By Max Bluer
Thursday evening and the British general election’s exit poll has just been released; it accurately predicts massive gains for the Europhobic Conservative Party and the Scottish Nationalist Party – the driving force behind last year’s referendum on Scottish independence. That noise you heard when the news broke was supporters of the left, of the integrity of the United Kingdom and of the European project banging their collective head against the nearest wall.
David Cameron and his government have wasted no time in confirming that £12 billion will be cut from the welfare budget; that Michael Gove will lead attempts to repeal the Human Rights Act and that the new Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions will be Priti Patel, MP for Witham and an on-the-record supporter of the reintroduction of capital punishment.
Yet perhaps the biggest worry is the constitutional effect the new government will have on the United Kingdom. The Conservatives election campaign was ugly and divisive. Right-wing papers like the Daily Express ran headlines such as ‘SNP will force Labour to bankrupt Britain’ – convincing English voters that voting for Ed Miliband would result in an unholy Labour-SNP alliance. Read enough issues of The Sun or The Daily Mail and you would find yourself voting Tory just to stop Alex Salmond redecorating 10 Downing Street in Tartan and ordering a multi-million pound remake of Braveheart, to be shown to every Sassenach child throughout the land.
The people of Scotland will not forget their demonisation at the hands of the Conservative Party. Then SNP leader Alex Salmond may have promised that September’s referendum had been a ‘once in a generation’ event that would settle once and for all the issue of Scottish independence. Yet during a debate on Scottish television his successor Nicola Sturgeon had refused to rule out a second referendum.
Indeed a second referendum is all the more likely after the results of the general election. Rarely have the political waters North and South of the border run so against each other. Scots who already resent Trident – the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons system – polluting (in all sense of the term) their land will now be subject to the cruel, divisive and anti-Scottish moods and policies of a majority Conservative government. With the SNP now boasting far greater membership and political clout than it did last September, the clamour from North of the Border to grant Scotland another referendum will soon become deafening; and this time the nationalists might just win.