Current Affairs Politics

Where I Go The HuffPost Follows

Some time ago I predicted the virtual demise of the British Liberal Democrat Party in Scotland following the poor results it recorded in the recent Scottish parliamentary elections, and it seems the mainstream British media has finally caught up with me. Well, the Huffington Post (UK Ltd!), which I suppose is sort of British – and media.

Journalist George Thomson writes:

‘Two months on from an election that saw them consigned to the fringes of Scottish politics, life doesn’t get any easier for the Liberal Democrats. The party has been floundering since seeing their group of MSPS cut from 16 to 5 following the watershed election, and now the vultures are circling.

The SNP, the main beneficiaries of the Scottish Liberal Democrat meltdown, scent an opportunity to inflict yet more damage. Last week, a leaked e-mail sent from party chief executive Peter Murrell to all SNP council group leaders suggested they sound out Lib Dem councillors about possible defections.

Murrell pointed out that four Lib Dem councillors have made the switch to the SNP in recent months, and cited polling evidence that showed many Lib Dem voters had given at least one of their votes to SNP in May.

After the email went public, the SNP leadership abandoned its covert approach. Speaking at an event in Aberdeenshire on Friday, First Minister Alex Salmond appealed directly to disaffected Lib Dem voters and activists, offering them a new home in the SNP. “Many former Lib Dem voters acrossScotland supported us for the first time in May, and many more did so in Inverclyde. They are far more in tune with the policies and aspirations of the Scottish National Party than with a Lib Dem leadership in Scotland that is increasingly indistinguishable from the Tories and has lost touch with mainstream Scotland,” he said.

The ploy is partly a reflection of the SNP’s sky-high confidence following their landslide win in May but also the growing sense of uncertainty about what the Scottish Liberal Democrats stand for.’

Indeed. As I stated two weeks ago the future for any ambitious Lib Dem politicos north of the border is in a new Scottish Liberal Party, a soft nationalist grouping on the centre-left of Scottish politics. However that ground may be already well-covered by both the more centrist parts of the SNP and the Scottish Green Party, both of which have their Nationalist credentials firmly established.

However Scotland’s body politic is in a state of flux following the SNP’s unprecedented election victory and a new realignment in Scottish politics seems likely. With the SNP following a more nuanced ‘shared dominion’ line of nationalism (including a shared head of state from the present British royal family, amongst other things) the possibility of other nationalist parties emerging in the coming years to fill niche markets cannot be ruled out.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) already provides a Scottish socialist and republican political platform for independence (albeit with some internal tensions) which has resulted in mixed electoral fortunes, and the cross-party Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM) supports similar policies. The Scottish Green Party, as mentioned above, fulfills the need for centre-left environmentalist and nationalist politics, and with some success too. Could the potential demise of the ‘Union’ lead to the emergence of a centre-right or conservative party in Scotland, a Scottish nationalist Tory party? Certainly some supporters of the SNP in the business fields would be more at home in the likes of the British Conservative Party, if the constitutional question was not a factor.

Whatever the case it is certainly going to be a very interesting era in Scottish politics if and when independence is secured.

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