Reflections on the revolution in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon dominated in a way Alex Salmond could not have. But where now for the Union?

9 May 2015

9:00 AM

9 May 2015

9:00 AM

Never before — at least, not in living memory — has there been such a disconnect between north and south Britain. We vote together, but cast our ballots in very different contests. Scotland and England, semi-detached in the past, are more estranged than ever. The mildewed contest between David Cameron and Ed Miliband touches few hearts north of the Tweed; the battle between Labour and the SNP still mystifies many of those sent north to observe the strange happenings in Scotland.

Edmund Burke wrote of another revolution: ‘Everything seems out of nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies.’ Something similar might be said of this Scottish insurrection. The bells are tolling to announce the death of Labour in Scotland.

Is this some kind of national awakening or has, as some despairing unionists aver, Scotland gone mad? In truth, it depends where you start. We tend to think, because Scotland is only a small place, that it is uniform. But the post-industrial towns and former mining villages of Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire have little in common with prosperous Edinburgh and Aberdeen. In these forgotten places, despair is an all-too-common currency. The nationalists offer hope, and is it reasonable to ask those who have the least to scrutinise promises of an earthly bonanza more closely than anyone else? Five years ago every Scottish seat returned the same result it had in 2005. Scotland’s election was a sleepy affair. Now there are almost no safe seats and almost every contest pits the nationalists against the best-placed unionist candidate. How did it come to this?

Never underestimate the consequences of dumb luck. The SNP have exploited opportunities they did not create themselves. The margin between success and failure is precious thin. If the SNP had not won Cunninghame North by 48 votes in 2007, Alex Salmond would probably have been unable to form a minority administration in Edinburgh. Upon such trifles does the fate of a nation turn.

And if Gordon Brown had backed Wendy Alexander’s challenge to ‘bring it on’ and held a referendum on independence in 2008, it’s likely that the question really could have been put to bed for a generation. The SNP were not prepared for such a contest then and would in all likelihood have been heavily defeated. Six years later they were ready — and although they lost the battle the war goes on.

The referendum has not gone away. If you voted ‘yes’ last September, why would you vote for a unionist party now? Where you stand on the national question dictates where you stand on most other things too. If ‘yes’, then SNP; if ‘no’, then anyone but. It doesn’t matter if the SNP’s sums do not add up. What matters is that they offer an alternative.

There is irony aplenty, however. The SNP castigates Labour as nothing better than ‘Red Tories’ even as the nationalists scurry to copy Labour’s policies (especially on tax). Labour wags complain that there’s a majority in Scotland for Labour’s manifesto — it’s just that many Scots will vote SNP to make sure Labour’s promises are kept. The SNP will be happy if they are heard in Westminster, but equally pleased if they are not. If the former, they will boast of their influence; if the latter, they will complain that, yet again, ‘Scotland’s voice’ is being ignored.

The alternative is another Tory-led government. This, too, is the kind of obscenity with which the nationalists can live. Nicola Sturgeon’s loathing of the Tories is deep, long-held and sincere, but she can appreciate that from the narrow perspective of the SNP, another Tory government for which only one in six Scots voted is no disaster. No wonder this election is an each-way bet for the nationalists.

Meanwhile, the scale of Labour’s collapse remains breathtaking. One senior figure has let it be known that the party may yet hang on to ten seats in Scotland. How the mighty are fallen. Even Labour’s optimism is hewn from pessimism these days. Across Scotland, Labour MPs look at their constituents and no longer recognise them. Fortresses that were supposed to be impregnable turn out to have been built from papier-mâché.

In truth, this disaster — for Labour and, perhaps, the Union — is not an overnight calamity. The prevailing winds in Scotland have been nationalist for years; the referendum has simply upgraded them to hurricanes. Devolution conceded the limits of Westminster’s authority and those limits, once admitted, were easily pressed.

Little — or at least, not as much — of this would be happening without Nicola Sturgeon. You needn’t be a nationalist to feel a twinge of pleasure that Scotland’s first minister has given such a good account of herself on the UK stage. Her message is, by virtue of being both simple and widely believed, devastatingly effective. Only the SNP will act in the national interest; only they are ‘standing for Scotland’.

This infuriates unionists, who complain, with reason, that the SNP is not actually the will of the Scottish people made flesh. Nevertheless, as class divides are eroded, identity becomes more, not less, salient. I doubt it’s a coincidence that Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives, for whom British identity matters hugely, are the only other party enjoying themselves in Scotland this year.

Sturgeon reaches parts of Scotland that always lay beyond Alex Salmond’s reach. Even though she has been a public figure for 20 years, she has allowed the SNP to start afresh, unencumbered by the hefty baggage that comes with Salmond. It is a neat trick, and a winning one. If Salmond offered the rest of the UK a ‘hand of friendship’, no one would believe him. Sturgeon’s gift is that many people, including some in England, seem inclined to think she might be serious.

The SNP have offered a political home for an expression of cultural and national identity. Forty years ago a third of Scots answered ‘British’ to the question: ‘What nationality best describes you?’ By 2001 that percentage had halved. Asked to select ‘something that is very important to you when you think of yourself’, 45 per cent mentioned their Scottish identity.

All the while the Scottish Labour party never had to rethink itself, because it was still winning elections. But the British Labour party’s makeover, designed to make it electable in England, necessarily distanced the party from a Scottish organisation that many Scots still felt was entirely roadworthy. Tony Blair’s Labour party was not their Labour party and, for both groups, that was the point.

In Scotland, this is an intensely personal election. ‘My vote, my country’ is the animating spirit of the day. Nationalism is our new secular religion and saltires outnumber the union flag two to one. Every vote mattered in the referendum and, unusually, almost every vote can count in this election, too. Which makes it all the more galling that Cameron and Lynton Crosby have run a campaign encouraging Scots to vote SNP. Each time they raise the spectre of a Labour government dependent upon SNP support, a small cheer is heard at SNP HQ. This, after all, is the most popular election outcome in Scotland. A Labour government backed and ‘kept honest’ by ‘Scotland’s voice’. English voters might fear this; their Scottish counterparts welcome it. To the extent that such an outcome causes ‘chaos’, it is a chaos that has been encouraged by the Conservative and Unionist party. Many leading Scottish Tories can hardly contain their fury.

Identity politics defeats all comers, however. According to the British Election Survey, 51 per cent of SNP voters agree that ‘when people criticise my party, it feels like a personal insult’. Not just a personal insult, but a national one as well. La patrie, c’est nous.

The problem for unionism is that so many of its followers have yet to understand that it has a problem. Laughably, Cameron says the constitutional question is ‘settled’, while Miliband has nothing to say on the matter at all. Neither shows any sign of having thought about anything other than crawling into Downing Street next week.

Scottish unionists have few reasons for optimism these days. There is, perhaps, just one sliver of consolation. If — and this is necessarily a matter of considerable conjecture — Miliband becomes prime minister, Scots may find they rather like a Labour government dependent upon SNP support. If ‘Scotland’s voice’ is heard in London, then the argument that Westminster is unreformable and inevitably indifferent to Scottish interests loses some of its salience. That’s a hefty bet, fraught with risk — not least because any such arrangement requires the Tories to accept that SNP votes are just as legitimate as any others.

It would require the Tories to put country before party and resist the siren calls of English nationalism that may yet endanger the Union as surely as their Scottish counterparts. It would require a unionism of greater sangfroid and generosity than anything we have seen recently. But ‘Keep calm and carry on’ is far from the worst advice available. The alternative is an escalation of nationalist rhetoric both north and south of the border.

This election will be remembered as the Scottish election. The prevailing winds favour the nationalists and change is coming. Meeting that challenge demands a better unionism than we’ve seen lately. There is power in a Union, but only if it’s made relevant to all. Otherwise this old song, first sung in 1707, will end.

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Show comments
  • thomasaikenhead

    “But where now for the Union?”

    Easy, another referendum and independence for

    Whatever possible alternative is there?

    The legacy of TonyBlair and Gordon Brown is the end of the UK!

    • cartimandua

      We will re do Barnett first and then Scots will get a taste of what it would actually mean to become… Greece.

      • thomasaikenhead


        No need for Barnett, just cut to the chase of an independent Scotland!

        • cartimandua

          What would happen is Scottish bankruptcy because the SNP figures don’t add up.
          They wont get into the EU. They would be bankrupt in the gap even if the EU said yes.
          And England would just stop paying.
          Re doing Barnett might well poke the fantasy balloon which is SNP financial claims.
          My point about having to pay for house insurance stands.
          Russia is sabre rattling and even within recent memory we had cod wars.
          And the SNP think we are going to cover Scotland and pay for it while they do nothing at all and get rid of Trident too.
          Not going to happen.

          • Leithalyak

            If Scotland is bankrupt I would ask under who’s management this was allowed to happen. British governments of all parties and including Scots have been responsible, the common denominator? They have all been to date Unionist governments and are likely to continue to be so.

          • cartimandua

            Scotland WILL be bankrupt if it leaves because the SNPs sums don’t add up.
            The SNP have just handed out goodies using English money to do it.
            There hasn’t been enough oil at a high enough price for yonks.
            They would be Greece.

          • Malus Pudor

            Or even toast !

          • AtMyDeskToday

            Where’s that idiot geek “the_answer” when you need him to provide the dubious numbers in support of this assertion of bankruptcy. Is he hiding from the simple fact, as you so rightly point out, that successive Westminster governments have created this situation that the English claim as fact and appear to revel in? Or is he masquerading as “cartimandua”? There’s so many of these numpties around it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

          • seethelunatic

            Scotland bankrupted itself three hundred years ago, and has been getting by on an English-paid dole ever since. But like any average deadbeat, it refuses to blame itself, instead blaming the people whose charity they live on.

          • HJ777

            ‘cartimandua’ didn’t say that Scotland is bankrupt.

            He/she said that what would happen would be bankruptcy because the SNP’s figures don’t add up (which, of course, they don’t).

          • kay hope

            What about the banks like RBS?
            Didn’t Alex Salmond support “light-touch” regulation of these wretched debt machines?

      • justejudexultionis

        You seem to relish the prospect of destroying the economy of a constituent country of the UK. Are you insane?

        • cartimandua

          If they became Independent they would become Greece quite quickly and be back cap in hand and bankrupt.
          That really would cause all manner of problems.
          A short sharp shock might make Scots understand that fine words butter no parsnips.

          • Max Permissible

            It may come as a shock to you, but Scotland is a vastly different country from Greece; it lacks the latter’s massive corruption, indolence, incompetence, and kleptomaniac elite.

            Butter your parsnips and stick them where the sun doesn’t shine.

          • cartimandua

            It wouldn’t be if it was independent. It wouldn’t get English money and it wouldn’t get EU hand outs for a minimum of 18 months even if the EU said yes in the end.
            And indolence??? Scots are the second fattest in the world.
            Socialism has rotted the prudence, hard work, and can do of my late Scottish grandmother and all my Scottish military forefathers.
            It used to have all those virtues. Socialist hand outs have rotted them.

          • Max Permissible

            Oh my, you appear to have forgotten to accuse the Jocks of being as corrupt as Turks – what a shocking admission! Too busy buttering parsnips or larding carrots or whatever?

          • cartimandua

            My family has a lot of Scottish genes from my paternal grandmother back.

            She was hardworking self reliant and prudent. She would not recognize the rhetoric of the SNP and all its benefit handouts.

            Indeed one could say its not because Scotland has been hard done by. If Scots are unhappy it is because they have been lead to believe they no longer have the capacity to strive succeed and invent.The SNP are selling the same guff as Islamists sell minus the violence.

            It goes “we do nothing and blame someone else”.

            The Independence Scotland needs is an independence from the socialist narrative of helplessness.

            You go Independent and the top scientists and lecturers will leave .


            You would have a brain drain.

          • Donafugata

            Well said cartmandua, you have spotted the same dependency, victim mentality that is the fruit of socialism.

            I have always rather liked Scottish people, they are fun but the recent incarnation of the SNP is pure poison, no wonder Fat Sal was glad to leave wee Nick in charge.
            He is no doubt making the bullets for her to fire.

          • kay hope

            That would be Scotland I presume.

          • Max Permissible


          • Donafugata

            That’s even if the EU would have them once they have seceded.
            The best thing England could do is to call their bluff and dump them.

  • sunnydayrider

    But where now for the Union? Who knows Jock. But where ever it is, the English will have there say next time and leave you all to hate us in peace: from over the border.



      • Ed  

        Feeling snippy, are we?

  • cartimandua

    The English will re do the Barnett and Scotland will find out what it is like to live without their hands in English pockets?
    I suspect that will make the SNP a lot less attractive.

  • Clive

    The SNP has made Scotland into a spoilt child screaming for the unattainable because its parents do not have the money

    Scotland reeks with anomalies – the West Lothian question and the fundamental question of nationalism – if you put Scottish people above everyone else in the UK, why would the rest of the UK have any interest in you ?

    The SNP will represent about 4% of the electorate – about a third as many as UKIP. Their democratic legitimacy will be in question – as it should – before they even arrive in Westminster

    The question this piece abhors is the question that needs asking.

    What about England ?

    • Blindsideflanker

      In Massie’s eyes to even ask that question and spend time away from doting on the Scots is to show an unreasonable level of English nationalism.

    • justejudexultionis

      Which is why Scotland must separate and stand on its own two feet.

      • Clive

        Unsurprisingly, when asked, the child did not want to leave the comfort of the family home

        • Verbatim

          Oh, but who’d have thought…..? And, just like Mary, they really need to get a-head!!!

          They’ll probably end up a banana republic and find that more a-peeling than a slippery ride when they tread on one economically.

    • Donafugata

      I see them (the SNP, not the Scottish people ) as the ungrateful teenager for whom nothing is enough and everything is unfair while refusing to leave home.

    • Verbatim

      SPOT ON. Very intelligent response, and disturbing question. Let it not be merely a rhetorical one!!

  • Blindsideflanker

    Massie has all the narrow mindedness of a fervent SNP activist, which shows its not an SNP thing but a Scottish thing , and as such he’s not so far removed from that narrow minded SNP activist than he will care to admit.

    For Massie to say that the Conservatives will need to put country before party and siren calls from English nationalists exposes how much of a Scottish bigot he is, for it seems that to be anything other than be on bended knee acceptance of unreasonable Scottish demands is too play to English Nationalism. Well go to hell Massie for I am sick and tired of bribing the Scots with cash and constitutional goodies at our expense.

    If living in this country as a one of equals is beneath you, all I can say is go take a hike, because this Englishman has had enough of it.

    • Abie Vee

      “Well go to hell Massie for I am sick and tired of bribing the Scots with cash and constitutional goodies at our expense.”

      Not that you ever have. But it’s a nice thought.

    • John Carins

      A good riposte. Yet again it’s the English to blame and how dare the English show any national pride. The fault lies with successive Labour and Conservative Governments who have all taken the Union for granted and through their dreadful policies encouraged the SNP.


        Enjoy the SNP landslide John !!

        • Donafugata

          So how come you Scots couldn’t vote like this in September? Too scared to go it alone?

          Just like many Muslims the Scots are getting their perceived revenge, causing as much trouble as they can and getting paid for it.

          Independence but not before you drain us dry.

          • Ed  

            Quebec’s been doing exactly this for 50 years. Electing separatist provincial governments, sending loads of BQ members to Ottawa, bu always defeating referenda. I’ll be quite surprised if the next 50 years in Scotland plays out any differently. The Scots are just as canny as the Quebecois.

          • Donafugata


          • Brian

            Look at the numbers:

            Indyref 1.6M Yes votes (45%)
            Today 1.5M SNP votes (50%)

            The difference is that enough of the not-that-bothered middle were motivated to vote No against a perceived threat to their jobs and mortgages but not motivated to vote for a choice of wet Tories or new Labour.

        • John Carins

          The SNP will be an irrelevance at Westminster. Enjoy your hated Tory Government. Enjoy leaving the EU.

          • SNP UPRISING

            ha…..ha……. A bitter unionist BRITNAT to the end.

            Nothing will be the same again at Westminster……… and we will enjoy the Tories forcing Scotland out of the EU against the will of the people, as it is this that will deliver “Indyref 2” and Scottish independence from the UK.

            Now I must shoot John……..Massive SNP celebrations ongoing !!!

          • John Carins

            “Now I must shoot John”. Well there you are- SCOTNAT behaviour. This is start of the SNP becoming an irrelevance. There will be no higher watermark, a watershed has been reached. The 56 SNP seats have no mandate or power – the Tories will crush you just like the LibDems. HaHa

          • Henry Hooper

            shoot means ‘go’…twat


      Bizarre….. You equate a proud Red, White & Blue unionist , SNP hating, British Nationalist in Massie to the SNP.

      In your disgusting anti-Scottish racist comments you’ve shown yourself to be the vile BRIT-NAT bigot that you are.

      Enjoy the SNP landslide !

      • Closedshop

        Hope you enjoy the celebrations.

      • Ed  

        Ah, so Scottish nationalism is wonderful, but British nationalism is horrible. So glad you’ve thought this through…..

      • Geoffrey Matthews

        Oh, yes, we will. We certainly will . . .


      It’s in every town and city in Scotland …..Come to the SNP celebrations Blind*anker !!!

      • Gerschwin

        No need old boy – everyone’s off to the Tory one’s down South! Hoorah!

    • Closedshop

      I think the Tory approach has been wonderful.

      It works in tandem with the SNP and reinforces the idea that the idea of a British state is not longer relevant.

      You too are playing your part, thank you.

  • misomiso

    I’ve written so many comments on this site regarding this issue, and now finally election day is here, and the chickens have come home to roost.

    The rise of Nationalism is explicitly connected with the demise of the Scottish Unionist party back in the 60s. The top Tories in London were so obsessed with centralising power, that they merged the parties, which started Nationalism’s long rise, as the Scots have ALWAYS craved their own identity within the UK; the Scots are not Left wing crazies, its just as the author says, the politics of identity is now all consuming.

    But we CAN save the Union relatively easily.
    1) We form an independent Right of Center and Eurosceptic Scottish Unionist Movement. We DO NOT combine with liberals or Labour on this, as it MUST be Right of center to be able to offer different policy solutions.

    2) We legislate so that all the devolved Assemblies have their elections AT THE SAME TIME as Westminster. Otherwise they have the characteristics US of mid terms and are always votes against the incumbent.

    3) And finally, and most difficult, we leave the EU. There is no issue upon which there is a greater divide between the public and the political / media class, but the truth is our Union will never be safe while we are part of the European project. We cannot be in two political Unions.

    I PRAY the Spectator endorses the creation of a new party. You coverage of Ruth Davidson has been sickening, as although she seems very nice, the Tories winning 2 or 3 seats is not some great result.

    Unionism needs to seek the same hegemony as Nationalism. Only then will Scotland be safe.

    • Standish79

      Bavaria seems to do alright out of being in two political unions.

      • Clive

        Given that the CSU is welded to the CDU, that’s not really the same

        It would be the equivalent of Labour and the SNP being similarly welded together

        • Jambo25

          Or the SDLP and Labour. Oh wait, that is the case with the SDLP and Labour. Or the DUP and the Tories. Oh wait, that’s often the case there as well.

      • Ed  

        Bavaria does well because it’s Bavaria. An independent Scotland would fare about as well as an independent Newfoundland did.

  • davidofkent

    Scottish Nationalism was a faint cause until the riches of North Sea Oil and Gas turned their heads. This encouraged the Nats to believe that their every wish could come true because somebody else would be paying. They still haven’t realised that the Scots will be the ones paying for their independence. But of course, they don’t want independence in total. They want to be able to do and spend as they wish with the bill being handed to the other country in the South. Look how angry they became when told that they would not have the Pound Sterling and that the BoE would not be their lender of last resort. That wouldn’t have mattered a jot if they had wanted true independence.

    • Donafugata

      Absolutely, David, well said.

    • Ed  

      In Quebec it was called “Sovereignty Association”. Whatever the hell that meant.

  • justejudexultionis

    Given the way Cameron has been cynically fanning the flames of English nationalism for short-term electoral advantage it seems unlikely that the union will survive more than another decade.

    • Clive

      Whereas the SNP fanned the flames of Scottish Nationalism for … What ?

      • Michele Keighley

        Clive get on board the Scottish Dream Ferry – Scottish nationalism = good, English nationalism = evil.

    • PetaJ

      Rubbish. he has always been unequivocally for keeping the Union – whatever else you might think of him.

  • JSC

    All of the unionist parties should have been piling the pressure on Labour from day one against any kind of co-operation with the SNP. “Any unionist party that forms a coalition with a separatist party can never again be considered a unionist party” should have been the mantra from day one.

    This would have allowed them to hammer home the fact that in Westminster the Scots are privileged, massively over-represented and have been using this to their advantage for a long, long time. “You believe the SNPs claims that Scots are not represented in Westminster? Vote SNP and you’ll see what real isolation looks like.”

  • smilingvulture

    Boris broke ranks yesterday

    Federal Union

    • Blindsideflanker

      Did he?

  • Gerschwin

    My guess is the result tonight will be SNP 45%, the others 55%….sound familiar? The 3 main parties fought this as a general election, the SNP as another referendum. Within the context of a general election with the ‘No’ vote split 3 ways, as it were, the SNP will be massive winners. Presumably the Big Three in Westminster can learn from this – next time they need to put aside petty difference and submit the candidate most likely to overturn the SNP in each constituency and only that candidate otherwise the SNP will be dominant in Scotland for a very long time.

    • neilfreshwater

      “In bed with the Tories!”, they cried.

      • Gerschwin


  • Fried Ch’i

    Remind me Massie, today is about independence is it?

  • trace9

    Nothing matters but what makes it matter. A lesson hard-learned & not often.
    Some hail on Skye this morning; whom we’ll be, hem, hailing by tonight, will be what remains of the day – perhaps the UK..
    Incidentally there’s no point in picking out little ‘if only – but for’ ‘key moments like Salmond’s first election – you may as well try to discount his birth, or a million others’. Weak thinking.

  • archie d

    mr Massie just have a look at some of the posts here then understand why many people just like me see no future in the Union.

    • Clive

      …and yet 55% of Scots do see some future in the Union

      • Newton Unthank

        They’d change their mind if they read some of these comments.

    • Ed  

      Robust debate is the British way. Can’t you hack it?

    • Newton Unthank

      You worry too much. The commenters here are in no way representative of educated, rational English people. They are the sort of folk who in pre-Internet times wrote regular irate letters to newspapers in green ink.

  • PetaJ

    Oh for heaven’s sake – no-one thinks that SNP votes are less legitimate than others, not even the despised Tories. What we think is illegitimate is the prospect of 50-odd SNP MPs ruling the whole Union via Ed Milliband. There is also the West Lothian question – the legacy of two Scots, Blair and Brown.

    • mickey667

      Being from the North East of England i have far more confidence in my scottish cousins doing the right thing by this region than their southern eton education counterparts. That goes for the islington labour set too.

      Not all england thinks the same about the Scots and the west lothian question. For example i am more animated by the fact that 1 in 4 MPs are landlords (compared with less than 1% of population) and they vote on issues about tenants. They have a direct interest that may conflict with tenants in a way people who are scottish do not have a direct conflict.

      • PetaJ

        There are no Scottish landlords? Start with Tony Blair and move on downwards.

    • Tellytubby

      Very right. What a constitutional fudge devolution has been. Did they even consider what the end game would be? We have a situation where we’re going to have a bloc of 52 (or thereabouts) Scottish Nationalists sitting in a British Westminster Parliament, whilst as you say, the English, Welsh and Northern Irish have no say over purely Scottish matters. How is this remotely fair? Given the constitutional problems that have arisen because of this historic mistake (Labour initiated devolution thinking they were, and always would be dominant in Scotland btw) it appears as though severance and breakup of the Union is almost inevitable. Perhaps some form of ceremonial devo-max where the Scots would retain the Queen and Sterling? What a mess.
      What I don’t get is why Scots would actually want to break free of the Union? You (the Scots) have such influence for your size/population over the rest of the UK as it is. The British government over the last 15 years has been dominated by Scottish politicians (at current 85 MP’s are Scottish despite there only being 59 Scottish seats for example) – Blair, Brown, Darling, Campbell, Reid, Cook, Derry Irvine, Dewar, Alexander, Jim Murphy amongst others have all been cabinet ministers recently (last 20 years or so) and I’m sure there are more.

  • jeffersonian

    ‘You needn’t be a nationalist to feel a twinge of pleasure that Scotland’s first minister has given such a good account of herself on the UK stage.’

    Really? She is just a raspy-voiced Scottish version of Harriet Harperson. Zero personal (or political) appeal. One sometimes gets the feeling that Sturgeon gets special treatment from the press (Tory or otherwise) because she speaks with a regional accent. Her appeal is something of a mystery.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      Assuming, from your avatar and id, that you’re American and an admirer of Jefferson, then frankly who gives a damn what you think. Alternatively you’re not either of those things and simply a poser.

      • Ed  

        Ah, it’s good to have friends.

      • jeffersonian

        Spoken like a true (g)Nat.

        • AtMyDeskToday

          I knew you were a poser, because a true American would have put up a decent argument.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Cameron will fall after his defeat, replaced by Boris. Nicola will tie Milliband in knots, possibly predicating a second election : Boris v. Sturgeon


    ****** INVITATION *******


    • Malus Pudor

      Paid for by the English taxpayer, no doubt…

  • DH

    In less than 10 years from now (perhaps much less) there will be no need for a union. After Scotland leaves, English nationalists (i.e. Tories) will wonder whether N.I. and Wales are worth subsidizing.

  • Malus Pudor

    Give those miserable spongers whingers and spongers the independence they crave and then we can return to a level playing field…

  • AtMyDeskToday

    I see all the malignant Mr Angry of England are out in force tonight. Nothing better to do after voting UKIP today. For all the good it will do them.

  • Closedshop

    North and South Britain. Even those terms sound archaic and forced.

    Britain was a political construct, the reasons for it are gone and it is now a fading identity. If you were born in pre the 70’s it may have been a living identity for you but for most of those after that it is not.

  • huw

    wow what a complete b.s rant!! incredible stuff massie! enjoy the party tonight!

  • Malus Pudor

    At least give the ghastly harridan a couple of nipples…

    She must be the ultimate coyote… who wouldn’t not bite his arm off if waking up next to her after a heavy night on the Scotch ?

    • Closedshop

      Are you talking about your mother?

      • Malus Pudor

        Strange Oedipal perv you must be… are you a Scot ?

        • AtMyDeskToday

          Yes, I reckon his comment was very unfair because it’s clear your mother left you on a doorstep at birth. Who wouldn’t?

  • ohforheavensake

    OK, I’d have voted for independence in the referendum if I still lived at home: but it’s good to hear the sober, reasonable voice of conservative unionism- and always good to read your thoughts. Good post, again.

  • The UK parliament can nip English nationalism in the bud quite easily by give the English the fair funding, services and democracy and respect they deserve. So zero chance of that then and home rule for England.

  • Donafugata

    Now they all come out for the SNP, why didn’t they do that in September?

    They don’t want independence, they just want to f*** us, nasty,vindictive barstewards.

  • bombaybadboy

    Interesting article Alex.

    The Scots are culturally and temperamentally Nordic, and in line with Scandinavia at this moment in time, they want left of centre, Social Democratic governance. They had a good, decade long look at the gift horse of the SNP in Holyrood and decided they liked what they saw.

    The independence referendum triggered a collective epiphany: if Social Democracy was what they wanted, then there was absolutely no reason why the SNP would not deliver at least what Labour had, especially given that “the Pledge” had secured Barnet and finances.

    I personally cannot see the point of leaving a union where you have outsize representation and influence simply to join another one where you are a complete bit player: there will never be an EU government where the president or the finance minister are Scottish, but that is a matter for the Scots to decide. I think the Scots in the UK are exactly in the same situation as the UK in the EU: The UK leaving would be bad for the EU but the UK would prosper, and Scotland leaving the UK would be bad for RUK, but Scotland would be just fine.

    I get the impression that the Scots look longingly at the high-end, high-education socialism of the Scandanivians and hope for the kind of security that sovereign funds with a million for every citizen would afford. Instead, we have the Gorbals. You can see why they want change, and who is to say that given two or three decades the SNP won’t deliver; and I say this as someone who is a conservative.

    As for Labour and the Scots, the words of Jilted-John’s girlfriend come to mind:
    “listen John, I love you, but there’s this bloke I fancy, I don’t want to two time you, So it’s the end for you and me”

  • Verbatim

    I say cut the Scots loose and let them find their own way in a difficult economic world. I just don’t think they have the economies of scale, with their population, to deal with the globalized world. Let them go….!! But don’t let them come back sqwarking like the school bully who isn’t invited to the birthday party, all fists blazing.

  • Gerschwin

    Tory vote held in Scotland though, interesting.

    • abystander

      Oh, did it?
      I thought it fell nation-wide.

      • Gerschwin

        No, it didn’t.

        • abystander

          BBC reports Scottish Tory vote share going from 16.7% in 2010 to 14.9% in 2015.

          Miserable, abject, useless bunch of losers.

          • Gerschwin

            Whatever. You sound the miserable one to me. They held their seat, big deal I know, but it’s something. I’m far too happy to give two hoots what you think, you’ll have to try your luck elsewhere – Tories rule Scotland now one, none or fifty MPs.
            Take it easy and have a fabulous day.

          • abystander

            Just check your facts before you post.

  • AtMyDeskToday

    Thank you, Massie, for your many and varied contributions that have helped us towards a historic victory for the SNP, 56 seats out of 59. As for Nigel and UKIP, oh dear what a shame.

  • Arron Blue

    Surely the most important question must be: “Is the queen still purring?”

  • Frank

    A very minor point to keep in mind:
    During the independence referendum, 1.6M Scots voted for independence and 2M voted against.
    In yesterday’s general election, the SNP got a total of 1.4M votes.
    One is forced to conclude that 2.2M Scots don’t like the SNP enough to vote for it!

    • AtMyDeskToday

      Yes I agree it is a very minor point. Interesting but nevertheless minor.

      • Michele Keighley

        It might be minor at the moment, but if those 2.2 million start becoming vocal it might cause some headaches.

  • Plolov

    Now England is in a position of strength it’s time to make Scotland pay:

    Full Fiscal Autonomy Now!

  • Resist the siren calls of English nationalism? Haven’t the English waited for long enough while the British establishment bang on about Britishness and the Scotland question?

    The Scots have a parliament and government and a very generous Barnett Formula. Maybe it’s time to ask what the English want for a change.


    • kay hope

      Pax Anglica.

  • abystander

    Can anyone tell me of another Western European country where the mainstream centre/right party with no threat to its Right has not won an election at national level for fifty years?

    Can anyone tell me of another Western European country where the mainstream centre/right party with no threat to its Right polls fewer than 20% in national poll after national poll.

    Why do the Scottish Tories fail? Scotland is a post-industrial economy facing broadly the same challenges as other Western European countries. It has leafy suburbs, advocates. actuaries and accountants, small businesses, farmers and spinster ladies in small towns.

    The Scottish Tories fail because they are lick-spittles who take every policy from London and defer endlessly to middle England.

    • francis

      The Scottish Tories have been in denial about the national question since 1979. Opposing Scottish home rule was their single biggest error and we in England had to suffer unwanted New Labour botched devolution as a result.

  • mercurius.

    The breakup of the U.K. is assured; the English Establishment has
    sacrificed the historic unity of a nation on the basis of essentially
    one criterion: the continued inviolate supremacy of the
    globally-connected fiefdom of the City of London. It has forcefully shut
    its door on any ‘European project’ which entails the further
    development, indeed the very possibility of any project of socio-human
    constructive and protective dimensions, to wit, on anything other than
    the model of economic despoliation/predaTory-ism that is the ageless
    raison d’etre of the City of London: the temple-centre that
    safeguards the ‘spirit’ of globalized capital, that autonomous ens that
    contains within itself the spiraling, virulent coil of its own eternal
    increase regardless of the dimensions of the human expense.

  • Geoffrey Matthews

    The Scottish lion cub has farted.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      No, that was your brain bursting under the strain of writing that.

      • Geoffrey Matthews

        Get up from your desk and take a walk in the fresh air.

  • sgu

    The SNP elected a bunch of newbees, and no doubt several will prove wack jobs (happens in every avalanche election). This will become obvious to all in the coming months, as the idiots stand up and say stupid things, which will challenge the sensible SNP MPs, as they run around in damage control mode. It should be entertaining.

    But that aside, Britain has much to think about to keep Scotland in the Union, and not become some weird situation like Northern Ireland where the politics are irrelevant to Westminster and the seats are occupied by people focused only on the local battles.

    The trick I think to avoiding a Scottish meltdown is to start an unending campaign to improve the identity of Britain in Scotland. The SNP are taking the oft emotional left tact Scots take, in Jacobite fashion. But the other side of Scotland is the practical and analytic, that of Adam Smith against Mercantilism and for free markets and the middle ground of James VI (James I of England). It is a position which JK Rowling at a gut level understands but was unable to articulate about why the Union is better.

    For it is not the average person who benefits so immediately in a larger union, but rather the exceptional, the gifted, the ambitious. By belonging to a greater union one finds greater opportunity, greater access. Oxford, Cambridge, Prime Minister of the UK, General or Admiral in the armed forces, access to London hub for literature and arts and music, all come easier to those in the union, than those outside. The gifted and exceptional Scot gains international significance in the Union, rather than local significance in a smaller pond. SNP loves to compare an Independent Scotland to Norway; but ask yourself how many internationally famous Norwegians are there, compared say to any region you want to pick in Germany. It’s clear that being part of something larger is better.

    SNP also forgets the lesson of Greece, and the concept of Finlandization. They are basically selling the notion that security can free ride on England and America (saying I suppose that the retreat and vacillation of President Obama is an aberration, rather than a feature of the new American left). And they say the border is open, and will remain. Maybe. As an American I have seen how the War on terror and the slow drift of different systems has made Canada distinct from the United States, and the border now strewn with barriers and choke points, even American agents in Toronto to screen in advance those coming into the US. The natural drift of laws to divergence is forcing the border into reality.

    Another issue the SNP movement forgets is the actual boundaries of Scotland. The Borders only voted just over a third for SNP candidates. How many of those counties would prefer to stay in the Union?

    This is a mixed up issue for me as somebody of Scottish ancestry in America. My feelings seem to be the same mess as those of the border region where Conservatives won almost a third of the vote. British and Scottish, the same not separate. My parents named me after James Stuart (James the VI), who represents the unity and Scottishness at once. I hate the movement behind the SNP for trying to separate those identities.

    Figure it out. Please.

  • Callipygian

    Where you stand on the national question dictates where you stand on most other things too.

    I suggest that you’ve got this backwards: Where they stand on socialism dictates where they stand on nationalism — and the SNP, which is the same thing.

    Labour hasn’t really been defeated. It’s been one-upped by the SNP, that’s all. Voters for the SNP want a nationalist Labour party, and that’s what they’ve got.

  • MistyWeaveFishLosh


    Give the Scots the Full Fiscal Autonomy that even Sturgeon does not really want, and then watch the SNP disintegrate.

  • Labour did not offer me a state pension, disabled / chronic sick benefit without expecting this kanckered old woman to be available for work (what and spend most of the time running to the bog), or any benefit and left me, like the Tories, to live on fresh air.

    After a lifetime of voting Labour, there was no reason to vote for them again as they became just a Tory party.

    I voted for the NATIONAL HEALTH ACTION PARTY, but people failed to see that this dozen MP candidates could have held sway, as the Tories only have a 12 MP majority in UK parliament. And now Jeremy Hunt and PM Cameron would have been voted out of office.

    Labour believed in the failed theory of Austerity, that has never worked.

    Austerity in a recession by government just makes matters worse.

    The role of the elite is to feed the people in lean times. It always has.

    The SNP offered to do that.

    No other big party did. End of the story.

    Labour is dead in England also, by the way.

    Liam Byrne as Labour Leader will be haunted by Stafford Hospital forever.
    Yvette Cooper is the failed Mr Balls’ wife who believe in austerity.
    What other New Labour that has failed to win 2 general electons will be put as Labour leader? Who cares.

    TUSC is the sacked by Labour party for each time a Labour councillor voted against austerity cuts.

    TUSC was the 6th biggest party no-one knew existed, voted only by the party faithful by the few hundred votes they got.

    TUSC was the sole party to offer to REVERSE THE RISE IN RETIREMENT AGE and pay a decent state pension,
    to so many men and women losing
    ALL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE from next year.


    RESPECT offered men and women a state pension at 60.


    (actually correct under the EU Social Contract about which the UK are in breach for our low dole and state pension)

    The SNP could not offer any of that as a regional government, but it is my hope to put my petition to the SNP as well as whoever will be the new Pensions Minister after Monday next, as they are the biggest anti austerity party left in the UK in government.

  • Malus Pudor

    This is hilarious… the Scotch have 56 seats in Westminster…. and they are completely powerless to influence any vote in Westminster….

    What absolutely delicious irony….56 of these invertebrates from Scotland will have to relocate to London in order to not have the the slightest influence on the UK political scene….

    The heart sings…,

  • Dhako


    I am afraid, the union is over bar the shout of the fat-lady, which will be when the final divorce verdict is announce between Tory-led-England and SNP-dominated Scotland.

    Furthermore, the SNP already have enough “political mandate” to deny any decision that the Tories makes for whole of UK without their input. So, that will be another arrow in their bag, just in case they need a “bait” to which to enervate any Tory-supporting English voter south of the border.

    Also, the Tories are not in a mood to be yank about by the Scots. Hence, when the Alex Salmond (or Nicola Sturgeon) says we don’t agree with this particular agenda then the Tories, are liable to say, then “on-your-bike-jocks”, which will be what they will be delighted with.

    And the reason that is so, is that nothing will dishearten the Scots Unionist (who may be shy about shouting their unionist allegiance through the roof-top) as to the sight of seeing their fellow-unionist in England (which is presumably what Tories used to say they are) shoving them, rather unceremoniously, through the door. So, it will only delights them SNP no ends.

    Consequently, I am not sure that the Tories are fearing the prospects of having no end of argy-bargy with the Scottish Nationalist, since, by the looks of it, that sort of political eye-starring, could really clear the decks for them politically, particularly when it comes to the notion of ruling England without having to make a concession to the Scottish voters represented by SNP.

    All in all, I think, if you were a betting man, I would suggest to put a bit of a flutter on the Scots through their SNP and the English-dominated-Tories back in England, taking their political leave of absence from each other, even if it makes the whole of UK that much poorer or even that much reduced in the wider world.

  • thomasaikenhead

    The Union was always an artificial creation that came about to serve the vested interests on both sides of the border, never a genuine fulfilment of the wishes of two different peoples.

    Now the time has come to face reality, and democracy, and end the Union.

    the people of Scotland will no longer accept remote roe from a Conservative government in Westminster, and why should they?

    More importantly, most people in England do not oppose independence of Scotland if that is the wish of the Scottish people.

  • Geoffrey Matthews

    We Anglos needn’t worry. We don’t have to rule Scotland — all we have to do is own it. The SNP’s policy seems to mesh with our interests quite well — and if the Scots don’t like it, they can go whistle. Onward!

  • 0rangeman

    The Scot Nats vote totalled 1,454,436 WINNING 56 SEATS

    Combined Vote AGAINST the SNP total = 1,456,029 = 1,593 votes HIGHER than SNP BUT WINNING ONLY 3 SEATS BUT SNP WIN BY A LANDSLIDE?


    Results of the 2014 Scotland Independence Referendum

    Yes = 1,617,989 or 44.7%

    No = 2,001,926 or 55.3%

    Valid votes = 3,619,915 or 99.91% Invalid or blank votes 3,429 or 0.09% = Total votes 3,623,344

    100.00% Voter turnout 84.59% Electorate 4,283,392


    So not only did less people vote for the SNP team than voted in the referendum for their new traunche of MPs this time out but actually1593 MORE people voted AGAINST them than voted for them.

    Typically the SNP faced pro union opponents like Labour, Conservatives,
    Lib Dems, UKIP, Green Party etc thus splitting that Pro Union vote 5 or 6
    ways. Because of this the Unionist parties won the vote but lost the

    Also there’s the 545,897 voters from the 2,001,926 who voted NO last
    time who NEVER vote otherwise as the likes of Jim Murphy turns their

    The result of the above means that Nichola claiming to be magnanimous in
    victory by not wanting to split the union is pure hogwash to hide the
    fact she knows she would LOSE AGAIN plus she also knows that but for 1st past the post she would have only 1/2 the MPs or less than are gathered around her. Her plan is predicated on regular massive cash injections that are anethema to the tories so

    All Cameron has to do is call her bluff & SEND HER HAMEWARD TAE THINK AGAIN!

    BUT WILL HE???????????????

    • JoeCro

      Less than 11% of the Scottish electorate voted conservative yet Cameron and his merry band rule over Scotland.

  • rtj1211

    I guess it requires some non-Cabinet statesmen and -women to ask how inferior the English have to be for the Scots to wish to remain in the Union and how inferior the English are prepared to tolerate being before they kick the Jocks out of the Union for good……

  • Barba Rossa

    The country might be split North and South .. But also the haves v the have nots like never before.

  • Auldreekie

    “Five years ago every Scottish seat returned the same result it had in
    2005. Scotland’s election was a sleepy affair. Now there are almost no
    safe seats and almost every contest pits the nationalists against the
    best-placed unionist candidate. How did it come to this?”

    The answer is simple. It came to this because this was the first time Westminster election campaign since the revival of Scotland’s Parliament when the SNP made a significant effort to win Westminster seats, and it did it on the back of victories in all the elections at every other level in Scotland – national, council, and European – since 2007, including a landslide victory in the Scottish Parliamentary election of 2011. The party had been made its breakthrough, had become the third party in the UK in terms of membership, had resources and funds, and it was now worthwhile deploying them to win Westminster seats and make its point. “How did it come to this?” It’s not really a surprise, if you’ve been following Scottish politics, and the word on Scottish streets, and if you’ve not been continually seeking – as so many metropolitan commentators have – obscure points and excuses and explanations on which to base reassurance along the lines of ‘the Scots don’t really mean it’.

  • Joseph Hooker

    I just love the picture!

  • JPJ2

    The Conservatives obtain a majority in the UK but their worst % vote in Scotland at a GE since 1865-anybody see a problem with that??