The 2014 independence referendum heightened political engagement in Scotland like never before. Despite the majority vote to remain within the United Kingdom, the question of independence continues to dominate Scotland’s political landscape.
In view of the UK’s departure from the European Union against the wishes of Scotland, a second independence referendum is a very real possibility. The outcome of the snap election will cast a clearer light on The SNP’s popularity in Scotland and, by implication, will estimate support for Scottish independence.
Nation-wide, The Conservative Party’s success in recent council elections forecasts a victory for the Tories in the upcoming snap election. It’s no secret that Scotland is traditionally hostile towards the Tories. A Tory government in Westminster is likely to increase support for independence in Scotland. On the 8th June, the Tories and The SNP could be unlikely and unsuspecting allies.
All in all, the coming snap election will not only reveal the political mood in Scotland but help shape it too.
Scotland vs. The Conservative Party
The labels “Scottish” and “Tory” are largely considered to be incompatible. Scotland has a historically hostile relationship with The Conservative Party. Whilst there are, of course, exceptions to the rule, the Scottish population generally favours left-wing politics. A Tory government in Westminster is considered to be against the interests of the Scottish people.
Regarding the snap election, Theresa May appears to be making attempts to appeal to working-class voters. In several of her speeches, Theresa May has declared a commitment to helping the working-class. However, I doubt such efforts will eradicate the stigma attached to The Conservative Party in Scotland. As a Tory, Theresa May will likely be cemented in the Scottish imagination as elitist and right-wing.
The belief that the Tories are elitist stems from lessons learnt in history. Many argue that past Tory governments were only interested in making the rich richer with little concern for anyone else. This image of The Conservative Party opposes Scotland’s socialist ideals. A win for the Tories may serve as confirmation that Scotland and the rest of the UK are running in opposite directions.
A Tory majority in Westminster will not strengthen nor stabilise the United Kingdom. It will only highlight the political differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, creating division and dissatisfaction. I predict that if the Tories win with a large majority in the coming snap election, support for Scottish independence will increase.
What if the Tories lose?
It should not be taken as a given that The Conservative Party will win the snap election. Support for The Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn, has increased in recent polls.
Historically, Scotland has strongly supported The Labour Party. It’s promise to represent and assist the working-class people ticks Scotland’s left-leaning political boxes. Yet, in recent years, Labour’s popularity in Scotland has drastically decreased. Labour has been accused of drifting too far from its left-wing origins.
Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of The Labour Party, is committed to honouring Labour’s left-wing roots. For instance, when it comes to confronting the UK’s deficit, he plans to tax the rich rather than increase spending cuts. In many ways, Jeremy Corbyn embodies the socialist values which Scotland cherishes.
A success for Labour in the coming snap election would create problems for the Scottish independence movement. The Scottish government and Westminster would likely be in agreement over social policy – a rare occurrence in Westminster! Perhaps, calls for a second Scottish independence referendum would die down if Labour won the snap election.
What about the Lib Dems?
The snap election may not be a two-horse race. The Liberal Democrats are attempting to win the votes of pro-EU Brits with their commitment to rethinking Brexit.
Could a surge in support for The Liberal Democrats extinguish the flames of the Scottish independence movement? Perhaps it would help to reintegrate Scotland with the rest of the UK by unifying disappointed pro-EU voters across Britain. If Brexit is the instigator behind calls for a second Scottish independence referendum, a success for the Lib Dems should stub the independence movement.
Time will tell.
The outcome of the snap election could make or break Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK.
I am an undergraduate student of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews.
I keenly follow politics.
I am a big fan of political satire. My idol is Ian Hislop.