May 6, 2011

Historic Day in Scotland

Today will go down as an important day in the history of Scotland. Last night the people of Scotland voted and gave the Scottish National Party a surprise majority in the Parliament and a strong mandate to govern the country for the next five years. Not to overstate things, but this is huge news and changes everything.

The outcome of the election is very significant. The Scottish Parliament was designed by the Labour Party in 1998 to use proportional representation so that it would be impossible for the nationalists to win a majority of the seats. They feared the SNP would use the Parliament as a step towards independence. The SNP were able to overcome this last night.

For the past four years, they have governed as a minority government, relying on the other parties to pass anything. This obviously restricted what they could do and forced them to make compromises. Now they are free to pursue their own agenda.

Scotland's relationship with Westminster and the rest of the UK has dramatically changed for at least the next five years. The SNP Government is in the position where it can claim to be the only government in the UK with the legitimacy to rule as is the only party to have a majority of seats in its legislative body. It will use its mandate to pressure Cameron. And if he doesn't get his way, Salmond will use every grievance as a means of showing how Scotland would be better off without the English. The next couple of years will be a long, subtle campaign for independence.

You could see the effects of the election even today, before all of the results were announced. At work we have already begun to discuss how we will have to approach our English equivalents differently.

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