In the week since the Prime Minister announced a general election for June 8th, plenty has been said about the whys and wherefores. From what I've seen and heard, almost everyone is agreed, this general election will be quite unlike any other.
Except in exceptional circumstances, general elections are fought on the economy, education, health, and law and order. Not so this time, for try as some no doubt will, there are two inescapable, overarching issues that will undoubtedly colour everything else.
You know it, I know it, hell, everybody knows it. A second Scottish independence referendum and Brexit, are what it is all about.
As ever, the result in England will more or less determine who it is that forms the next government at Westminster. If the polls are to be believed, that is already a foregone conclusion. Perhaps so, but I wouldn't be so sure that Team Theresa will end up with the sort of majority that would have made even Tony Blair blush. The polls could be anything from flattering the Tories, to all out misleading. Six weeks is a long time in politics, and anything, as we have seen before, can happen.
As things stand, the Tories have very nearly all of the mainstream media behind them. Even the precious few who are inclined to the left-of-centre, who would prefer Brexit-lite, are hostile toward Jeremy Corbyn. I can only assume that the British Establishment are so totally and utterly terrified at the prospect of Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell getting their grubby little hands on the levers of power, lest they really, properly change things. By change things, I mean crazy, catastrophic (for the Establishment) stuff, like forcing the obscenely rich, and international corporations, to contribute, to pay meaningful taxes just like the rest of us.
I fully expect that next month and half will be little more than a sustained assault on Jeremy Corbyn, claiming he is a danger to Brexit, a danger to the economy, a danger to our security, and an existential threat to the Labour Party. In reality, he is a danger to the Establishment. Not only might he hit them in the pocket, and dismantle their pantomime system of patronage, worse still, he could uncover all their (alleged) seedy, sinister cover-ups.
Up until 2015, Labour could be relied upon to win the lion's share of seats in Scotland. No longer. As things stand, there is no such thing as a safe seat north of the border. It seems unlikely that the SNP will repeat their astonishing feat of winning all but three seats, though not impossible. If their vote holds firm at around 45%, there is little reason to imagine they won't retain a healthy majority of the seats they won just two short years ago.
Labour, of all the parties in Scotland, arguably has the hardest task. They have two wars to wage, one on the SNP, and another on the Tories. It is a formidable challenge, made all the harder by the fact that for most of the last fifty years or so, the Labour Party hasn't had to "fight" a general election in Scotland. They simply had to field candidates, and most of them would be elected.
The Tories will be quite content with any outcome in Scotland that they can spin as a retrograde step for the SNP, a sign that "peak-Nat" has passed, that there is no stomach for a second independence referendum. God forbid they actually take a few seats from they SNP, and it will be hailed as a stunning success, a victory for the ages.
There is a great deal of talk about tactical voting. Here in Scotland, and I could be wrong, I would have thought that would be a very risky path for the Unionist/Brit-Nat parties to go down. We all know what happened to the Labour vote last time they were seen to have openly colluded with the Tories. It is hard to see died in the wool Tories voting Labour, and vice-versa. Are people really as passionate as all that about “our precious union”, or is it for fear of change that they opt for the status quo, shite though that may be? Could they, all of them, get behind a (less offensive?) Lib-Dem candidate? Who knows. If they did, they'd all be as well disbanding and forming the Scottish Unionist Party. Let’s be honest, would we really notice; almost all of them are fully signed up members of the economic and social consensus (I am never entirely sure if it is neoliberal, or neoconservative) that has held sway for the last 40 years (despite the fact that it failed, and imploded in 2007-08).
If nothing else, we live in interesting times. We have to hope that the pro-Scottish, i.e SNP vote holds up, anything else will be an act of astounding self-harm. For goodness sake, even if you don’t want independence, don’t sell your soul and vote Tory, as there will be a heavy, heavy price to pay. If it comes to it, you can always vote no in another referendum (though I’d really rather you didn’t). Surely it is better to have 56 belligerent SNP MP's at Westminster, holding the government to account, than 40 something Labour sheep, and few Tory toffs, contributing very little, whilst trousering quite a lot.
Team Theresa have let go of reality. They have convinced themselves that by turning back the clock, to blue passports, HMY Britannia, Downton Abbey class structure, and doing away with the Welfare State, (don’t be surprised if the poorhouse/workhouse makes a comeback), Brexit Britain will regain the (not so) glory days of old. In order to sustain their ludicrous fantasy, they have called this election, to destroy, as best they can, any dissent. And if they can put we Scots back in our box, all the better.