The Scottish Unionist Dilemma | William D Gibson
There are three core groups of thinking regarding the United Kingdom in our post-devolution Scotland.
Firstly there is the Little-To-No-Interest crowd. People not all that interested in politics. They may vote for one of several parties should they be convinced to get involved at all. They’ll find themselves being given gentle but firm nudges towards the polling station by everyone around them with a stronger opinion. Their vote is always fought hardest for by the campaigning politicians from all parties. They have no allegiance but can be temporarily brought onside so it is of no surprise that every campaign focuses heavily on the aim of being bolstered by their vote. After all, the choir requires no further preaching and those who stand opposed are a waste of time and resources. Everything in-between is ripe with potential support. These are the people who really determine which way any election or referendum will swing and they are treated accordingly.
Next we have the Nationalists who back the SNP like rats behind the pied piper who played sweet music as he led them over the cliff to their fate. The tune here being, of course, the never tiring battle cry of “independence” providing a steady beat while blaring blame towards Westminster for their own shortcomings like an annoyingly out of tune brass section. Offering little more than repetitive nonsense, division, finger pointing and spin, the SNPs governance resembles a broken record which skips over the same few bars of a much wider record which must be listened to in full if anything worthwhile is to be taken from it. Unfortunately the people of Scotland are left listening to the SNPs rhetoric while schools and hospitals, once known as some of the best in the world until they were devolved to the SNPs exclusive care, struggle. The 2016 Scotland act made Scotland one of the most powerful devolved assemblies in the world, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said
“This helps to realise all the benefits of the Union as it provides Scottish ministers with substantial powers over taxes and spending for Scotland while still being supported by the broad shoulders of the UK.”
Despite having the ideal “having your cake and eating it” scenario, the SNP still seek independence because without the promise of it their core support would quickly crumble at best and actively turn on them in the worst instance. It is their eternal carrot on a stick and without it I suspect the horse would quickly buck them off.
Finally, the Unionists, who you would assume fully back the Conservative and Unionist party due to their revulsion of the Nationalists plans for our island. Not so. This is where the dilemma comes in. The political schemes of those who keep trying to disrupt their lives while consistently ignoring and actively seeking to undermine their democratic voice in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 means their vote is actually a lot less secure for the only Unionist party than any Nationalist vote is for the Nationalist party. I can guarantee that every Nationalist will put their cross in the SNPs box. A Scottish Unionist however, will typically put their cross next to whoever looks to have the best chance of stopping the SNP from representing their local area. If he or she thinks Labour have the best chance of beating the Nationalists for their local seat then Labour will get their vote.
The frustrated disgust of the SNPs constant independence intrusions unfortunately also plays straight into the SNPs favour. It splits and therefore dilutes the Unionist vote and voice in Scotland. The Conservative and Unionist party are the only party with any interest in keeping the Union together. It is fundamentally important that the Scottish Unionists know they have a political home and a party to rally behind. It remains the best and only hope of pressing the mute button on Nicola Sturgeons single minded drone about independence.
The tactical voting system employed to unseat the SNP via a failed social media campaign in the run up to the December 2019 election ultimately served to spread the Unionist vote among every party that isn’t the SNP, which in turn has only made the party stronger precisely because of their “us v them” hive mentality. This mindset is vital to the SNPs continued existence for without a villain they`re merely incompetent politicians. They can only portray themselves as the “good guys” when Westminster is childishly portrayed as a pantomime villain to be shunned and sneered at rather than colleagues to work with to get the absolute best for the people.
The Scottish Unionists must develop the same drive, unite together and use their votes to elect politicians who can run public services to a standard that Scotland and her people deserve, something the SNP have been unwilling or unable to do. It is only by coming together under the Conservative and Unionist banner as one voice can the many voices be heard loudly enough to make any difference at all.
Photo by Helen Orozco on Flickr.