For Scots unionists, the Independence Referendum must have been the nearest thing they’ve experienced to war. The idea that exercised many was the potential sudden and traumatic loss of nation.
Yet having lost that argument (with a business case that would have fallen apart on first contact with the world outside the United Kingdom), the SNP are merrily winning almost every other argument going.
You’d half be forgiven for thinking that losing was in the game-plan, since the follow through has been so impressive. To make a slightly inappropriate comparison, like Margaret Thatcher, the SNP has cut through the crap by talking in terms that people understand.
And like Thatcher, they have left their opponents in Westminster somewhat quaking in their boots, and emoting all manner of inappropriate signals of distress (this still funded Conservative party video is a good example of sending good money after bad).
The Labour Party which still does have Westminster representation for too long took Scotland for granted, and having designed Scots parliamentary elections to keep the SNP out, now finds itself labouring to stay out of the bottom of an electoral motte it thought would protect its incumbency.
The Tories have too few reliable Scots voices to project Scottish interests through its own party channels and consistently (and in many cases unintentionally) alienates the whole Scots electorate (unionists and all).
…the speech Sturgeon gave in
Londonthe Imperial Capital today was much more impressive than comparable speeches I’ve seen from Miliband lately. It helped that she had an argument. Helped too, that this argument was written in clear English. Unfashionably, her sentences even contained verbs.
And it was a clever speech too, not least because it was more modest than a comparable speech given by her predecessor would likely have been. Of course she defended the Scottish government’s record, highlighting its philosophical differences with the Westminster coalition. But there was a notable lack of sneering (and an equal absence of smugness).
The art of the possible. The SNP’s new realism is not really that new. Unlike Ireland’s insurgent independents and parties, they have a political capital which was hard won, firstly in local government, and latterly in the wholesale managment of Scottish affairs.
Unlike the fainting populism of Stormont, that’s real capital, and it represents the solid political earth which underlies and underwrites Nicola Sturgeon’s measured critique of the UK’s social policy.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty