From the election earthquake to the Corbyn surge, our panel pick their top momentsby Prospect Team / December 17, 2015 / Leave a comment
From a seismic general election to a surprise landslide for the left in Labour’s leadership race, via David Cameron’s EU wrangling, a Scottish invasion and much waving of large mandates, it’s been a transformative political year. We’ve invited Prospect contributors, politicians, campaigners and other experts to give us their most significant moment.
Philip Collins—Associate Editor of Prospect
The political moment of my year took place a couple of minutes before 10pm on the evening of 7th May. I was sitting in the studio at ITV awaiting the exit poll which would give us the first indication of who was going to be Prime Minister the following day, if anyone. The opinion polls had consistently said that Ed Miliband was likely to be PM and I had resolutely failed to believe any of them. With time drawing in, I turned to Daniel Finkelstein, my Times colleague and fellow guest, and said “if David Cameron is not Prime Minister a few minutes from now, then everything I think I know about politics is wrong.” It wasn’t. It still isn’t. But people in politics can take a long time to learn.
Gerry Hassan—Author of Caledonian Dreaming and Independence of the Scottish Mind
May 8th 2015 stands out as the day Scotland changed. The House of Cards that was Labour dominance collapsed: a domino effect which witnessed 40 out of 41 Labour seats being won by the SNP. Scotland has seamlessly switched from a nation of Labour supremacy to one of SNP ascendancy, and no one is quite sure why and what it means.
The standard explanation is that Labour tied itself to the Tories in the independence referendum, but that is one small part. Much more pronounced is the decline of British Scotland, the hollowing out of the Presbyterian and Catholic traditions, and the absence of any popular, instinctual story of Britain. The liberal unionist establishment of the law, other professions and churches is no longer so sure of its views and place. This has produced an independence of the Scottish mind—where Scotland sees itself as an autonomous nation and one increasingly self-governing. That is an enormous shift, but also one with challenges, in recognising some of the domestic continuities and inequities in public life and public services which need greater scrutiny.