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General Election 2019: The Scottish Situation

The 2019 general election.

An election which brought us the Conservatives returning to power with a thumping majority; Labour (and their fabled red wall) collapse; the worst result for Labour since 1935; and a yellow wave sweep over Scotland. 

Understandably, most of the above will give conservatives across the UK a cause to celebrate.

However, in among the multitudes of new seats won south of Gretna it can be easy to lose sight of the situation in Scotland.

We entered the campaign with 13 MPs hailing from Scotland and left with 6. Labour was nearly entirely wiped out, falling to 1 MP, while the Lib Dems lost their leader but gained NE Fife (leaving them with no losses in numbers of seats).

As an aside, the flipping of NE Fife means that Stephen Gethins has the singular distinction of being the sole SNP MP that had been in office before the election to not be returned. 

There will need to be a period of reflection as to why we, in the Scottish Conservatives, lost 7 hard working and dedicated Members of Parliament. This is not the time, nor place, for that analysis. 

Rather, a more pressing issue now presents itself. Scottish independence. More specifically, the push from the Yes campaign - spearheaded by the SNP - for a second referendum on the issue. 

It can be easy for activists south of the border to dismiss the SNP and their calls for independence. It can be convenient to fall back on the easy answer of "it was once in a generation and we said no". This way folly lies.

On election night, Ian Blackford made no secret of the fact that the SNP gains would be used as a cudgel to beat the government with. Nicola Sturgeon has wasted no time in vocalising these demands.

These demands are not simply the clarion call of the SNP. Their base, and some beyond the party, are incensed. They see a conservative government as the worst of all outcomes. They want independence, and they want it now.

We must not lose sight of this. 

While we won the election, nationally, the campaign is far from over. Excluding the 2021 Scottish General, the focus must now be on the union.

However, the Scottish Conservatives cannot win this alone. Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrats support will be essential. So too will be the understanding of the national parties.

If we fail to understand this, if we fail to deliver the positive case for staying in the Union, if we cannot build Unionist alliances across the political spectrum - then we run the very real risk of losing the union. 

Craig Docherty