Labour’s result with Corbyn at the helm has demonstrated the hunger that exists for a more progressive politics. We saw this same hunger here in Scotland in 2014. On both occasions it was not quite enough to overcome the massive bias produced by an elite-dominated media (and in 2014 by the broken promise of The Vow). It is a nasty irony that the Tories look to be able to keep hold of the reins of government thanks to their gains in Scotland. Ruth Davidson is oozing even more smugness than usual, but her party only got a 29% share of the Scottish vote. The rest was divided between two leftish parties, so the result was always going to be messy. For the Scottish Tories this was a single issue campaign, and they undoubtedly succeeded in capturing unionist votes from Labour in the competition to unseat the SNP. At the same time, and despite the myopic narrow-mindedness of their local leadership, Scottish Labour benefited from Indy supporting socialists who wanted to back Corbyn and are not at all pleased that their vote is being interpreted as a turn away from Independence and a boost for Kezia Dugdale. The SNP, who still have 35 of the 59 Scottish seats, has many progressive policies, but they are not good at shouting about them, and – just as in the early stages of the Yes campaign – their generally guarded and careful approach can’t stimulate mass involvement. As a result we have lost some good left SNP MPs, notably George Kerevan and Ann McLaughlin. The SNP will also have lost support from those who don’t share its prioritising of EU membership. We have always argued that the crucial redline issue to trigger a break from the UK should not have been Europe, but welfare, and the need to have the power to protect our most vulnerable and poorest citizens. If the Tories pull together another government with the help of the DUP, then we will need those powers more than ever.
What a difference a day makes. These are certainly ‘interesting times’ and we can expect a lot more political surprises, but we have to be more than onlookers and occasional voters. Progressive politics needs to be built on practical action and campaigning, and with the Tories in power there will be no shortage of people who require support, or issues to campaign on – especially around welfare. We will be back out with our stall in Dundee City Centre on Saturday (2-4pm).