It was not supposed to be like this. The losing parties of the Scottish independence referendum on the 18th September were supposed to be deflated, dejected and in tatters. At least that was what the ‘Better Together’ campaign and their media allies had predicted. Just over five weeks after the Scottish electorate opted to vote to stay in the United Kingdom by 55 per cent to 45 per cent, this could not be further from the truth. The three main parties who supported a ‘yes’ vote have all seen a massive growth in membership. The SNP membership stood at around 25,000 before the referendum but since has soared to 83,000. This now places the SNP as the third largest political party in Britain in terms of membership. The Scottish Socialist Party and Greens have also nearly tripled their membership.

This unprecedented growth of political action has arisen out of a two-year campaign that saw a huge national discussion take place. Many who had never voted before signed up to do so and packed their local town halls out on a daily basis to debate the issues. This has subsequently had a huge effect on Scottish politics and a wider impact on Britain. The ‘no’ campaign may have won but they won dirty and at a huge cost. This has had a hugely negative effect on the parties who support the status quo and, could change the political landscape next year at the General Election.

The biggest losers of this referendum have been the Labour Party who campaigned hand in hand with the Conservatives to stop the Scots voting for independence. As the referendum drew closer many traditional Labour voters began to see the appeal of an Independent Scotland and its potential for a fairer society. In the end, 40 per cent of those who voted Labour in the 2010 General Election voted for Scottish Independence. Many of these were people who lived in the Labour heartlands of Glasgow and the west of Scotland. As a result of the Labour Party’s actions, many of these have joined the pro-independence parties and will never vote Labour again.

The past few weeks have seen a number of significant events, which appear to show more cracks in the Union of England and Scotland; a union which was supposedly saved just several weeks ago. The politics of England is moving evermore to the right of the spectrum and this is wholly down to the rise of UKIP. The recent victory of UKIP in the Clacton by-election has seen them gain their first elected UK parliamentarian. Since this, their figures in the opinion polls have risen fast and now average around 17 per cent. This could see them win anything from 7-20 MPs at May’s General Election.

The whole rise of UKIP in the working-class constituencies of England has led to the British Labour Party taking a stronger stance on immigration and therefore sounding more like UKIP. This lurch to the right is in contrast to the Scottish political landscape, which on the whole appears to mainly support centre-left politics. It is also a part of the UK, which sees UKIP with just the one elected politician, and a poll rating that rarely breaks the four per cent barrier. This has effectively driven more left-wing voters into the arms of the SNP as they are seen as the only party to stand up for Scottish interests and protect Scotland’s membership of the EU in the light of continuing Eurosceptic voices emanating from Westminster.

This current crisis for the UK’s Labour Party recently resulted in the resignation of the Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont. In her resignation speech, she took a major parting shot at Ed Miliband and the British Labour HQ stating that some in Westminster treated Scotland ‘like a branch office’. This shock statement has left the party in further turmoil and has created huge repercussions in terms of Labour’s poll ratings. A landmark IPSOS-MORI Westminster opinion poll released on the 30th October of this year gave them 23 per cent of Scottish voting intentions. This is 29 per cent behind the SNP with an enormous 52 per cent. This would see Labour effectively wiped out in Scotland with only four seats, whereas the SNP would win 52 seats up from the current six. This will see the SNP or a YES alliance (coalition of yes parties) possibly holding the balance of power in a hung parliament. On the other hand, the loss of these seats could deprive Ed Miliband of an overall majority he so desperately craves.

The effect of this Independence referendum cannot be underestimated. Just less than two months on and the consequences have been astounding. The ramifications for the collapse of the Labour Party in Scotland and any continued Conservative Government in Westminster will see the Union stretch to breaking point. One thing is clear for certain; British politics will never be the same again.

 

Sources:

(http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/new-snp-members-get-vote-in-candidate-rule-waiver.25716241).

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/johann-lamont-resigns-party-has-no-clue-on-scotland-says-former-labour-first-minister-9818656.html