Well, one thing that’s for sure about the last couple of UK General Elections is that they’re full of surprises!
When the Exit Poll came out on election night it seemed wide of the mark, but it was spot on and we have ended up with a ‘hung’ UK parliament. This means a complete lack of the certainty that the Prime Minister gave as the reason she was calling this election! The big loser of this election was Theresa May. She called an election, after months of saying she wouldn’t, clearly thinking she was going to crush the opoposition, sweep everybody aside and cruise to a landslide majority.
Then came the next surprise – Mr Jeremy Corbyn had a much better result than expected and ran the Tories really close south of the border. I enjoyed watching Jeremy’s campaign in England. I was a bit concerned about his support for Trident renewal, but heartened that he agreed with so many policies that have been implemented by the SNP since we took Government in Scotland – no tuition fees for example.
Many, many years ago Jeremy Corbyn and I shared accommodation when we were UN Election Observers on the other side of the globe. I was a rookie in that role, but Jeremy had a good bit of experience and I learned a lot from him. What particularly struck me about him though was the compassion he had for those who were in danger and had suffered hard times. He’s a thoroughly decent chap – I know that ‘decent’ may be an undervalued concept these days, but I believe it to be a big compliment. Doing the decent thing by folk is what politics should be based upon.
So, I was pleased when Nicola Sturgeon stated before the General Election that Scottish National Party MPs elected would “look to be part of a progressive alliance” at Westminster if the general election resulted in a hung parliament, and that we would work with others to implement policies against the worst excesses of the Tory Party. Meanwhile, as I write this, the UK Prime Minister is negotiating with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party who are not exactly known as ‘progressives’!
It would be remiss of me in writing this column, not to also admit that, for my own Party, the SNP, the loss of some of our most respected MPs was a shock. We knew that we could never replicate winning 56 out of 59 Westminster seats as we did in 2015, but losing the likes of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik and Angus Robertson, as well as Alex Salmond was a blow – of course it was.
The Scottish National Party though, with 35 seats, is still by far the biggest Party representing Scotland at the UK Parliament. This is the second best Westminster result ever for the SNP – before the 2015 election we only had 6 MPs. Testament to the record of the Scottish Government.
Here in East Kilbride, Lisa Cameron was returned as SNP MP for East Kilbride and she with her colleagues will continue to stand up for Scotland. We will make sure Scotland has a strong voice at Westminster and work with others of similar mind that the current hard-line course that is being followed by the Tories is damaging to individuals and to Scotland.
We will defend our place in the EU single market and make sure our voice is heard in the Brexit negotiations – let’s remember that Scotland, and interestingly Northern Ireland, voted to remain in the EU. Despite her opportunistic election Ms May clearly does not have a mandate for the Brexit plan she was pursuing.
There is so much uncertainty in UK terms – too many surprises – so it is reassuring that in the weeks and months ahead, the Scottish Government will continue to provide the stable and effective government our country needs.