Commentary by Derek Bateman
It’s over but who won? Not Theresa and the Tories – they had the setback of all time. Not Labour, they can’t form a government. Not the still-born Liberal comeback. Nor the SNP who dropped dramatically. Even UKIP lost their most important seat – on Question Time…
The UK sure didn’t win –we are now a weakened nation days from begining talks that will define our world and economic role for generations to come.
So can I first say thanks a lot to Theresa for screwing up so spectacularly and, of course, to Dave for getting so horribly wrong before her. And, yet again, thanks a million to the Scots who voted against their own independence when the chance arose, consigning us to a footnote in the decline of Great Britain as a serious western country.
We have now given support to parties who would deny us the basic democratic right of deciding our own national destiny, enshrined in the UN Convention. Courageous, adventurous Scots, turning away from the one way of extricating ourselves from looming disaster. And, by voting for Conservatives, some have approved a brutalised, cut-down, punitive state telling foreigners they’re not wanted. No wonder they were punching the air in Aberdeen, Moray and the Borders. That’ll show the world…
I suspect what it will show to Brussels is that Scots aren’t really much bothered by EU membership after all and certainly not worthy of making a special case of, unlike Northern Ireland where the prominence of the DUP in Westminster will ensure, along with the EU’s own negotiating stance, that the interests of Ulster will be key to the Brexit process to safeguard its interests. Scotland is now slipping off that radar.
The only chance we might have to celebrate is a change of Tory leader and a much more emollient and intelligent approach to an EU deal, involving full access to the market and the customs area.
I’m not holding my breath because she hasn’t resigned and if she did we might be faced with Boris Johnson – it’s a procession of Tory clowns. But there’s no doubt it’s a chance to rethink this whole Screw Europe strategy. As one writer put it – if Remain had won by four per cent and immediately joined the Euro and Schengen, what would Leavers have said then? That’s the equivalent of where May’s ruthless strategy has led us.
I am pleased the Tories got stung and pleased that Corbyn was able to blast back at the discrimination he’s faced and the disgraceful media onslaught he’s suffered. How revealing that, when guaranteed consistent coverage by broadcast election rules, he was able to emerge as a likeable and credible character. Mind you, only a fool would believe his offer. Corbyn is not reversing the Tory benefit cuts and his party voted for the rapacious Tory spending reductions. Funding for renationalisation of rail and paying off student debt look very shaky.
Today’s delicious irony is Kezia claiming credit for seats won on the back of the man she publicly despised. Shameless hypocrisy – she’ll make a politician yet.
The theme I think is a backlash against complacency. Voters will not be taken for granted and Theresa May did that by blatant opportunism in calling an election assuming she would win – and with transparent slogans – after saying she wouldn’t go to the country. In Scotland the SNP jumped too soon into indyref2 mode assuming too much about Brexit. It was wishful thinking and looked opportunistic, giving not only a Unionist stick to beat them with but weaponising a widespread sense that they were getting above themselves. There were just too many of them in too many places. It didn’t seem right and frankly 95 per cent of seats on 50 per cent of the vote is obscene, albeit part of the system. Under PR this configuration with all main parties represented would be close to what we could expect.
Don’t take us for granted is the message, we’ll decide who we want to vote for. And I think it is an anti-SNP vote because the seats lost went to the most likely to defeat the Nat. It isn’t a pro-Tory vote or pro-Labour but anti-Nat. So drop the referendum idea? I don’t think so.
The SNP won the Scottish election asking for a mandate. It was approved in parliament. It has been endorsed again last night by the majority. More fundamentally, Brexit means our future is up for grabs and a hard Brexit could cripple Scotland. It is suicidal and irresponsible to remove the option of escaping Brexit by leaving the UK. And if, at this time of maximum national peril, the SNP puts short-term gain ahead of Scotland’s interest, then what is it for as a party?
Look out for EVEL being cynically repealed by the way. If the Tories can only govern by votes in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they can’t win votes on key areas of policy from which we are excluded. Imagine if they got rid of it now there are a handful of Tory MPs in Scotland…
Time for a post mortem and for reflection – as well as thanks to those who lost their seats. But not time for dejection. This looks like a rebalancing after the tsunami and the SNP remains the biggest party, the government in Scotland and the national leaders. (Labour are celebrating coming third !) Labour indy supporters returned to their party because of Corbyn and aided inadvertently the Tories but they are still indy supporters. Kezia misreads the result. We remain on track.
*This was first published on Friday morning, before Mrs May marched to the Queen and promised to set up a loyal(ist) administration with her “good friends” the DUP. Ed