Cos when it comes to ignoring Scots, Westminster’s got serious form.
In 2015, we sent 56 SNP MPs to Westminster. Despite forming the UK’s third largest party and working like Trojans, they were roundly ignored by the Westminster Government, London-based press and network media.
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In 2016, 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the European Union. Despite this clear mandate, the Scottish Government’s case for a differentiated deal was kicked straight into the long grass and SNP MPs are now branded saboteurs by London tabloids – a ridiculous and worrying claim Theresa May refused to condemn in yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Earlier in 2017, the Scottish Parliament backed Nicola Sturgeon’s demand to hold a second referendum on independence once the shape of the Brexit deal becomes clear. Once again, this was shown the tin ear by the Westminster Government.
Are you spotting the pattern?
In any modern, responsive democracy these three measures of divergent popular opinion north of the Border would have been enough to secure negotiations and constitutional change. In Britain though they mean diddley squat.
So what is there to play for on June 8th – more of the same?
How much louder can Scots shout? How much more moral authority would 57, 58 or even the remarkable bullseye of 59 SNP MPs give the case for a pre-Brexit #ScotRef in the hollow world of Westminster?
Let’s face it. If the SNP broke the laws of electoral gravity and took every Scottish seat that extraordinary achievement would be dismissed in a blink of an eye by a UK media focused only on issues surrounding the REAL contest south of the Border – whether the Lib Dems make a comeback as soft Brexit champions, whether Jeremy Corbyn’s UK Labour gets trounced, whether Ukip stand revealed as a busted flush in England (they are currently nowhere in Scotland) and of course whether Theresa May’s obvious, cynical ploy to break every constitutional rule in the book actually comes off.
Scotland? Sorry – wrong political leaves on the line. Scotland will get a minute of primetime if Nicola Sturgeon wins handsomely, stands on a chair and sings Hallelujah. In French.
Nobody furth of this parish actually cares about Scotland or the Scottish result now there is no block of Labour MPs to be won here -- unless of course the Tories win another seat and claim to have derailed indyref2 with a 100 per cent increase in support – aye from one measly seat to a measly two.
Of course the General Election campaign will highlight Scotland’s ongoing democratic deficit within the UK, the morally bankrupt nature of Westminster politics and the continuing popularity of the SNP who start this campaign with the huge advantage of having almost all their candidates in place as sitting MPs.
But it seems there is almost nothing the General Election can usefully do for Scottish democracy or the cause of independence -- except one big thing. It could start a new era in the way among independence supporters do politics.
The first sign came yesterday when Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Green co-convenor, said she didn’t expect her party would stand candidates against the SNP in David (Fluffy) Mundell’s seat, or in a neighbouring Border constituency where the Conservatives came a close second to the SNP in the last General Election.
Of course, the extension of that olive branch by the Greens is easily overlooked and even more easily sniffed at. After all, the party polled only 839 votes in the Scottish Secretary’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale seat in 2015 and lost their deposit. But Fluffy won for the Tories by just 728 votes ahead of the SNP’s Emma Harper. Arguably if the Scottish Greens hadn’t stood, the Tories might have a big fat zero in terms of representation north of the Border. Heavens ter betsy, they might have had to make English-based Michael Gove Scottish Secretary.
In nearby Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, the SNP’s Calum Kerr squeaked home against the incumbent Tory MP by just 328 votes. The Scottish Greens came sixth with 631 and lost their deposit. This time round it would be great if those thousand-odd pro-independence votes didn’t get split.
Some independence supporters criticised the Greens for standing against the SNP last time and allowing Mundell to win. Unfair perhaps – if the SNP backed down when they were busy losing deposits years ago, we wouldn’t be on the brink of independence now.
But now the Greens seem ready to change strategy.
Chapman told the National: “I would be quite happy for us to support non-Green candidates if it meant getting Tories out of Scotland and making sure we had elected representatives who walk the walk of the politics of the new Scotland we want to see.
“It’s going to be a difficult election for everybody in Scotland, coming so soon after the council elections, and the outdated system of first past the post makes it particularly difficult for us in some ways.
“I think what we need to do is use this as an opportunity to talk about the kind of Scotland we want to see, the kind of politics we want to see, and I’m hopeful we can agree to say let’s back the candidates who offer those kinds of views and that kind of outlook for Scotland.
The First Minister has talked about a progressive alliance – the Greens look set to actually do it. But what do they get in return for this selfless gesture?
For the Greens to set aside the usual pointless party hostilities and not stand against the SNP in hopeless seats is a big step. For the SNP to acknowledge this by advising their supporters to vote Green as their second choice in the council elections would be an appropriate expression of thanks.
For the SNP and Greens to go the extra mile and stand on the same joint manifesto for the General Election – well, that would take Scottish politics into a whole, new consensual political ball-game.
And that could be the most important legacy of what will probably be a Groundhog election for Scots and an eminently forgettable power grab for Theresa May.
Look at it this way. In broadcast interviews with (broadly Unionist) commentators Alex Massie and David Torrance both have surprisingly answered aye to one question -- will Scotland be independent in 10 years’ time?
There may be a lot of debate about how and precisely when. But even opponents seem to concede that independence is indeed coming yet for a’ that. So the way we act now matters hugely.
We are conditioning the health, outlook and disposition of a new bairn – an independent Scotland. And it needs a radically different formative experience to the suspicious, greedy, judgmental and selfish one that has produced Theresa May’s Britain.
Even if only a portion of manifestos was shared by the two independence supporting parties, it would be a famous first – for British politics anyway. Exactly that happened in Norway after the Second World War when all four major parties stood on the same manifesto to stress their common cause in rebuilding the country after the stress and destruction of German occupation.
The unexpected cessation of hostilities between politicians – the suspension of business as usual – paved the way for Norway’s transformation into the democratic and economic powerhouse of the North. I’d suggest there are few better examples to emulate as Theresa May’s empty election bandwagon rolls on.