It’s election time in Scotland on Thursday and by the time you’ve read this the results may already be in. What the outcome is will have a big impact on Scotland and the UK for years to come.
First of all, I’m not a supporter of Scottish Independence for one main reason – it would be financial suicide – this is a fact that is glossed over by freedom chanting nationalists, but it’s true. Nobody despises the Brits, English and posh tw@ts that run the UK more than me, but the cost of independence would be huge and given the tendency for the SNP to coddle those eligible and tax those who aren’t – the burden of paying for the upkeep of Scotland will fall on our shoulders. I recently checked what my “entitlement” would be if I could suppress our incomes (massive pension payments) and we had no money outwith the house and pensions and we’d get over £2,500 a month – for free. We’re not eligible for any of that stuff though – and when it comes to government hand-outs, eligibility is key.
Scotland has a great deal in the UK – pay less on tax than you receive in spending, boast of your better health and education systems and at the same time greet over how nasty the Tories are and how everything is unfair. But the Barnett formula works out nicely for Scotland Full fiscal autonomy for Scotland would be see a fall in public spending or a rise in taxes and I’d imagine for my family is would be both.
But as we’ve seen with Trump, Brexit and the rise of nationalism globally; appealing to the underclass and grooming a grievance culture is the way to go. Scottish Nationalism is a little different in that is a liberal, progressive nationalism that tries to be inclusive; contrast that with the far right nationalism of in Hungary, Turkey, the US and down south – however a scapegoat is always needed and that bogey man is a pantomime baddy called Boris.
I recently heard from an SNP supporter that Westminster came up with the voting rules (proportional representation) for the Scottish Parliament to ensure that no party would ever get a majority and that would ensure that independence would never happen. Of course, when the parliament opened in 1999, Labour had the most seats and shared power with the Lib Dems. This person has previously said how first passed the post is totally unfair – so it’s hard to know what the point is – is it that no voting system is perfect or that no matter what the voting system, there’s always room to complain
The SNP are looking for a majority in the elections that they would use as leverage for another independence vote. If the SNP get the majority they seem to be headed for, it’s fully steam ahead for independence.
So scared was I of that independence vote in 2014, that I sold my flat. The truth is that the Scottish economy is lagging even further behind the rest of the UK now, another referendum will make me consider selling up and moving abroad.
Whilst the SNP have a lot of support (roughly 50%) they are a broad church of those who have different views. Their ability to hold the party line is impressive but there is dissent and part of this in the form of the breakaway Alba party, headed by Scotland’s own “(he’s) sleazy, not criminal” Alex Salmond and his Alba party. A vote for them might help a few seats fall into pro-independence hands. Do they have any policies other than independence… who knows – I tried to find out but found their website lacking in details when I checked a few weeks back but it had lots of flags on it – which is all you need if you are like a Highland Coo (to a red rag).
The SNP’s success has been in driving a wedge between the traditional voting blocks with their main position of independence for Scotland. If they even take in 40% of the vote, they’ll become the largest party because the remaining 60% is split between the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Green (plus a few other parties for lunatics and crazies). Of these parties, the Green’s support independence and prop up the current Scottish government, the Tories are absolutely against it and Labour don’t talk about it much and the LibDems are against it.
The Unintended Consequences of Electoral Success
One problem for the SNP is that their position is unassailable. They can’t be caught and only hamstrung by tactical voting. The Tories may well come second in the results but it’s all about the SNP having either a full majority or a majority with the Greens. One problem with the SNP position is that whilst it’s easy to point out the flaws in Westminster, their own performance has not been great. Since there’s no prospect of a change in government or personnel in the SNP, Scotland is stuck with them. So, vote SNP, for independence, get the SNP.
The Crazy Parties
There are a number of fringe parties that are standing. My favourite is one called the Scottish Family Party who are anti-abortion but pro-child abuse. They believe that you should be allowed to physically hit children if you feel like it – smacks all round! This probably extends to school teachers as well, but they don’t come out and say it explicitly. It’s not like giving adults the power an authority to physically abuse children until their need for violence is sated has ever been shown to be a bad thing (and it spawned a lot of good Irish literature from authors who’s retelling of their scarring tales made us wish that corporal punishment was brought back!)
Like many pro-life parties, the SFP is really just pro-birth.
I would like to end on a mention of sustainability & the green transition because it’s an important factor of government. All main parties have broadly similar manifesto plans on this topic. The Green Party’s policies wouldn’t stand out. However, on closer inspection they clearly state “Oppose public investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) as it is unproven and the vast majority of projects are linked to enhanced oil recovery.” I find this a bit short sighted as 1) if there are projects already, then is it really unproven? And 2) Scotland lands a lot of the UK’s (and Norway’s) natural gas and burns it for example in a 1.18 GW Peterhead Power station which is about 20-30% of Scotland’s electricity demand. That gas isn’t going to stop flowing anytime soon. And whilst Scotland has made great strives towards producing electricity from renewables – it missed its own target in 2020 to produce 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. which is pitiful (but not talked about by the SNP as a failing of theirs) and leaves us a long way from net zero. Investing in CCS (with government support) seems to be a sensible way forward and for the Greens to object to this on ideological grounds is disappointing. I’m not working for NECCUS nor SSE by the way (but I’ve done a bit of thinking about this), and I think that they answer when it comes to sustainability is not yes or no, it’s MORE! Combine CCS to the gas burning power station, install more pumped storage hydro FFS! , build more onshore and offshore wind farms and you’ve practically greened all of Scotland’s power supply.
You could even have the situation where Scottish electricity is carbon negative (by proxy) where wind/hydro generates all the power for Scotland (as it does now sometimes) and CCS allows electricity to be exported whilst emitting little CO2, displacing CO2 emissions from South of the border. All this is totally possible right now with existing technology and just the right incentives, framework and government impetus.
At the same time, can you imagine the infrastructure costs for installing EV charging stations on every street and strengthening the grid to allow everyone to charge their new fancy electric cars superfast? And who’s paying for it (and if it’s not the government, then you’ll hear these same people complaining about how private interests are making money on a public good).
I’ll go vote tomorrow, I don’t know who for yet but it’s going to be an interesting few days.