Sunday 7 July 2024

The next task is to defeat the SNP at Holyrood


Scotland has decisively defeated the SNP in the General Election. There are now 37 Labour MPs and only 9 SNP MPs, but although those 37 MPs may do great things in London and may influence how the UK is governed in all sorts of ways, they will have next to no influence on Scotland.

Labour came up with the ruse of the Scottish parliament as an antidote to Scotland voting Labour and getting a Conservative government. It was a sort of consolation prize and a concession to the soft nationalism that is still the norm in Scotland. But from the Labour point of view the Scottish parliament never had much point if Labour won a general election and it still more has no point if Labour won a General Election, but the SNP remained in power in Scotland.

Despite winning only 9 seats and despite all the other independence parties winning zero seats there is still an independence majority at Holyrood. There is still an SNP First Minister, and the SNP still has absolute control over health, education and much else. When the Labour government rules on most issues we will rapidly discover that it is actually ruling only in England. It’s like during the pandemic whatever rules Boris Johnson’s government came up with didn’t apply in Scotland. Well, nothing much has changed.

There is an absurdity in a party that has just been decisively defeated in Scotland still being in charge. The SNP always talk of a democratic deficit, but this isn’t democracy at all. Scottish voters have just said that we don’t want to be ruled by John Swinney, we don’t much want independence and we are as sick of the SNP as the UK on the whole is sick of the Tories, but still when Holyrood gets back to work it will be just like it was before the election.

So, although the decisive battle has been fought as Scotland has rejected independence twice now, we still need to chase not so bonnie John Swinney through the heather, sink Flora MacDonald’s boat as she takes him over the sea to Skye and make sure that Scottish nationalism returns to its traditional role of also rans, others and eccentrics.

There is now the possibility of a Labour government in the Scottish parliament in coalition with the Lib Dems and perhaps cooperating with other Pro UK parties to form a Pro UK majority. No Pro UK party must ever work with the SNP or keep it in power. That is the lesson of the past decades.

Once there is a Pro UK majority in the Scottish parliament as well as a Pro UK majority at Westminster, it will be possible for the first time in decades for a Scottish government to work constructively with the British government for the good of all. It will be possible to coordinate policy and more importantly it will be possible to thoroughly deal with the inherent nationalist bias in the civil service in Scotland and to investigate and prosecute any and every misuse of power both by the SNP and the civil service.

I want to know exactly what has been going on. I want a public inquiry with a judge with the power to force Salmond and Sturgeon to tell the truth or else be in contempt of court.

Independence supporters are in a worse place than they realise because with the decline in support for the SNP shown at the General Election the arithmetic of the Scottish parliamentary election begins to work against it.

In 2021 the SNP won 47.7% of the vote for the Scottish parliament, this meant that independence supporters could in theory use their second list seat vote for any other independence party like the Greens or Alba without worrying that it would cost the SNP any seats. This is why we ended up with the Greens in government even though this party is incapable of winning any constituency in Scotland. If more independence supporters had voted for Alba with their second vote it might have been possible to have a still greater independence majority. But unfortunately for independence supporters that moment has passed.

With the SNP now at around 30% it will no longer be guaranteed to win most of its seats at the constituency level. Look it just now won only 9. It will therefore require second votes to make up the difference on the list level. The rational for Alba and the Greens as parties that take second SNP votes has therefore ceased.

The key to maximising Pro UK seats in Scotland is not merely to use the just past General Election as a guide to how to vote in each constituency but also to use the second vote more wisely.

The electoral system that benefited independence supporters who voted for a different party with their list vote can now benefit Pro UK supporters who vote for the party most likely to win in their constituency and a different party with the list vote.

Labour, Scottish Conservatives and Lib Dems will tell you to use both votes for them, but to maximise Pro UK seats it would often be beneficial to vote for someone else with the second vote.

Labour will win most of the constituencies. Look it just won 37. So, it would make sense if Labour voters or those voting Labour tactically used their second vote for another Pro UK party.

At some point it should be possible for someone with better arithmetic than me to come up with a guide for each seat in Scotland telling Pro UK voters how best to maximise Pro UK seats by using each of their votes in a particular way.

I have no hope of abolishing the Scottish parliament now that Labour is in government, but we can at least neutralise it and have it cease being a base from which Scottish nationalists can manoeuvre.

Unfortunately for Scottish nationalists disappointed rightly with the performance of the SNP there is no obvious alternative route to independence. Alba won 11,784 which is less than the Yorkshire Party which won 17,227 campaigning perhaps for independence for Yorkshire or else free Yorkie bars.

There is still lots of theoretical support for Scottish independence and 30% of Scots are still willing to vote for the SNP, but that is half of the 60% that Scottish nationalism would need to seriously put pressure on a British government.

Sorry dear Scottish nationalists you don’t have the numbers. All your marching merely demonstrates that yours is a minority view and that it is declining. If you are disappointed by the General Election result expect the Scottish parliament result to be still worse.

You were so close weren’t you. There were polls during the pandemic that put you within touching distance of 60% and now look where you are.  Plot away dear friends, rage, rage at the dying of your dream. Wake up it has become your nightmare.

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