The results of the European elections were like a bag of pick n mix sweeties someone else had got for you, a few of your juicy favourites and far too many soor plums and bitter almonds. The full results are not yet in as I write – at 2.40 am. See how I suffer for the cause? Ok, it’s really because the other half has a wee chest infection and isn’t sleeping well. Which naturally means I don’t get to sleep either. He’ll survive, so nae worries, although whether Nick Clegg can survive is another matter.
So let’s start with the almond. The bad news is that it looks like Scotland’s got a new party balloon. UKIP’s David Coburn is Scotland’s very first bitter nut to be elected representative for the Bawbag Party. 139,687 voters were sufficiently convinced by a party with no Scottish policies at all that they put their cross next to UKIP.
UKIP has no devolution policy, after Nigel scrapped their mad plan to replace Holyrood with a glorified committee of Westminster MPs. Dreaming up a new one is on his list of things to do, although it’s a safe bet it doesn’t rank high on his list of priorities. In fact UKIP aren’t just missing Scottish policies, they have no policies at all, except wanting out of the EU and hating immigration. Or three if you count their imaginative proposal for a new BBC weather service – There’s been an outbreak of sodomy in Shropshire, which will be followed by heavy showers. But they haven’t answered the important question, which is whether they’ll replace the weather map.
We can now expect crows from Unionist parties about how Scottish people are just as mean and narrow minded as everyone else in the UK, so we ought to vote No. “We’re unpleasant and so are you” is the new positive case for the Union.
But here’s a prediction. David Coburn has a distinctively UKIP brand of choobery and will serially embarrass himself over the course of the coming months and years. He’s already started, describing Scotland as Alicsammin’s “nasty little dictatorship”.
So that’s the bad news, and it’s survivable. And somewhat tempered by the fact that UKIP only barely scraped home into the sixth seat with 10.5% of the votes. The party’s best share of the vote in Scotland was in Moray, where they managed to gain 13.6% of votes cast. In England, their worst vote share was in London, where they got 16.87% of the votes cast. Their best Scottish result still lags far behind their worst English result.
It was hardly the ringing endorsement they got south of the border where they are the largest party by a considerable margin. In Scotland they came a poor fourth, quite some distance being the Tories. And we all know how popular Tories are. UKIP in Scotland are still short of a whole panda. It’s a bitter almond, but it has a thin sugar coating.
Falling into the not so bad category, like a green jelly baby, is the fact that the pro-independence parties didn’t make any gains. But on the other hand they didn’t make any losses either, and their share of the vote was pretty much the same as it was the last time the country was struck with the widespread apathy which passes for a European election campaign.
The SNP came top of the pile, escaping the punishment usually received by a party which has been in government for seven years, and its third candidate missed beating UKIP to the sixth seat by the tiniest of margins. Not a great performance, but not a bad one either. And really not terrible at all when you consider that Al-Iqsammin has been public enemy number 1 in the entire UK media for the past year.
Labour got one of those chocolate covered raspberries with a gooey centre that’s too sickly. The chocolate coating and the red colourant are entirely artificial and make small children and Labour MPs and MSPs hyperactive, but not in a productive way. The party gained in its share of the vote, but not by anything like as much as it needed to be certain that its support is recovering enough to win the next General Election. Mutterings within the party about Ed Miliband’s leadership will only increase. Don’t expect them to come to anything though. Labour’s instinctive response to all and any crises is let’s just ignore it and hope it goes away. Eventually Ed will go away too. What won’t go away is Labour’s continuing rightwards drift.
The Tories did bleh, in a marshmallow that’s been sitting at the bottom of the bag for four days sort of way. They lost just 3% of their vote share compared to last time, mostly to UKIP. The Tories will now move even further to the right in order to ensure that UKIP voter return to the Tory fold come the General Election. And will start making louder noises about borders, immigration and EU referendums in order to attract non-Tory UKIP supporters. UK politics just got nastier.
But then there was the candied lemon of the BNP. They lost their two seats, which was nice to see. But the seats went to UKIP, the less fruity and full bodied flavoured fascism, which isn’t quite so nice, but at least doesn’t give you food poisoning.
And finally, a delicacy and a special treat to be savoured, a macadamia nut covered in dark bitter chocolate – the Greens pushed the Lib Dems into a humiliating fifth place across the UK as a whole, and into an even more humiliating sixth place in Scotland. The party looks set to have just one surviving MEP.
While being interviewed by the BBC’s Dimbleperson, Danny Alexander – who’d offered to do the interview rounds since he’s the only Lib Dem with less shame than Nick Clegg – said that the party needed Nick Clegg to keep doing the same thing only with more shouting and star jumps, only to be soundly bitchslapped by an irate Lib Dem who’d just seen his party wiped out tell him that Nick Clegg is the problem. But Nick Clegg isn’t the problem. He’s just a symptom of a party that no longer has the slightest idea what it exists for. The way it’s headed, it won’t be existing for much longer.
So what does all this tell us about the independence vote? Bugger all really. Except that when there’s a turn out of just 33% all you can say for certain is that most people really aren’t that fussed by the EU one way or the other.
Meanwhile in Spain, the elections saw the collapse of both the main Spanish parties, the Partido Popular (spit spit), and the PSOE. The PP’s vote share fell from 42% to just 26%, losing the party eight seats. So that’s eight fewer MEPs plotting against independence. The PSOE also saw their vote collapse, from 38.8% to 23% losing nine MEPs. The big winners were parties of the left, the newly formed Podemos (We Can), representing los indignados who protested against austerity cuts came from nowhere and took 5 seats.
The extreme right did poorly. So Scottish Tory Struan Stevenson’s wee trip to Barcelona to help out his pal Alejo Vidal Quadras was to no avail. Vidal Quadras was key in building the Partido Popular’s anti-independence alliance in the European Parliament. The arch-conservative left the Partido Popular in a huff because they weren’t sending tanks to arrest the leader of the Catalan government, and went off and founded his own Spanish version of UKIP with added rosary beads, called Vox. But they were well and truly voxed, and failed to gain a single seat. Adios Alejo.