My first attempt at blogging was inspired by the results map of the 2015 UK general election – a startling picture of gold across Scotland that stood in sharp contrast the vote swinging right in the rest of the UK.
My leftover frustrations from the so very nearly won Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014 mixed with awe at this unprecedented result, where a Scottish-only party became the third largest party in Westminster, spilled over into writing.
Did the SNP sabotage politics for the UK wondered how we could move forward united when our countries seemed to view things so differently.
So how did we?
Well, we staggered on, with arguably Scotland’s most effective government ever somehow managing to maintain success whilst working within the tight confines of Conservative enforced austerity.
The double edged sword of this, of course, was that effective stewardship kept the SNP in power but also allowed the people of Scotland to believe that while we might not see eye to eye on everything, Scotland could perform well within our union.
That is until Brexit.
Today perhaps the game is finally up.
David Cameron’s game within his own party didn’t achieve his aim. Rather than quashing the hard right, his Brexit Referendum gave them airtime and unleashed an unexpected storm.
At the eye of that storm was undisguised racism. At the windy edges, a simple naivety about a return to the good old days when Britain was top dog.
Ideas once whispered carefully between friends were now being shouted as brave declarations of entitlement.
The running of this referendum was no surprise to the Scottish people. We literally watched it all run as it had in 2014. A media, fuelled by billionaires with much to gain from Brexit, sold the public a fairy story about freedom and new powers to come. In case that wasn’t enough, they topped it up with pages of scare stories about immigration, reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s.
While this hit a chord with many in England, it never really stuck north of the border, in a country where immigration is essential and cultural diversity actively celebrated by those in charge.
The irony of course lay in the lie we had been told in 2014.
We had been told our place in Europe was a prize to be lost in claiming our independence. As it turned out that prize was going to be torn from us simply because we voted to stay.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit but as that first post predicted, it turned out we didn’t get a say at all.
As the ugly negotiations have dragged on, Scotland has been actively excluded. Scotland’s needs for immigration, for farming and fishing support, for trade, have been put aside for the greater cause of the ‘British people’s’ desire for sovereignty.
In truth we are simply swapping one allegiance for another.
Scotland knows all about losing sovereignty. Her democratically elected government was excluded from Brexit talks. Scottish MPs were mocked in parliament and told many times to go home.
So these European elections, not generally a high status election in the UK, have become a focal point of our frustration. Although the turnout was not high, it was significantly higher than in previous years and it was clear in what the people of Scotland had to say. The results map takes us back 4 years.
That upside down Marge Simpson shows the cartoon that democracy really is in the UK
Undoubtedly this was a one issue election. Its result: Scotland still does not support Brexit.
It might not tell us much about how a second independence referendum would go but it surely shows us we can’t go on as we are.
I find myself thinking exactly the same as I did when I was writing 4 years ago.
“I genuinely wonder what my friends who don’t support independence feel about things now.”
It is clear yet again that Scotland is politically different from the rest of the UK. It is going to become all too clear that these differences are not just local side issues to be managed with devolution.
Scotland has different priorities, different needs and it seems a different mindset. Yet we are shackled in a system that forces us to go where the rest of the UK goes, even if it is jumping off an economic cliff.
The Scottish Government has skilfully managed some of the challenges of austerity but no government will be able to cancel out the effects of Brexit. The loss of population and trade from a hard Brexit will be devastating on Scotland whoever is in charge.
The SNP are constantly being told to “get back to the day job” and stop focusing on independence. Yet, while Westminster has been frozen by Brexit for months, the day job has continued in the Scottish Government.
The SNP European Election campaign was run on one issue – stopping Brexit.
Only the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party made Independence a focus of their campaign, stating a vote for them was a vote against another independence referendum.
Still, now that they’ve brought it up and got their answer, I wonder if it might be time to ask the Scottish people again.
The thing about democracy is you get to change your mind.
We do what we think best at the time. When we know better, we do better.
The past 5 years have uncovered the lies at the heart of the last Scottish referendum (even the architect of the famous Vow has shifted to supporting Independence) and the dangers of staying in a union that serves itself at our cost.
Maybe we’ll be wiser this time. Maybe we’ll be braver.
Because the only alternative is to accept the will of others imposed on us, regardless of what we believe. That almost certainly means Brexit now and probably the loss of NHS next.
The alternative is to accept the death of democracy.
Once again our voting demonstrates that our kingdom is not united. And if we don’t change something this time perhaps we never will.