Gordon Macintyre-Kemp provides a usefully succinct summary of the party manifestos; although I think his account of the offering from British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) may have been a little generous. To my mind, it is every bit as disjointed and ill-thought as the mess concocted by Murphy. The word which constantly forces its way to the front of my mind when looking at the BLiS manifesto is ‘reactionary’. I can’t help but get the sense that it was cobbled together, not as an attempt to formulate a coherent programme for Scotland, but entirely as an electoral damage-limitation exercise. As with pretty much everything BLiS does these days, their manifesto is defined by their attitude to the SNP. The immaturity of that attitude, forged in the fires of burning resentment, is reflected in the manifesto.
I have to disagree, however, with Gordon’s assessment of the election as “a snore”. The outcome is far too critical for that to be so. And far less of a foregone conclusion than many suppose. If it was only a matter of securing an SNP majority administration, that might be different. Although even that is far from being certain. But, while pretty much everybody whose concerns go beyond personal and partisan advantage agrees that the SNP is the only viable party of government at this time, Scotland needs more than just another quietly competent SNP administration. Scotland needs the SNP to have an unprecedented mandate.
Like many other commentators, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp focuses on the issue of the next independence referendum, and the fact that only an SNP majority government will keep that option open. Important as it is to have this option; vital as it is to defend our right of self-determination against the explicitly anti-democratic intentions of the British parties and their bosses in London, there are other considerations. It is not only our democratic right of self-determination that is under attack. It is everything that distinguishes Scotland from the kind of country that the UK Government is bent upon creating in the rest of the UK (rUK).
That Scotland has a distinctive political culture is beyond dispute. Which won’t be any impediment whatever to the dumb denial from some quarters. The very existence of a party such as the SNP, never mind its phenomenal electoral success, testifies to the fact that Scotland is very, very different from rUK – mired as the latter still is in the ‘old politics’ of a Tory/Labour rivalry that is largely theatrical and offers precisely no prospect of relief from the corrosive grind of neo-liberal orthodoxies; or the destructive progress of an increasingly advantaged elite.
We do things differently in Scotland. To the limited extent permitted by the severe constraints of devolution, we do things our own way. Differently enough to be an ever greater embarrassment to a British ruling elite whose mantra is “There’s No Other Way!”. The imperative of realpolitik demands that this difference be eradicated.
We need an SNP majority as a matter of mundane practical necessity. There simply isn’t anyone else who is up to the job of running the country. Even Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale have acknowledged this. Although it is a truth so blindingly obvious that they get little credit for doing so. But it is also important – make that crucial – that the Scottish Government be equipped to defend our democratic processes, our national institutions, our public services and our economy against the coming onslaught from a British establishment determined to undermine all of these in a bid to bring Scotland into line with rUK.
It may be true that the contest for first place in next week’s election is, to some extent, a bit of a “snore”. It could be said that the fight between the two main British parties to be first among losers offers rather more excitement. But the urgency of securing a sufficient mandate, and the potentially dire implications of failure to do so, make the election a lot more tense than Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp allows.Views: 2143
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