In the run up to the Scottish Parliament Elections poll after poll projected the SNP achieving enough seats to form a majority Government. However, on the 6th of May this wasn’t the reality.
The SNP won 63 seats – two short of a majority. At a first glance some may observe this as a disappointing result with a reduction of six seats from the previous Parliamentary term. But this is undoubtedly another historic victory that has strengthened the argument for independence. Although some still argue that it has weakened or in fact “dissolved” the case, it is worth highlighting that many Scots voted for pro-independence parties – which will be reflected in the next session of Parliament – with 53% of MSPs advocating the same belief.
This election has illustrated that the constitutional debate is still at the forefront of society with members of the electorate basing their voting intentions on whether the future of Scotland is best placed within the United Kingdom, or as an independent country. For those who believe in unlocking Scotland from the shackles of Westminster they expressed their support for the SNP. Whilst for those who support the continuation of the Union their most obvious choice was the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, which meant that many Labour voters shuffled to the right. This would explain why the Tories are now the second largest party, leaving Labour “carping from the sidelines.”
Indeed, the Scottish Labour Party have rejected the constitutional debate in this election campaign, “flip-flopping” around the issue with Kezia Dugdale arguing that she would be comfortable for Labour members to campaign for a Yes vote in the circumstance of another referendum, but later insisting all her MSPs would “oppose another referendum.” This lack of clarity on the issue has been emulated in the election result, securing the party in third position and leaving voters still questioning the party’s position on major political issues. Once again providing a clear reminder that the case for independence is by no means dead, and instead remains to be a pivotal debate in Scottish society.
In terms of nationalism and Scottish Independence this was a desirable result. With the Scottish Conservatives now acting as the main opposition, their divisive policy proposals will illustrate to Scottish voters the damage and destruction they would have on Scottish society. From here, the SNP will be able to effectively establish their centre-left social democratic agenda which will further emphasise the different path Scotland can take from the Tory Government in Westminster.
This Scottish Parliament Election result has illustrated that the arguments of independence are still pertinent in 2016. It has given the SNP a clear and strategic path to follow, and will forever be remembered as a historic victory.