Why general election just gave Scotland another vital reason to back independence

With Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party taking a chunk out of the Conservatives and setting their sights on Labour, Scotland needs to quit the UK, says Kenny MacAskill

After a Labour landslide that was equally a defeat for democracy, Keir Starmer is entitled to his moment in the sun but storm clouds loom. There’s something fundamentally wrong in a government getting over 60 per cent of the seats on just over 20 per cent of the electorate and, believe me, the number of unregistered voters is huge. Yet another aspect of disenfranchisement and disillusionment.

Labour won the vote but there’s no sense of anticipation or optimism – considerably less voted for Starmer’s party than Corbyn’s. Folk are just resigned to continuing woes but wanted to punish those they saw culpable or held in contempt. It was, therefore, a cataclysmic defeat for the Tories and a catastrophic night for the SNP, both reaping what they’ve sown.

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Sunak at least had the gumption to apologise, his tenure dogged by internal division, a split that doesn’t look like healing anytime soon. But his precipitate calling of the election was a disaster for his party.

Nigel Farage's Reform UK party is on the march (Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)Nigel Farage's Reform UK party is on the march (Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage's Reform UK party is on the march (Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
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Former SNP MP urges Swinney to make way for fresh leadership under Forbes and Fl...

Sturgeon shameless and pathetic

With the SNP, the blame rests not with hapless Humza Yousaf or hopeless John Swinney. For sure, they’ve made mistakes and the campaign was woeful. Doubling down on gender reform saw the normally reasonably articulate current First Minister tongue-tied or spouting gobbledygook.

I’ve written previously that history won’t be kind to Nicola Sturgeon. That was rubbished by her acolytes and sycophants. But few now seek to “stand with Nicola”. Her failure to accept culpability and seeming to blame her successors was shameless and pathetic. But indicative of her.

In 2014, she inherited a party and a movement on the march. Her legacy is toxic through ineptitude, inertia and control freakery, which badly wounded the movement she claimed to cherish. She’ll soon be gone and it’s not that history won’t be kind; instead it’ll be cruel in its accurate narration of her disastrous leadership.

Of course, others can’t be absolved of blame as Yousaf sought to continue her legacy and Swinney to cover for her both when she was in and out of office. Some rank-and-file supporters will still be deluded but many more will see the scales lift from their eyes. There’s no legacy for the Sturgeon years, baby boxes and a child payment are poor fare, for all the opportunities and goodwill which existed. Bequeathed so much, she has left a party that’s crippled, saddled with lightweight place-people and shorn of funds.

Britain lurching towards Reform

Worse is still to come as her and the SNP’s woes are far from over. There’s going to be no respite as police investigations conclude and the incompetence in office continues. Swinney has few, if any, cards to play. Reaching out to the movement Sturgeon trashed would be wise but politicians and parties like wounded animals have a habit of lashing out instead.

However, this election was a defeat for the SNP, not independence. That remains but the political vehicle has to change. The social and economic case remains, an energy-rich land where fuel poverty is rampant, and deindustrialisation ongoing. Politically, Reform may only have five seats but they’re in second place in many Labour areas.

Having bitten the Tories, they’re now after Labour. When Starmer fails to deliver change, they’ll strike. There’s worse things waiting in Britain and that’s why independence is needed.

Kenny MacAskill is the former Alba MP for East Lothian

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