Our old SNP friend Alex Salmond has said that a further referendum on Scottish independence is “inevitable due to broken promises and austerity”. I am not sure about either of his claims because whichever party won May’s general election promised more austerity, although some promised more than others. And what are political promises anyway? A further referendum, and if necessary another one after that, will always be sought by the nationalists and next time the Scots will not vote no.
I do not buy into the line that the SNP is a left wing party and that’s why they won almost every seat in Scotland. I suspect things are far more complicated than that, but it barely matters. The Tories gave up on Scotland years ago, Labour took it for granted for even longer and the SNP is there for good.
Next year, there are elections for the Scottish parliament in Holyrood and I would bet the house on the SNP winning every single seat. With the Tories in bullish mode, Labour in tatters and the Liberal Democrats restored to their rightful place on the distant fringes of politics, what is to stop them? The answer is no one at all and, with the help of Rupert Murdoch, Ms Sturgeon will be the ruler of literally everything she surveys. Can you imagine it, a parliament with no opposition at all? Because that is the most likely result.
Sturgeon and Salmond will undoubtedly have in their manifesto a demand for a further referendum. Whether or not the UK votes to stay in the EU, whether the government actually fulfils promises to the nationalists, you know that the SNP will keep on the case. That is, after all, why they exist in the first place.
Scots were under enormous pressure to vote no in the referendum. As well as the major parties, all the big guns were wheeled out, Labour made the almighty blunder of being seen to be in cahoots with the nasty Tories and once the no vote was secured, the electorate was angry and boy did it punish them.
I do think that the SNP gets away with far less scrutiny than the other parties, especially Labour. Their actual record in Holyrood suggests they have been anything but a left wing socialist party, but Marr, Neil and the other TV pundits give them an easy ride, just like the media always does with that other nationalist Nigel Farage. But having said that, the Scottish electorate made a major statement in May and I see the change as being generational and quite probably permanent and terminal for the union.
By next year, David Cameron may have presided over the break up of the United Kingdom and of the UK leaving the EU, not a record you would expect the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party to be especially pleased with or proud of. But in the last year or so, Cameron’s Tories have ridden roughshod all over the Scots and they have bitten back with a vengeance.
The Scots have made their decision and it will be interesting to see how the SNP goes forward from here. Osborne’s next wedge of austerity will decimate services north of the border as it will do south of it and Sturgeon at least will tell him that he has no mandate. Labour’s austerity lite strategy failed with the electorate two months ago, as did the Lib Dem watered down Tory version. As jobs are slashed and services decimated, the Scots will rightly say: “We didn’t vote for this” and they didn’t. This is going to get very ugly.
Salmond, a politician to his core, says he would welcome the election of Jeremy Corbyn as a man he could do business with, an argument that may, for all we know, have emanated from Salmond’s friend Rupert Murdoch who has a vested interest in killing off the Labour Party altogether. He knows full well that the English electorate blanched when it was said that Salmond would be pulling the strings of a future Labour government and he has done it again, this time with knobs on, with his endorsement of Corbyn. If they thought Miliband could be manipulated by the SNP, just imagine what Salmond would get up to with Corbyn? And would Corbyn do business with someone whose very mission in life is to get rid of the union? You bet he would.
But none of this really matters. By 2020, Scotland may well be independent and prime minister George Osborne will have an even bigger, largely unassailable majority – and that’s before Wales decides it wants to go the same way as Scotland. And if this all happens – it’s not impossible – then it won’t matter a toss who wins the Labour leadership because they’ll lose whoever it is and the only debate will be how badly.