The SNP ride higher than ever in the polls – some have them as high 60% for next May’s Holyrood election. There appears to have been very little “Corbyn bounce” for Labour, at least thus far. It begs the question: how will anyone but the SNP win in Scotland ever again?
Part of what must be addressed to even start trying to answer that question, is to once again dispel the myth that Labour were not left-wing enough to win in Scotland. I’ve written about this point so many times I won’t repeat myself here; particularly when the real life test of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader is going to do that for me come next May.
The big problem is that there is one party of independence and several unionist parties. To add to this problem, Labour seem to want to distance themselves from unionism in order to try and steal the SNP’s thunder and get those seats back they lost to the Nats. Of this strategy I can only say, best of luck to Labour, but I don’t think it will help them any. It may even kill them off completely in Scotland.
I’m starting to believe that what’s required is a new unionist party, free from the shackles of the past. Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are now all so tarnished as brands in Scotland (partly because they are seen as “English” entities) that it gives the SNP a free pass and many people vote for them by default.
The politics and policies of this new entity would be tricky to work out at first. But imagine if you will a party led by Ruth Davidson that wasn’t tied down by the legacy of Thatcherism in Scotland?
The idea of the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems putting aside decades of extreme dislike in order to work together to defeat the Nats may sound extremely fanciful. But necessity is the mother of invention: if something like this doesn’t happen, it’s hard to see anyone but the SNP winning in Scotland for some time. And if a unionist party cannot win at Holyrood, you have to wonder how long the Union itself can hold together.