After gaining 56 seats in the 2015 general election, the SNP are going from strength to strength. Could they reach an overwhelming majority again in the Scottish Parliament elections?
As the date of the Scottish Parliament election is now less than four months away, it looks like Sturgeon’s hold is settled. The SNP have already embarked on their election campaign and after receiving 56 out of 59 Scottish Commons seats in last May’s UK-wide general election, the party looks to be in its best form since its formation in 1934. The party’s membership base has now reached over 100,000 members and is continually growing.
The SNP has gone from strength to strength over the last year, and for many, their success was the big surprise of the election. Following the referendum in 2014 the SNP were forced to pick themselves back up under the leadership of Sturgeon. She has presented herself as somebody that the Scottish people can trust and in many ways has lived up to her promises; unlike Scottish Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems, she has been successful in portraying the SNP as the only party that can put Scotland first all the time. There will be lots of continuity during this upcoming election, due to the fact that only 10 SNP MSPs will not be standing for re-election, meaning the spotlight now is on the SNP’s record in office.
Many Scottish voters are attracted to Sturgeon, mainly due to the fact that they are fed up with having no say in the way that their country is governed. The majority of the Scottish people want to see more devolution; something which David Cameron has begun to introduce through the latest Scottish devolution bill. Mr Cameron does not seem to understand that many Scots do not vote for the SNP because they want typically left-wing policies. They vote for the SNP because they are angry and simply want more power.
A YouGov/Times opinion poll shows that the SNP are likely to gain over 50 per cent of the vote on 5th May – this would be a massive loss for the other parties due to the fact that Scotland uses the hybrid additional member system. Their position in the current polls would land them an outright majority in Holyrood. It appears that Labour could come in third with 19 per cent of the vote; this would be an embarrassment for the new leader of Scottish Labour, Kezia Dugdale. If this prediction proves to be correct, then she would be losing over 10 per cent of the votes that were secured in the election prior, and would come in behind the Conservatives, who are currently shown to have 20 per cent of the Scottish vote.
This would be deeply concerning for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has come under fire in recent weeks. Corbyn desperately needs to ensure that he receives more stability in Scotland. With many candidates wishing to stand for the Scottish Parliament, Dugdale has got to first ensure that she picks candidates that are suited to the position. This could be something that could play into the hands of Sturgeon, due to the fact that so many of Labour’s 30,000 members joined the party during the leadership election, with many having no prior political knowledge or understanding. Labour’s leftward shift has not helped it gain support, and seems to be totally ineffective. This proves that the majority of Scots don’t want left wing polices; they’re simply interested in getting a strong and powerful Scottish voice.
More worryingly for Dugdale is the fact that The Guardian has quoted a senior Labour source as saying “Things are looking really, really bad in Scotland and there is no sign it is going to get better. Corbyn himself has already been preparing himself for serious losses in May. Something within Labour will need to change, but that appears unlikely to happen any time soon.
The 2016 Scottish election looks to be a clear cut victory and it looks like Sturgeon will be able to secure herself another five years with the keys to Bute House. If Labour are to stand any chance, they need to clean up their act sharpish and start to distance them from the disaster that is Corbyn.
Adrian Burbie popped down to Westminster for a chat with Mhairi Black about all things SNP, being an MP at 21, and the role of the young in politics.