2007 - 2022

#SP16 Result: Short Reports from McMillan, Mackenzie, Guthrie, Balharry

imagesWe have poked the collective YesBrain at Bella for a variety of short reports – stunned, exultant, depressed, sleeves-rolled-up – to the still slightly bewildering #SP16 election result. Your responses below, as ever, most welcome.

Joyce McMillan (@joycemcm): Three Huge Positives…And What Is This Scottish Toryism?

Three huge positives about the 2016 result.  First, despite huffing and puffing about the electoral system, we have a parliament which pretty accurately reflects the views of the Scottish people as expressed yesterday.  That is something that can almost never be said of Westminster, and I remain proud of the system the Constitutional Convention agreed on back in the 1990’s.

Secondly, the lack of an overall SNP majority both reflects voters’  views, and lays to rest the irritating and inaccurate “one party state” talk of the UK media, largely based on ignorance.

And thirdly, the advance of the Greens provides the SNP with a potential pro-indy partner, at least in matters of confidence and supply, which can also feed genuinely radical and interesting ideas into the policy process. The Greens had one of the strongest manifestos in this year’s campaign, good to see that it may have a chance to influence policy.

Storm warning: there is huge media and establishment excitement over the return of Ruth Davidson’s cuddly “Conservative-lite” Tories as Scotland’s biggest opposition party.  But it is genuinely frightening to see Scottish voters returning in such large numbers to a party with such a cruel and reactionary agenda in UK government.

Is this genuine support for Cameron, Osborne and their kind of Toryism? Or something else – the birth of a new kind of Scottish Toryism, increasingly distant from the Westminster brand?  Remains to be seen.


James Mackenzie (@mrjamesmack), ex-adviser to Scottish Greens, owner of Cutbot: It’s In Nicola’s Hands

The story of Holyrood is the story of trying to find change. In 1999, voting for MSPs was in itself change, and we were optimistic. In 2003, the SNP weren’t a credible opposition, so we elected 7 Greens and 6 Socialists but Labour kept Bute House.

By 2007 the SNP were a plausible administration, and putting Salmond into office was the next change. That minority SNP administration was effective, but held back by a Labour Party determined to oppose at all costs.

So the next change was to marginalise the opposition and give the SNP a majority, enough for the indyref. With that lost, it looks like our next attempt is a powerful SNP, but pressed to work with the Greens.

Could this be Holyrood’s most radical session to date? It’s in Nicola’s hands: does she work with the Greens to their left, or with one of the Westminster parties?


Gordon Guthrie (@gordonguthrie), coder and ex-Labour/SNP political consultant, author of War Is Coming: Scottish Politics Is About To Grow And Stretch

A strange etiolated election – lacking in passion – but with a twist in the tail.

Most people assumed the SNP would continue their clean sweep – but the IndyRef created a new political space for a union squeeze. And squeeze it was. A proper squeeze requires the squeezer to know where the squeezees lie. And that hands power to the parties with the data – like the Libs in Edinburgh West or the Tories in Ayr and Eastwood. This has been a wake up call.

So how stand the parties?

Bazzing night for the Tories. Ruth did her Alex Salmond impersonation – turning unpromising dross into press coverage through sheer joie de vivre. But this apparently display of lightweight bravado was the front for a ruthless positioning strategy – meaning a laser-like focus on stripping the middle class ABC1 ‘new’ Labour voters.

Kezia was chained to the corpse of Corbyn. Voters don’t vote for split parties – and Labour is so split, its splits would have splits if only they weren’t split about what they are split on. What is Labour for? There is a large scrapheap of European socialist parties. Why should Labour not be chucked on it?

For so long Scotland has been a European outlier – on paper the most left-wing country in the European Union, outflanking Bulgaria. But in reality we are a normal, centrist, small northern European country. The new normal is a centre-left SNP facing off a centre-right Tories – now more distanced from their compadres south of the border than ever before.

Political dominance in Scotland has long gone to the small ‘n’ national party. EG, the Liberals in the 19th and early 20th Century, the Tories in the 50s and 60s, over-turned by Labour – who in their turn fell to the SNP.

Can the Tories reposition themselves as the national party of Scotland and propagate the creed that the Union is in the national interest of Scotland? Their problem is persuading their erstwhile fellow party members furth of Scotland to co-operate in the necessary project of a Union of equals.

The Liberal Democrats used the data they had in the seats they held to squeeze and build tactical unionist coalitions on the ground. But they remain stuck with huge piles of lost deposits which will continue to drain them of cold copper cash, as their party organisation has collapsed outside their scattered strongholds.

Tavish Scott’s proposal to think about realigning the Unionist parties could be significant. Unless the SNP needs a junior partner and offer the Libs a seat at the table.

RISE? Didn’t!

Bye-bye Tommy ya big perjuring [whatevers – ed], see ya wouldn’t like to be ya!

I originally wrote this at 6 in the morning, but I awoke to find the Nats will fall short, leaving the Greens kingmakers. It’s still a barnstorming night for the SNP – 9 years in government.

But this Parly promises to be a cracker. Tony Blair neutered the devolution bill of any sense of fiscal responsibility: the Smith Commission has started to reverse that process. The new Parly is one of spend AND tax AND benefits. That will be tough on all parties. But it means Scottish politics is about to grow and stretch.


Alison Balharry (@alisonbalharry), ex-comms, Business For Scotland, YesScotland: Enough With The Egg-Shaped Stress Ball

So it’s over.

Can’t make comment without looking back at the independence referendum. It changed my life; frankly for the worse, but there’s no going back.

That’s why the Greens have 6 seats, great news. Very pleased to see Andy Wightman elected, that’s down to the indy ref. Yet since then the SNP has regressed.

Now shoddy tat seems to be a priority for them. Have you seen it? I was ‘gifted’ an egg shaped stress ball, which tells me ‘I’m with Nicola’, but I’m not, and evidently nor are many pro Yes folks.

Central commandeering doesn’t work. And as for the Tories coming second… My heart aches for the real Labour Party of old.

Comments (5)

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  1. momma11 says:

    @Alison Balharrie The yes movement was more than the SNP, but without it Yes wouldn’t have got very far. I have been campaigning for the SNP for self determination for nearly 50 years , I blooming well resent the implication that people like me who support the SNP are in the minority.We are used to setbacks and knocks ,but we have persevered ,turning your nose up at the SNP is to alienate those who support the YES movement .There is room for all of us .

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    The Tories have regained a few of their traditional voters but the story is the collapse of the Labour party. SNP have been too timid in both policy and their manifesto. Do they not listen to the bright ideas that are out there? Do they not listen to the widespread concern at the implementation of the Named Person legislation.

    What is needed is a clear vision of a radical Scotland using the little powers we have in an imaginative way rather than complaining and trying not to upset anybody. The proposed change to the Council tax is an example where too little was proposed too late and not carried through.

    Steal the Greens Land Value Tax proposal and dump the Named Person plans. Take a radical look at the income tax powers available and explain why those that can afford it should pay more while those without should pay less. People will grumble but accept it.

  3. tartanfever says:

    The owner of Cutbot.

    Nuff said.

  4. bringiton says:

    It was clear during the referendum that the SNP had replaced Labour as the centre left party in Scotland which has now been confirmed by the Holyrood elections.
    It was also clear that unless we managed to get the Working class out to vote Yes,the Middle class votes would win the day for No.
    We fell short and politics in Scotland is now polarised between Middle class unionist Tories and Working class independence supporters.
    At least,all is now out in the open and the fig leaf that Labour in Scotland offered with the pretence that Scotland was an equal partner in England’s union is now gone.
    Interesting times ahead.

  5. Fay Kennedy. says:

    Yes very interesting and worrying times too. Land tax of some kind has to be a given. To continue the divisive tactics and policies of yesteryear are an agenda for more of the same greed and inhumanity that is growing not diminishing. In Australia with another election due there are many similarities to the UK and fear is ruling the waves as usual. But the capitulation to mediocrity has to be resisted and Scotland is some ways has already doing that and it won’t vanish.

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