Sometimes in order to see where we are going,we need to look back to see where we have come from.
Bearing this thought In mind I decided to cast an eye back to the first Scottish Devolved Executive(They didn’t like to use the word Government, as It might give Scots Ideas above their station!), to see If I could spot a direction of travel, and see what trends I could see in the path we have have taken, to arrive at today’s Scottish Government.
Firstly I looked at the composition of representation for each party in the original parliament. I came up with the following figures.
Labour: 56 Msps
SNP: 35 Msps
Tories: 18 Msps
LibDems 17 Msps
Green 1 Msp
SSP 1 Msp
Ind 1 Msp
Having no parliament building, the first constituted Scottish parliament since its dissolution in 1707 sat initially In the Assembly rooms of the Church of Scotland, until a new purpose built parliament could be built. Such was the way that the voting system was set up, it was thought that no party could have a majority government(particularly Not those Nats!) thus there was either the option of forming a minority government, or entering into successive coalition governments. A minority government being thought too unstable to maintain, the Initial governments for the first two terms were Lib Lab Coalitions.
The first sign of real political sea change occurred on the election of the 3rd Scottish Parliament in 2007. The SNP won the majority of seats, by ONE solitary seat from Labour. Being unable to reach agreement with the LibDems, as they completely refused to enter talks of coalition with the SNP, as long as the SNP insisted on having a Referendum on Independence, the SNP took the bold step of going it alone.
The fact that the Libdems refused to entertain the thought of coalition because of a Referendum, might seem somewhat at odds with that parties desire to have more choice given to the people over important matters, and their liking for Referendums. It does seem an odd choice for them to deny the people a voice!
Furthermore, apart from being in Coalition with an Increasingly draconian authoritarian Labour party in Scotland for two terms, they have subsequently propped up a Tory government in Westminster. It seems that they have exchanged morality for power, and federalism for Unionism, Liberalism for Cronyism.
Many thought that the SNPs Bold move to govern alone would be unsustainable, given that they could be voted down over every bill.
Perhaps the only reason they managed to somehow stay the course was because the other parties were scared to force an election?
Unfortunately the one Bill they could not put forward was the one for a Referendum. The other main parties made it crystal clear that It would be immediately voted down! Instead, the Union supporting parties of Labour/Tory and Lib Dems cobbled together something called the Calman Commission. The idea of this commission was to look at what new powers could be gained for the Scottish parliament in a devolved structure. The only question banned from being considered,was the question of Independence. Ultimately the Commission came up with as few added changes as it could escape with, whilst actually handing back power to Westminster in other areas such as planning permission. The SNP Government being Set against the Nuclear Power station developments wanted by Westminster, used planning permission to block any such ideas in Scotland. The much derided Scotland Bill is currently making its way through Westminster, with more amendments removing power from Scotland, being added at regular intervals by Labour Lords!
The 4th Scottish Parliament elections of May 2011 has seen the equivalent of a Political Tsunami hit Scotland.
The seemingly Impossible became not only possible but actual!
For a parliament designed to never have a majority, a conclusive majority has been voted in place.
For a parliament designed by Labour never to have a Nationalist majority, their worst nightmares came true! Immediately resulting in the fastest about face on any long held policy, taking place in the space one night!
Before all the results were in, during the wee small hours of May the 6th, the calls from all the Unionist parties came, demanding an Immediate Referendum on Independence. Yet for all the days,weeks, months and years before(apart from one mental aberration by one Wendy Planet Brain Alexander) they had shouted collectively…Not over my dead Body will you have a referendum on Independence… What’s more they have not let a single day go by since the 6th of May demanding a Referendum right now!! They are having a collective Nightmare on Union Street! The very thing that they feared most is about to be visited on them. The Grim reaper of Westminster Imperialist privilege stands before them. Only he is not grim, but has a broadly smiling face, and he will announce the timing of his ballot for the people, In his own good time!
The results of the 2011 election was as follows:
SNP 69 Msps
Labour 37 Msps
Tory 15 Msps
LibDem 5 Msps
Green 2 Msps
Ind 1 Msp
The Independent being Margo MacDonald, a Nationalist Msp estranged from her original party. Therefore the Nationalist count being 70 Msps.
So what of the comparisons to the 1st Election in 1999?
Labour have gone from having 56 to 37, a loss of 29
Tory’s have gone from having 18 to 15, a loss of 3 (but having recorded their worst ever polling result ever in Scotland)
Libdems gone from having 17 to 5, a loss of 12, (and now actually just holding One constituency Msp.)
SNP have gone from having 35 to 69, an increase of 34
Labour have lost over a third, The Tories are holding up mostly by regional seats.The LibDems have less than a third of their original number.
The SNP,if you include Margo, have exactly doubled the nationalist representation!
But how many are left standing from the 1st parliament to the present?
Labour have 10 of their original 56 Msps
Tories have 6 of their original 18 Msps
LibDems have 1 of their original 17 Msps
and the SNP have 24 of their original 35 Msps.
Both Labour and Lib Dems have been decimated of experience, whilst the SNP has gradually built a solid team of Government.
Having looked back, what can we conclude in terms of the future?
Labour have been decimated of experience,and have a much greater rebuilding job than they would care to admit.
The Libdems have almost become extinct, and may become even further closer to extinction, through their inability to stand for anything other than power sharing. Soon, that too will be lost to them as they fight it out with the Greens for the 4th party position.
The Tories are also almost extinct, but still hold a toe hold by being the only openly centre right party in Scotland, and getting on regional lists.
The Greens are the only minority party left standing, from the SSP, Independent, and Green groups of the original first two parliaments, but will struggle to improve on their numbers.
My guess, looking into my hazy crystal ball, is that when we look back in 10 years time, Scotland will be an Independent Country, more than holding its own In Europe and the World.
The SNP will be no more,having achieved its main objective.In its place will be another party holding the reins of a socially just Scotland. The Labour party we know today, will have changed beyond all recognition, and having become an Independent party in an Independent country, will be once more attempting to become Socialist.
The Tories will have become the party that Murdo Fraser was hoping for, and will have changed their name, and become more like the old Scottish Conservative party it once was.
The Libdems will be no more! In their place will be a Scottish Liberal Party, which will once again follow old traditional Scottish Liberal traditions and not the conservative unionist aberration they are today.
How right or wrong my guesses are will be seen in a decade. I have no idea if I will still be around to see the results in 10 years time? One thing I do know, is that everything will have changed from what we see today. Ours is the footprints which will soon leave a mark on the fields of History,and we will make our voices heard,very soon. My guess for that date in history is 2014.