On Thursday (December 12th 2019) the UK had its third General Election in five years. The 2017 incarnation was a failed attempt by the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, to get an increased Tory majority to progress Brexit. That ended in a muddled disaster of DUP collusion, Common’s defeats and ultimately her resignation. In Theresa’s place came the marmite figure of Boris Johnson – a man you either think is an out of touch, gaffe-prone Etonian who only cares for himself and his rich right-wing enablers, or you seem him as the People’s Champion. Generally speaking, Scotland sees him very much as the former, while England inexplicably leans to the latter. Anyway, as with May, Johnson suffered a series of defeats on Brexit and so decided to repeat Theresa’s trick of calling a General Election. The purpose was the same, to get a majority to push through Brexit. This time though they succeeded. However, the cost is undoubtedly a further weakening of the withering ties that bind Scotland (and possibly N. Ireland) to the now openly far-right UK establishment.
In Scotland the campaign fought by opponents of the SNP was fairly predictably around Scottish Independence. Despite this election being the UK Tories hunt for a Brexit mandate, the Scottish Tories chose to pretty much ignore Brexit – something they prefer to do as Scotland voting overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU. So the Tories focused all their energies and bottomless pit of money on “No to indyref2”. The SNP didn’t have a mandate they claimed. The results were as you can see. The Tories lost over half of their seats and the SNP recorded what was in many observers view their most impressive General Election showing. Seats which had thin majorities after 2017 now returned to several thousand vote margins. The Tories only managed to hold on in their traditional Borders and North East of Scotland heartlands – and even there with reduced majorities. A mandate well and truly secured by the SNP to progress indyref2.
Elsewhere Labour were all but driven off the Electoral map with only one seat for local favourite Ian Murray. The Lib Dems overturned an SNP majority of two to retake a seat in rural NE Fife. However, in the result of the night, their leader, and potential Prime Minister (her words), Jo Swinson lost her East Dunbartonshire seat for the second time – with 27 year old skin cancer survivor Amy Callaghan scoring a remarkable win.
In England the story wasn’t much better for the LibDems, and certainly not better for Labour.
England spoke and the their voice was loud and clear. They wanted to “Get Brexit Done”. Why they wanted Brexit, whether their reasoning actually made sense doesn’t matter. They wanted the Tories and they got the Tories, and ALL that comes with the Tories. Therefore as always, Scotland gets the Tories too as we always get what England wants – so much for a Union of equals. The main headline from the English results was the meltdown of the Labour vote in areas they historically took for granted. Former mining areas voted Tory. Areas devastated by Tory policies voted Tory nonetheless. All sense of perspective and rational simply appears to have been thrown out the window in the desperate urge to “Get Brexit Done”.
What all of this shows is a Union at breaking point. Scotland has once again rejected Boris Johnson, the Tories and Brexit. Northern Ireland has for the first time more Nationalist MPs than Unionist. However, as polls have shown, English voters prioritise leaving the EU more than maintaining the United Kingdom. Brexit has triggered a re-birth of English Nationalism and this is the first real result. It probably won’t be the last. Hopefully, Scotland can soon find her own path.
Thanks for reading.