Today, and rightly so, there is a focus on the upcoming referendum, 2014, for good or bad, will be a pivotal date in Scottish history.
The question only a few are considering is what becomes of Scotland’s political landscape after 2014, or 2015. There is one item that can be viewed with relative certainty, that either 2014 or 2015 will see Scottish independence. 2014 by referendum vote or 2015 by UKGE vote and a majority of SNP MP’s being elected to the House of Commons.
A post independence political map is worth a purely conjectural look if only for the conundrums and extinction events it promises.
With it being acknowledged even by those in opposition to the idea that independence is anything from “an attractive option” to an almost foregone conclusion it’s difficult to see any other future. Even David Cameron’s been said to be focusing on the negotiations after the vote. This view is supported by a wide consensus from the Labour supporters for independence Facebook page through to the personal opinions of elected individuals in the “anti” camp.
The first question that springs to mind is, why wait until after the vote to begin negotiations?
With a clean and transparent government system ready for the referendum, a system where people know at least some of what they will get with a yes vote, the outcome will only be enhanced. Obviously beginning negotiations now to clarify issues would not be in the Union interest, the question is answered.
The first issue in the current system is the potential of present or future corruption and inappropriate influence or patronage, aka Westminster style. Policies and procedures must be laid out in law to make certain, as far as feasible, that Holyrood never becomes a mini-me to Westminster’s rampant corruption and cover-ups. The potential for scandal should be reduced as far as practicality permits.
Providing a clean and transparent political process with full accountability to the electorate must be among the first items of business for Holyrood. To this end there must be a recall option for any elected official, by all means the official concerned could stand again, but they would have to fight the seat. A trigger for recall could involve being convicted of any offence that carries the potential of prison, irrespective of a prison term actually being imposed. Suspension from a political party by the party membership could also be a trigger. Recalls must be automatic in such circumstances.
A recall should also be available by petition of the electorate, but such a petition should have a high hurdle, requiring perhaps more signatures than votes originally collected by the incumbent of the position.
We should also look at that what now applies to the private or financial sectors and understand, should it apply to elected officials, where perhaps all criminal and financial history should be considered, and that those with bankruptcy or criminal convictions must declare them on election forms, and if it’s less than a set period since the time since the incident that they are barred from standing for office. If even football has a regulation that considers a person “unfit” then to have any less expected of elected officials would be shameful. Our government must communicate these policies pre-referendum, it should vote them in.
As to a future political make up of our nation, the SNP could be expected to continue largely in its present form for a short period post independence, however it is acknowledged as a “broad church”, one containing not only dyed in the wool nationalists but converts from the entire political spectrum.
With the party identity being firmly center left at the present time it would be natural for individuals from the extreme left and extreme right to quickly depart into new or existing political structures after independence.
The exodus from the SNP to other parties should form an inverted bathtub type graph, beginning as a trickle, building to a relative flood and slowing again to a trickle as those most closely aligned with party principles are the last to leave; perhaps they might lose as much as 1/3.
In a fully sovereign Scotland there are severe issues for the parties of Union. These parties are all caught in a dilemma of their own manufacture. They cannot prepare for independence and reaffirmation of sovereignty in Scotland without seeming to have given up the fight before it has even come close to entering the final round. At the same time it is inarguable that the three main Unionist parties in Scotland must have such a contingency or face the strong potential of extinction with independence. Simple re-branding after rejection rarely works.
Without such a plan Scottish Labour will quickly cease to exist, they are fighting for the same tactical ground now commanded by the SNP, and the Scots electorate presently view that center left or social democratic area as the high ground. With the SNP having delivered the wishes of the electorate under such a position, Labour is never likely to recapture the territory in what will be an uphill battle.
It will be an almost impossibility for Labour because they will no longer have access to funding by the English Labour party, it would be inconceivable that another nations political elite controlled Scotland’s political parties. Funding from unions in England will also vanish. Certainly Uncle Sam would not tolerate the Republican’s being beholden on Mexico’s PRI party for funding and direction.
Even the conservatives party treasurer had to insist on a shell corporation in the UK recently as they contemplated the 250K donations from a pair of fake Lichtenstein “investment bankers”, at least until “Time” was called on the transaction. This choking of financial support at the border would naturally apply to all Unionist parties in Scotland. No funding quite simply equates to no party.
Severely reduced funding equates to an empty shell.
Following independence, Labour in Scotland would no longer be able to bus or ferry in supporters from another nation to assist them in all aspects of their political life. This legislation to ensure only Scots or Scots resident’s can impact Scotland’s political process is no different than exists at Westminster and should be tabled and implemented with effect as soon as possible, potentially before any election or referendum.
Without a contingency plan that they can publicly proclaim, or privately develop, the Unionist parties in Scotland are facing political oblivion, and so powerful is the overarching culture that they cannot privately develop such a plan in case it is leaked.
The Liberal Democrats are already an irrelevance; they have worked extraordinarily hard to achieve this position since their U-Turn on student fees. The self proclaimed “Home Rule” party has been exposed not just in the student fees area, but in their wholehearted support of Tory dominated London’s reaction to the independence campaign and its general policy stance. They no longer espouse “Home Rule”. Rather, it’s now a case of following a Conservative prime minister who refers to Scotland’s duly elected First Minister as “The mad Scotsman”, and delay, deny, postpone any power transfer of significance; with a possible “Jam tomorrow” should Scots actually reject liberty.
By its very name the Conservative and Unionist Party is stuck in a time warp. There can be no back up. Tory’s are already an irrelevance in Scotland; they are already approaching marginalization due to severe lack of credibility. Scots are at last questioning how a party that believes in standing on one’s own two feet, and will risk our service personnel in so-called democracy-building missions abroad, can believe Scotland is incapable.
Why do the Tory’s see Scotland as unable and incompetent, un-teachable even, when they spend so much to instill such values elsewhere? Why is it that the Isle of Man has greater autonomy than Scotland, but that’s OK, or that the Falkland’s are only British because they wish to be – they have been allowed choice? Simple questions that the Conservatives haven’t answered because they don’t dare declare the reasoning behind their convictions.
It is either that Westminster requires Scotland’s resources or the ideology of Edward the First still holds true, they will rule the entire British Isles, at least for as long as possible, for unless they do they believe they lack international credibility.
Effectively that’s what Scotland is to the Union, a paycheck carrying international credibility.
Knowing there can be no contingency plan for those representing the Union in Scotland without giving the clear understanding of breaking from and betraying their Westminster bedfellows means the alliance of any political party with Tory London will not just equal diminished stature for a generation, it means independence will simply be a merciful coup de grace to each and all.
What will happen post independence is anyone’s guess, but taking the crystal ball and giving it a good rub shows the following in the first few post independence years.
The SDA will probably capture the right wing, many SNP with a conservative leaning stance will migrate there over time, it may or may not integrate what remains of the Scottish Conservatives but it would be a logical sequence of events.
The Liberal Democrats will fragment, they will divide reasonably equally according to political conviction between the SNP and SDA.
The Labour party is the conundrum, with their political alignment being so similar to the SNP one would naturally anticipate them being integrated. The issue is the almost visceral hatred that many of the red rose demonstrates against followers of the thistle.
Unless one considers this almost demonstrable hatred to be simply a character flaw that can be overcome it should be projected new converts of hard core Labourites will be few indeed. They will either become floating voters, members of a re-invigorated Scottish Socialist Party or try to re-invent themselves as some middle alternative between the SNP and SDA. The unfortunate aspect for any such re-invention is that the area available there is small indeed. It will take a leader of true grit to exploit every opening in order to simply carve a niche there.
Labour in Scotland has not shown any promise of such a leader in very many years.