The hijacking of Scotland

Photograph: 'St. Andrews Square, Edinburgh' / Chris Fleming
Photograph: 'St. Andrews Square, Edinburgh' / Chris Fleming

If you live in Scotland, or abroad for that matter, it is hard to ever escape the constant presence of agitated nationalists when looking at Scottish politics. There is no increased tepidness to the issue of independence and rumours have been abounding that the SNP Holyrood manifesto will include a commitment to a second independence reference if London doesn’t give the Scottish Parliament a fiscal framework that the SNP administration in Edinburgh is happy with.

It’s a situation which can’t last, not least because it is fraught with several threats to actually solving Scottish issues beyond constitutional debates. By not having settled the constitutional question, many pressing issues of national importance (declining educational standards, the NHS) are being side-tracked by the ‘grander issue’. As Scotland is now only months away from Scottish Parliamentary elections it is worthwhile looking at the SNP and its support, and why the opposition parties so far have been unsuccessful in quelling the ‘yellow wave’.

The SNP has been successful in creating a narrative of ‘us and them’ – Scotland versus England. If someone living abroad just tapped into the public debate one could not blame them for thinking that most of the Scottish people would be ardent nationalists. However, this does not correspond with the facts on the ground.

Subsequent editions of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey show a clear trend. Since the advent of devolution with the (re)convening of the Scottish Parliament the percentage of people identifying themselves as ‘Scottish, not British’ has actually declined by more than 30%. A vote for the SNP is clearly not governed on the basis of national identity alone. This shows, contrary to the evident strategies – especially Scottish Labour – focusing on identity politics is not going to cut it.

Unless Scotland moves away from identity politics – which plays straight into the narrative of the SNP – the United Kingdom might soon find itself having lost its northernmost part. The Scottish Government must be held accountable by the opposition and be challenged where it fails the Scottish people. By trying to compete about who is the least Unionist (Labour) or the most (Scottish Conservatives) the narrative is in the nationalist’s ballpark. This makes it impossible to settle the constitutional debate that really was closed in September of 2014. By failing to do so, the politics of Scotland fails its people.

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  • Darren

    Another baseless and biased article lacking in any kind of ‘fact’ to back up an attack on the SNP.

    Please demonstrate any SNP agenda, policy or statement that in any way presents an anti-English or ‘us vs. them’ attitude…

    Or how about tackling the subject of why the SNP continually attracts a % of ‘no’ voters. People that surely would be put off by any nationalistic tendency.

    Your use of statistics to support your ‘claims’ is woefully misleading. The percentage of people that see their status as Scottish being as equal or more than their Britishness is still above 80%, yes down on the last 15 years but the biggest reason for that decrease is a rise in people who declare themselves as non-of the above. There hasn’t been a dramatic rise in people seeing themselves as British instead of Scottish. A rise in the ‘Scottish and British’ grouping might just be down to people being sick of the 2 terms being separated. There are many people here that want independence but that also want to retain the affinity our countries have and see the future as being co-operative and a true partnership of like-minded folk.

    You should also have read the article you quote to the end rather than cherry-picking the bits you thought worked for you. Here is a quote from it – “For most people in Scotland the SNP is a normal party, that they like, hate or are indifferent to, but those evaluations for most are based on whether people agree with their policies and how they evaluate their representation.”

    I also note this sites constant referral to issues that are being ‘failed’ in Scotland due to the SNP leadership but then fails to explain why the UK govt is similarly failing to deal with education, the NHS, rising debt, the energy gap etc etc.without the so-called barrier of nationalism.

    In fact, this sites constant bemusement and complete lack of understanding of how and why Scottish voters are voting the way they are is not an isolated issue, for sure much of the media in London fails to understand what is happening in Scotland and why, but ironically does go some way to explaining why the main stream parties that you offer as alternatives are failing repeatedly in Scotland.

    The mainstream parties have constantly failed the Scottish people in the past and are being made to pay by the Scottish voter. If the SNP do the same in the future they will suffer the same fate. My personal opinion on why the SNP are on an ever increasing rise in popularity? I think that Scotland is relishing being ruled by a party based in Scotland, led by Scotland, funded in Scotland and answerable to the Scottish people. Something that every nations deserves as a basic right. And a heady cocktail that none of the other mainstream parties can offer.

    So once the regional dept’s of the Labour and Tory parties demonstrate that Scotland is a priority for them then perhaps we can all pull together and fix the problems in Scotland that the Westminster govt is singularly failing at in London.