Murdo Fraser is a national treasure, by which I mean that he gives every appearance that some geeky person with a metal detector dug him up from under a rock. In his head Murdo is an incisive and cutting politician, giving us sharp insights into the politics of the day. Outside his own head the only things that prevent him from being the cringiest and most embarrassing Conservative ever to harrumph their way into Scottish public life are firstly the fact that Stephen Kerr exists in this reality and isn’t merely the fever dream invention of a writer of horror fiction who dabbles in hallucinogenic drugs, and secondly that Michael Gove was recently filmed attempting to dance in a night club in Aberdeen in a video that once seen can never be unseen. Well, I say “dance”, but the truth is that the movements being performed by the mid life crisis that is Michael Gove bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the contortions my body made when I was experiencing a major epileptic seizure because I was having a stroke.
In this week’s episode of “Oh God, there’s been a Murdo.” The Perthshire list MSP has continued his mission to bring gaiety to the nation by taking to Twitter to herald the finalisation of the co-operation deal between the SNP and the Scottish Greens, saying: “Looks like we just got the government we didn’t vote for”.
Well quite, Murdo. We’re glad to see that you’ve finally woken up to the unfairness of Scotland getting governments it didn’t vote for. Scotland has been getting governments it didn’t vote for for decades. It’s never bothered Murdo before because all those governments have been Conservative ones. There is currently one such government ensconced in Westminster headed by a serial liar who is currently lying about not being on holiday even though he’s buggered off with that part of his family that he admits to to a rural location in the South West of England for a break of several days from pretending that he’s actually doing his job. However to be fair to Boris Johnson, in his eyes it only counts as a proper holiday when he’s buggered off to a luxury villa in the Caribbean paid for by some Tory donor.
It’s not even accurate to say that Scotland didn’t vote for this government, but Murdo has never been one to allow factual accuracy to get between him and an SNP bad harrumphment. Between them the SNP and the Scottish Greens won 72 seats in a Parliament with 129 seats. They didn’t get those seats in a raffle, they didn’t buy them on eBay, they got them because the voters of Scotland elected them, giving a clear and unambiguous majority to parties promising to hold another independence referendum despite a well organised and well funded British nationalist tactical voting campaign trying to prevent that outcome. But what would Murdo know? He doesn’t even have the confidence of his own constituents.
The voting system for the Scottish Parliament was designed to make a majority for a single party almost impossible. The first two Scottish governments in the devolved parliament were composed of Labour supported by the Lib Dems, in a formal coalition. The present arrangement between the SNP and the Greens falls short of a formal coalition, but it very much represents the Scottish Parliament working as it was intended to work. It’s just too bad for the Labour and Lib Dem politicians who thought that they were designing a system which guaranteed their parties power in perpetuity that the people of Scotland had other ideas. Now they are minor parties shut out of power for the foreseeable future and in the case of the Lib Dems reduced to a four MSP rump which isn’t even big enough to be recognised as a parliamentary group. Karma has no menu, but it has served Alex Cole Hamilton what he deserves. Whenever the Lib Dems’ new leader gets to his feet you find yourself missing Willie Rennie.
This new SNP/Green government, Murdo, is what “getting the Government we voted for” looks like in an electoral system designed to favour coalition or collaborative government. Murdo and his Conservative pals think it’s far better for Scotland to get the government that England voted for under the blatantly unfair first past the post system favoured by Westminster. Perhaps Murdo thinks that deals between parties only count when the Conservatives spaff over £1 billion of public money to bribe the homophobes and bigots of the DUP.
Then Stephen Kerr, the Snide of Frankenstein, who was quite happy to back Theresa May’s tawdry deal with the DUP which kept the Tories in power even after they lost their majority in the 2017 General Election, took to his feet to complain about the “bloated government” created by the deal. It’s very true that Scotland suffers from bloated government, there are few things more bloated in Scottish politics than Stephen Kerr’s estimation of himself. However there is also the bloat of Westminster, imposing policies on Scotland that Scotland didn’t vote for, and there is the bloat of the House of Lords, which allows superannuated losers like Ruth Davidson and Michael Forsyth to continue to exert their malign influence on our public life and our legislation even though no one voted for them.
The Scottish Government is now not a minority government, it commands a substantial majority which allows it to easily defeat all the anti-independence parties combined. After the Parliament approved a motion by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to appoint Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater as junior ministers, she told MSPs that the Scottish Government has an “undeniable” mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum saying that between them the SNP and the Greens hold 72 of the 129 seats in Parliament and each one of their MSPs was elected on a clear commitment to an independence referendum. This is the strongest pro-independence government Scotland has ever had.
Next week the First Minister will unveil the Scottish Government’s programme for government. This will include a commitment to another referendum as soon as the crisis phase of the pandemic has passed. No wonder Murdo and Stephen are so unhappy.
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