strong Labour seat, this was confusing because other typical Labour strongholds like areas of the North of England and Wales saw the Tories make up a large amount of headway and steal a good number of seats from Labour. In contrast, Scotland only gave one seat to the Tories.

So why the disparity? Well, a few things occur to me.

Firstly, it could have been that SNP aren't rated to have any clout at Westminister. It is likely Labour who are best seen to represent Scottish interests, as the English Tories are perpetually cast as the villains North of the border. It's a simple case of applying different standards to the UK and Scotland in elections.

Secondly, it could be that the fact is, despite going to Labour, Scotland still finds itself with a Tory dominated hung parliament. This may have had a disillusioning effect on the Scottish population which was already more in favour of the SNP, albeit marginally. Since this proves a vote for Labour doesn't mean much, why not go for the other party identifying itself with Scotland?

Because, at the end of the day, that is what this boils down to. The SNP are seen as the Scottish option. This, too, is why I have fears that, despite low support for it, independence could be growing popular. Give the SNP and those in favour a chance to sell it as the "scottish" option. Independence is perhaps the ultimate nationalist endgame, beyond the party themselves. - with such a nationalist country running highly on nationalist beliefs: it is all too easy for me to invision support for independence rising. I never woulda guessed that we'd have nationalist party as the majority in the government, and as such Scotland voting YES for independence seems far more plausible.

So, Scotland as Ireland 2.0?

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