9 May 2015

Nicola Sturgeon: my 56 MPs will fight to end austerity

Corny as hell, contrived, cheesy – yes, all of the above. And yet when you actually get up close to the Forth railway bridge, all that drains away.

The SNP machine is nothing if not slick. Hi-vizzers out early doing the parking (and letting us sneak in into the double yellow by that posh Jag – thanks).

Bacon butty and square sausage man was there with coffee and tea – all free.

The stage, thought out: wide area for the 56, the forward areas for Nicola Sturgeon – even miniature Jagger-esque platforms for extended selfie work should Nicola Queen of Scots want to get nearer the crowd.

And along the road they came with mates and rellies, a Salmond among them hi-fiving toddlers on front of our camera then joking to me: “There’ll be a few surprises in Westminster.”

Presumably he will make sure the Queen of Scots gets a pre-briefing and Alex doesn’t go all off-piste down in Westminster. There is an energetic MSM waiting to have a feeding-frenzy over all that.

Assembled onstage, 54 of the 56, two on islands and unable to make it I was told.

Nicola Sturgeon repeated that countering austerity was “the number one” party priority. No, London -“independence” and “referendum” were not mentioned in her speech that I can recall.

Then babies were picked up, there was waving and thumbs up from every conceivable angle for the photographers – even the rain held off.

Mhairi Black, at 20, the youngest parliamentarian in centuries, as many of them head to London soon for their Monday morning induction process.

“I’m studying politics so that’s quite relevant,” she tells me. “Who’s teaching who?” I ask her.

Rather more seriously, she has no doubts about the expectations raised for the SNP by their über-landslide and for her. In politics nearly all careers end in crash-and-burn, of course.

But for now, below the Forth railway bridge, just for a moment it was all about symbolism in front of the ultimate monument to trustworthiness, service and durability.

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41 reader comments

  1. Leonard Scott says:

    As an SNP member we will finally have our voices heard at Westminster. Scottish people do not listen to the media spin. Shame that the English voters do not.

    1. Ian says:

      As a native born scot I was appalled at the profligously of public sector expenditure when I worked in Scotland recently. Colleagues below demonstrate the inequality of the Barnet funding model. It is now time to end it. Also, Can someone please explain to me how dear Nichola can command a presence in Westminster when she is not an elected MP?

    2. Oliver S says:

      English voters did listen. That’s how Cameron got his majority. I hope he gives Scotland what they want- FULL fiscal independence after carving up the national debt including Pension liabilities,

      No reason whatsoever why Scotland cannot be like an Australia or Canada- Queen as Head of State but their own currency and own taxes .
      This can be phase one of handing over the independence that is clearly sought . No reason why the South East of England should carry on funding Scotland to excess.
      The idea that e.g. a Mhairi Black can help run the country in place of a Douglas Alexander makes me want the Scots to have full independence ASAP

    3. Adrian says:

      You do not speak for the Scottish people. You barely speak for the people of Scotland.

  2. James Alton says:

    The SNP will be a disaster for the UK if the government handles things carelessly. They will wring as much out of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland as they can, and be looked upon favourably by the Scots if they succeed in getting more than their fair share. They’ve got nothing to lose. These people are separatists who have a scent of influence beyond the size of the economic contribution that the people themselves make to the UK. It is to their advantage that they harp on about making Scotland strong, but what they don’t say is that this will, to all intents and purposes, only advantage the people of Scotland – to hell with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Of course the SNP wouldn’t put it in those terms, but why would the SNP do anything that doesn’t promote their goal of independence, one of them being to keep in power? The UK government has to look after the welfare of the whole of the UK – the SNP has only to look after the welfare of Scotland.

    The SNP are more dangerous to the harmony of the UK than Sinn Fein, and some of their supporters are clearly fanatical, and fanaticism can lead to dangerous behaviour.

    But where are the 55% of Scots who voted against separatism last year? Have they been confounded by the voting system? Probably so, in the same way that UKIP has been confounded in this election.. The current voting system might have been tolerable when there was only two credible parties, but now, with at least 3 other credible parties (SNP, LD, and UKIP) the voting system clearly disadvantages the voting intentions of a significant proportion of the population such that their opinions are ignored. It’s time to change the voting system in an attempt to give a significant proportion of the population some voice in parliament, and to, perhaps, deprive separatists of influence they haven’t earned.

    1. sam says:

      Earned what haven’t they earned 56 seats out of 59 available where was the 55% who voted in the refewrendum somehow they Disappeared.

      1. joyce harkin says:

        Sam – I am one of the 55% – We are voting SNP in droves because Labour in Scotland does nothing but take their voters for granted. We were NOT voting for Independence (been there, done that) as Nicola Sturgeon has said repeatedly. It is the other parties who keep bringing that up in order to scare the children. We want the promises made to be kept and we want to live in a fairer, more equitable society – is that so very awful? I’m just sorry the voters in the rest of the UK didn’t have someone better to vote for.

    2. Thomas Arthur says:

      “The UK government has to look after the welfare of the whole of the UK” Aye and pigs will fly.

    3. Val Wells says:

      Em. You know, of course, that PR is in SNP manifesto? And that’s how Scottish elections already work.

    4. Jim says:

      “The SNP are more dangerous to the harmony of the UK than Sinn Fein”

      Goodness me, what a hysterical comment.

      I would suggest the dismissive and hostile attitude of many folk from England is a much bigger danger.

      I wonder if many of these Daily Mail readers have actually been to Scotland. They are rather like those who think every second person in the States wears a cowboy hat and carries a Smith + Wesson.

      By the way, ironically, the vote *against* PR was strongest in many of the areas that UKIP subsequently garnered a high % of the vote on Thursday. Maybe they should have planned ahead, though that would require independent thought, rather than blindly following Paul Dacre’s instructions.

    5. bruce says:


      What have you been smoking?

    6. Mau says:

      To James Alton….. It seems that most people have forgot that although Scotland now has 56 SNP MP’s, they are MP’s of Westminster, UK MP’s….. Remember the UK, the thing that links us all together ???? They were voted in by the people of Scotland at Westminster on to represent Scotland on UK policies…. There seems to be some confusion that has been whiped up by less reputable individuals in England.

      And where you ask are the 55% that voted to stay in the Union….. they have now realsied that the promises and the smiles and handshakes ment nothing. The ‘Better together’ brigade have been seen for what they were, hence the reason that Labout has been deserted in droves by even the longest suporters. The 45% that voted for YES have now been transformed into a figure more like 65%. and the blame for that falls on all the other political parties that again treated the Scottish voters like clueless idiots and insulted them with their bland answers and politics.

      Also, you say the election system disadvantages the voting intention of a significant proportion of the population…… Well we have Proportional Representation in Scotland to elect our Scottish Members of Parliment, which at the last election gave the SNP a majority goverment, so although some try and explain the rise of the SNP as some dark and sculdugious behaviour by the Scotts, we have now elected the SNP to nearly every one of our seats in the UK parliment under the first past the post system, and have a majority in the Scottish Parliment under a PR system…….. Does this mean both systems dont work ??? or does it mean that they have impressed enough of the voteing population to back them with a X.

      Last not least, I find it insulting to compaire the SNP to Sinn Fein. As a proud unionst, and defender of our country, this is taking it too far. The SNP have no links to terriorist organisations, or leaders that were part of these organisations. To say that SNP supporters are clearly fanatical….. yes fanatical about thier country, fanatical about thier future, but if your are sugesting fanatical along the lines of Sinn Fein’s darker suporters….. then please take your ill educated and informed information and put it back in the Robert Murdoch box…….

    7. John Lallyette says:

      Hi James
      Your observations on Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Nationalist Party, are “Spot On”. “You ain’t seen nothing Yet” springs to mind, and I have real fears that exchanges in Westminster Palace will never be the same once these fanatica take their seats, many of them barely comprehensible when it comes to understanding what there rambling on about. It will all be centred almost totally about Scotland and what the Scots want for Scotland.. I dread what’s coming. Parliament will never be the same again. Why didn’t we just let the Scots go their own way, and be done with them. We can use the 50 million quid a day we pump North of the boarder to prop up their economy, to our own advantage.

    8. Alex Waugh says:

      A lot of the 55% voted SNP. You don’t get it, do you. Just as there were Labour supporters who voted Yes there are No voters who, despite not wanting independence, do want a Scottish voice to be heard and the SNP is the best current chance of that. No was not an anti-SNP vote; SNP was only the spearhead and the referendum result was nothing to do with GE. Only the MSM insisted on making it so. The view in Scotland is more one of, “Right, you begged us to stay and we stayed so now we want a seat at the table”. which, in my opinion is not unreasonable. The Union can’t say, “Stay, but we’ll not let you in the house”.

    9. g j says:

      stand up comedy this early in the morning, wow!

      “The SNP are more dangerous to the harmony of the UK than Sinn Fein, and some of their supporters are clearly fanatical, and fanaticism can lead to dangerous behaviour.”

      I though it was just the Labour Party that was out of touch. Get your facts straight

      “But where are the 55% of Scots who voted against separatism last year? Have they been confounded by the voting system? ”

      simple, they have realised they were sold a busted flush and are melting towards the SNP and independence, check the Scots results from the GE, almost a mirror image result is revealed when all pro & anti GE votes are tallied.

      with regards to the voting system, why not complain that the Tories have a working majority on only a third of the vote? Miss that one out eh?

      thought so

    10. Brian C says:

      I can’t see how they can wrangle anything as the Torys have a majority so will be able to pass any legislation they want providing they keep their own party members onside.

    11. Andrew Dundas says:

      There’s only 2000 votes between the SNP’s and the unionist’s votes. And 600,000 fewer voters overall than voted in our referendum. The SNP campaigned on being heard in Westminster – which they will be after the main proponents have already spoken. 1.45 million votes for the SNP is not a big enough mandate to demand anything.
      Please be aware that Scotland needs the UK much more than vice versa. 70% of Scotland’s external trade is with the rest of the UK and only 7% of rUK’s trade goes the other way. Moreover, we have a static and rapidly ageing population that consumes higher pension and NHS costs.
      Scotland should be granted what was proposed by the Smith Commission and asap. The critical work has already been done to implement the current Scotland Act from April next year. That is, to set up a system for allocating basic rate taxes collected from Scots to the Scottish Government. That requires that HMRC will have access to up-to-date information of where people live, not just their PAYE pay office. Which is why it’s taken so long.

  3. Ray says:

    I would love to know who is going to pay for ending Nichola Sturgeon’s austerity. The country is laying on its back in a resuscitation ward. I have heard comments about the South East paying more from Plaid Cymry. The South East may be London’s hinterland, but it is starved of infrastructure investment, it has panoramic vacant factory sites, has badly depressed areas of poverty in Kent and Sussex and has poor services. We here we are all middle class and earning high incomes if it were only true. The local Tory MP’s are wined and dined by the Metropolitan elite and only see their constituency through the window of a train. We feel forgotten with the least spent per head in the country. That is £7300 per head compared with Scotland’s £10,500 per head. Wake up Nichola Sturgeon! Quaint ain’t great!

    1. Andy Nimmo says:

      I’m sorry Ray, I feel for you I honestly do but alas if Westminster wasn’t broken beyond repair the SNP wouldn’t have gathered such a support.
      The Referendum here opened so many eyes that the ‘Powers’ wished they could keep closed.
      The Scottish people said ‘why should the poor pay for the incompetence of the rich’
      ‘why should we not put bairns before bombs’ ‘ why should it be OK for UK to have twice as many millionaire bankers than France and Germany combined.
      The Scottish people realised that austerity was a con.
      .If Labour had shown the guts to pursue the same agenda as the SNP the decent people of England would have had an overwhelmingly popular Government.

    2. V W says:

      “The local Tory MP’s are wined and dined by the Metropolitan elite ”
      I think you might have answered your own question here!

    3. Robert Peffers says:

      That, Ray, is utter claptrap. In the first place the UK is a very rich Nation, (it is NOT a Country). There has recently been published a, “Rich List”, that shows the rich, (supposedly all it this together with the poor), have more than doubled their wealth. So just where did the extra wealth come from?

      There is nowhere else than from the poor. The reason is that both Tory and Labour Governments have been changing the main taxation from direct, (on income and wealth), to indirect, (on Goods and services). Thus shifting the main burden of taxation from the rich to the poor.

      Their laughable claim being that the wealth at the top will, “Trickle Down”. It won’t, especially in a recession, for the rich have massive disposable income, (the sum left after paying tax, NI, etc). The poorest have no disposable income but, by indirect taxation, (for example VAT, Road Fuel Duty, etc.), are paying most tax.

      What the rich do with their surplus is to either buy things like gold or property because interest rates are lower than the loss by inflation. So investment drops and continues the depressed economy.

      The trickle down idea doesn’t work. However, if instead of cutting back on benefits they increase them then the starving poor will spend in order to just heat, eat and cloth themselves. This will increase the retail sector which will expand and employ people. The retail sector expansion will boost the Wholesale sector who will also expand with an obvious need for goods which will knock on to the manufacturing sector and they too will take on workers and, if there was a living wage, instead of zero hours and minimum wages, the extra at the bottom will feed upwards but instead of going directly to those on the rich list will go via the Middle classes who will add to the expansion.

      The lesson is that the Tory and Labour parties have lost the place with economics that went downhill with the Thatcher era and her neoliberal pals in the USA.

      1. george sutherland says:

        Excellent comment other than to claim that UK is a nation. Scotland is a nation. Wales may claim to be a nation. I am sure that England would claim to be a nation.

      2. Andrew Dundas says:

        George, your observation fascinates me! How can any country identity – one that is a combination of widely different communities – not be described as a ‘nation’?
        The USA is a nation yet encompasses a very wide range of States and diverse peoples who acknowledge themselves as Americans as well as citizens of their State. Regardless of the language they use within their communities – quite diverse – and their ethnic origins,
        a nation must be the regular inhabitants of a discreet legal entity. Which would fit both the Scottish and UK polity. And that of the Germany, Russian Federation, the Republic of China, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada and lots of others. Surely those widely dispersed publics who’re legally passport eligible are also nationals of those countries? Moreover, aren’t our DNAs common to a wide range of people?
        With more and more peoples coming together and sharing common policies, it seems to me rather odd to separate those conglomerations of peoples into separate nations. Why should we define the peoples of our closely-knit island in any other way?

    4. Joan Edington says:

      Maybe some parts of the south east are as you say but as a whole they are not starved of cash. HS2, London flood defences (what about giving Somerset some of that), Olympics; the list is endless. All partly paid for by taxpayers in the other regions that gain no benefit for them.

  4. MickDiver says:

    about time Scotland should have it’s own SUP… Scottish Unionist Party to represent all those Scotts who want the Union. All those Rangers fans, All those Protestants. All those who believe it is better together. SNP does NOT represent all of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland should also have it’s own say.

  5. Mike Harland says:

    I continue to be baffled by this new and continued lack of balance in reporting by you on Scotland.

    Why say these things about Nicola Sturgeon when you failed to see the set-up pre-election media stunts of Jim Murphy and report on them without bias?

    You even stoop to deriding a very honest and forthright young woman and then use the same technique of using a secondary throw-away paragraph to seemingly lessen your implication of youthful naivety by hinting at her inevitable ‘crash-and-burn’ demise- charming style. I am incredulous.

    No surprise that you are now attracting the ignorant English voices of Scotland haters with such cynicism against a party that won over 50% of the vote.

    Like a lot of surprised English people who voted tactically in droves this time, I previously had voted LibDem to bring back reality to the Blairite Labour party and hobble their excesses. Instead, I got a careerist young thing as my LibCon Westminster MP who: (a) answered my letters with standard evasive ambiguity a month after the issue had already been settled, having followed her unquestioning and unthinking custom of voting subserviently each and every time alongside the Conservative government; and (b) while acting as Women’s Minister managed to lose two of the women in her very own party over her mishandling of the ‘groping’ fiasco (ironic, but not surprising, that there are now no women MPs left in the tattered remains of her party’s MPs).

    So who can blame me, being left with no other choices, for voting for SNP to oust all these undemocratic careerists who are totally out-of-touch with their constituents, with the result that I can now see the results and had an email from my candidate the same day. I now have a mature and experienced ex-journalist, well-known for his in-depth political commentary and down-to-earth investigative journalism, who is genuinely going to represent the whole constituency not just his SNP supporters – and for those who doubt it, how else would he have won in a rich, middle-class constituency that had the largest turn-out at the Scottish referendum and produced the largest NO vote in Scotland?? – they would never have done so if they had doubted Nicola Sturgeon when she said this election had nothing to do with independence, since any new referendum can only be introduced by the will of the Holyrood Parliament elected under proportional representation (and that cannot happen until 2017 possibly now after a UK EU referendum; in fact the latter is the only and most likely factor to trigger any earlier referendum on independence, since the People of Scotland would be against leaving – so Cameron himself would be the cause of any break-up of the Union! – and the SNP is not so stupid as to choose a second referendum without being able to guarantee full success).

    Why malign Sturgeon with petty, cynical reporting on the same publicity jaunts that all parties give to the press pack?

    Please explain Alex – after twenty years of admiration for your professionalism, I can’t believe this continued trend of banality and minutiae that miss the whole reality of Scotland’s newly awoken political awareness.

  6. Ben says:

    The Scots seem determined to be as troublesome as possible, Salmond in particular antagonistic. The Scots want an easy life, to live off the hard work of the rest of the uk. Why oh why couldn’t you have voted for independence? Now we have to put up with 5 years of your complaining and selfish meddling. Good luck Cameron, you’re going to need it. Please do give them as many devolved powers as possible, particularly fiscal, it will be entertaining to watch another socialist experiment go awry.

  7. Mike Harland says:

    Could we please have some balance about the SNP landslide and the idea that First-past-the-post results somehow brought about the success of a minority of voters and denied the majority their say. From what I saw, the majority of results had turnouts of around 70% of the electorate, with average swings to the SNP of 20% and even some of with a record swing of up to 39%. In many cases the SNP polled over 50% of the electorate.

    In my rich, middle-class constituency which had the largest turnout in Scotland at the Referendum and returned the largest NO vote, the sitting LibDem Westminster MP and Minister was ejected quite simply for being out-of-touch with her electorate, voting with the Conservatives at every turn against what we had put her there to do, and in my case taking over a month to reply to any issue I raised with her, when it was already too late to do anything about it.

    A pliable, subservient voice at Westminster where nobody understands civilised coalition does us no good – we need a strong voice.

    Up here, we already have a working system of proportional representation in Holyrood where all parties have a say and get there in the quotas that fully represent the votes cast by the whole electorate. It puts Westminster and PMQs to shame any day you watch it. After nearly two decades of experience, we would hardly be duped by any tactical voting or false promises.

    Accept that the full voice of the People of Scotland has spoken … and don’t underestimate our capacity to see through hype and misunderstandings written by London-based media.

  8. fraise says:

    Calling foul after Scotland played by westminister rules is not productive. Honey catches more bees than vinegar. So lets not join with politicians and be negative to and about each other

    I know there are many parts of the U.K. that are suffering but in fighting only helps one party and they have retained overall power.

  9. Alan says:

    Fight austerity? by supporting EU membership and retaining the debt ridden issuance of currency via the privately owned Bank of England. Not all Scots are fools.

  10. Sharon says:

    Nicola Queen of Scots! I am so proud of you!
    Well done. You’ve got a truly challenging job ahead of you and you are up to it.
    Congrats to you and all your ministers (more than a few ladies too!)

  11. Richard Anderson says:

    Mhairi Black is the youngest MP ever in the United Kingdom.

  12. Tom Burns says:

    On the last day of the old Parliament there were 59 MPs representing Scottish constituncies. On the first day of the new Parliament there will be 59 MPs representing Scottish constituencies. The difference is that this time 56 of them will sit in a huff refusing to talk to the Govt. In these circumstances, it is hard to see how the Tories – with an overall majority – will be influenced in any way. Personally, I think the Govt will include ‘Full Fiscal Autonomy’ in the first Queen’s speech – and challenge the Nats to troop through the lobbies nex to the Tories on the very first vote of the Parliament.

  13. brobb says:

    Hi Ray, I’d like to pick up on two of your points. Here in Scotland there are areas of deprivation, especially in towns and cities which depended on traditional heavy industries. The difference maybe is that we have now a political party determined to stand up to the Metropolitan elite and challenge their warped ideas that reducing the deficit is more important than the lives of ordinary people struggling to get by. Have you no political movement that is prepared to fight for you? The SNP have to balance their budget – much of the funding they receive comes through the Barnett formula doled out after all Scottish taxes go into a central Westminster pot. The Westminster establishment would like to maintain the myth that English taxes subsidise the higher public spending in Scotland, and use smoke and mirrors to hide just how much Scotland actually contributes. This is not just oil revenues eg whisky sales bring in a huge amount with the taxes going to England where the head offices are situated.

    Why do you think the politicians fought so hard to prevent independence? It certainly wasn’t out of love or even respect for the Scottish people but because the loss of any country (India, Ireland etc) threatens their concept of power, entitlement and nationhood and deprives them of much needed revenue. Then during the general election they used the classic tactic of divide and rule to stir up anti-Scottish feeling in England to defeat a weakened Labour campaign so that now English voters have no strong alternative party to back.

    We feel lucky in Scotland – we have a strong alternative political vision and many of us no longer rely on mainstream media for information. We have gained insight into how successive Westminster governments manipulate and deceive people, quoting figures and statistics that are shaped to make their case for austerity. Maybe some of the politicians who lost their jobs in the election might come to the conclusion that a progressive alliance with the SNP could achieve better outcomes for the whole of Britain. Ordinary folk could play their part by looking for alternative sources for news rather than relying on and accepting as truth the misinformation pedalled by the BBC and most of our newspapers. Question the system and support politicians who will argue for the change you want to see, Scotland is neither your enemy or your problem despite James’ earlier comments

  14. mike grieve says:

    That woman is trouble for the UK. A Trojan horse in Westminster. She would do well to watch brave heart and see what we do to her type and her followers.
    Seriously though she is guaranteed to try to break up the UK

  15. Kathleen reid says:

    Why can’t we just accept we are two different nations with very different needs. For the majority of 40 years we have been governed by a government we never voted for.
    How dare you make us out to be some 2nd class citizens that aren’t worthy of a say! Your government in your name begged us to stay and the very next day after the referendum you broke your promises.
    This is the Scots response

  16. FairBobby says:

    Having lived through the 30s 40s and 50s and WW11 I can assure you that the cry of austerity is a falsehood and political ploy to sway the ignorant and extremists. People have never been better off; there are millions living on state hand-outs in better conditions than working men would have consider affluence in years past. So I have no sympathy for the wingers in Scotland; they are getting a lot more than they deserve

  17. BA says:

    Sturgeon and salmond are dangerous. We are seeing state spending being reduced, the deficit being reduced but these people would like to spend, spend, spend. Remember that.?
    They have free prescriptions, free university tuition et al. Let them go off into the big bad world by themselves. Any money they receive from the privvy purse wiil be well spent in England, Wales and NI

  18. joe says:

    Irrespective of which ever party you voted for, there were a lot of talented politicians kicked out of a job in the election. The best candidate for the Labour leadership would have bee
    Douglas Alexander, yet he’s been ousted by a 20 year old. I’m a Scot living in Scotland who voted Labour. Nothing against the SNP but there’s been some dumbing down in Westminster.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      I’m entirely in agreement with you, Joe.
      The SNP blurb is that “we never get the government we voted for”. Which is exactly what they’ve over-achieved this time.
      Not only did their aggression frighten off potential labour supporters down south, but they split the ‘Left’ vote asunder here.
      Recall that George W Bush got elected only because arrogant Ralph Nader entered the race for president in 2000, splitting off ten percent of the Democratic vote. Consequently, an excellent Al Gore was unable to win enough votes. George W Bush got in because the USA “didn’t get what we voted for”.
      For all my fellow Scots who voted SNP, I say: “you voted Cameron back into office!” Be careful what they wish for.

  19. joe says:

    Irrespective of which ever party you voted for, there were a lot of talented politicians kicked out of a job in the election. The best candidate for the Labour leadership would have been Douglas Alexander, yet he’s been ousted by a 20 year old. I’m a Scot living in Scotland who voted Labour. Nothing against the SNP but there’s been some dumbing down in Westminster.

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