Mhari Black has been facing a lot of flak on social media for the things she’s being saying about Scotland in relation to London and the two places’ relative political power. This tweet from her summarises her position to date:
“Scotland has 59 MPs. London has 73. The second largest country in the UK can be outvoted by a single city. That’s the real shame.”
People from all over the political spectrum have descended on her, pointing out that the reason London has more MPs than Scotland is that it has a lot more people. In fact, proportionally, London should have a lot more seats in the House of Commons than it actually does relative to Scotland.
However, Black did have a relevant point, buried in amongst everything – but the thing that would have made it make sense was missing, and the omission was telling. What she should have said instead was something like this.
Scotland is small and England is big. 85% of the population of the UK is in England, less than 10% of it is in Scotland. Hell, even England’s biggest city has a lot more people in it than all of Scotland, and thus has more political representation than all of Scotland as a result. Given the fact that Scotland has a very different political texture than England, there is no way Scotland’s voice can really be given full expression unless Scotland completely has jurisdiction over its political decision making process, and that can only really happen via independence. When London has more of a say than the entirety of Scotland, it’s obvious that being a junior partner in the Union isn’t going to work for much longer.
It seems clear to me upon reflection that Black didn’t want to point out that what made her point about London make sense is that Scotland is small. I guess it might be seen as talking the place down, or possibly being negative in terms of the overall independence argument (Scots might fear leaving the UK when the size of Scotland is brought into play. Being a small constituency within a UN permanent council member could be preferable to being Slovakia. Or rather, trying to be Slovakia, so long as the debt burden doesn’t make EU membership some ways off). Unfortunately, it left her open to the criticisms she faced, all fairly played.
It shows that the SNP is going to have to think a little deeper about its messaging before Indy Ref 2 campaigning kicks off for real. I still think they have the upper hand here, particularly as none of the Unionist arguments really stand up post-Brexit (even the debt one is undone by the fact that the British government is talking about reneging on the EU divorce settlement figure. If Britain can do it, why not Scotland? As ever, the May government is setting all sorts of precedents within the Brexit process that may come back to haunt them). But the Nats could become undone by just this sort of thing.