Monday 6 May 2013


As much as I've been entertained by the farcical 500 questions from the Better Together campaign (providing light relief for a holiday weekend) , the matter of the English local elections and their potential significant bearing on Scotland's decision in September 2014 has been the hot topic this weekend.

Two immediate thoughts spring to mind.  Firstly,  on this showing, Labour will not be elected as the next Westminster Government in 2015.  The rule of thumb from considered political experts is that they needed approx 500 gains to be in a position at this stage of the political cycle to be heading in that direction.  Labour gained half that total.

This fact will no doubt worry Labour activists, and will I am sure lead to some debate as to whether they continue the Tory-lite approach favoured by the Westminster Front Bench , or do they start to provide a clear narrative articulating their differences with the Tories? 

Secondly, and perhaps related was that the rise of the UKIP vote demonstrates that Scotland and England are becoming two, distinct, political countries.  As a regular delegate to the UNISON UK Conference, the reaction from Scottish TU colleagues listening to the challenges faced by TU members elsewhere in the UK, is met with support but also relief that some of the attacks facing public sector workers - for example the abandonment of the two tier workforce agreement by the Tory led Government - are not being faced here in Scotland.

Whilst the defeat of the BNP in Burnley is most welcome, the results indicate a move to the right.  The UKIP agenda of playing to prejudice and grievance, of trying to blame someone else for the country's problems rather than the Government plays into the Tories hands.

The sight on Friday afternoon of Simon Hughes of the Liberal Democrats discussing anti-immigration measures is testament to that.

But perhaps the harshest lesson is that the rise of the UKIP vote, and the pandering to it by the Tories, is that the biggest threat to Scotland's place in Europe, is not an Independent Scotland, but by staying in the UK.

Lets consider this, there is no doubt that Cameron will veto measures such as, a financial transactions tax, limits on bankers bonuses, and extensions to social protections. Are these not policies that a Scottish Government and most Scots find favour with?

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