Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Modernising Scotland - a new politic?

According to independent research the SNP are the only social democratic party currently active within Scottish politics. Canadian research places New Labour, the Libdems and the Tories as right of centre parties with not that much between the Tories and Labour. The research also indicates New Labour is more authoritarian than either of the other two right of centre parties in Scotland. The only parties to the left of the SNP, currently, are the Greens and the Scottish Socialists.

In terms of UK politics - we have seen the creation of a two party state whose differences are minimal and similarities huge. The next UK election will see the end of the LibDems as a credible party.

The problem is this model does not work in Scotland where we have a clear choice between a left of centre social democratic party, in the SNP, and a right of centre party, in New Labour. Given the innate conservatism of the Scottish electorate we see the extremes being squeezed: on the left the Greens and SSP, on the right the Tories and Libdems.

The identification of this dynamic is the one we need to look at in the modernisation of Scotland's politics and 'establishment'. Fundamentally the SNP are seen to be driving the modernisation process while New Labour are acting as a right wing reactionary party seeking to retain the status quo, as the only way they can see of 'holding onto power for power's sake'. This is epitomised in their authoritarian stance which presents in Holyrood as opposition to the SNP at every turn. Modernisation in Scotland is happening but is not being lead by political nerds or party politics it is being informed by the wishes of the Scottish people.

The SNP are not 'leading' or 'driving' a thing, they are just cannily riding the wave, using its energy to achieve their goals. On any occasion they have tried to get ahead of the wave, they have been wiped out. Labour in Scotland still think they can stop the wave by some reactionary King Cnut style gesture and that is their weakness. This weakness was identified by Micheal Ignatieff in a BBC interview in which he suggested New Labour could well be washed away for good when Scotland becomes independent.

The debate in Scotland is increasingly about people lead politics and not party politics, as Lesley Riddoch identified yesterday in an article for Newsnet Scotland. The real discussion on Scotland's future, in or outside of the UK, is not happening in the traditional political arenas and media it is happening outside, in public, where the UK right wing parties have no control and no apparent ability to listen.

If we wish to modernise Scotland (and an increasing majority of the Scots electorate do), we, the people will make it happen. The Scottish Tories are increasingly waking up to this reality, turning against Cameron's gal at Holyrood, leaving her increasingly isolated. In McLeish and Chisholm New Labour have two who see the way the wind is blowing but are voiceless within their own party.

There are still 100 weeks left for the centre right parties to espouse their view of a modern Scotland, yet their silence is deafening.


  1. Hi there - an interesting and insightful read. Could I ask if you have a reference for the Canadian research? I'd like to add it to my growing library of worthwhile independent commentary on Scottish politics.


  2. Drakkos - is my source for this data.

  3. Fantastic - thanks very much.

  4. I am especially fasinated by the bottom graph on - the drift towards the right and fascism of labour is perhaps the most damning thing.