Thursday, 5 May 2011
The Final Election Blog - Elaine C. Smith
So where are we now? On the eve of the election result the signs are good for another term of an SNP government. From the Scottish Independence Conventions point of view and for all of us who believe in Independence this can only be a good thing and the work for a referendum on Independence has to continue.
This has been a long run in to polling day and I have to say that at the start I worried that Labour would win by default. if the agenda continued to be dominated by the coalition in Westminster then Labour's anti Tory message may have won through and as ever with Scottish Labour, the scare tactics would work. I feared that the SNP victory in 2007 would be seen as an experiment and that the old tribal patterns would emerge as they did in the UK election.
But I underestimated the intelligence and canny nature of the Scottish electorate.
I had conversations in January with Alex Salmond where he indicated that he believed absolutely that they could win. I was more sceptical but impressed by his enthusiasm, verve and passionate appetite for the fight ahead....
I had also been made aware during the UK elections by party workers that the Scottish electorate knew exactly what they were doing. They were voting Labour in the UK elections to keep the Tories out but telling SNP activists that they would "get their vote the next time son!!!!". Again I thought it was good banter but dismissed it . I just didn't see how the dominance of the media with the coalition in London and their real refusal to properly come to terms or catch up with the fact that the UK is actually a devolved state, would keep the agenda away from Scottish issues and that would only help Labour.
However, the successful campaign by the Nationalists to shift things back onto the Scottish agenda seems to have worked and when voters are considering who they believe will fight Scotlands corner within the UK best...the answer is Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon,John Swinney, Kenny McAskill and Mike Russell and the SNP. This is not because they think that they have done everything right but because they are realistic....they have done enough right. Another factor is that they are the party that has some vision for this country...some vision and some hope. The strategy that during times of great struggle and adversity that what the people need is some hope and light is, in my opinion, the correct one. The consistent message by the Unionists that Scotland isn't good enough, brave enough or intelligent enough to run its own affairs has turned the people off.
The electorate are also comforted by the fact that the last four years have not been dominated by a continuous fight or struggle over Independence. The scaremongering by the Unionist parties that an SNP government would have us all painted in woad, running up and down Princes Street with Lion rampants hanging out our arses didn't come true. We didn't even have a Referendum. There has been no repeat of "We're on the march with Ally's army", no feeling of foolishness or getting too big for our boots. Even over the Megrahi episode...many may disapprove of the decision but agree that it was ours to make. Thats grown up politics for me, grown up Scotland understands that you cannot always get every decision right.....it might be rubbish but its our rubbish!!!
So when it comes down to it, I believe that the electorate feels safe with the Nationalists. And the switchback to the the old tribal, scaremongering tactics of Labour in the last few days hasn't done the job. No doubt a few waiverers who were considering not voting Labour for the first time will be scared back into the fold, but it doesn't seem that the message has penetrated this time.
This has been helped by the Scottish media ...a phrase that I never thought I would hear myself utter!!! Maybe its that the the journalists themselves are less afraid or simply that the thought of losing an intelligent big hitting politician like Alex Salmond (who helps many others to raise their game) from the Parliament and from their political commentary is too much to contemplate. I daresay the thought of following Ian Gray around as First Minister is not one that many of our political journalists relish. They have been easier and less vociferous in their hatred and loathing ( well not the usual Labourite papers as we would expect) but the Scotsman coming out in favour of the Nats is the stuff of fantasy...yet there it is in bold print on the front page!!!
I doubt we will see a paper with a picture of a noose on its front page on election day this time around.
I realised that things had altered even more when out on the campaign trail in Govan with Nicola Sturgeon. The high esteem and genuine affection shown to her was wonderful to see....and this in a constituency that used to rip up SNP leaflets and slam the door in the face of Nationalist workers....they too have reported a sea change in attitudes even from people who state they won't vote for them.
So it looks like things are good...but only the electorate will determine who will govern us. But there are many challenges ahead...not least the challenge to let the Parliament function and run in a better way. We have a new Parliament and again it is not and will not be perfect, but the ability to change, enhance and improve it is there for us..... and that is a great thing.
We have a chance to continue to be a model for other countries to see what the future of Parliaments and their countries could and should be...to set a positive agenda and be a beacon for others as a modern social democratic country looking to the future for the good of its people, aware of its place in Europe and the rest of the world.
Lets hope we get the chance to continue on this road...one thing is for sure, the path embarked on by the Scottish electorate in 2007 and the small revolution that took place is not going to end...and the Unionist parties have a lot of thinking and soul searching to go through over these next months and years to adjust to this new vision of Scotland.