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Scots' UK election command good for democracy and compassion

  • 07 May 2015

Dickens’ opening to his Tale of Two Cities describes aptly the UK General Election campaign now nearing its end. 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity'.

What has made the campaign one of the most exciting in decades has been the emergence of Nicola Sturgeon (pictured), leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and First Minister of Scotland, as a major political force on the UK stage.

Given the defeat for the SNP of the independence referendum last year, it was assumed the SNP and its new leader would be mincemeat in the UK General Election. Instead, backed by a massive membership surge to 110,000, making the SNP the third party in terms of membership in the UK and the largest by far in Scotland, Nicola, as she is simply known, has been the star act in the televised all party leadership debate, causing even some in England to want to vote for her.

Her anti-austerity message, opposition to the $A191 billion renewal of Trident, the 200 nuclear warheads based 25 miles from Scotland’s largest population centre, her social democratic stance, and her insistence that this election is not about a re-run of the independence referendum but about  a ‘progressive alliance’ between the Greens, Labour, Plaid Cymru (the Welsh National Party) to keep Cameron out has played out brilliantly against a backdrop of her being one of the few politicians to be trusted by voters.

The ‘foolishness’ has been the strident backlash from the Tory press branding her 'the most dangerous woman in the UK' and Labour Leader Ed Miliband ruling out any agreement with the SNP to put him into Downing Street. This amounts to saying he would prefer David Cameron to be PM rather than have any deal with the SNP.

To add to the foolishness, we have London Mayor, Boris Johnston, saying a Labour/SNP deal would be ‘Ajockalypse Now’, a not too subtle insult that is tantamount to a racist slur, and The Tories and the Independent newspaper questioning the legitimacy of SNP MPs having influence on a Miliband government. Scotland has one Tory MP (at least at time of writing) yet no-one questioned the legitimacy of Tories deciding the Scottish budget in the last Westminster Parliament.

The New Statesman poll on election