Elections 2021: The mess that is Scottish politics
Scottish Government / CC by 2.0
Seasoned political observers may have noticed there has been a spot of bother in Scottish politics recently.
First there was the failed referendum. Followed immediately by the ousting of Big Alex as First Minister. Then Big Alex went back to Westminster and when the voters ejected him from there too, he went to work for that nice Mr Putin on Russia Today. Then Big Alex said he’d like to get back into Scottish politics, but found himself beset with serious sexual allegations. Then the Scottish taxpayer gave Big Alex half a million quid because the SNP government‘s initial inquiry into allegations had been so badly flawed. Then Big Alex had his rape trial. (And that last sentence isn’t one you write very regularly. We mustn’t forget that. A former leader of a country was charged with rape and indecent assault). Then the coverups followed, and the renowned mistress of forensic detail that is St Nicola got struck down with regular bouts of conveniently helpful amnesia. But then it was all OK. And Big Alex launched a new political party all to help his old colleagues get a ‘super-majority’ for independence at the elections. And then they all lived happily ever after.
So not much to report really. Hardly worth mentioning at all in fact. Don’t know why we bothered really.
Now, in any normal country, all this might seem…well…a bit of a problem. You know, might be a bit iffy at the next set of elections. But Scotland is not a normal country these days. It is the campus of a political cult, a “banana republic without the bananas”, in the words of seasoned Scottish politico Andrew Neil.
If you have no effective political opposition, a completely supine media, SNP placemen/women all across the public sector happy to simply repeat the cult’s chants, as well as an army of cyberNat trolls who take out anyone who dares to diss you, then you can get away with murder. In fact we’re pretty sure that if St Nicola had in fact murdered someone on Wednesday on Princes Street, the SNP would still have come out on top yesterday.
So what is going to happen next in the Scottish ‘neverendum’ psychodrama?
First off, whatever the result, St Nicola is going to claim that it is ‘an historic vote for independence by the Scottish people’. It isn’t of course, with recent polling showing that even among SNP voters only a minority actually want a second referendum anytime soon. But let not facts intrude.
St Nicola will demand a second referendum anyway and pile on all the faux earnestness and flawed logic to reprimand Bojo into saying yes. Except he won’t of course. He’ll say ‘not now’, not ‘not ever’. The question for the Tories is in practice for how long can they hold that line? And is it even the right strategy? Does delay help the unionist cause or will the sight of English Bojo seeming to deny the will of the Scottish people help the SNP, in fact?
So the next question is what will St Nicola do next in that almost certain situation? She finally went on the record during the final Scottish leaders’ election debate this week in saying that she would not back a Catalan-style illegal wildcat referendum. Partly this is because she saw how well that didn’t work out in Spain and partly because it won’t actually deliver independence. But mainly because it wouldn’t be popular. Truth is, Big Alex has been quiet on this point, but he too is a pragmatist so would be unlikely to actually back illegal action when push comes to shove.
So what is most likely to happen is that she will do what all left of centre campaigners now tend to do when they haven’t got their own way: go off to the courts. Think Brexit legal challenges on steroids.
It remains to be seen how two things will play out: the first is legal. Is there a way the SNP could eke out a legal win to have their referendum? A huge constitutional call for the judges. The second is political. There is the hulking, brooding political beast of Big Alex and his Alba Party skulking in the shadows. Depending on your views of the man, Alba is either a cunning attempt to exploit the vagaries of the voting system used for the Scottish Parliament to secure a pro-independence ‘super majority’, or the vanity project of a man bearing a very large grudge. You make your choice. But what he does and says may still be very influential.
Popcorn at the ready everyone?
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