The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon was on the BBC’s Question Time this week. You can watch it below.
Sat though it? Put up with David Dimbleby’s fumbling obsequience? Good. It’s a bit of an astonishing watch as the venom thrown at Sturgeon at times is extraordinary, though you expect it from an old Tory dinosaur like Michael Heseltine, it’s still somewhat surprising to see the Labour and Lib Dem drones pile on someone putting forward socially democratic, or leftish ideas you’d expect a supposed party of the left and of the centre to support.
But things are different in this post-referendum world. It’s all about supporting the old system, even if it means siding with political and moral opponents so Labour and Tory stand together as the threat to their hegemony is too much for them to take. As for Duncan Bannatyne’s inane drivel, I only hope thousands of unemployed youngsters turn up on his doorstep asking for a job.
Yet the reaction to this programme has been strange. Some die-hard SNP supporters frame it purely in the negative, but anyone looking at it objectively will see that the same sort of debates are happening in England as they are in Scotland. Yes, there’s a cretin that wants Trident in the North East of England should Scotland ever get rid of it, but there’s a number of people in that audience who were very open to the ideas Sturgeon was putting forward. It’s going to be hard for Sturgeon to get her ideas across with a British media clearly closing ranks and an establishment trying to expel her from the body politic but I’ve had several chats with people here in Bristol about it and people were astonished to hear what Sturgeon was saying. Some were sad they couldn’t vote for her party.
And there’s the thing, The debate here in England is far, far, far behind that of Scotland, not that it’ll ever become the same as there’s a world of difference between Scottish and English (not to mention Welsh and Northern Irish) politics. What has changed is the pretense that we’re a United Kingdom all going for the same thing, when in reality, we’re not. Issues are split thanks to class, race and geography, but ultimately someone working class in London shares more of the same political DNA as someone working class in Glasgow, but their experiences are different.
Yet what Question Time showed there’s a place for Sturgeon’s voice across the entire UK. She and the SNP (along with the wider movement for social change in Scotland) do pose a threat to the system that props up and rewards tax dodgers like HSBC yet punishes the sick, the poor, the disabled. Sturgeon represents a different point of view and one people across the UK want to hear as we’re in a situation in this country right now that’s probably best summed up by a The The song from the 1980’s .
People are angry yet for many in England there’s nowhere to channel that anger. If you’re a bit racist, then yes, you vote UKIP, but the majority aren’t going to, though some will vote Green who are realistically in England, not going to be the force they possibly should be. There’s a need for a leftish, socially democratic party in England (Wales has Plaid Cymru) so if the SNP were to stand outwith Scotland I’d be willing to bet they’d pick up a few seats. That isn’t going to happen though so I hope the more the people of England listen to Sturgeon and the more they realise that actually, the entire establishment has been playing a game with them, that more and more become active as they are in Scotland in order to engineer real change.
I really do, because otherwise the situation could well be that in a decade or less, Scotland becomes independent (an EU referendum would ensure Scottish independence is firmly back on the table) making it’s own successes or failures, while the rest of the UK trundles on with a broken system that serves a few at the expense of the many.