As the dust settles on the most extraordinary Scottish election since, well, the last one, the tensions in the indyref movement are becoming only too apparent. The hyper-loyalist Wings Over Scotland rages over the idiocy of the Greens and other parties for having stood in an election against the SNP. He blames non-SNP parties for the loss of the SNP overall majority and at the same time dismisses them as electorally irrelevant. He says that a failure to hold to the bothvotesSNP faith means an independence referendum has been put off “for half a decade”. But it was already off the agenda for the next parliament because Nicola had made clear that there would be no referendum unless or until there is a “clear and sustained” majority demanding it. He tries to expose the Greens as opponents of independence, because they don’t think a Brexit vote would automatically justify another referendum. But neither does Nicola Sturgeon. Wings really should expose the SNP sometime.
Robin McAlpine in CommonSpace blames the right of the Scottish National Party – they know who they are – for the failure to hold on to its majority. He says the SNP’s abandonment of its radical tax policies, its pro business rhetoric and policies like APD led to a drop off in SNP support. Simple as that. He doesn’t express outright support for the Greens – in fact he suggests they are a bunch of middle class intellectuals who can’t reach out to working class voters. It’s a fair point. But he has few regrets about the failure of RISE to make any impression in this election. It secured fewer votes than Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity and that came nowhere near winning any seat. His explanation for the rise of the Tories is simply that the right wing unionist voters have come home to their natural party instead of New Labour. McAlpine doesn’t believe independence is any less likely now that the pro-independence majority in Holyrood is composed of two parties instead of one.
Nor, apparently, does Lesley Riddoch in Bella Caledonia. She voted Green on the list and so its hardly surprising that she looks on the outcome of the 2016 Holyrood election as essentially positive. “Scottish politics will become more cooperative, will remain distinctive within Britain and will be alive with contradiction and possibility”. She doesn’t celebrate the death of Labour, but thinks the silver lining in the Tory ascendancy is that it has “purged many tartan Tories from the SNP”. I’m not quite sure of the mechanism here, but I think I get the point. It clarifies the constitutional division which remains at the very centre of Scottish politics.
I think this election will be seen as much more positive after a few months have passed and the anger that seems to infuse the left-nationalist debate in social media subsides. This was a good result in many ways. . The SNP remains the dominant force in Scottish politics, but has to start cooperating a bit more. This will probably halt the SNP’s drift to the right and open the way for new ideas and challenge the dead hand of the civil service and the party pollsters. The SNP has been showing all the symptoms of big party syndrome. Now it has a pause for reflection.
But also the non-SNP independence movement needs to find a way to get its collective act together. The unity that unleashed such energy during the referendum has gone. Right now it seems less than the sum of its parts.