Now that the stoor kicked up by the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election is clearing, a new political landscape is clearly emerging – and it is good news for those who favour the Union.
As predicted by yours truly, it is now apparent that the SNP has peaked and, although it is still very much the dominant power at Holyrood and throughout the land, there are definite signs that the Nats’ hegemony is weakening.
The failure of the SNP to achieve its own objective of being a majority in Holyrood is one such sign and this is significant because had it achieved majority status, it would have strengthened the case for IndyRef 2. That this key milestone was not achieved is an indicator that the pro-Union vote has not weakened and may have actually increased. It would be a brave or foolhardy First Minister who would put this to the test anytime soon.
Another significant outcome of this election is the surge of support for Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives. This could be construed as continued vengeance upon the Labour Party by Scots but is more probably the galvanising of the Unionist cause behind a credible leader. Davidson has unabashedly picked up the Unionist standard while her Labour opponent Kezia Dugdale has made the fatal mistake of her predecessor in wobbling on her own Unionist allegiance.
Unionists need what the Scottish Tories are eventually now offering – a home where their Britishness is not only welcomed and nurtured but also a party which will provide suitably barbed opposition to Sturgeon’s SNP. It is not wrong to say that a Tory revival has started in Scotland and it will particularly irk the First Minister that she is largely responsible for much of it! Scottish Conservatives should realise that their many years in the wilderness were not so much down to Maggie Thatcher as their misguided attempts to veer away from traditional Conservative values, chief of which is the cause of the Union.
The Scottish Conservatives can make far deeper cuts in the carcass of the Labour Party by appealing more to the considerable constituency of blue-collar Unionists who are soft on socialism. It is not inconceivable that we will see a re-emergence of the appeal of the Tories along these lines. This return to a 20th century popularity the Tories once enjoyed with the traditional working class would surely be Sturgeon’s worst nightmare.
Unionists have much to celebrate, even those like myself who are not much enamoured by the 21st century Tory Party. The SNP’s popularity is now in decline and Sturgeon’s honeymoon period has ended. This means that the threat of independence is dwindling. Hopefully, stability can now return to this fractured country and the United Kingdom as a whole. Perhaps the SNP can find a more meaningful and productive role in our politics than being destructive and divisive.
I hope this is the case but I won’t be holding my breath. Sadly, the grievance-based, English-hating political machine of Sturgeon and Salmond looks like it still has a lot of mileage in it. It remains to be seen whether the desperation to have one last fling at independence will cause the wheels to come off the SNP bus.
Wiser heads would surely caution that the SNP consolidate and build on what is still a formidable electoral triumph by governing credibly and getting a reputation for efficiency – and putting the Mel Gibson masks away for now. The question is: How many wise heads can be found among people who would rather show their bare arses to the “English marauders” than prove their ability to run an efficient, prosperous country in the 21st century?