I have been a political animal ever since I became aware of politics. Ever since being able to vote, I have – without fail – voted every single time. And of course I have followed every political campaign with interest, and I have to say that I have never witnessed anything like the 2015 UK General Election which will take place on Thursday, 7 May 2015. I have never before witnessed an election where voting patterns are changing, one in which most of the parties have been so negative, nor one that has been so dirty towards the Scottish National Party (SNP) in general, and the SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in particular.
Firstly to the history. For decades the Labour Party dominated Scotland. Indeed, there have been Labour governments voted into Westminster with the help of the Scottish bloc vote. Since the mid-1980s however, the Labour Party have moved increasingly to the right, while the SNP, whom I have to admit used to pretty right-wing, have moved further and further to the left. The 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence, which went to No by a mere 5% seems to have galvanised something in the Scottish electorate; they have become truly interested in politics, and more and more are turning to the SNP on a daily basis. SNP membership has swelled to over 110,000 – making them, after the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, the third largest party in the UK – and even more amazingly, of the 59 Westminster parliamentary seats in Scotland, every poll is predicting an SNP landslide in Scotland. And if the SNP take the majority of seats, that puts them in a very powerful position in Westminster, so powerful in fact that they may become “king makers” of the new UK government. The SNP has for over 20 years stated they will not do deals with the Conservative Party, so that leaves the Labour Party, whom the SNP has offered to do a deal with to put their leader Ed Miliband into power as Prime Minister. Miliband is steadfastly holding out on this, and has even gone as far as to say if it means a deal with the SNP, he will not be Prime Minister.
This situation has of course drawn quite a few comments from the Westminster establishment, and their poodle, the media. And to say most of it has been unflattering, would be an understatement. Just a matter of months ago Westminster politicians were urging Scotland to remain in the Union and become more involved in the UK. Now that Scots are doing exactly that, the very same people are panicking, and the backlash has been pretty ugly.
Smear stories against the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, and even the Scots in general, have appeared in the media on a daily basis, with The Telegraph being the main protagonist. Crying foul, the Telegraph are complaining about the SNP deciding the government for the whole of the UK. There have been comments of Nicola Sturgeon not knowing the rules of politics, and that the English won’t put up with it and there may well be a backlash. This of course ignores that SNP Members of Parliament elected to Westminster will be legitimate British MPs, which means they have every right to help form a government – that is democracy. And if any English are unhappy about another country forming their nation’s government, well after Scotland having exactly that for 308 years, now they know how it feels. Indeed, the Conservatives, right up to and including Prime Minister David Cameron would do well to remember that they only got into power at the last general election in 2010 by entering into exactly such a coalition with the Liberal-Democrat Party.
And every time the media and Westminster politicians have attacked Sturgeon and the SNP, they have increased in popularity. So, out came the knives against the Scottish First Minister.
“Most dangerous woman in Britain”; “If Scotland rules England, I can foresee the Thames flowing with so much blood”; “Scotland has lost its marbles – and we’ll ALL pay the price”; “How I’ll blackmail England for £148 billion by the most dangerous woman in Britain”; just a few of the rants by the media.
And were that not enough, then came the comments from the politicians. Labour Party whip David Hamilton was pulled up by his own party after the sexist and insulting comment about Nicola Sturgeon, “The wee lass in a tin hat”. Not that the Labour Party need have bothered; his comments completely backfired when SNP supporters, mostly women, mocked his words by posting pics of themselves with colanders on their heads all over social media. In a bizarre moment, referring to the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936, the Conservative Party’s Teresa May stated that an SNP/Labour pact would be the “Worst constitutional crisis since the abdication”. Lowest of all however was Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who – apart from calling the First Minister “Lady Macbeth” – stated of Nicola Sturgeon and the possibility of an SNP / Labour pact, “You wouldn’t get Herod to run a baby farm, would you?” The Conservative Party have taken absolutely no action against Boris Johnson for this remark.
But then, this is typical of Westminster and their media lapdogs; when trying to demonise someone on their policies fails, turn instead to attacking the person. “Little Miss McHypocrite” snided the Daily Mail over the fact that Nicola Sturgeon’s parents had bought their council house in 1984 under Margaret Thatcher’s “right to buy” legislation (if you can’t attack the person directly, then go for their family). The Sun carried a two-page spread of Nicola Sturgeon’s head superimposed on a model in a tartan crop-top and pants, sitting on a wrecking ball with a Saltire on it, and the headline “Tartan Barmy”. But then The Sun, referring to the First Minister as “The Scotweiller” also ran another two-page spread about her early life, pointing out that Nicola Sturgeon once cut the hair of her sister’s Sindy Doll, claiming that displayed early signs of ruthlessness. Even The Mirror, who being a Labour-supporting and supposedly left-wing newspaper, one would think would be above sexism, waded in with “She’s got a natty new wardrobe of suits with matching stilettos and confidence way beyond her abilities”, and referred to the First Minister as a “human Dinky Toy”.
For her part Nicola Sturgeon has laughed all this off, which is the mark of the woman. The politicians and media are making fools of themselves and merely increasing the popularity of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. There have been many people in England, mainly women, who have stated that they only wish they could vote for Nicola Sturgeon as Prime Minister.
So what’s her secret? There is none. It is simply that Nicola Sturgeon is one of the people. She comes from an ordinary background, she listens carefully to people, then answers honestly, and addresses their concerns to the best of her abilities. Her compassion, backed with a brilliant intelligence, a razor-sharp wit, and above all, her honesty connects with people at all levels. And of course a raft of progressive policies for social change does not hurt either. She is indeed a dangerous woman – for opposition politicians, for she is one too many for them, and they know it.
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you – and then you win.” So Mahatma Gandhi once said. It is a truism which Nicola Sturgeon knows well, and one which all Scots Nats need to remember.
Just as the Unionists need to remember that it was only last year they urged Scotland to stay in and be part of the Union. Now that we are doing exactly that, the moral they need to learn is be careful what you wish for, it may just come true.