The 2016 Scottish election results were fantastic for the SNP and the independence movement. Although no majority was obtained this time, we have to remember that we gained two off a majority in a system that was specifically designed to prevent a majority from being achieved. The SNP took a clean sweep in Glasgow and the large majority of the surrounding areas firmly cementing it as SNP heartland. But it’s the areas where we did not win which are more interesting.
The Tories swept the borders and rural, upper class areas such as Ayr and Aberdeenshire West and also Edinburgh Central. The Tories also smashed Labour on the list vote – even taking two regional seats in Glasgow – relegating them to third place while the Tories take opposition.
The referendum has caused a polarisation amongst the Scottish electorate with previous polls showing that the main dividing line for voters this time round was the constitutional question of independence. And for Unionists, the Tories provided not the strongest case for staying in the union, but the most believable one. Coupled with a completely incompetent Labour party and an even more incompetent leadership, the 2016 election was bound to spell glory for Tories and losses for Labour.
Toryism in Scotland is now real and present. We must now govern as a minority government with Sturgeon and Harvie both ruling out a coalition. But we must ensure that under no circumstances we negotiate with our now right wing opposition and stand firm against them at every single turn. We must make sure our party is not dragged to the right and that we recognise this Tory opposition for what it is: a reactionary, Unionist backlash with little concern for working class people and the vulnerable, both domestically and abroad. Scotland has not forgotten when the Lib Dems and Labour stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories during the referendum: ye flee way the craws ye git shot way the craws. We are not immune.
Unfortunately our Convener, Rhiannon Spear, who was moved to the top of the Glasgow list, failed to achieve a list seat. Many in the SNP have blamed those who gave their second vote to the Greens. And those in the Greens are blaming those in the SNP who advocated both votes to the SNP.
The truth is, tactical voting has rarely worked whenever it has been employed in other elections. It is normally political hacks like ourselves who argue for tactical voting, but the general public does not heed these sorts of arguments and are far less likely to vote down tactical lines and more on principle. Perhaps, that’s what we should take away from this election: vote for what you believe in. If a Green fundamentally disagrees with the SNP, they will not vote for them – and vice versa. A person’s vote is their civil right and no one has a right to dictate or blame people for how they use it.
RISE failed to turn up any results. Having an unrecognisable brand; a poor campaign strategy; and a membership with large sects being uncompromising and aggressive in their approach meant that it was always unlikely they would achieve a seat. It’s an extremely difficult and hypocritical strategy for a party to so aggressively criticise and condemn the SNP and then sook up to them for second votes. I had hoped on the night that they would have gained at least one seat to put a far left voice in Holyrood. RISE now has a tonne of introspection to do. Whether or not they do it is another matter.
The second vote debate during the election has caused massive tears within the Yes movement. I can remember campaigning with Greens and Socialists and non-party activists and being able to have friendly discussions about policy from issues like what currency we should use to who should be on our bank notes. But during and after this election I have seen this feeling rapidly slip away with core activists who were former allies finger-pointing and aggressively blaming one another for losing pro-indy seats to Unionists which is not constructive and cannot change anything now.
We are failing to realise we achieved a pro-independence majority in Holyrood once again! We must recognise that our Tory opposition in Holyrood is also our opposition in Westminster. And in a few weeks, we may have to fight a second independence referendum following an English Brexit and Scottish in vote. If we don’t find our unity in time, our second chance will become our final chance and an election that is only supposed to determine the fate of Scotland for five years could determine our fate forever.