The number of times a Trident submarine has had some sort of calamity would be hilarious if it wasn’t so utterly horrifying.
How many times have you read, or heard, some variation of “Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t speak for me” or “the SNP don’t speak for Scotland?” Usually it’s by people who didn’t vote for the SNP. Frequently it’s by people who include non-voters on their side, making preposterous arguments that the SNP are in fact only representing a “tiny minority” of Scots when you include people who didn’t – or couldn’t – go to the ballot box.
I understand when people say that the First Minister, the Scottish Government, or the SNP as a party don’t represent their beliefs, interests, or policies. That’s the nature of party politics. But to say they do not speak for Scotland is rather confusing: for if the democratically elected First Minister, or the democratically elected Scottish Government, or the third largest party in the British Isles, do not speak for Scotland… then who, exactly, does? The next largest party in the Scottish Parliament has barely over a fifth of the popular vote. Same with the third largest, which has been plummeting every year since the Scottish Parliament reconvened. The former third largest party in the UK is now the smallest party in the Scottish Parliament, with less than a tenth of the voters’ support.
Much is made, fairly so, about the SNP gaining 95% of Scottish seats in Westminster based on 50% of the vote. Nonetheless, the SNP candidates in no less than 35 of those constituencies won on an overall majority – which means that 59% of all Scottish seats were represented by individuals with over 50% of the constituency vote. None of the three non-SNP seats were won on anything like such a majority – only a few thousand votes, and Scotland would be entirely yellow.
Nonetheless, social attitudes surveys show that there are situations where the response from those interviewed suggested a divergence between the electorate and the elected. One of these is Trident – and it’s something I think we seriously need to talk about.