Ever been told your vote doesn't count? Of course you have; even if you haven't been told it directly, it's implicit in our democracy in the UK - it's a paradox of sorts. If you don't vote you might not get the candidate you want. If you do vote it's likely that your vote won't make a bit of difference at all. It's a strange duality and one that makes people disenfrachised at the start.
During the IndyRef there was consistent message (one of very few actually) that stated that the UK would be stronger as a unit. Indeed, the campaign for the No side was actually called Better Together, if you were in any ambiguity at their core message. You and I might disagree with that of course, but we can admit that the debate engaged an electorate that hadn't been engaged before. I mean, you could count the number of times I've written about politics on this blog in it's eight years on one hand pre-summer of 2014, and since... it's been quite a few times.
The strangest thing to come along in the past week or so is the frantic realisation that the SNP, notionally called the Nationlists in the demonising press, are going to do very good numbers across large parts of Scotland. Whatever the actual results are in the coming general election, the landscape has changed entirely, just like it did following last years referendum. Even if the SNP "only" manage 25 to 30 seats of their possible and predicted 50 that is still a massive swing from Lib Dems, Labour and yes the lone Tory seat. For Scotland it is the next chapter in a falling out with Labour policy and Labour voting that has been rushing down hill since the 2010 and maybe the 2011 elections (and maybe even further back, from the right-leaning centrist politics of the Blair years).
This has understanably scared the establishment in Westminster. They're realising too late that the UK voters are wanting actual change. The reason UKIP and the SNP (and the Green Party) are gaining votes from the Tories and Labour is because these two parties have fallen into the centre. The Tories aren't right wing enough for the UKIP voter and the Labour party aren't progressive enough for the SNP or Green voter. Sturgeon put it perfectly; "I'm not saying you're not different from David Cameron, I am saying you're not different enough". It's obvious that's the case, but the reality is that the future of Westminster might be at stake.
The First Past the Post system is a bag of shit and loads of people know that - but the issue is that to reform it you need to get on board the people it'll put out of a job. In my current working climate we have a similar issue - engineers are getting let go due to lack of work but instead of a top-down reorganisation to remove the wasteage at the top there has been hiring in and setting up a "task-force". You can't get folk to sack themselves. So we're stuck in a perpetual state of stand-off, much like Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four super powers.
The press love a good scare story and the SNP are the perfect target - they're un-electable in the parts of the country where it matters to the papers (England) and they're an easy sell following the perception of the IndyRef down south as "breaking up the United Kingdom" - controlling that narrative, instead of the "self-determination of Scotland," of course. However, the recent comments about "holding a government to ransom" and "chaos" is startling in it's hypocrisy - why would 25 to 50 elected MPs be illegitimate? Telling the Scots that you're welcome and should saty but only if you vote for who we want is insane. Almost too insane.
In fact, it's like the Tories are playing the long game. The longest game there is - stir up angry sentiment in Scotland because they want to undermine the Scottish Parliament with an English Voter System (which in practise I am in favour of if we move to a federalised system entirely, not this hodge-podge of shit) and power that with angry sentiment directed at the SNP in England. The effect would be to kill Labour entirely; Labour needs Scotland to vote for it, the Tories don't. The tories have backed Labour into a checkmate so strong it's astonishing this isn't an episode of The Thick Of It - either you agree with the idea of splitting the votes in parliament up, which would cost Labour their "Scottish block" (which doesn't exist anymore anyway) or refused to fix a problem that will only get worse - the lack of an English Parliament in which Scottish Ps can vote on non-Scottish affairs - and cause an upset in the majority of voters.
Perfectly played. And Labour fell into the trap. They're fucked either way nationally. In Scotland they're already banjaxed - recent polling suggests that (outside of the margin for error) 1997 Survivor Jim Murphy, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party (which is in it's self a strange idea, with him peddling ideas that he can only implement in Holyrood, where he is not a standing MSP and his party has no majority) could lose his seat in my parents home consituency.
And the results of May 7th will be interesting no matter what. Polling got IndyRef ahead and the panic mobilised the No parties to step up their campaining to a very powerful level. With the SNP coming into power the Tories will rail them and the press will rail them saying that any government with them involved is not proper or moral, a concept so decietful it borders on a coup. The reality is that the SNP will have "power" or "influence" in any Westminster government because the Scottish voters will have voted for it.
Your move Westminster.