The Impact of the SNP

Image: Ged Carroll

How much is the potential impact of the SNP in Scotland Justified?

Ever since the Scottish Nationalist Party took power in the Scottish Parliament in 2011, with Alex Salmond becoming outright First Minister and signing the referendum question deal with David Cameron, the SNP have been a thorn in the Westminster parties side that no other smaller party, not even UKIP, has compared to. Now, with a month till polling day, the SNP are showing strong leads in the polls every week, Nicola Sturgeon is performing well in the TV debates, with snap polls showing her as winner, Alex Salmond is fighting hard in Gordon to become MP and the SNP’s main opposition, Labour, is scrambling to make any dent in their meteoric rise. The question above focuses on Scotland, but with a general election coming up, the SNP’s impact could have far wider consequences. Long a Labour stronghold, Scotland is now set to fall to the SNP wave, decimating what has always been Labour’s ‘safe seats’ and removing what few seats the Liberal Democrats hold. If that is the case, then the day after May 7th could be very interesting, for those who are interested.

If the Conservative party is the largest party in the Commons…the SNP becomes effective as an opposition tool

If the SNP do as well as the polls are predicting, and if Labour holds the most seats, then the SNP has said they will enter into an informal coalition with Labour, working on a case by case basis to get legislation through. If that’s the case, then the SNP has another opportunity to get another referendum through the PM’s office on whether or not Scotland should be independent, or they may try and bypass it altogether, forcing Labour to put it through legislation in exchange for keeping the government propped up. However, if the Conservative party is the largest party in the Commons, whether by an actual majority or just the largest number of seats, then the SNP becomes effective as an opposition tool. With the polls showing Labour and Conservative neck and neck on polling the likelihood is that any majority over the other would be slim. The SNP could then block any legislation that the Conservatives put forward, as they have promised to do, or help any Labour legislation that they like. But more than that, another Conservative government, enacting continued spending cuts and austerity measures, would only be useful to the SNPs cause, driving a wedge further between Scotland and England, making the chance at independence that much greater in the future.

The SNP is the best representative that this country no longer plays a two party politics game

Scotland has 59 Parliamentary seats, this large bulk of votes in the Common is not something to be ignored to be waved away as safe Labour seats anymore. The SNP is the best representative that this country no longer plays a two party politics game, it’s not just a question of red and blue, right and left wing, the spectrum has become much more multi-coloured, with shades of yellow, purple, green. The SNP doesn’t just have a potential impact in Scotland but all over the country, not just in terms of the legislation that it might affect in the Commons, but also the way that the political make up of this country is observed. With the rise of this and other small parties, is this the start of the end of two party politics in Britain? Proportional representation has long been denied by the ‘establishment’ and no doubt long will be as it continues to serve Labour and Conservative well, the next question is, how many coalitions will it take before the smaller parties begin to demand it, despite the Lib Dems loss of the referendum in 2011?

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