Never in all of the five Scottish parliamentary elections of the post-devolution era has so much nonsense been written about the result. According to the Unionist press (in other words ninety per cent of the press), Scotland has overnight become a Tory-loving country who have overwhelmingly voted against the very idea of independence. Really?
Let’s examine the actual facts. Running on an overtly pro-Union ticket, the Conservatives polled twenty per cent of the vote. In other words, eight of ten Scots utterly rejected the Conservatives’ message. Furthermore, while the SNP may have fallen two seats short of an overall majority, when grouped together with the Greens the pro-independence parties have a clear hold of Holyrood for the next five years. On top of that, the only parties to constantly bang on about ‘The Second Referendum’ were Labour and the Tories. The Greens and the Nationalists hardly mentioned it all and it featured in neither party’s manifesto.
There was a ludicrous assumption pre-election that there were no Conservatives in Scotland. In a seat like Edinburgh Central, it has always been a mystery to me that people haven’t voted Tory. The New Town is so utterly posh that is socially acceptable to wear a tweed sports jacket and crushed strawberry coloured trousers non-ironically and people still did not elect a Tory until now. Basically, if you live within walking distance of a Waitrose, you should not be surprised if your neighbours vote Conservative.
There have always been Tories in Scotland – it’s just for the last twenty-five years, they have voted Labour. Take Eastwood as another example. The leafy streets of this Glasgow suburb would be safe Tory territory down south, but until last May elected Jim Murphy to represent them in Westminster. Admittedly, that is pretty much the same thing as voting Conservative.
This was definitely the most presidential election we have witnessed in Scotland, with each party running a personality-led campaign – which explains why Labour did so badly. The TV exposure of the leaders’ debates gave a big boost to Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie and was undoubtedly a huge negative for Kezia Dugdale.
While Davidson clearly enjoyed being photographed driving a tank and rodeo-riding on the back of a water buffalo and while Oor Willie managed to come out looking statesman-like despite being upstaged by a pair of fornicating pigs at Gorgie City Farm, young Kez continuously displayed a rabbit-in-the-headlights demeanour which looked like she was terrified in case some hack asked her a slightly difficult question.
Kezia Dudgale always reminds me of the teacher’s pet of limited ability who would sit on the front row in primary school and who was always first to put their hand up whenever a question was asked, almost inevitably giving the wrong answer.
Labour’s ideas, according to the polls, were popular with the voters, but the leader was not. Whenever she announced a new policy, it sounded as if she had memorised it parrot-fashion and was repeating it back to herself to try to convince herself that she believed what she was saying. She seemed faintly robotic, which is never a good look if you’re trying to court the public. It speaks volumes that the only party leader with a lower popularity rating was UKIP’s revolting figurehead in Scotland, David Coburn.
One part of the problem is that the public don’t know what Kezia Dugdale stands for. The other part of the problem, I suspect, is that Kezia Dugdale doesn’t know what Kezia Dugdale stands for. Having been fervently anti-Corbyn and pro-Trident, she had to perform ridiculous U-turns when the party elected Jezza and voted to scrap the nuclear deterrent.
Much has been made of Dugdale’s tender years. Many people have said she is too young to lead a major parry. It’s distinctly possible that by time Labour are in a position to challenge again for power in Scotland, she will be far too old for the job.
So we move on now to the European Union referendum, and with it the intriguing prospect of how a pro-Europe Scotland would react to an English Brexit vote. In particular, that would put the fervently pro-European Lib-Dems in a difficult situation as regards a second Indyref. Are they more pro-EU than pro-UK? Perhaps, Willie Rennie should do another TV interview at Gorgie City Farm to enlighten us.
Vladimir McTavish, Keir McAllister, Stuart Murphy and Mark Nelson will be appearing in The Stand Comedy Club’s monthly satirical show TOPICAL STORM at the Edinburgh Stand on Wednesday 22 June at and the Glasgow Stand on Monday 27 June.