The End of British Politics and Labour’s Scottish Dilemma

by Elias Blum

One of the things that this general election has confirmed is that there’s no longer much of a ‘British’ political system. The last ‘British’ election was in 2010. Since then, there have been separate elections going on north and south of the border, focusing on different issues and with different priorities and options.

For Scotland, independence from the UK remains a viable choice, and that means that any engagement with UK politics is conditional on the continuation of a United Kingdom to which around half of the population (and a clear majority of those of working age and younger) are opposed. At the same time, many of the hot issues in UK politics are really English issues, since in Scotland they are already devolved.

Labour in particular is struggling to come to terms with this situation. From an English perspective, Labour is trying to fight the Tories on economic and social issues, while reassuring British nationalist voters by being constitutionally conservative, pro-Brexit, pro-nukes etc. From a Scottish perspective, this makes them virtually indistinguishable from the Tories. If Labour in Scotland seems two-faced, it’s because the party is caught in a bind, fighting on two quite unrelated fronts.