Fionn Hargreaves reports on Salmond saying ‘Bye!”, Sturgeon saying ‘Hi!’, and the state of Scottish politics two months after the independence referendum
After a Scot-centric summer, the dust is finally settling on September’s Independence Referendum. After seven and a half years in office, Alex Salmond stepped down as First Minister of Scotland last Tuesday.
Has been the privilege of my life to serve as FM over the last 7 years. Read my final statement to parliament here: http://t.co/rxHh1hlVpL
— Alex Salmond (@AlexSalmond) November 18, 2014
Even though Scotland conclusively voted against independence, issues thrown up from the referendum have yet to be settled.
Ahead of what will prove to be a very interesting 12 months for Scottish politics, here are five issues to look out for.
Forever Salmond’s right-hand woman, Sturgeon was sworn in as his successor on Wednesday. This could prove to be the change the SNP needs. In the months leading up to the referendum, Salmond’s struggle to curry favour with the female electorate was widely reported. Despite the SNP’s popularity, just 37% of women admitted to trusting the ex-First Minister.
As the first female First Minister – and only the 20th member of the worldwide club of women leaders (what’s up with that?) – can Sturgeon succeed where Salmond failed?
A woman gets her picture on the official wall of First Minister photos. Good day for Scotland whatever your politics pic.twitter.com/DAZL7iBjFY
— sarah smith (@BBCsarahsmith) November 19, 2014
The Collapse of Scottish Labour
While Scotland has long been seen as a Labour stronghold, the party’s grip has slowly weakened since the rise of the SNP during the 2007 Scottish Election.
Labour’s impassioned support for the No campaign seems to have further hurt the party’s standing – alienating potential voters from the Yes camp. According to a poll carried out by the Daily Record, Scottish Labour is set to lose 35 of its 40 seats in the 2015 General Election. Don’t be surprised if, after May, the political map of Scotland looks awfully yellow.
Just two days before the Referendum, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg released their vow to Scotland. Should the country vote No on 18th September (as it did), the three party leaders agreed to give “extensive new powers” to the Scottish Parliament, as well giving Scotland “the final say on how much is spent on the NHS”.
The leaders also agreed to continue with the Barnett Formula, an economic system used to allocate public spending. For years, the formula has been criticised for giving Scotland too high a proportion of public spending, leading to “unfair” subsidies in tuition fees and prescriptions in Scotland. Barnett himself has admitted that the formula was not intended to be a long-term solution, calling his plan a “terrible mistake”.
Only time will tell how Westminster will act on their promise for further devolution and whether this policy is even economically viable in the future.
— The SNP (@theSNP) November 14, 2014
During the summer, the divisive nature of Alex Salmond and the Referendum debate became clear. In the weeks leading up to the vote, the debate descended into the petty, the crude and even the violent. It was almost as if no one had given any thought to what would happen to this rift after 18th September.
While the No camp won decisively on the day, it is still worrying to think that 45% of Scotland is unhappy with the way in which they are represented. The only way in which Scotland will be able to move on and develop from September’s vote is with unity and solidarity.
According to a survey run by Ipsos MORI, 66% of Scots want another Independence Referendum in the next decade, with 58% wanting another vote in the next five years.
The issue of Scottish Independence is by no means over, and seeing as the last vote left more questions than answers, maybe a continued conversation will help to resolve these issues.
On the plus side, if there is another referendum, Sky News can produce more masterpieces like this:
Featured image credit: Edinburgh/Leith Daily Photo