Words that Alex Salmond, leader of the 40+ victorious SNP MPs could be uttering as they enter Westminster next year having demolished Scottish Labour in the general election – and it could be that they hold the balance of power in their hands. Possible? Not only is it possible, it is becoming increasingly likely as support for Scottish Labour tanks.
For more than half a century most of Scotland has been tribal Labour, but now all that is changing. Labour supporters in Scotland feel they’ve been taken for granted by the Labour leadership and many are beginning to realise that years of blind, unquestioning support for Labour has done them little good. Housing in the east end of Glasgow is terrible; there is still real poverty in the city and the level of unemployment remains stubbornly high. Scottish Labour councils are as bureaucratic, corrupt and self-serving as they ever were. Lazy, knucklehead Labour councillors reign supreme, but have delivered little. Labour has been sussed. It is about to pay a very heavy price.
But is the catalyst for this mass desertion just about a general dissatisfaction with Labour? Not totally. It’s about a betrayal of trust, but it’s even more about people believing that their vote can make a difference. The referendum proved that to them. The ‘Yes’ vote might not have triumphed, but it mobilised support for its cause in a spectacular manner, particularly in Glasgow, and somehow it was a like a liberation, people felt free to trash their traditional voting habits. Having done it once, they will be quite prepared to do it again. The referendum ‘Yes’ vote was a vote in favour of Scottish independence, but it was also a vote against the established political order and against Westminster.
The Westminster political establishment threw everything in its armoury to secure a ‘No’ vote. It succeeded. It may have won the battle, but it is losing the peace. Within hours of the ‘No’ victory, ‘perfidious Dave’ was busy reneging on his promises. This may have been a tactic to precipitate a problem for Labour, but the outcome of his perfidy may not be quite what he is expecting. Why? Because it’s the ‘No’ voters who feel the sense of betrayal the deepest. At the general election it will be their votes that send 40+ SNP MPs to Westminster.
The outcome of the general election is going to be fascinating. Without its Scottish Labour seats it’s unlikely Labour will have a majority. The Tories may be overwhelmed by UKIP, the English political Ebola. The Libdems? They will probably disappear into oblivion. And the ultimate irony is that we could end up with a Labour / SNP coalition. Wow! That’s an outcome no Scottish Nationalist would ever have thought possible – except the clever wee bastard, Alex!