Given my post yesterday, confessing to taking a backseat in this election, I am not going to feel too guilty about my lack of insightful comment into the results. Especially given that the numbers seem to be shocking everyone, even the most experienced of pundits. But with that major proviso, and knowing that some results aren’t in yet, here are some of my initial thoughts.
Despite the stunning victory by the SNP, my instinct – and it really is just instinct – is that if a referendum were held tomorrow, it would still be a No Vote to Independence. The SNP have not yet made the case for independence. All they have done, along with the Greens, is treat voters like grownups and repeatedly make the point that the country should decide its own future. It was painful watching Iain Gray on the televised debates, fumbling around for an answer when he was asked by an audience member whether Scots were in the unique position of being ‘too stupid’ to decide their own future. Gray’s (and, to be fair, Annabel Goldie’s and Tavish Scott’s claims too) claims that a referendum would be a distraction from bigger issues are, to be frank, complete bollocks. The only reason a referendum will be a distraction is if the Unionist parties keep denying us the right to have one.
Incoming MSPs should take note of Malcolm Chisholm holding onto his seat in Edinburgh North and Leith. Malcolm is well known not just for being an excellent and responsive constituency MSP, but also for voting with his conscience rather than the party line on some of the big issues. He has, very deservedly, been rewarded for his courage in this respect.
Jeff over at Better Nation is suggesting that the solution to the Greens’ disappointing performance is for them to join forces with the Lib Dems. I disagree with this for so many reasons that it warrants a post to itself, but I do agree that the Greens need to re-think their Holyrood strategy pretty seriously. They cannot continue allowing their fate to be determined by so many external factors beyond their control. They have just run their best campaign ever, with a strong, clear and appealing message, but unfortunately have not seen the results to reflect that. After Caroline Lucas’s election in Brighton last year serving as proof that Greens can be elected even under FPTP, I believe that it’s time for Greens in Scotland to start standing in constituencies as well as on the list. It will mean a few years in the political wilderness as they do the groundwork for success, but in the longer term I believe it is the only strategy that will see their numbers increase to the levels they deserve.