Talking about politics…

I hate repeating such over used media phrase, but it’s true: the 2015 General Election was historic. Not only were the polls shockingly misrepresentative of the public feeling, but Scotland threw a pretty big spanner in the Westminster works. However, there is another phrase that has been bandied around excessively, particularly by the Nationalists that now overwhelmingly represent my country in parliament, that irritates me even more: ‘Scotland’s voice’ will now be heard.

I’m fairly certain that Scotland, with it’s huge class, culture, economic and ethnic disparities, has more than one voice. A twenty-something living on benefits in Easterhouse has a very distinct voice from a pensioner in Morningside, as does a middle-aged oil industry engineer in Aberdeen, and a farmer in Perthshire. So how does one party represent all of us – whether that be the SNP, or, previously, Labour?

I’ll give it to the SNP that they certainly try to. Whilst political commentators argue over whether the SNP are left wing, right wing, socialist or capitalist, I think it’s safe to say that they are populist: they pick a set of policies to appeal to the widest range of voters. So that’s a council tax freeze to help out the poorest people – that then means less funds available to the council, and less public spending, which is decidedly not in the interest of the poor. Free prescriptions, allowing those who need long term medication a huge financial break – but, being non-means tested and therefore every citizen in Scotland has their prescriptions funded by the government, it is resulting in a funding squeeze leading to privatisation of other parts of the health service. A bit of a mixed bag, really, once you start to look closer.

However, the crux of the matter is that people don’t look closer. Scotland has always been tribal – Catholics vs Protestants, Rangers vs Celtic, Highlands vs lowlands, Scottish vs English, Labour vs Tories – and Yes vs No, separatist vs unionist, and SNP vs Westminster have become those new tribes. And the SNP have done very well to get on the winning side – so well that Labour is left still sitting gawking. But the SNP didn’t win the election because of their manifesto, or what they stood for: they won it because they are good at picking up on the mood of the people, and using it to their advantage.

The problem with the tribal aspect of Scottish politics is that is is a direct foil to the claims that politics is becoming more accessible and stimulating debate. It most certainly isn’t. Not unless being shouted down as a Quisling, or a right-wing English invader (not that there is anything inherently wrong in being right wing, or English, but when you are neither the labelling becomes frustrating to say the least), or an idiot who believes the lies of the biased media when you question the SNP or independence is considered ‘accessible debate’. In fact, both sides spend most of the time personally insulting the other, and very little sensible debate or challenging opposition to party politics is happening.

So, as a young Scot who is interested in policy not party, representation not repression, and a Scotland that is as diverse as the whole of the UK and where we share far more across social stratas than nationalities, I would like to say one thing in reply to Sturgeon and Salmond’s talk of being ‘Scotland’s voice’: I’ve got my own voice, thanks. And I want to talk about politics.

The NHS: The No Help, Sorry?

From a very personal perspective, I am feeling rather frustrated with the NHS. I have two ongoing health problems: a recurrent gastritis/gastroenteritis that I have suffered since Christmas 2013, and ongoing pain in my hip after a horse riding accident in August 2013 that at times leaves me unable to get out of a chair or climb the stairs.

In the first case, my GP spent a year telling me I had IBS, and trying me on different medications, many of which made my symptoms worse. I was finally referred to the hospital in December last year, and in the last six months have had two diagnostic tests, neither of which I’ve had discussed with me by either my GP or the referral doctor, as both have said the remit is with the other. And the drugs I was recommended by the doctor during one of my tests? I’m still waiting for that prescription…

In the second, I spent nine months in physiotherapy before the physio recommended my GP refer me to hospital. My GP told me to carry on with physio. Over a year after the initial accident, I was finally referred to the hospital – and I’m still waiting for an initial appointment, two years later.

And the media has been reflecting my frustration with the NHS. The Observer wrote on Saturday about the spending waste in the NHS. The Telegraph has ranted about complacency. The Herald complains about the staffing crisis and the political red tape that are heavily affecting the NHS. It seems like very day there is another story about impossible targets, failure for patients, and a bulbous and inefficient bureaucracy.

Now, I understand better than most the pressure out NHS is under. I studied my preclinical veterinary degree alongside medical students in many parts, so I know how hard those guys have to work even to qualify. Many of my friends from university are now in their Foundation years. I also happen to know a decent number of doctors working in the NHS at the moment, and whilst many of them (surgeons particularly) are arrogant sods and have no people skills at all, they are very, very dedicated to their jobs, and work very long hours saving people’s lives.

And I’m also aware that my situation is not the average. I have a pretty high pain threshold (I broke my elbow in 2012, and continued to row and do core training including pushups etc for two weeks before I realised something wasn’t right), and am quite young, so I understand I’m not a priority, especially when neither of my conditions are life threatening, simply frustrating and painful.

However, in doing my research, I cam across something very interesting. The Nuffield Trust did a study last year comparing the NHS across the UK, and came up with some very interesting results: there really isn’t all that much difference between them. All the regional NHS systems increased spending, although all four have slowed down investment since the imposition of austerity measures. All four have reduced hospital waiting times, shortened ambulance waiting times, improved stroke care, reduced cases of MRSA, and increased numbers of doctors and dentists to show an improved patient:doctor/dentist ratio. In broad terms, systems are comparable across the UK.

However the close comparison between the North of England (which does not have a devolved NHS, but had more comparable mortality rates etc to Scotland than the average of the other administrations at the beginning of the study period in 1991) and Scotland was an eye opener. The North of England had greater improvement in mortality rates, hospital waiting times, treatment rates and life expectancy generally over the course of the study than Scotland, which had been so comparable at the beginning.

However, ultimately, the systems look very similar, despite the Scottish government’s calls that the Scottish system is much superior. There is also no evidence to back up the SNP claim during the referendum that our NHS is in a spiral of doom that can only be saved by independence – all the health systems are actually improving.

The NHS could certainly be better, in my experience. But it also seems to me that, when it comes to our health service, we like to scandalise the issues, and whinge about the problems, rather than actually look at how much our patient care has improved. Further austerity cuts won’t help out NHS, certainly – but can we stop using a ‘failing NHS’ to score political points please? Because it simply isn’t true. Even if I’m still waiting on that appointment.

The Newspaper Review

Time for this week’s newspaper review!

  1. The Guardian published this excellent, in depth look at why Ed Milliband and Labour lost the election. Forget ‘they were too left’, ‘they were too right’, ‘Ed just wasn’t PM material’ and all the other casually tossed out verdicts – this is good analysis. Personally, I liked a lot of what Milliband had to say, but tho article hits the nail on the head – he didn’t say it often enough, loudly enough, or clearly enough for the electorate to know what he stood for, let alone whether they agreed with the message.
  2. A scary prospect, but a realistic one, in the Herald. Thankfully we have an additional member list!
  3. A look at Charles Kennedy in the Independent – not in as much detail as some articles on him, but some interesting revelations.
  4. Boris Johnson’s piece on Greece in the Telegraph made me so incandescently angry on so many levels that I had to share it.
  5. Whilst I don’t agree that the UK would be better off outside of the EU (Monteith doesn’t explicitly state this but it is implied), I do agree with his assessment of Sturgeon’s stance in the Scotsman.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sexist Salmond?

Anna Soubry, the Tory minister for Small Business, has accused Alex Salmond of being sexist. As an avowed ardent feminist, and well aware that the Commons is still well under-represented by women, this piece of news was one I was very interested in.

But, I’m really unconvinced.

For those who haven’t watched the video, please do. It’s pretty plain to me that Soubry was heckling and trying to shout down Alex Salmond. She was essentially being very rude, regardless of whether or not being a smart arse is a prerequisite to being an MP, as I often wonder. She was shouting down Salmond to the point where she actually interrupted his speech, more than once.

I can imagine, and his face backs up that assumption up, that he was pretty annoyed with her. His comment about her being ‘demented’ was pretty rude. But ‘behave yourself, woman’? Sorry, that’s not sexist.

Up here in Scotland, the saying “behave yourself/calm down/simmer down/settle down/dinnae fash yerself, man/min/woman/lass/lad/quine/loon/mister/missus” is a common one. It has a direct equivalent for both sexes. Sure, it is informal, and a bit patronising – the kind of thing I would say to a friend, but not to my mother, let alone my boss or a respected colleague. But whilst sex is mentioned, it isn’t the point of the comment, and it isn’t derogatory based on sex.

If he’d told her to behave like a lady, or be more ladylike, or even Cameron’s gaffe ‘calm down, dear’, I would have feel indignant as a feminist. But, Soubry? This is crying wolf.

There are plenty of examples of sexism in industry, in the workplace, on the street, and in our culture that are so ingrained we don’t always recognise them for what they are. And pointing it out makes people (particularly men, but some women too, in a sort of apologist fashion) very defensive, as though equality for women takes something away from men. But claiming sexism when there blatantly is none does nothing for the cause.

I don’t like Salmond. He’s a liar, has admitted he admires Putin and spends taxpayers money in a way that the worst of the MP expenses claimants would baulk at. But on this occasion, he wasn’t sexist. Just rude and unprofessional. But then so are most of the current SNP crop of MPs

Alistair Carmichael and the Leaked Memo Aftermath

So, Alistair Carmichael admitted that he was responsible for the leak of the memo regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s preference of Cameron as Prime Minister. And, as you can imagine, the SNP horde have been going mental about it. To them, it’s proof once again that their great leader is infallible, and that the dirty unionists lied.

But can we just go over this whole thing in a little more detail?

Carmichael admitted that he leaked the memo, and accepted responsibility for the leak. He lied to Channel 4 when he said he had never seen the memo before it’s publication in The Telegraph. However, The Telegraph also reported that an inquiry into the memo leak shows that the memo was real, not a fake produced by Carmichael or one of his underlings. Carmichael leaked it, but he didn’t create it – however misunderstood they may have been, someone had genuinely believed the contents of the memo enough to write it down as fact.

Carmichael has admitted responsibility, and has refused his severance pay as a previous minister. He also said he would have resigned a ministerial post had he still got one. So is there any need for him to resign his post?

He did lie in the Channel 4 interview, when he claimed he hadn’t seen the memo before it’s publication in the Telegraph. However, the leak itself was pretty typical of things politicians do to try and get one over on one another. He didn’t create a fake memo.

Unlike Alex Salmond, whose White Paper and numerous speeches during the Scottish referendum referred to a letter from the EU commission regarding Scotland’s continuing EU membership, which, after several Freedom of Information requests, Nicola Sturgeon eventually admitted did not exist. And it wasn’t the first time Salmond had admitted to lying about official letter.

So, the SNP are being hypocritical, yet again. It doesn’t excuse Carmichael from lying, but calling for his head (or, more realistically, his seat) is just a power play – they’ve carried on regardless themselves often enough after lying.

Whilst I agree politicians who lie should feel the wrath of the electorate (like Nick Clegg and his pals have during the election), I don’t think Carmichael should be forced to resign. He has lost a lot of money in penance (the best way to hurt a politician IMO), and I think that is enough for the crime he actually committed.

Next time (because let’s face it, there will be a next time) the SNP get caught blatantly lying, let’s remind them of this, ok?

The Newspaper Review

This is going to be the first one in a series of posts where I share a variety of newspaper articles from a variety of online news sources that I feel have been particularly interesting from this week. Comments are much encouraged!

  1. The Telegraph’s rather amusing and enlightening roundup of the SNP’s first week in parliament.
  2. Interesting discussion of the changing role of the Church in Ireland in the light of the referendum result in The Independent.
  3. The Guardian’s analysis of the EU referendum and how much the result will be affected by who is allowed to vote.
  4. Cameron’s meeting with Juncker and the move for closer Eurozone ties by France and Germany discussed in The Scotsman.
  5. An interesting poll in this article from the Shetland Times regarding Alistair Carmichael and the infamous memo.
  6. Another one from the Guardian, this time on what EU reform really means.

Got any particularly interesting articles from this week? Opinion pieces? Add them in the comments.

The Trident Nuclear Deterrent: Is it really a case of ‘bairns’ versus ‘bombs’?

Alex Salmond, SNP MP for Gordon, will be leading an SNP-secured debate in the Commons in the first week of the new parliament. And what is it about? Not the lowering of the voting age, or parliamentary/electoral reform, or the funding model for Scotland that they so criticised in the Scottish referendum last year, or austerity, or minimum wage increases: basically none of the things we, as a country, need to discuss, and they, as the third largest party and representing the left wing, should be discussing. No – it’s about Trident.

The SNP’s attitude to Trident during the Scottish referendum really annoyed me. I am pro-Trident myself, but I have respect for anyone who believes in the case for disarmament. However, the SNP want to have their cake and eat it: they want to be part of NATO (despite NATO’s clear warning that a nuclear deterrent must remain to remain a member), and maintain defence, but only if Trident is not in Scotland and not paid for by Scottish taxpayers. Suggestions of moving Trident to Wales or Gibraltar were made by the SNP – as long as it is not in Scottish waters.

Whilst the SNP have made it clear that they continue to strongly oppose Trident, they seem to try and oppose everything in Westminster these days – the role of not only an opposition party but an anti-establishment party being filled rather well. So it has seemed, to me at least, to be ‘just another’ of the things the SNP disagree with Westminster about, and had taken a backseat to the EU referendum, the Human Rights Act abolition etc. Particularly when the SNP did not get the chairmanship of the defence committee which they had been hoping for in their settlement as third party in the House.

Of course, the ‘whistle blowing’ by William McNeilly has stirred the pot up again. Despite the MoD making it very clear that McNeilly’s claims were purely anecdotal, and therefore not breaching the Official Secrets Act, and being embarrassing rather than a security problem, and his subsequent arrest being due to him going AWOL whilst on duty at Faslane, the SNP have turned him into a hero who is being silenced by the military for his brave actions. Salmond is determined that the claims McNeilly has made should not be brushed back under the carpet, and wants to use this  current media focus on Faslane to try and whip up support for disarmament – or, at least, shifting the nukes out of Scotland.

Personally, I don’t agree that we should be able to insist on keeping the benefit of a nuclear deterrent (NATO membership, increased safety from international nuclear threats etc) whilst also insisting we don’t want it in our backyard. I am Scottish, and love Scotland, but we have to remember that the decision to run Trident from Faslane was not because of anti-Scottish sentiment, but because very few places exist that meet the requirements on nearby population, depth of water and tides. Faslane also means we ensure a decent military base in the Central Belt, which, after the closure of Scottish military bases like Lossiemouth, is an assurance we could do with in a country with such a low population density.

Regarding McNeilly’s report, I just can’t believe things are as bad as he claims. Faslane has to deal with a lot of protesting on its doorstep, and if security was as lax as McNeilly claims, we would have seen more security breaches – and high profile ones at that – than we have. But I do agree that security at Faslane is likely another thing that needs overhauling by the current government, and probably won’t get it.

Despite believing the system needs changing, however, I can’t agree with the SNP that scrapping Trident is about ‘bairns before bombs’. I’m sorry – choosing to prioritise education, health and welfare for children and maintaining a nuclear deterrent are not mutually exclusive. The SNP have had their failure in Scottish education exposed this week, and they only have themselves and their budget underspend to blame – not Trident. And I can’t see the Conservatives or Labour being convinced to scrap Trident any time soon.

So, it looks to me like the SNP have not only been behaving like immature children in their parliamentary induction, but have picked a complete non-starter of a first debate in the Commons. If this is how their time in parliament is going to proceed, I think it’s going to be a gradually increasing public feeling of *headdesk* here in Scotland.

The Human Rights Act repeal: is it really as ludicrous a proposal as it seems?

So, Cameron and his cronies want to scrap the Human Rights Act. My first thought was, blooming heck, never mind no increase in the minimum wage, we’re reintroducing slave labour. But there must be a legitimate point to what the Tories are suggesting: so what is it, and is it worth it?

I’ve had a read of both the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on the Human Rights Act, and the Conservatives’ proposals on changes to the HRA, and here’s what it looks like to me.

The Human Rights Act was introduced in 1998 by Blair and his gang as a way of incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights (which dates back to 1950) into British constitution and parliamentary rule, and uniting with Europe under the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). UK lawyers had a major role in forming the Convention; the UK was the first country to ratify the Convention. The rights enshrined in the Convention are admitted by both sides of the debate to be sensible, with with sensible restrictions.

The issue the Conservatives have isn’t with the Convention, or with the rights outlined in the Convention, but with the ECtHR in Strasbourg. The ECtHR is now the ‘high court’ in Europe on human rights, and it sets precedents on interpretation of the Convention that are different to how the UK courts have interpreted the Convention. By setting these precedents, and holding authority on human rights over the UK courts, the ECtHR is able to form very different judgements to those the UK would prefer, and the Tories don’t like it.

However, the Human Rights Act was pretty carefully designed to meet British constitution in terms of parliamentary sovereignty – parliament has the final say. It is not possible for British courts or judges in the British system to declare void any law that breaches the Human Rights Act: that incompatibility has to be presented to parliament to sort out. Ultimately, unlike EU law, which takes precedence if it disagrees with UK law, the Human Rights Act and therefore the implementation of the Convention does not automatically take precedence over other domestic laws: parliament has the final say.

Equally, the HRA only requires UK courts to ‘take into account’ the rulings of the ECtHR, and in fact our own domestic decision is what is binding – and there have been four cases since 2000 where the UK courts have disregarded the decision of the ECtHR.

So, the argument by the Tories, which seems rational and reasoned, and simply wanting more control over our interpretation and implementation of the Convention rather than revoking rights, suddenly seems a bit pointless. We have control. We don’t have to kowtow to Strasbourg. They create legal precedent that is respected in our courts due to the legal process, but we ultimately can make different decisions. The HRA doesn’t impact on our parliamentary sovereignty, and is not binding over the decision of our own courts, as the Tories claim.

Then there is also the problem of devolution. Scotland, Wales and NI all have the Human Rights Act as integral parts of the devolution settlements and constitutional change packages. Repealing the HRA would require amendments to devolution statutes, and may require permission from the devolved states to alter. The Scottish government for one has made it plain that they will use very power they have to oppose the proposals.

So, the HRA works pretty well, meets out constitutional needs, and would cause a lot of problems to change. So why are the Tories so set on this? One word that cropped up a lot in the Tory proposals was “Labour”. It;s “Labour’s Human Rights Act”. Reading between the lines, it sounds like the Tories want a law that says the same thing, does the same thing, doesn’t address any real issues, but is theirs rather than Labour’s, and makes it look like they are being successful in removing Britain from under the thumb of Europe (which, considering the difference between the ECtHR and the EU, seems a bit stupid).

So, should we be worried? The Scottish Government oppose the changes, as does all of the Opposition benches in the Commons, and it seems like the House of Lords does as well. Hopefully, this will be shot down in flames. I mean, there’s plenty of things wrong with our government, our constitution (or lack of one), our electoral processes, our economy and the ablest attitude to the finance sector, and countless other things that the government could be addressing right now, instead of trying to fix something that isn’t broken for the sake of getting their names on it in a high profile way.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner: the revival of youth politics?

The 2010 General Election was my very first opportunity to vote. I was hugely excited. I, and many of my friends, were inspired by Nick Clegg’s performance in the Prime Ministerial Debate, and passionate about liberal democracy – we joined the Lib Dems, did some canvassing, had a lot of posters in our windows. We sat up on the results night, and watched our hope for a Lab-Lib coalition die a painful, torturous death. The following scandal where the Lib Dems reneged on their vow to vote against tuition fee rises then saw us protesting on the streets of London against the party that had promised so much and failed us utterly.

But the vast majority of young people in 2010 were apathetic. 51.8% of 18-24 year olds voted in 2010, compared to the overall turnout of 65.1%. Young people just didn’t care about politics.

2015 has been a different story. This time round, I wasn’t a member of a political party – other than a little bit of Facebook activism on behalf of my incumbent MP, I didn’t do any canvassing at all. I stayed up to watch the election results again, but alone this time, and even more broken-hearted. But the rest of the young Scots were more motivated than I was – just shy of 60% of 18-24 year olds turned out. And that’s the UK average: when we known that 65% was the national average, and 71.2% in Scotland, we can surmise that the Scottish youth had an even better turnout than the average.

I have to admit that the reinvigoration of the youth has been due to the SNP. The positive, exciting, ambitious Yes campaign during the referendum inspired young people, particularly those in poorer areas who have been brought up to believe that their vote doesn’t matter and the system cannot be changed. And those young people have supported the SNP that so inspired them.

Our new SNP MPs are young people themselves, in some cases. Two in particular I find interesting examples: the infamous Mhairi Black, youngest MP since the 17th century and social media hooligan, and Stuart Donaldson, the 23 year old career politician following in the family footsteps.

I have a lot of respect for these young people in standing up for what they believe in, and attempting to represent their constituents. Politics needs more passion and enthusiasm, fresh ideas and idealism. But I don’t think they really understand what they’re in for: the selfie-taking, seat-stealing, illicit-applauding, oath-objecting, generally childish antics shown in the Commons so far aside, do these career politicians have enough life experience to sit in Westminster?

I’m a young person myself. I heard the media revelations of Black’s drunken tweets and angry Labour-bashing on social media, and I cringed. I remember leaving university and doing a lot of status-deleting and photo-detagging in preparation for the world of work – she has the entire press digging about on the internet for her immature and unprofessional moments, and she hadn’t even thought to tidy up her social media presence yet. It looks like a lack of forethought and a lack of understanding of what she is facing.

I see the video of Donaldson admitting he would never vote against the party line, regardless of his constituent’s needs, and I see a young man, the same age as myself, who is not only a young MP, but a new member of the party, and son of a Scottish minister in the same party, and doesn’t have an original political thought in his head, just a blind passion for what other people tell him, and will happily follow their guidance.

We need more youth engagement in politics, we need to keep that momentum going. But we also criticise those middle aged men who have done nothing with their lives but play the Game of Commons. Why are we encouraging more career politicians, and ones who need the excuse of ‘but they’re only young’ to justify the content of their Twitter feed?

You might try to call me a hypocrite, sitting here writing about politics myself. But I’m not waltzing up to Nick Robinson and telling him I know more about the political landscape of this country than he does. I just want our governments, our parliaments, our politicians to listen. And, unfortunately, whilst young people are every good at shouting and being passionate and enthusiastic, they are not very good at listening…

#gaycakegate

So, a Christian Northern Irish bakery has been taken to court and found liable for breaking discrimination laws by refusing to bake a cake with a gay rights slogan on it for a gay customer. And it has blown up the news.

Ok, so the timing, what with the  Irish referendum on gay marriage tomorrow (with the possibility of Ireland becoming the first country to democratically vote for gay marriage), is probably a big part of why this has blown up. But a big part of it has been the wildly disparate opinions on the judge’s decision.

I read this article in the Guardian today, and was completely surprised. Comparing a limited company refusing to serve a gay customer a gay rights-sloganed cake because the director disagrees with gay marriage to someone wanting to purchase a placard inciting racial hatred are two very different things.

I really struggle to see how this case isn’t clear. It is a private limited company. That makes it an entity in it’s own right, one with no religious affiliation. It is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or political belief. For the company to refuse a client’s business because of his sexuality and the message of his cake in unlawful.

However, what really hit me was the personal timing of reading this article. I did a training module on Equality and Diversity in the workplace today, mainly focusing on the Equality Act, but with general guidelines towards acceptance and assistance of minorities in the workplace too. What struck me was the information that the LGBT+ community remain the group that face the most opposition to equality in the UK, and make up the majority of cases brought under the Equality Act.

We’ve accepted that racism, sexism, ageism, religious bigotry, prejudice against disability and mental health difficulties are unacceptable – why is homophobia still justifiable? Why does a discriminatory, freedom-imposing opinion become acceptable just because the opinion holder is religious?

Call me a liberal (well, I am a bit), but when our opinions start to impose on the rights of other groups, then we shouldn’t be imposing those opinions. But maybe good will come of #gaycakegate – even if people haven’t had their eyes opened properly to the extent of homophobia in this country, maybe it will tip the scales for the referendum tomorrow.

GE 2015: what happened in Scotland?

As you can imagine, as a non-SNP supporter in Scotland, whose excellent, experienced Lib Dem MP (who I’d dealt with a lot over the tuition fees debacle), who was prepared to go against party whip for his constituents if required, has been replaced by a 23 year old career politician (for whom politics is in the family) who has been filmed saying he will never vote against the party, I am feeling a little like politics has died. However, my personal feelings aside, here’s what’s happening here in Scotland, and how much the rise of the SNP really has to do with independence.

The SNP have been out to destroy Labour’s support in Scotland since the referendum last September. The cries of ‘red Tories’ and ‘Liebour’ (even with the most left wing Labour leader in 40 years!) have been loud for months. It was accepted by most of Scotland that certainly Glasgow and the majority of the central belt at least would fall to the SNP. I think the SNP managed to outdo even their wildest hopes with the result they achieved, though.

However, that sentiment of Labour not being left enough (regardless of truth) has been pervasive, and has turned many stalwart Labour supporters to the SNP. A decent proportion of No voters also voted SNP, on the belief that the SNP would push for Scottish interests in a Labour government, as Sturgeon has repeatedly claimed.

However, the voices since the result have been mixed. I’ve heard ‘I wouldn’t have voted SNP if I’d thought the Tories would win’, ‘Labour is as dead as the Tories in Scotland’, ‘now we have a mandate for UDI’, ‘it doesn’t matter how Scotland votes anyway and didn’t affect the Tory win, so why not vote for a Scottish party rather than a branch office?’, and of course the Lamentations of the Left, who see the rejection of old style left wing Labour by the Scots as pushing a move back to middle-England-pleasing centrist politics and the legacy of Blairism.

What do I think? I think communication has gone out the window and fear is rife. The English electorate see voting in the SNP as an anti-English move, when it is an anti-Westminster parties protest vote (think UKIP, but generally left wing and progressive, with an actual record of arguably successful government). The Scots on the other hand see the anti-SNP rhetoric spun by the mainstream UK media as being anti-Scottish thanks to criticism of our chosen representatives, and the Scots are well known for being stubborn (or as we say, ‘thrawn’) as hell and determined to have what we’re told we can’t. Ultimately, both sides are perpetuating the division that Scotland voted against in September.

So the political picture here is an odd one. It’s been historic; jubilant for some whilst desperately sad for others; there is the threat of nationalism but more so there is hope for the socialism that Scotland desperately believes in.

Personally, I’m heartbroken, and have just joined the Labour Party ahead of next year’s Scottish elections so that I can cast my vote for the new leaders of Labour and Scottish Labour. I guarantee that a different result will be seen next year – no FPTP means Scottish government is much more representative than Westminster, thankfully, and 50% of the vote will produce closer to 50% of the representation. If Labour can pull themselves together and find something worth standing for again, they might even start to make a comeback.

The SNP got just over 1.45 million votes on the 7th of May. The losing Yes campaign in September got over 1.6 million. So support for independence has absolutely not increased in real terms. And the SNP MPs have made it clear that they are not pushing for independence with this result. Except for Alex Salmond. But he’s a bit fishy anyway.

I don’t think they will either. Ultimately, they lost in September – why try again until they have increased their popularity, and the support for independence, or else they start to become a running joke and lose the real momentum that they have gained.

Wait until 5 years of a majority Tory government has hammered Scotland.

Regarding the role the SNP will take in Westminster itself: thanks to the Tory majority the SNP can only be part of the opposition at best, and more likely only unofficial opposition bench seats rather than shadow government. So in actual fact, they have very little actual say, other than filling the role they already fill on Scotland’s eyes of shouting a lot at the Tories. Unfortunately, a role as the opposition rather than the smaller party in coalition government will probably increase support for them – a role in government would have thrown up their mistakes, rather than their objections, and would have forced them to accept responsibility. Look what it did to the Lib Dems. However, England was having none of it – and may have done more harm than good.

So what happens next? The SNP will soon realise that flouting parliamentary rules on applause and photography are about as much rebellion as they can create, and Labour will have to analyse what the SNP are providing for the people of Scotland that they aren’t – and quickly. Personally, I’d love to see a split of Scottish Labour from the main Labour party, and Scottish Labour becoming an affiliated party like the SDLP in Northern Ireland.

But we may yet see another referendum before we see that.