8 May 2015

When will English politicians understand Scotland and the SNP?

How much longer does the English political establishment go on not only not getting it – but demonstrating with toe-curling embarrassment that they simply don’t get it.

The inability overnight of English political leaders to read, even vaguely the significance of the SNP obliteration, leaves one speechless.

Let us take two examples. English voters would say left and right wing ones.

First Ed Miliband lashing out at the SNP revolution saying Labour had gone down to a “surge of nationalism”.

Then Boris Johnson talked about the urgent need to reach a “simple” sort of “federal” arrangement to somehow cope with the incoming yellow tsunami in Westminster.

Both men, simply not seeing or wilfully ignoring the greater part of the entire SNP campaign here.


It wasn’t nationalism. They barely campaigned on it. Referendum and independence were only in the debate because it is often all the English establishment seems to be able to see.

The wholesale success of an anti-austerity, anti-Trident, pro fiscal autonomy campaign – it is sometimes as if the SNP never mentioned it.

But these campaign issues are what Scots went for in a droves as the SNP drilled into the Labour and LibDem votes from Jo Grimond country in the northern isles to the old red heartlands of the central belt.

They wanted a “left” alternative, the SNP use the word “progressive”. It is that simple.

In England they do not.

What is clear is that somehow, somewhere, London is going to have to start hearing this message delivered in utterly historic fashion.

Somehow Edinburgh/Glasgow is going to have to find more effective ways of getting its vision across.

If they do not, the avalanche mandate what they call A Jockalypse Now, may indeed turn into exactly what England prematurely fears right now – unstoppable pressure upon Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond to return to nationalism. Jockalypse goes apocalypse.

Put simply, the surest way for the English lurid fears about the SNP to be realised, is to continue thinking it’s all about nationalism insofar as it thinks about Scotland at all

Follow Alex Thomson on Twitter: @alextomo

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101 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    The answer to your question is………..Never.

    And matters are going to get much, much, MUCH worse. The tories haven’t the slightest idea or interest in what goes on outside the M25 ghetto. How many more lessons do people need?

    I don’t blame the Jocks in the slightest, though I really fear for their future even more than ours once the banks target them. Or the SNP fall back into the worst of siege capitalism.

    The worst is yet to come for everyone. Except, of course, the rich and disgusting, and the even more disgusting bribed upper middle class.

    Mark my words, the lies will intensify and the noose will tighten during the next half decade. This lot won’t be “happy” until we’re back in an even more institutionally corrupt Victorian-style “society.”

    How tragic. How sad. How needless.

    1. victoria says:

      “Jock” is a highly xenophobic term and you should stop using it

      1. Catherine says:

        Most Jocks do not mind being called Jocks. I don’t

    2. Eric says:

      Why do people bash London all the time? It is Labour who is reduced to the M25 ghetto. The Tories represent all of England and a good part of Wales.

    3. Raymond Reid says:

      Well Phillip,if you are going to keep using the derogatory term for a Scotsman will I be right in saying that it would be okay to call you an English pommy?

    4. Graeme Neil says:

      Just picked up on all this since I’ve got a day off today WITHOUT kids. Yeah! ;-) A second Indy Referendum will comeWe don’t care for scare tactics. Nobody knows what will happen, but like me, we are willing to take the risk. Let the intelligent Scots take ontrol of their own future. There are many of them and they won’t fail. They want to govern themselves. Thats it. They aren’t anti-English, you are missing the point if you like that’s what this is all about.

  2. Matthew Williams says:

    Thank goodness for reporters like you (and Paul Mason) who actually take the time to come to Scotland and listen to people about their concerns and reasons for their voting decisions.

    Whilst the total number of passengers aboard the SNP express train to Westminster might be a surprise, the noise and speed of its approach haven’t really been in question since last September (and before). The knee-jerk reactions of Westminster are pure posturing.

    Clearly everybody in the UK would benefit from a change to our electoral system. This would get rid of a lot of anomalies and finally give the people a chance to express their true political preferences.

  3. Poort says:

    Well said hit the nail on the head

  4. David Henderson says:

    I thought that Clegg was Judas for signing with the Tory devil.
    Sturgeon is a complete and utter TRAITOR. Now the Tory devil is unleashed god help us,if she thinks she will have any influence in Westminster NO they are a minority party now Cameron and his majority will ignore them and go back on his so called promises, I am disgusted to be Scottish sorry England.

    1. Mark Tattersall says:

      How is she a traitor ?

    2. Alistair says:

      Spare us the fake anger and concern David. Nobody’s fooled.

    3. Annie Scot says:

      On the other hand David, you could be proud of a nation who did not vote on the grounds of personal greed, but rather looking to improve our society, taking us away from the need for food banks in one of the richest nations on the planet – there os perhaps where your shame should be.

    4. Davey Collins says:

      It is this view that is absolutely moronic. It wasn’t the SNP’s fault that there is a Tory majority down in England. Even if every single SNP seat remained Labour it would still be a majority for the Tories.

      Milliband and Murphy are both third rate politicians whom have both led their party to ruin both north and south of the border. The Tories fear the possibility of a second referendum so much that the SNP making such a landslide victory up here will make them listen to what we want far more than if we voted the status quo as every other election preceding this one.

      Learn to count before throwing out such insults as traitor to quite possibly the only politician that will actually fight for our interests instead of just London and the South East.

    5. ron mckenzie says:

      Sorry David but a traitor is one who betrays their country. I can’t see how Sturgeon can be accused of betraying Scotland.

    6. amw says:

      I’m sorry that you’re feeling disgusted. I am very sad that so many people voted Con. However, even if Scotland had voted Labour in to all 59 seats, the result would have been the same. The SNP offer an alternative to Con/Lab policies such as austerity/trident. Are you suggesting that no political party should offer an alternative? That it should only be Lab/Con in perpetuity? How can it be traitorous to want to challenge mainstream policies? The SNP have repeatedly assured us that they will partner with the other progressive parties at Westminster (who, combined, are the majority!) and that they will help to reign in the Tories and make UK governance fairer.

    7. Jim Miller says:

      You seem to forget that the ‘Tory Devils’ were in power for the five years prior to this election, to call Ms Sturgeon ‘a traitor’ is disgusting, she has worked for Scotland and its people, and fifty per cent of us admire her, she deserves respect

    8. W.McIlraith says:

      Thinking like that cost labour in Scotland. Even if Scotland had voted labour we would still have got the tories. People like you will have to change their way of thinking.

    9. Angry Weegie says:

      Traitor to whom? Certainly not to the Scottish people and if you mean a traitor to the Left, then look no further than the Labour Party to find the real traitors.

    10. Joe Public says:

      I too am disgusted that YOU are a citizen of Scotland coming away with nonsense like that. If you’d have taken every single seat in Scotland and handed them to Labour they’d still have been whipped by the Tories, can you not count man?
      You might say you’re from Scotland but you’re obviously no Scot.

    11. Baz says:

      Really? How would that be now? Im curious because even if every Scot had voted labour they still wouldn’t have been in power. So please attempt to explain the traitor part

    12. paul johnson says:

      Eh? What? Nicola Sturgeon has sided with what? Eh?!

      On this evidence, I think a lot of people in Scotland don’t really get it either.

    13. C Thomson says:

      Don`t talk rubbish, even if Scotland had all voted Labour, add all the Scottish seats to Labour`s total, the Tories still had a majority. Scotland didn`t put the Tories in, England did!

    14. muttley79 says:

      @David Henderson

      Nicola Sturgeon is a traitor then. To who exactly? Ashamed to be Scottish and apologising to England? What a cringing post, embarrassing. The electorate in England as a whole keep on putting the Tories in power. That is their right, but it does not make Sturgeon a traitor.

      1. Diane says:

        Well said, I totally agree with you. It’s embarrassing to read these type of comments from a Scot.

    15. David Thomson says:

      Having read your comments I simply felt I needed to reply for clarification. You stated that you thought that “Clegg was Judas for signing with the Tory devil”. On that point I largely agree. Then you posit that “Sturgeon is a complete and utter TRAITOR”. This really confuses me, a traitor to who exactly? All she appears to have done is stand up for Scotland, offer an alternative to austerity, say no to the huge waste that Trident will be and call for fiscal autonomy and greater powers for Scotland, hardly a hanging offence. You then go on to say that “Now the Tory devil is unleashed god help us,if she thinks she will have any influence in Westminster NO they are a minority party now Cameron and his majority will ignore them and go back on his so called promises”. Some of what you say, if somewhat overblown and lacking in punctuation, may contain a smidgen of lucidity but none of your suggested outcomes are the fault of either Nicola Sturgeon or the SNP. If you wish to apportion blame you really need to lay that squarely at the feet of among others, the voters of England, it is what they voted for and what they got. Even if every seat in Scotland was Labour it would have made no difference to the result and if you check your political history books it never has. The UK gets the government England elects, always. You can also of course blame a broken electoral system which clearly magnified the result and finally you can blame the Labour Party in Scotland for making themselves unelectable and the Labour Party in England for effectively disenfranchising every Scottish voter. Finally you state “I am disgusted to be Scottish sorry England”. Really not sure why you apologise to England because as I already stated England got exactly what it wanted. As for being full of self loathing for being Scottish perhaps the whole election experience has just been a bit too much. I suggest a lie down in a darkened hermetically sealed room till we do it all again next year. Perhaps by then you will have developed some more rational arguments.

    16. Gordon Chalmers says:

      How sad you feel ashamed to be Scottish. How sad I am that you are Scottish! Nicola Sturgeon is no traitor. Please don’t apologise on anyone’s behalf, you don’t speak for anyone but yourself. :(

    17. Charles Patrick O'Brien Lvss says:

      I read your comment twice still cant see any meaning or sense.Nicola is a bright woman,and like a lot of Scots women can be thrawn but always when they are right,and they usually are.She supports her country and is patriotic in the best sense of the word,and Scotland is her country.I know you don’t understand what it is about us Scots,and you display your lack of knowledge so very well.

    18. john macgregor says:

      Nicola Sturgeon is in a strong position. Every defeat will be an illustration of a widening gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK. SNP party membership grows every day. The target of full independence is ever nearer. The big challenge for Nicola Sturgeon is controlling the expectations of the membership.

  5. Gemini says:

    The Unionists will not ‘get’ Scotland imo, they haven’t for a long time. They will also bring about the demise of the Union that they allegedly hold so dear by their ignorance and lack of understanding.

    1. Bruce67 says:

      Not only that, but the Tories showed that, despite the honeyed words and assurances that Scotland was a vital part of the union, they were willing to throw Scotland under a bus to get themselves re-elected. The nasty racism of their campaign, demonising Scots, was a disgrace and has contributed hugely to the independence movement.

  6. anon says:

    absolutely; they must realise surely? the harder you push the greater the resistance plus loads more. the refined (enfeebled/ weak) parts of the English establishment at the same time both readily acknowledge the toughness and resolve of the Scots that has made them world beaters, but then immediately forgets it and tries to basically oppress them, with predictable consequences. .

  7. Leonard Holsgrove says:

    Hit on head. Shame the English Political Establishment can’t get their heeds around it.

  8. Simonen says:

    This was a great post. I have to say that this written piece encapsulates almost perfectly the sentiments I have experienced in Scotland, mostly in Glasgow. I’m a foreign student (a Finn) who has studied in Glasgow for 3 years. I did not know much about history of British politics until recently, following the referendum, and this almost intentional ignorance of the major players astonished me during the campaigning process, as even I, a complete outsider for the system, saw where the rhetoric of the unionist parties led.

    The weird demonisation of SNP, portraying them solely as a party attempting to break the union (which for many in SNP would be a desired outcome, but not the goal now it seemed), and generally ignoring their stance, which leans more towards the left compared to rest of the bigger players, as a possible reason for the rise seems borderline delusional. To me it seemed obvious that the more ‘leftist’ stance of the party was the main reason for the surge of SNP, given that it has been the ‘Labour heartland’ especially prior to new Labour, and general distaste for Tory politics also suggests that.

    All in all I’m just surprised that people did not see this coming, since being in Glasgow and following the general trends seemed to indicate a really good result for SNP, if not quite as tremendous one.

    p.s. I also hope that UK will switch the election system into Proportional Representation systems, this FPTP system just seems so out of date when it comes to getting a government that represents the country’s population.

    1. Eric says:

      Correct. The SNP and their view of the world is dramatically over-represented. Given that the SNP got 4.7% of the vote, they should have 30 seats not 56.

      Perhaps the SNP represents the Far Left. Perhaps Scotland is dominated by the Far Left. However, the Far Left represents less than 1 in every 20 voters.

      I think the English “get it”. Given the concentration of Far Lefties in Scotland, they want to give Scotland tax and spend powers so that they can demonstrate themselves that tax and spend does not work.

  9. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    The “English” will not get it until 3 things happen

    !) the Printed Press is operated out of London with a London centric view. Until there is a balanced Scottish owned Press that view will continue to be the prevailing perspective, north and south of Berwick.

    2) The three Unionists parties Lab Con and Libdem are in no way Scottish parties. They are local accounting units and are unable to offer and intellectual input to policy and strategic planning. Why does that affect the perception of the English? Simply because it allows the Printed Press and the BBC to demonise the SNP as an anti English aberrant party set on apocalypse now. They don’t understand the SNP’s position and policies because they are minorised and represented to be the ravings of Braveheart loonies. The BBC report what the London press says as fact.

    3) Control over broadcasting was reserved for Westminster and not devolved when Holyrood was set up. In particular the News and Current Affairs of BBC Scotland is infested and controlled by Labour apparatchiks. The marital and social intermingling between Labour and BBC Scot News is incestuous. BBC London allowed this to happen as it suited their agenda. Control of broadcasting needs to be devolved to Holyrood, under public scrutiny.

    1. squashy861 says:
  10. Henry bruce says:

    Ah the insightful and intelligent Alex Thomson is back! Now why don’t you lay bare to England the extent of Murphy’s desperation and deceipt during the campaign? The shame of using celebrities to promote staged “trouble”

  11. Peter Shaw says:

    Hmmmmm. Alex, I believe you’re quite right that most English politicians have shown inadequate signs of studying the SNP, understanding/respecting/admiring how it works (in both senses), what makes it tick, what it is about: never mind its weak points in ideology and economics despite its massive strength on the ground.

    But though you – thankfully – have gone and looked and asked first-hand about the SNP and other (more ailing!) parties in Scotland, I’m not sure if you have drilled down to all that great a depth either! :D

    Perhaps I have misunderstood: and you are saying not so much that the SNP is actually “left” or “progressive” (< a conventional term for "broad left"!) , than that the party is perceived as such by its supporters and potential voters. Which is of course enough for current electoral purposes.

    However, your account seems to accept the partuy's self-labelling essentially at face value.

    But though a label of "left"/"progressive" may seem, well, progress? over a habit of repeating the other tag ("nationalist") and thereby thinking you've somehow summed up the SNP – let alone understood the party, its methods, its great appeal – let alone started to address it, if you think a practical response is important! – I'm really not sure it's nearly as simple as that either.

    For a start, Alex Bell, who should know, offered the opinion during the Indy Ref that the key problem of the SNP leadership was that "it talks left, acts right".

    That in itself is already a more critical insight, I think, than any one-term reductionist tag. Both "nationalist" and "progressive"/"left-wing" seem superficial, the one glibly dismissive, the other, uncritically trusting of the "progressive" (or left-wing) self-reporting.

    The following account is rather more analytical. The fact it takes a hostile overall view by no means invalidates some of its insights, I think: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/04/if-you-think-snp-are-left-wing-force-think-again

    More damning in some ways is an informed first -hand view. You might dismiss it as prejudiced – except that it appears to be based on long previous experience: http://www.scotlandinunion.co.uk/dear_alex_an_open_letter_to_the_former_first_minister_from_an_old_schoolmate

    As for your opposing view, that the English are entirely different from the Scots in shunning left-wing alternatives: well, if that is an explanation of the outcome in England, I think that may be a bit reductionist too. Miliband attempted – too slowly, and one might argue in too half-baked a manner (against some resistance?) to move gingerly away from Blair's New Labour towards "socialist values" and some more daring policies. There are a number of reasons, some notorious, why this failed: not least the influence of vested money, Crosby, vested money, and such media paragons as Dacre and Murdoch: who (after an endless conveyor belt of neck-and-neck polls) appear to have had a key swinging influence in the very last 24 hours . The Tories' disingenuous, hammered pretext of the "protection of stability/the UK/(even) "sanity" (!) " to stir up fears of a close Labour-SNP alliance of some sort is also reported to have had a key deterrent impact against Labour in England.

    I would not however mainly put it down to a whole-country revulsion against progressive policies, or some sort of (un)naturally hidebound vice of Toryism afflicting the English as a race .

    If you mean a less Blairised organisation than Labour, thus an unambiguously "progressive" / *left-wing* alternative (which some would say the SNP represents, but perhaps not unproblematically – see above!), then I am not sure the split-riven SSR is much of a success story than the splintered left groups south of the border. And as for the Greens, they may perhaps be cursed to be a sort of Neues Forum in England and Scotland alike: Groundbreakers, but then to a large extent marginalised by more success-focussed, professionally ruthless and better-funded machines.

    1. Eric says:

      Excellent post. Well reasoned. Well researched. Well evidenced. Shame that the original article has none of those characteristics.

  12. Lisa says:

    Act one point labour had got a lot more votes then anyone but yet labour got dropes down all this is a cone labour shud have wone this not conservtys

    1. Bruce67 says:

      Couldn’t have put it better myself!!!!

  13. anne buckland says:

    An incisive piece -he and Mason the only writers from down south who get it.
    The dinosaurs of Labour who offer same old, same old and nothing but more of the same..we’re off! All I’ve read from southern newspapers is racism and misogyny – frightening..is anyne is scary its the little englander electorate.

    1. muttley79 says:

      John Harris, George Monibot, Seamus Milne, Deborah Orr, and several other Guardian journalists are good as well. I agree with you that Paul Mason and Alex Thomson are also good.

  14. Diane says:

    always good to read your posts. Respect to you and channel 4

  15. a m kerr says:

    just one thing to say is “HOPE OVER FEAR”

  16. Andy Nimmo says:

    Thank you Alex. You’ve redeemed yourself in my eyes at least.
    To me, three things became clear during this mornings entertainment
    1. Watching the display of candidates standing on the stage at Boris Johnson’s anointment. Ten or so non entities dressed in all sorts of weird and wonderful outfits. To an outsider, it must have been so difficult to distinguish between the Monster Raving Loony Candidate and the Monster Raving Loony controlling billions of London Tax Payers money
    2.Labour voters in Dumfries and Galloway tactically voting for the Tory Candidate to keep the SNP out. Even though the SNP cabdidate – Emma Harper was an NHS Staff Nurse.
    3. Ruth Davidson tweeting about non existent trouble and having her tweet blindly reported by the compliant media.
    Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland meets Wizard of Oz life in our United Kingdom.

  17. alistair m kerr says:

    just like to say your reporting has been great and non bias but for the riot/jim/izze set up I have seen all the footage off the event and say labour were the more aggressive but that’s all ther than that it was great

  18. drew mcadam says:

    Spot on. VERY well written piece.

  19. Oliver S says:

    Stop the Barnett formula transfer of cash to Scotland as soon as possible , divi up the National debt and allow the Scots FULL fiscal independence. That means being an independent country within the UK. Its what they want.
    They can fund welfare benefits from higher taxes – its a choice.

    The major red line issue in all that as far as I can see is where to park Trident .
    The SNP were utterly contemptuous of the Tories and openly offered to support Milliband to keep them out. They lost that chance perhaps because they failed to show the maturity to even consider trying to reach a decent solution WITH the Tories.

    So its not going to be easy.

    1. AdamZapel says:

      Always astounded by English ignorance on this subject. You think the UK is 4 tax regions when it comes to the B.f. What you don’t know is 1) Scots pay into the pot which the Barnett comes out of at a higher rate than what English people pay, and 2) There is 12 tax paying regions of the UK, not 4. Scots are behind London and the south east in terms of contributions per head to the Treasury and no one else, so there’s 9 regions and 7 of them in England that contribute less per head, but are there English regions who while contributing less per head receive more on the Barnett than Scots? Yes! The north west region of the country receives nearly £11,000 per capita. Yorkshire – £11,300. The North East – £11,200 per capita. But when you include the massive contribution from London – 25% of all revenue raised – the “average” drops to the figure alleged. Rather like 9 departments in a company making massive losses and one making profits that overwhelm those losses – and creative accounting showing an overall “profit”. Incidentally – the Barnett Formula provides £27 billion to Scotland. £5,000 per capita. The rest of the alleged figures include State Pensions and Scotland’s “share” of the National Debt. And a further £3 billion on Defence. I’ll put good money on it those figures aren’t included in any calculation for the English regions.

      1. Diane says:

        Thank you Adam, at last someone with the knowledge and clarity to tell it how it is.

    2. muttley79 says:

      The Barnett formula is going to start being phased out anyway (see the Smith Commission).

  20. Sylvia Merrett says:

    It isn’t all of the English who don’t understand. It is the Establishment who don’t want to listen and those that benefit from it.

    For those of us who wanted what Scotland wants our only alternative was to vote Green. Well done for getting the Establishment out of Scotland. Please Nicola Sturgeon help those of us now who will now continue to suffer as a result of the austerity cuts and have no hope of devolution, at least in the foreseeable future, in the North. Thanks.

  21. Jimmy Pearce says:

    interesting piece. I dont think manipulation toward another referendum should work though. We can’t have another one or if we do the whole of Britain should vote.

    1. Angry Weegie says:

      Just like the whole of Europe should vote on the UK in/out referendum?

  22. Colin Kerr says:

    Yes. But I have been boring my partner here in north London with just that question for the last couple of week’s, since English Nationism hit the big time – the nationalism that dare not speak its name. But hang on a bit the entire media ‘conspired’ to preclude discussion of ANY policy. how much pressure was put on the conservatives to spell out 12 million welfare cuts? Effectively none. Re Trident – funny that the entire Scots nation are content to dump it but the English nation is supposed to love it. The question about whether we do love it was never put. I think that most Labour Party members would be prepared to get rid of it. what is it for? Can you ever imagine it being a solution to anything unless you think in terms of national self destruction?

  23. Craig Fisher says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the article, and in my opinion, part of the problem is a lot of the Westminster politicians cannot accept what they hear on face value, they are so used to using spin or clever word play that when someone tells it simply how it is, they miss what is being said because they are too busy trying to work out what was meant by what was said.

  24. Jimbo says:

    You forgot to mention the fact that leading up to the referendum Labour was happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories, to be the Tory’s voice in Scotland and campaign strongly on their behalf. They lied to us, insulted us, demeaned us, demonised us and vilified us. They embarked on a propaganda campaign against us akin to that used in 1930s Germany against the Jews. The called us cockroaches, a virus, Nazis, separatist scum. They conflated damage to Scotland with damage to the SNP. Whenever any bad news surfaced re Scotland, there was always the Labour Party waiting to gloat and punch the air with glee at Scotland’s/SNP’s predicament. But it wasn’t Scotland’s or the SNP’s predicament. People were noticing – it was a predicament for Scotland’s people and these Labour creatures were gloating.

    After it was all over, Labour stupidly thought it would be back to business as usual. They actually thought that Scotland’s people would meekly return to the Labour fold and go out in their droves to vote for them. They couldn’t grasp that not all independence supporters were nationalists – that the majority of the 45% YES voters were just ordinary citizens with no affiliations to any political party. Too late – Labour had insulted their integrity and got their backs up. By the time Labour got round to their general election campaign, even NO voters had become so sickened by their lies and disgusted by the way they had conducted themselves during the referendum that they turned against them. Labour’s defeat wasn’t all just down to the SNP offering hope and better policies – Labour showed contempt for the Scottish electorate, took them for granted one time too many and reaped what they sowed.

    1. Doug says:

      Well said jimbo ….. In the ref debate labour taking the Scots people for granted moved to another level

    2. andynh says:

      Your comparison to the nazis propaganda on the Jews is In poor taste and way out of order.

  25. Tom LVSS Tomney (@tomtomtalks1) says:

    The difference between between the SNP and Westminster’s Political Elite is The SNp engage the People. The Westminster elite ignore the People. In the SNP the People are the driving force for the Westminster Elite it is out dated Victorian Ideology. The divided Kingdom has never been more divided!

  26. Adrian says:

    SNP policy of progression is to get more money from England. Vote to end austerity in Scotland by getting the English to pay. They wobble when offered full fiscal autonomy. In the referendum the Scottish people saw through this.

    They have tried the oil grab, now not worth it and then they tried the balance of power gambit.

    It is like football always take a dive, plenty to win little to loose.

    You are correct that anti-austerity is a brilliant vision. Wonga do it better.

    Please do not confuse what Nicola presents to the UK with the views of her supporters and party.

  27. laurence says:

    Another excellent summary Alex.
    Eyes ,& minds, need to open to what happened up here. The extent of the lies told by the union parties during the independence referendum has come back to bite them on their well cushioned posteriors. If they choose to ignore again, they may well end up losing more than their fat deposits!
    The future of their all too overstated union, could be under threat all too soon.

  28. Doug Snel says:

    The most perceptive comment I’ve seen from a mainstream UK journalist. Well done Alex.

  29. Dan says:

    Well said Alex. Thursday was not about Independence . It was about showing that we wanted an alternative to the Tory offer. Until recently it has been Tory or Labour. But Labour in Scotland has been only interested in Westminster, using a safe seat to get a big job in the South. The coming back to lecture us on the Union. For a more realistic assessment of whatLabour thinks of Scotland, look at the calibre of what Labour has been putting in front of us at Holyrood. They have taken Scotland totally for granted.

    So on Thursday we got 2 for the price of 1. If Labour delivered in the South, the SNP would see the Tories off. But we also got the chance to give Scottish Labour a reality check, one long over due.

    The Union is still Cameron’s to lose, but if he and Westminster continue to misunderstand what’s going on here, lose it they surely will.

  30. Tim Spencer says:

    Absolutely right. I know labour were trying to capture the centre ground – but perhaps you are right, an anti-austerity message would have had more appeal than “the same, but a bit less tory”.

  31. Jaldeep says:

    Spot on Alex. The other point about that is people didn’t viote for Labour in either England or Scotland because they were not radical enough. Given a choice why would you choose Tory lite when you could have had the real thing?
    The alternative was not to vote at all in England or for the SNP in Scotland.

  32. Helen Dexter says:

    …and when will (most?) journalists stop call the SNP the Scottish Nationalist Party? The rest of the UK is being brainwashed and this inaccurate journalism has a lot to do with it…

    1. Ben bentleY says:

      The only problem with that is that the snp stands for Scottish national party, it’s an acronym, not the reported saying it wrong.

  33. chris says:

    good piece Alex, you are spot on in your assessment of the English (and most of Scotland’s) media on this. Glad to see you’re back on track after your Murphy ‘riot’ stuff.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’ve lived under an SNP government for the last 8 years and have been surrounded by their supporters since the referenfum campaign started 3 years ago. My feeling is it is all about nationalism. They see their opponents as unScottish and don’t respect anyone else at all. They centralise all real power to their government and don’t allow dissent in their party. The leaders speak the language of the left because it’s popular up here but they are an authoritarian party not a left wing one.

  35. rob says:

    First class to the point articulate analysis.

    You have hit the nail on the head when commenting on Milaband and Johnston’s poor weak uninformed responses to the SNP results.

  36. james lachlan says:

    Disappointing to watch and listen to C4 news (yesterday) taking the standard UK media line about the great revolution in Scotland… please be more careful and considerate of the facts, rather than being (inadvertant?) pedlars of Nationalistic misinformation – the SNP took 54% of the votes cast in Scotland not 94% (though this is the percentage of constituencies they won).

    Due to our ‘democratic’ first-past-the-post electoral system, this meant they took 56 seats and thus have the 3rd largest blocks in Westminster. What IT DOES NOT MEAN is that they are the “voice of the Scottish people” (though of course that is, as usual / always how they like to describe themselves AND BE PORTRAYED BY THE MEDIA).

    46% of the electorate up here voted for non-nationalist parties and this is the voice that must not be ignored as we now have virtually no representation at Westminster (by we I mean the millions of Scottish people who do not resent English rule from Westminster or indeed the English themselves and who are not hell bent on achieving independence and who do not have severe chips on the shoulder or inferiority complexes about being a small region of the UK).

    I recognise the fact the SNP played a very shrewd and devious game during this campaign in deliberately steering clear of talking about their true aim of Scottish independence (Salmond has never kept such a low profile in his political career – and this was no accident) but please do not be so naive as to swallow all the Nationalist propaganda – worse still be a vector for its spread! Can you tell me any party (left, right or centre) with nationalism at is core in history that has been a force for good? I certianly cannot think of any and in my view the SNP are no exception.

    The SNP (Sturgeon herself) proclaim the united voice of Scotland has shouted (roared like a lion) a loud and clear message to Westminster that can / must not be ignored… the reality on the ground in Scoltand is that the SNP has successfully and deeply divided Scotland as never before – their Westminster MPs truly only speak for half the population of Scotland. The other half refer to them as the Scottish Natsies!

    1. Natalie Graham says:

      Nelson Mandela leading his Party the African National Congress is generally though to have done a fair bit of good. Gandhi and the indian National Congress achieved quite a lot that was good for the people of India too. There’s plenty of other examples of “National” parties having a positive influence on their countries too if you look for them instead of making the simplistic and erroneous link to Germany’s National Socialist party or the BNP.

    2. Scandinavian says:

      “Can you tell me any party (left, right or centre) with nationalism at is core in history that has been a force for good?”

      The Venstre party of Norway, which campaigned for and achieved independence from Sweden in 1905. By general consent both countries benefited.

      I think the Scots and English are (mostly) as mature.

    3. muttley79 says:

      Unionists/British nationalists calling the SNP Nazis/ fascists is absolutely ridiculous, and a horrible and vile smear. That you think this is funny or acceptable tells me a great deal about your character.

  37. Paul Veverka says:

    Great article. Well written and with intelligent observations.

  38. Christopher Bowen says:

    Clearly, Alex Thomson does get it. The most astute, concise analysis of SNP’s victory I have read so far.

  39. Paul Campbell says:

    It is both refreshing and encouraging to read this. Having anything positive reported over the last 12 months and more in relation to Scotland and it’s politics has been rare, confined to social media as the main ‘press’ bunkered down in an alliance of fear mongering.

    As is now apparent many Scottish voters have gone from supporting Labour to SNP. This has, and still is, been seen as a “tsunami” of nationalism by some and an act of punishment towards Labour by, well by Labour – still unable to take on board their failings.

    As someone who had always voted Labour the referendum changed that. Initially I, like many others, had never considered the notion of Independence, it was something that we would never see. As time moved on and into 2014 I started to look deeper and listen to the counter arguments, the more I heard the more I listened. It became clear that Westminster and how it conducted itself wasn’t right. This seemed to gel people and more and more started to back a Yes vote.

    As this momentum gathered the conventional media was then tasked with halting this progress. It was no surprise that the right-wing press would go on the attack and spin any story they could in a negative way towards the Yes camp. To begin with this didn’t work so other papers, TV and Radio followed. Every national newspaper didn’t support Independence, and made it clear with biased reporting. Although the Sunday Herald did eventually declare its’ support, to me it was an empty gesture as the main paper The Herald didn’t.

    There were countless incidents that were simply mis-reported or in some cases out right lies. For me one stood out amongst the rest, Jim Murphy having some eggs thrown at him. Not only did this hand the media vultures a feast of headlines that would give them the opportunity to use every negative cliche in the book, it elevated Murphy as a Better Together martyr. Till that moment, which turned out to be some guy passing by who just didn’t like Murphy, the Labour MP was going round Scotland’s towns and cities swigging Irn Bru to crowds that averaged 20/30. Most were either passers by curious to see what the fuss was about or Yes supporters wanting to witness his lies, shouted down by the so called Red working class hero.

    Fast forward to last week and Murphy, now given the task of bringing the Scots back into line by head office, was at it again. Calling in Eddie Izzard who chose to wear a skirt, high heels and lipstick – not the choice most would adopt when canvassing the streets of Glasgow in chilly weather – Murphy’s crew had tweeted his whereabouts in advance. Knowing this would bring out some anti-Red Tory protesters his plan seemed to fall into place. A confrontation ensued with a handful of Anti-austerity “activists”, who would most likely be voting SNP, and the media on mass went into overdrive. Murphy was under attack again from the “Nats” and Izzard and co were left “shaken”.

    This gave the media who was of course present; press, radio and TV some great stories. Democracy was being called into question by the “Nationalists” and it simply wasn’t British. How could Jim’s right to stand on the street with a pre-selected audience and a public address speaker, be drowned out by the public exercising their right to free speech. What Jim and his media chums had forgotten was that people were watching his every move. When alternative pictures emerged (and tweets like Alex’s) showing that this was nothing more than a minor, democratic altercation. The media soon moved on, content that some damage had been done towards the SNP and Murphy’s career was still on track.

    What now appears to have happened, judging by the overwhelming rejection of Murhpy and his fellow branch members, is that the Scottish electorate are not taken in by the media untruths. As for Labour they now seem to be in an internal battle trying to get to grips with what went wrong. It could take some time for them to come to terms with their loses in Scotland but as long as they back Jim Murphy as Branch Manager they will never hold any influence over Scottish politics again.

  40. Chris Dalziel says:

    Great Article mate. The Scots have spoken and this next year, we will be watching. Westminster had better take this seriously.

  41. Sean Swan says:
  42. Charles Patrick O'Brien Lvss says:

    When will the Westminster Establishment Party realise we have found you out,Labour,Conservative and the Lib-Dems,are the one party.We know that the country is about the people NOT about the “books”,the books don’t eat nor need shelter people do,the books don’t need medicine the people do,and anybody can think of more things that people need and books don’t.When the first Labour politician took up a seat in the hose of lords thats when the Labour party joined the Establishment Party.

  43. Richard Livermore says:

    Absolutely right except for one thing. When you say “In England they do not.” isn’t a case of “Our dog doesn’t eat meat because we don’t give it any”? They had a choice between Tory and Tory-lite. There were no real alternatives.

  44. James Walsh says:

    Westminster has ignored Scotland for the last time, in the 28 years I’ve been voting, only once has Scotland got the government we voted for, even then with Scottish MP’s as prime minister of chancellor they still ignored us. That won’t happen again.
    With Thursdays results, labour supporters are trying to blame us SNP supporters for labour failing, even though the numbers still wouldn’t add up. UKIP saying they got more votes than SNP, maybe that’s because there’s alot more people in those areas which equals more votes, why can’t some people see the simple answers to these question. To think, these people could’ve been running this country.

  45. Gordon Alexander says:

    Fiscal autonomy is but a step away and necessary to ensure Scotland is not subjected to vagaries of a right wing Tory majority in Westminster!

  46. George MacDonald says:

    “Somehow Edinburgh/Glasgow is going to have to find more effective ways of getting its vision across.”
    Scotland does not consist merely of these two cities. Are we to replace London-centric with Central Belt-centric now?

  47. Stuirteag says:

    I find it distressing that both Nick Clegg and Milliband have put the SNP gains down to “nationalism”. It is a lazy argument and betrays a lack of understanding and insight into their own mistakes. I agree that what really happened is that a majority of voters in Scotland has looked around for progressive values and found only the SNP standing left of centre now. I would include myself in that! Voters in Scotland should have spotted this a while back, but then there was the old loyalty to labour. During the referendum campaign voters have seen and heard the SNP’s vision for what makes a good government (at whatever level) and they prefer this to Labour’s vision. We have also been able to scrutinize the SNP as it governed Scotland for 8 years. That is another thing that the pundits and politicians South of the border like to ignore. The SNP are the elected government in Holyrood and that is not because of their commitment to independence, that is because Scottish voters like their ideas on day-to-day politics better than those of the opposition. They governed first as a minority and now with a narrow margin. Within Scotland, I think plurality and compromise in politics is valued by the voters.
    The Libdems must have seen their demise in Scotland coming from the moment they went into coalition in 2010. I am convinced that on that day, someone (possibly Mr Campbell or Mr Kennedy, who know about these things) must have said to Nick Clegg “Do you realise that if you allow the Tories to govern, we will loose Scotland’s support for the foreseeable?” Nick Clegg must have thought that was a price worth paying. Nothing to do with nationalism, everything to do with the aversion of voters in Scotland to the Conservatives. The Libdems lost their Scottish seats because they are tainted by association.
    I think Labour have a much harder task: Scotland has deserted because Labour is not “left” enough anymore for voters here and England has deserted because Labour is not conservative enough for voters there. Very difficult for them to find a way through – much easier to blame it all on “nationalism” and make out the SNP is a one-issue party of angry people rather than what is really is i.e. the only option for progressive people of a social democrat disposition (a dirty word, I understand, South of the border) and a party with a respectable track record in government in Holyrood (prescription charges, care for the elderly, tuition fees).
    English voters and media should not think for a moment that the SNP are running some sort of one-party dictatorship up North. I have no doubt that the next Holyrood election will return the good mix of parties and voices (partly thanks to proportional representation) that we are used to up here.

  48. gerry mcfarlane says:

    NHS first, an end to zero hour contracts, Free education then anything else before Trident. That’s what I voted for.

  49. Robert says:

    Your article makes a reasonable point, but Scotland is much more than “Edinburgh/Glasgow”, unfortunately that belittles your good intentions.

  50. Kevin Waddington says:

    Here’s a thought. If SNP are representing themselves as a British party and not just a ‘Scottish’ National Party then everyone in the UK could vote them into government. Currently they are nationalistic as their name infers hence the response from the media and other British parties.

  51. Ian says:

    What I can’t understand is why the SNP whitewash was such a surprise to the Westminster Elite. The majority of the population in Scotland has and most likely will always will be socialist in outlook, it’s the Scottish nature by default. In my opinion the move towards SNP was inevitable. The LibDems nailed their colours to the mast when going into coalition with the Tories, guilty by association. When Labour quite clearly moved to the right Scotland said no. The only clear Socialist alternative was the SNP and true to form Scotland went left. It’ should not have been a surprise and is not a seismic move towards Nationalism but rather a statement of Socialistic tendencies. England on the other hand, fundamentally driven by the powerhouse of London and its msm to sit on the right. This is no different that the state of play for the last 30 odd years. This in my view is the fundamental flaw in the current Union, two countries who for the majority have diametrically opposed views on how to run their countries.

  52. Hugh says:

    Thanks, good article, spot on about how the English political leaders don’t get it. It is however also true of most UK media and, more shamefully, Jim Murphy and the Edinburgh paper called The Scotsman.

    btw how can you have dodgy w’s in a digital piece?

  53. Alan Scott says:

    Have our esteemed commentators looked at the numbers – less than 1/3rd of adults in Scotland voted for SNP – just over 1/3rd of electorate (register voters) voted for SNP.

    The same proportions voted otherwise, so assume this was against the SNP.

    If we assume ( be careful for most assumptions prove to be wrong) that most SNP voters would vote for independence and most others would vote against independence then the country is pretty evenly split – 1/3rd for future independence, 1/3rd against independence and 1/3rd don’t know or don’t care.

    So it would seem to be a reasonable conclusion that while SNP have made massive gains for Westminster, as far as independence is concerned any gains are much more modest.

    Indeed given 20/20 vision in hindsight – SNP seem to have managed to convert the 45% referendum voters to vote SNP. Also they wore labour’s clothes and probably managed to keep labour voters who voted yes and maybe some who voted no.

    Therefore it seems reasonable to assume the 55% no voters would be divided between the other parties with some transferring their vote to Labour coloured SNP. Given this together with the first past the post system it should have been no surprise they made massive gains.

    Only time will tell but new SNP supporters should be careful for what they wish for and just maybe the emperor or in this case the empress has no clothes on.

    So it may be that SNP will play down the independence agenda and play up the anti austerity charade for a few months to lull us into a sense of false security waiting for their chance to blame Westminster betrayal as the catalyst for a referendum proposal.

    However securing the independence vote may be much more problematic than their recent success. The SNP may have occupied the centre left ground but does this translate directly into independence – maybe not yet. But you can bet all SNP efforts will be applied to this outcome whether by direct or indirect means. The centre left is really their pathway to independence which they will readily change if there is a more direct way or opportunity presents itself.

    This is not an environment that I want to live in for the next few years but that is what we will have to live with. Maybe I am what the SNP abhors – a Scotsman who is proud to call myself British

  54. Lynda Williamson says:

    I am one who is in favour of an independent Scotland, but I don’t want an independent Scotland so that I can paint my face blue and scream freeeeedom, I want an independent Scotland so that we can implement, unhindered, the progressive policies that Alex describes above.

  55. John McQuaige says:

    Nicola is a brilliant political operator but her grammar lets her down. In Yahoonews article she is reported as saying “there is no disagreement between Alec and I”. Should be between
    “Alec and me”.

  56. Amos says:

    Why should the English be concerned about the rise of SNP? Or more pertinently perhaps why should the centre right establishment do anything other than welcome their rise? Scotland has voted left for decades. It has for decades had a disproportionate influence on Westminster with Labour administrations more often than not dominated by Scots. Now Scottish influence is limited by a split in Socialist opposition which ensures that left wing politics in Scotland will have to battle against itself at the next election as well as contesting for its now more limited influence in Westminster. Some English politicians have understood SNP and Scotland very well and they are now wearing very big smiles indeed.

  57. ldopas says:

    Wow. Some of the replies are quite disgraceful to this pretty useless argument. One poster says the people who voted for the Tories were “rich and the disgraceful”, I would put it it is you who is disgraceful for posing that, that is not the language of the intelligent.

    To say most English people don’t get what the Scots want is disingenuous, as it is quite the opposite actually. We know they want to return to old style tax and spend, and we in England do not.

    Perhaps instead of being rude about the English, you should pose the opposite question; do the Scots get the English. As millions more voted for the Tories in England, that voted SNP.

    I note comments about “elites” and everyone outside the M25 are not Tory, but that is clearly garbage. A simple look to the election map shows you the Tories own most of England, certainly you can drive from the tip of Cornwall for the Scottish border and go through total Tory countries.

    I find we talk nothing else but the Scots. So let us talk England. England does want socialism, they spoke last week. Sorry if that upset you lefties, but perhaps moving might make you feel better. A week ago the BBC announced a survey that 72% of those polled were in favour of more cuts. So the agenda is England’s.

    There is only one solution and we all know what it it. England and Scotland must go their separate ways. Tension and hate will only build up (just read some of the comments here for example). Let the Scots put their socialist dream in please (and good luck with that) and let the English get on with being the fastest performing Economy in the western world (look at IMF figures).

  58. John Thornton says:

    Alex, your article is headed “When will English politicians understand Scotland and the SNP?”. However that is only half of a two-headed question. The other half is “Why do half of Scottish voters apparently not understand Scotland and the SNP?”.

    The Nationist ‘landslide’ was in fact roughly the same result as the Referendum. When the non-voters are applied, roughly 38% voted Yes, while in this elecxtion roughly the same voted SNP. However on this occasion the SNP benefited massively from the first past-the-post system. Under PR they woud have achieved roughly 22 seats. Now this is not any kind of excuse since the voting system cuts both ways — allowing the Tories a clear majority. Our arguments have to be consistent.

    My main point here is that the SNP, despite the ‘noisy neighbours’ factor, do not speak for the majority of Scotland. As a Scotsman myself, living in Scotland, I know that for a fact. Most Scots do not want either an SNP Scottish government or a wrecking crew at Westminster. They won 53% of the seats at Holyrood in 2011 with 44% of the vote under our skewed PR system. Indeed since the turnout then was 50%, the total electorate supportiing them was some 22%.

    Nor is this post simply my playing around with figures. In my own constituency, had the anti-SNP vote been combined, rather than dissipated along party lines, the ‘pro-Unionist’ vote would have prevented an SNP win.

    Therein lies the problem, for Scotland and for rUK. There is no effective opposition to the SNP. Within it’s own ranks it is, like many other parties, a coalition of views — from extreme ‘loony left’ wing ‘gallous’ automatons to moderate progressive thinkers. But as a coalition they unite under one banner to great effect. Of course they will promote independence for the next 5 years and seek another Referendum. That is their raison d’etre — they will simply call the process something else for a while.

    English people and others need to understand how the ‘other Scots’ (i.e. the majority) feel. Moreover, Con/Lib/Lab etc. Scottish politicians need to get a grip in dealing with the common ‘enemy’. It was simply ridiculous for Jim Murphy et al to argue aganist the SNP by attacking the Tories. Wrong enemy pal — and you left your rearguard wide open.

    They need to concentrate on Scotland from INSIDE Scotland — not have some mythical vision about serving an apprenticeship toward greater things in the big toon — London. I rest my case.

  59. Henry Bruce says:

    One thing that this election and most of the comments posted on here prove is how easily First Past the Post shields the injustice of the system. Much like Thatcher’s victories Cameron’s looks “overwhelming” purely on no of seats but how can any country calling itself a democracy all such insidiously evil governments to impose the policies of hardship on it’s population with less than even 40% of the lecture that voted supporting them? Oh and for those denigrating the SNP there share was 50% of approximately a 71% turnout which actually gives them more of a mandate to represent Scotand than the Tories % gives them to punish the rest of us

  60. Graham says:

    John we obviously move in different circles. I think your arithmetic speaks of wishful thinking – we can only know the intentions of those who actually voted. I think Alex’s and Paul’s perspective, unlike most of the uk media, is spot on. There is some really lazy thinking going on. There is an equating of snp and ukip and characterisaion of them as nationalist movements without any deep thinking about what’s behind their support and their respective contexts. At the risk of being glib Scotland is very relaxed about immigration, England isn’t. This is probably related to divergent levels of immigration and the reaction to that change. Scotland is a country with socislist Scandanavian leanings, England isn’t and appears now to be headed elsewhere namely across the Atlantic with new trade deals. To put it simply it’s political. Alot of scots (but maybe not yourself) have the feeling that politically England is leaving us and is putting the things we hold dearest in jeopardy. Besides all that Murphy is an utter liability to labour. If labour wants to resurrect itself it needs to deal in ideas, not smear and negativity. 

  61. william says:

    The tories have now stumbled upon the formula for winning general elections. Just frighten the English, with “ajockalypse”. Sell the idea of labour in the back pocket of the SNP; hey presto, election victory! The old “divide and conquer”; the “modus operandi” of the conservative and unionist party! This will ironically see the break up of the union within the next ten years. The tories cannot give up on power; and at the next election, the Scots will see this. What’s the point of having a union when your voice, and your policies, have no chance of being heard/enacted?

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