The fact that a British Tory Prime Minister can venture out of his London lair to seriously suggest that the Scottish branch of his party might become the opposition at Holyrood is a measure of the abject failure of British Labour in Scotland. To mistake the dismal decline of one of the British parties for the rise of another is nothing more than shallow-minded folly. Or, perhaps, desperate wishful thinking.
There is more to being the official parliamentary opposition than throwing infantile taunts at the party of government and its leader. It requires something other than dumb, knee-jerk adversarialism. If unthinking prejudice and blind hatred born of an offended sense of entitlement were all that was required to qualify as a credible opposition party then British Labour in Scotland would have no rivals.
It is not merely the British parties that have failed the people of Scotland, it is the entire British political system. Scotland has changed. We’ve moved on. We’ve developed an increasingly distinctive political culture. We’ve outgrown the ritualised pettiness of British politics. The faux rivalries of British Tory and British Labour are gratingly irrelevant. The threadbare rhetoric of right and left rings totally false within Scotland’s refreshed political discourse. The obsessive focus on economic orthodoxy no longer distracts us.
In our new politics, aspiration has supplanted despair. We are moved more by what we wish to achieve than by what we are afraid of losing. Where once we flinched in fear, now we reach in hope.
The British parties are squabbling over a role neither is fit to fulfil. They are fighting over which is most representative of the failed politics for which we no longer have any use. It is a regrettable but unavoidable fact that, after May’s election, one of these relics will trespass on the place in our parliament that should be occupied by those better fitted to serve the people of Scotland as the official opposition. It matters not at all which it is. It matters only that we be assured of the temporary and passing nature of their intrusion.
So long as we ensure a majority SNP government with a powerful mandate then we will have the opportunity in a future election to complete the transformation of our parliament. The British parties are desperately trying to drag us backwards. We have the means to resist them. The SNP is our best weapon. Let’s use it!