Protecting the values we voted for
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has recently been described by numerous political commentators as one of the most gifted politicians of our time, admired by the European mainstream and feared by the fringes. She was also described by Tory peer and polling guru Lord Ashcroft as the political leader that hadn’t put a foot wrong during the election campaign.
On Tuesday in Holyrood Nicola Sturgeon spoke about the recent election which saw a delay in the Westminster budget, saying: “At this point, the UK Government has not confirmed when it will produce its own budget – and with it the block grant adjustments for Scotland – but it may not be until March. While contingency planning and alternative options have been under consideration for some time, meeting this timetable will require parties to work together. So in the spirit in which this Parliament was established, and notwithstanding the many disagreements between us, I hope we can find common ground and work together on a range of issues.”
Describing the SNP election result as a watershed moment for Scotland, with Boris Johnson winning a mandate to take England out of the European Union but with no mandate to take Scotland out, she said that you had to go back as far as the election of Ted Heath in 1970 – the year she was born – to find a party that got a higher share of the vote across the UK than the SNP did in Scotland last week.
The Conservatives have now lost 17 consecutive Westminster elections in Scotland – stretching back to 1959. Despite this, the First Minister said we were now facing a Conservative government that Scotland overwhelmingly rejected – and which many fear will pose a real danger to our country and the fabric of our society.
“This parliament has a duty to protect the values that people in Scotland voted for. I believe we can only fully do that with independence, and that is why later this week I will take the next steps to secure Scotland’s right to choose. However independence is not an end in itself. It is all about building a fairer and more prosperous country and so we will also do everything we can to achieve that with the powers we have right now.”
The First Minister went on to speak of some of the issues to be addressed, including tackling child poverty, protecting our NHS and helping it overcome the challenges of rising demand, and support for an open, innovative and export orientated economy.
Reiterating her belief that we need to ensure Scotland remains an open, welcoming, inclusive country, where people treat each other with kindness, dignity and compassion, she said: “That is not a task for any one party – although as Scotland’s government, my party will take a lead. But it is a job for us all. My commitment is that I will seek to work with members across the chamber and with civic Scotland as we face the challenges ahead – and as we seek to build the better, fairer and more prosperous Scotland that people voted for.”
A few facts and figures about the election.
- UK, 2019 general election turnout: Scotland – 68.1% (+1.6), UK-wide – 67.3% (-1.5), Wales – 66.6% (-2.0), Northern Ireland – 62.1% (-3.5).
- The SNP won 81% of seats across Scotland while only 56% % of seats across the UK were won by the Tories. For a a Westminster party to achieve a similar result it would have to win 528 seats.
- To put the Tory ‘landslide’ into perspective: of the 66.4m – adults and children in the UK, 55m adults have the right to vote. 47.5m – were registered to vote . Only 31.9m – actually voted. 17.9m – didn’t vote for Boris Johnson. 13.9m – did vote for Johnson – which means only 1 in 5 Britons voted for Johnson, for Brexit, the Tory party, and their right-wing policies.
- The Tories claimed to have a mandate to hold a referendum on EU membership after being backed by just 36.1% of voters in the UK. But they refute the mandate won by the SNP to hold a referendum on Scottish independence after being backed by 45% of voters in Scotland.
- It has been 49 years since any UK Government secured a mandate with more than 45% of the popular vote. The SNP got 45% of the Scottish vote, but according to UK Government, it should be ignored as irrelevant.
One commentator tweeted that democracy must be at the core of all we do. Recently it has become fragile and we must strengthen it again by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes and that must mean a referendum on independence.
And finally a word of hope from indy campaigner Carol Fox, feminist and equal rights lawyer: “To all those people saying Boris Johnston will not agree to Section 30 order I say – remember the Berlin Wall came down, communism came to an end and there was a Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia – all due to people power and in spite of powerful men.”
A last word to Angus Brendan MacNeil MP – a pithy comment which we hope isn’t prophetic: Off to a very new parliamentary set up – Boris out of the cage. Parliament in the cage!