Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Arguments for Scottish independence part 1: Politics

I wasn't for Scottish devolution because I believed a devolved parliament would simply transfer the grubby, intercine politics that characterised (and characterise) West of Scotland local government onto a larger, more expensive and more embarressing stage. And I was right, for a time.

Picking through the Scottish election results/wikipedia you see Donald Dewar winning for Labour in the first election in 1999. Then, following Donald’s death, Henry McLeish took over as the stop Jack McConnell candidate, sitting as first minister until some unfortunate expenses got in the way. Finally,  Jack got his chance in 2001, even going so far as to wear that gawdawful kilt in America. Except, as the years went by it turned out the electorate were getting a tad fed up with Labour and in 2007 Alex Salmond took over for the SNP. Brilliant.

No, not in an aren’t the SNP great kind of way, because they patently aren’t, rather it turned out Labour’s vice like grip on Scottish elections wasn’t actually vice-like i.e. after 8 years or so it turned out multi-party democracy actually works in Scotland (this despite all the warnings about how proportional representation would prevent this).

This is especially interesting because it provides a useful yardstick for assessing the growing pro-union bollocks we’re getting fed. Like, what currency should Scotland have? Err, that’s actually a hugely complex question, so howzabout we see how things develop over a couple of years, you know, possibly 8 even because the notion of everything being sorted out on day 1 is just plain stupid (e.g. do the nuclear bombs get dumped the other side of Hadrian's wall the instant Scotland votes for independence? No of course they don't). 

During this time I also reckon you could expect the quality of Scottish politics to significantly improve with Labour, funnily enough, most likely to be the winners. Right now its perfectly reasonable to characterise Labour in Scotland as an utter joke, like have you read any of Johann Lamont’s speeches? Or do remember anything Iain Gray actually said? Thought not. One big reason why is straightforward; for the ambitious left of centre Scottish politician, Westminster is where its at as the former MSPs Cathy Jamieson and Margaret Curran prove in spades.

Take away that option and allova sudden they’ve no choice but to pursue their political careers here. Now this isn’t saying either of those former MSPs is much cop compared to say an Alastair Darling, but if Margaret had stood against Johann for the leadership of Scottish Labour who do you think would (hang on make that “should”) have won?

So right now Westminster effectively siphons off enough Scottish political talent to render much of twhat's left behind a joke. By contrast, I reckon its perfectly reasonable to expect that in an independent Scotland with the Scottish parliament an aspirational end in itself, not only would we have more power, we’d also, in time, have politicians more capable of exercising it. I reckon that would be a good thing.

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