Hey everyone It is with a genuine concern that I worry about those in the independence movement who are expecting to see an SNP landslide in next May’s Westminster general election. I say not out of malice, I myself voted yes and would not have considered any other options. I have always been of the pro independence persuasion and I always will be. I fear however that too many in our number are expecting too much too soon and if this attitude is allowed to go unchecked today’s dreams can only in end in tomorrow’s tears.
No doubt some who are still wearing their tartan tinted specs will tell me off for being such a pessimist. I counter there argument by reminding them I am not a pessimist but a realist who knows only too well the dirty tricks the British state will attempt to play to divide and conquer between those yes voters who may not be closely aligned to the SNP to those who are. You know highlight the old SNP-Labour fault line and then give reasons why the greens should hate both of them. We must and I repeat must not be conned by this tactic we must think more broadly if we are to win the future for our country and our people.
So how can we survive next May when in all probability there will be the election of a government more focused on England’s needs than any since the Thatcher years and that is regardless of whether David Cameron or Ed Milliband is the occupant of the most famous political home in the UK. Won’t our dreams of freedom die in the sunshine of an early summer’s morn?
You may be surprised at my answer when I say that this is not necessarily the case. Indeed this could be the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. You see I believe next year’s general election could gave the SNP and the independence movement could be given a much needed reality check and that reality check could help us win the election that really matters namely Hollyrood 2016.
I make my case for this argument by stating this one fact and it is a fact that I am perfectly at ease with. That fact is that in reality only the two gentleman mentioned have any real chance of being elected Prime Minister of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Of the two I would prefer Ed Milliband to be Prime Minister than David Cameron as I believe he would at least try to listen to Scotland’s voice even if he did so only for the purposes of electoral arithmetic. Mr Cameron has no such concerns and therefore will not be so willing to listen to a country he considers defeated after we bottled it in the independence referendum.
But what of our dream of winning over 50 seats at the Westminster parliament some will ask. I feel it is my duty to remind them that this an unrealistic target set for us by a press and media who want nothing better than to see us fall flat on our faces. It is I think time to be honest and say that we will not fall through the tartan trap door of this 50 seats or bust mythology, allowing those in the press who are hostile to us to mock us for not achieving our target and claim that anything less than 50 seats is a victory for the union. Far better I believe to put the pressure back on the Labour Party and claim our traditional role of underdog, it is in this role we see the SNP at our most effective campaigning hard on local issues as well as the national question, the mantle of favourite never did sit well with us it is a poisoned chalice and a gift we should never accept.
Personally I want to play down expectations of Westminster success and believe me I have very good reasons for doing so. You see it is my considered opinion that as we start from a base of only 6 MP’s to expect a net gain of 44 in one election is I think a wee bit like me dressing like Madonna or Kylie and expecting to sing like them without first of all learning the lyrics to the songs. In my opinion if we get 12 MP’s which is double our current number it would be a good night, if we can increase it to 18 to 20 MP’s I think could say we had a very good night and if and I do mean if we can get over 20 I think we should call it a brilliant night.
Yes I know I’m being cautious but I think we need to learn how to manage expectations. Make no mistake this election will not be quite as easy as some would like to think and some unionists will vote tactically to attempt to hurt not just the cause of independence but the SNP who they now wrongly perceive as less of a threat to them and they will be out to wound our new leader Nicola Sturgeon to weaken her position as First Minister. This however as where I think they are making a big mistake and it will backfire on them at the 2016 Scottish Election.
As for this coming election it is I would suggest far more important to Labour than it is to the SNP. Many traditional Labour voters voted yes in the referendum, because and this needs to be aired in the public domain they are not happy with the fact they got and in many cases not for the first time a conservative government they did not vote for. These voters voted yes not because they had any great affection for Alex Salmond far less for the SNP they voted yes because they felt an independent Scotland had the potential to be a Labour Scotland. These voters who voted yes were and remain genuinely angry that so-called Labour leaders such as Gordon Brown, Margaret Curran, and their potential future leader Jim Murphy a man many of them believe should Nigel Farage’s less intelligent sidekick would openly prefer a coalition with UKIP regardless of whether it be there own party or the Conservatives who lead it than the chance of the Scotland of fairness they have fought for all their political lives. Furious at their party’s betrayal many of these voters have sworn never to vote Labour again. Some will return to their tradition home believing wrongly that they can change a party which has since the days of Tony Blair moved so far to the right they’ve been given a life ban from the rocky horror show because when the crowd doing the time warp they refuse point blank to jump to the left on the grounds against party policy. Others however will play it more tactically, voting Labour through gritted teeth next year then voting SNP or Green at the Scottish election. This along with the power of incumbency is why I do not think Labour will perform as badly as the opinion polls suggest next May.
I do however have it from Labour sources that they are bracing themselves for there worst Scottish performance at a Westminster since October 1974. That was the best night the SNP have ever had at a Westminster election. Next May has the potential to better that and then having strengthened our position we can build on our success and ensure that with feet very firmly on the ground we hold Westminster’s feet to the fire and secure an historic third term SNP government at Hollyrood and by building up confidence in our administration we can plan for our second referendum and keep our powder dry till the time is right to strike. Then and only then should we hold that referendum and if this means taking things in stages then I for one am perfectly prepared to so. As I said the 50 seat target is unlikely to be met but may be no bad thing for the party’s chances at Hollyrood or it’s longer term goal of independence. It may in fact be more beneficial to both if we are reminded that though we have travelled far in the last two decades we have further still to travel and many as yet unwilling passengers need persuaded to take the high road to begin their own journey to a brighter tomorrow. It is however my belief that these voters can be won over time and will eventually accompany us on our travels. Meanwhile ever the pragmatist I conclude that though the first part of the journey may be over there are grounds for cautious optimism that an early summer’s morn may be the end of the beginning but it won’t be the beginning of the end.
Love And Best Wishes