Well I’m very disappointed. I think Scotland has made a grave error and we’ll have cause to regret it sooner rather than later and for a long time.
So where next?
Well for me I’ll be working on Unlock Democracy’s campaign for a citizen lead constitutional convention. If we don’t ask we won’t get.
I’ve been very impressed with the work that the Electoral Reform Society Scotland have been doing with their Democracy to the Max initiative. The more I experience it the more I value genuinely participative and genuinely deliberative democracy. Or user defined quality as I describe it to myself.
I think it’s time to re-join a political party. That party isn’t going to be the Labour Party
And honestly, I’ll be dusting off my Australian passport. If I’m going to be living in a neo-liberal hellhole I’m not going to be doing it with Nigel Farage. I’m going to be doing it somewhere I can eat prawns five times the size of the prawns I get at home and sit on my veranda looking over the Adelaide Hills sipping a nicely chilled glass of local wine whilst my son spins a rugby ball or a cricket ball through the warm evening air
For politics in Scotland?
I’d like to hope that many of those newly engaged or active in politics in Scotland remain so. We have a UK general election in a little over six months from now and a Holyrood election in just over eighteen months. So plenty for people to get involved in. Both Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society are gathering signatures demanding a citizen led constitutional convention.
I am very sceptical that the promises of further devolution will come to much. I think it’s difficult to marry up the sort of powers that Scotland requires to remain part of the Union, the aspirations of Wales and Northern Ireland, with the current thinking on devolution in England. I don’t think there is enough time to do the necessary consultations and deals even if you exclude a citizen lead constitutional convention from the process. Bluntly, I don’t trust the Labour Party or the Tory Party to bother themselves or to get themselves into uncomfortable positions over this.
And the obvious protest vote if you don’t like the Westminster parties is UKIP.
I hope I’m wrong but I’m still waiting for Lords Reform.
I think the biggest losers in the Indy Ref campaign have been Scottish Labour. The Better Together campaign has been dire. Not only relentlessly negative in a way that has resulted in them telling their own voters over and over and over again that they shouldn’t hope for better and couldn’t cope with it if they got it but operationally poor.
The Better Campaign, Tory Money and Labour Bodies, has been operationally and strategically appalling. If they have saved the Union, they’ve only just done so. Personally, on balance, I’m of the view that we’ll be doing this again in about 2026.(1) The cost of that is that they’ve damaged their ability to operate in Scotland, become associated with the Tories and given the SNP a stick to beat them with. Footage of Johann Lamont running down Scotland is going to appear all over the interwebs in April 2015 and April 2016. Well, two sticks. Here come the Tory enabling Labour Party. Every taunt the Labour Party has directed at the Lib Dems since 2011 is now fair comment for the SNP everytime the Labour Party appear.
What they have done is split their activist base. Quite a few Labour activists appear to have been excited by the independence message. These people will be viewed as close to traitors by some in the Labour Party. Glasgow, the home of the Labour movement, voted for independence.
Fundamentally, they could have avoided 1.6m people voting for independence by sorting out a decent devolution package in 2012.
And operationally, they’ve been poor, again. They barely seemed to have turned up on the ground for the campaign which I think is indicative of a deeper malaise in the Labour Party. They were forced to rely on three Westminster politicians to spearhead their campaign, Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy and, like an anaemic ghost of Duncan, Gordon Brown. I think they will lose seats at the next UK general election.
So, I expect the SNP to continue as the natural party of government in Scotland and to continue to face utterly inadequate opposition. Whilst I am in favour of many SNP policies and I think they are a competent government I’m not happy about them being left entirely to their own devices.
So all in all, not a great result in my view.
(1) Timetable based on
2015 UK political parties fail to actually deliver further devolution for Scotland because they can’t agree on a workable way of devolving further powers to England and baulk at allowing Northern Ireland the tax varying powers NI wants to compete with the Republic.
2016 A pro-independence government is re-elected in Scotland. I’m not predicting a second SNP majority government. I think the Greens will do better than last time and the non-environmental left might actually get themselves into some order in Glasgow again.
2016-2020 Nothing much happens.
2020 Having governed for 13 years the SNP run out of steam and lose the 2020 Holyrood election.
2020-2024 Still nothing happens.
2024 the SNP and other pro-independence parties gain a majority at Holyrood on a platform of “We told you so.”
2026 18 months after the 2024 Holyrood election we have Indy Ref Round Two.