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Scotland and the Westminster Election 2015

Yohan Shanmugaratnam (text) and Tom Henning Bratlie (photos) got 1.5 pages and a front page spread in the high quality left-leaning Norwegian daily Klassekampen today (29/04/15).

Yohan visited Edinburgh which covering the UK elections for his newspaper. Unlike some of the jounralists in Norway’s rival media, Yohan had understood the importance of the Scottish vote in this election.

 

Here are some translated and edited extracts (with Yohan’s permission!)

“Prime Minister Cameron and the Conservatives have never had any chance in Scotland ahead of elections next week. Since 2001, the Scots have elected only one Tory to the British Parliament, up from zero in 1997. “But now there’s another party that gets a taste of Scots wrath.

“ Ever since the 1960s, Scotland has been a safe Labour bastion, especially after Margaret Thatcher’s closures of Scottish industry and the introduction of an unpopular local tax (“poll tax”) in the 1980s. At the last election in 2010, Labour had 41 of the 59 seats Scotland has in the Westminster parliament. “This is the end. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which led the campaign for Scottish independence last September, is now poised to nearly eradicate Labour and take between 40 and 50 of the seats in the UK election next Thursday. Today they have six. “The SNP lost the referendum on Independence (by about 5%), but won the people. The membership has quadrupled since the vote. The party and the new leader Nicola Sturgeon, who comes from a working class family in Ayrshire southwest of Glasgow, has positioned itself as an alternative to the left of Labour, particularly in economic policy. After the party leaders TV debate, Sturgeon’s inbox was full of mail from English people who would vote for the SNP, although the party will not stand in England. “For Labour, the SNP has become a full blown hair in the haggis. Scottish Labour, which fought on the ‘yes’ side for union with the Tories and Cameron, faces not only the probability of a spectacularly humiliating defeat – but there are indications that Labour leader Ed Miliband will become dependent on Sturgeon to succeed in a changing the party in power. “Neither Cameron nor Miliband seem able to gather enough votes to form a government alone. Sturgeon will support a possible Labour government and has invited Miliband to cooperate to “shut David Cameron out” from 10 Downing Street. “Currently, Miliband been dismissive of SNPs invitational. A formal coalition is out of the question for both. Quoting Irvine Welsh, Yohan says “the author believes that an increasing number of Scots think that what was good with Britain – the welfare state and attempt a certain leveling of class distinctions – has been sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism by both the Tories and Labour. When Nicola Sturgeon now offers the social democratic policy Labour left behind with panache under Tony Blair, the SNP becomes an attractive option, even for Scots who voted against independence last year.” “SNPs extortion letter to Miliband,” whines The Telegraph’s front page. The said “Extortion Letter” is the SNPs election manifesto, which was presented last week. Cartoons in London newspapers show Ed Miliband as a puppet controlled by Nicola Sturgeon. For Miliband is working with SNP, which, according to London’s conservative mayor Boris Johnson, is like hiring King Herod as nursery manager or Attila as a bouncer in the Roman Senate.
Yohan meets Rose, a woman in late fifties, in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow. “Rose used to vote Labour but says she will now give the SNP a chance. – I changed because I do not like Labour’s policy anymore. They do not take care of Scots. The SNP stands up for us in parliament. We have a few in Westminster now, but need more, she says. “The potential drop in Labour support can be great for SNP, says political scientist Eberhard “Paddy” Bort, who reminds one of Dumbledore in Harry Potter. –

 

“But the SNP is in uncharted territory. They’ve never really had a Westminster policy beyond leaving Westminster, says Bort. “- If the SNP succeed, it can also bring problems. They will find themselves in a position where they are going to support a Labour government, and so must take some responsibility for what that government will do, says Bort.” The resentment of Scots voting on so-called ‘English’ questions in Wesminster, as well as the mechanism of returning some of the centrally-gathered tax and oil revenues to Scotland, “is something people like (Conservative Mayor of London) Boris Johnson always exploits, when he says that “we have all these problems in London while the Scots get money.” And this will be applauded and encouraged by the Tory leadership. In order to achieve short-term gain, then, and get votes on May 7, Tories now risk creating bad blood – a real acidification of relations with Scotland. They have become the Union’s enemies, claims Bort. “- This comes just six months after a three-year campaign in which the same people said, “Better Together” and talked about how important it was to keep the Union together. However, if the SNP gets up to 50 of 59 mandates, “they will obviously speak on behalf of Scotland.” “-The more they attack SNP, the more attractive it becomes for the Scots to vote for the party … They are playing with fire, putting England against Scotland. This can have long-term consequences, because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the Conservatives were to be re-elected they will have 40, 45, 50 SNP representatives in opposition. And it will be a radical and hostile opposition.” yohan@klassekampen.no and thb@klassekampen.no

(poorly translated and edited by JB)

URL: http://www.klassekampen.no/article/20150429/ARTICLE/150429765

 

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