The Scottish First Minister is punishing children just to prove a political pointby John McTernan / February 8, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: The SNP has failed Scotland
The SNP’s economic case is draining away
Politics often seems about positioning and presentation. This is understandable—it is a contest for power, and persuasion is central to gaining power. But in the end that power is about purpose—political purpose—or it is worth nothing. We see this principle boiled down to its basics in Scotland today. The Scottish National Party has now been in power for nearly nine years. The first seven of these were about a referendum on independence, which they held and lost decisively.
The question is what will the next decade—which the SNP looks set to dominate electorally in the Scottish Parliament—be about? Almost certainly it will be about trying and failing to hold a second referendum. This, paradoxically, will be a success for the SNP. Any second referendum is a high-risk option for them as there will be no third one, but the hope of the SNP leadership is that the prospect of a potential referendum (that never quite materializes) will hold their coalition of support together. It is power through procrastination.
That may be a more than adequate formula for continued electoral dominance but it fails to answer the Peggy Lee question: “Is that all there is?” Ten years of Margaret Thatcher delivered council house sales, trade union reform, privatisation, the Falklands War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Ten years of Blair brought NHS spending to the European average, peace in Ireland after 600 years of conflict, an end to pensioner poverty, a National Minimum Wage and 0.7% of GDP spent on foreign aid. In 2017, ten years of SNP rule will have delivered free medical prescriptions and a lost referendum. “It doesn’t matter”, say the commentators. “Whatever the SNP do or don’t do it does not affect their support. There is a frozen electoral landscape whose contours were formed in the referendum.”
Perhaps so, but as was said in The Sopranos, “everything comes to an end.” In other words, the laws of political gravity will assert themselves. That will happen eventually…