So that’s it then, the end of an era. Alicsammin has bowed out as leader of the SNP. But it’s not the last we’ll be seeing of him, he’s going to be a thorn in the flesh of the Westminster parties for quite some time to come. Alicsammin is the marmite of Scottish politics, loved and loathed in equal measure, but no one can deny that he’s changed Scotland forever. This is not the same country that it was back in 2007 when the SNP narrowly pipped Labour at the post and became the minority government, putting an end to what was supposed to be the permanent Labour-Lib Dem duopoly set up in a back room meeting between Donald Dewer and Ming Campbell.
Back then Labour thought it was just a wee blip and normal service would be resumed just as soon as the rest of Scotland realised what a terrible mistake they’d made by rejecting the self-described peepil’s party. All Labour had to do was sit back, sling mud, and the voters would return to their ‘natural home’. The mud was duly slung, and has been slung repeatedly and regularly ever since. Mud slinging has been Labour’s substitute for politics. Labour didn’t think it needed to change, after all it was the voters who’d made the mistake. They’re the people’s party, and they decide what’s right for the people, never that the people decide and a real people’s party follows. It was the arrogance of those who accuse others of arrogance, and it bit them in the bum. However such is the size of Labour’s complacent lardarse that seven years later the lesson is still chewing its way through. It still hasn’t reached the Anas.
And Alicsammin laughed and ran rings around them as Labour squirmed and couldn’t understand why there was an uncomfortable itch that anusol couldn’t relieve. Even though the battle of the referendum was lost, the wider campaign for independence is buoyant. Alicsammin’s greatest achievement wasn’t to bring about the referendum. His greatest achievement has been to normalise the idea of independence. That’s the truly historic change that has taken place in Scotland under the government led by Alex Salmond – he’s shown us that Scotland can be a normal country, all we have to do is to believe in ourselves. And many of us already do.
Now a few short months after the referendum was won by the forces of Nawness, we are in a landscape that is alien and frightening to the Westminster hegemonists. Labour is still squirming and still can’t understand what’s gone wrong. They cry for reviews, they promise commissions, they suggest they want debates. But really all they want is for everything to go back to the way it was before that nasty Alicsammin changed everything. The electorate has left them behind and Labour is left clutching an empty bottle of Buckie at a party no one wants to attend.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. No won the referendum, Yes supporters were supposed to crawl away and hide under a rock in the vain hope that they might avoid Ian Davidson’s bayonet. But instead it’s Ian Davidson and his pals who are wounded and looking at the sharp end of a bayonet. They’re bleeding bad – in both senses of the phrase.
So Alicsammin hasn’t sailed off into the sunset, under a cloud, doomed to an ignominious retirement overshadowed by his great failure. Instead he’s off to open a new front and twist that bayonet some more. He’s after a seat in Westminster where he can be a permanent bayonet in Ian Davidson’s quivering flesh – assuming that Ian Davidson is one of those Labour MPs who survive the culling that will befall them in May 2015. The prospects for most of them don’t look good at all. Yet another poll has shown Labour’s chances of avoiding an electoral armageddon are vanishing more quickly than Ed Miliband’s fond regards for Johann Lamont.
A new Survation poll for the Record puts Labour on a derisory 23.9%, with the SNP on 45.8%. The new poll is in line with previous recent polls, and the SNP is now gaining the level of support which will make the first past the post system work in its favour. There are no safe Labour seats in Scotland any more. Glasgow East is certainly not safe for Magrit Curran – it’s where I live and I’ll be doing my utmost to ensure that Magrit gets her jotters. All across Scotland other angry Yes voters will be working equally hard to rewrite the Proclaimers song lyrics. When ye go, will ye send back a cheque for your expenses. Magrit no more, Tom Harris no more, Dougie no more, Smugurphy no more … There will be Portillo moments on steroids.
There is a distinct possibility that pro-Scotland MPs may be the third largest force in the Westminster parliament after May 2015. There’s an equally distinct possibility that the Lib Dems in Scotland may be reduced to just Alistair Carmichael all on his tod. Commentators in England view this possibility with horror – not the possibility that the Lib Dems might get wiped out, everyone with a sense of justice who can remember their solemn vow on student fees relishes that prospect – the prospect that a bloc of MPs who put Scotland’s interests first might hold the balance of power is what they view with horror. And there was us thinking that Scotland had voted No so we were all a part of this happy family of nations. But apparently it’s only a happy family when Scotland does as Scotland is told.
There are those south of the border who fear that the dominance of the SNP and other pro-Scotland parties north of the border means that pro-Scotland MPs could hold the balance of power at Westminster after May 2015. Some have expressed alarm that this could mean that England might get screwed over by Scotland. They needn’t worry. England will get screwed over by England, like it has always been. These pro-Scotland MPs, who would be largely SNP MPs, might prop up a Labour government even if Labour gained fewer Westminster seats in England than the Tories do. The notion that England might not get the government it votes for is terrifying – there’s only one response anyone from north of the border can make to that: welcome to Scotland’s world.
I need help from readers this week. I’m off to visit my daughters in London and will be away for a few days. And there’s another reason too – readers, I’ve met a man. I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s happened, and he makes me very happy. So for the sake of my family life and my love life, I’d like some guest posts!
Four weeks without a fag now. I’m not complacent, but I think I might have cracked it.