The relentless pace of Scottish politics

Remember the days when we had an election every four years and that was pretty much it?

The pace of Scottish and British politics has increased and these days seem well and truly gone. In 2014 we had a European election and the independence referendum which dominated everything in Scotland particularly during the summer.

We barely had time to catch our breath before the Westminster election which delivered the odd and unexpected result of 56 SNP MPs in Westminster but a majority Tory Government. ‘The Tories now have the power to dismantle the welfare state and the NHS but we’ll make our voices heard’ claimed the 56 which has since gone down to 54, and could be reduced further to 53, due to potential dodgy dealings. The jury’s still out on that one.

Some highlights for the SNP were politics student Mhairi Back becoming the youngest MP at 20, unseating former foreign secretary Douglas Alexander in the process. Anne McLaughlin broke the swingometre when she took Glasgow North East. Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy lost his East Renfrewshire seat to Kirsten Oswald from the SNP leaving it in the unprecedented position of having a seatless leader. Unsurprisingly his reign didn’t last much longer and his sucessor, Kezia Dugdale, has nearly been as long in the post as he was. It was a good night to be SNP or Tory, bad night for everyone else as they watched their parties destroyed in what the late, much lamented, Charles Kennedy dubbed ‘the night of the long sgian dubhs.’Many good men lost their seats that night, him included. Politics is a nasty business.

The march continued onward and as befits that most ancient parliaments clapping was much debated. Not allowed if you are an SNP MP but allowed if you are applauding Hillary Benn’s call to arms seemed to be the decision.

This year one thing is certain. We will have a Scottish election in May. It already seems a bit of a foregone conclusion that the SNP, under Nicola Sturgeon, will emerge victorious and likely with more seats than ever before. The Tories, although still smug about winning last year, are still greeted with narrow-eyed suspicion in Scotland. It speaks volumes about the fall of Scottish Labour that some believe the Tories could find themselves the official opposition in Holyrood come May. How the mighty have fallen. The Lib Dems are at least a steady, if almost sunk, ship with their Scottish leader, Willie Rennie, having been in post since 2011, a length of time a Labour leader can only dream of at the moment.

If the earliest possible time for the EU in/out referendum is agreed then this could happen in the summer, just weeks after the Holyrood election. David Cameron’s renegotiation will not be accepted by the EU mainly because it goes against a whole host of things that are fundamental to the EU like free movement of people and people being treated equally.

If it doesn’t happen then it will in 2017 when we will also have local council elections. These always see a very low turnout despite councils having the most impact on our day-to-day lives. Then, and only then, we might get a wee break before the whole cycle starts again.

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