Last night the SNP took the fifth safest Labour seat in the United Kingdom with a swing of over 22%. John Mason won the Glasgow East by-election for the Scottish Nationalist Party and has left Labour in a difficult position.
Today, the SNP supporters are claiming a victory far greater than what it actually is. With every new seat the SNP win SNP supporters see it as a step closer to independence, although the party leadership are not so easily carried away and recognise these wins for what they are.
Many people vote SNP for many different reasons. What a lot of SNP supporters forget is that Labour in Scotland and the SNP are fighting over the same group of voters (both being parties sympathetic to the centre-left of politics). Just because the SNP are winning in by-elections and in the Scottish Parliament does not mean that support for independence is rising. In fact, support seems to remain fairly static (in a 3 option poll)
I’m tired with Labour and agree with a lot of what the SNP has to say. However, because I am fundamentally opposed to Independence would never vote for a party who supports it. There will be people who are tired with Labour, but not so fundamentally opposed to independence who will vote SNP because they need a party, other than labour, to fill the centre-left of Scottish politics and the SNP fill this gap.
These are things that the SNP need to be focusing on, rather than reading into results what simply isn’t there. I’m sure the SNP leadership would love it if every vote for the SNP represented a yes vote for independence, but the SNP is more than a one policy party. It has a manifesto full of socialist policies that appeal to many people in Scotland (being a traditionally socialist country), especially those living in the poverty stricken East End of Glasgow.
Also, by-elections are traditionally a time where voters kick the incumbent government, just to remind them that they do exist and they can feel the effect of their policies. However, when it actually comes to a General Election when everyone knows that this could actually change the Government they vote differently.
I agree that it is an interesting time in Scottish Politics, but the grass routes SNP supporters have to be careful not to build up their hopes and need to stop reading into results the simplistic answers that make them feel good about themselves.
Congratulations to John Mason MP.