I’m still in the woodshed on independence, but popping my head out from time to time to see what’s happening in the big, wide, new Scotland.
The winners - let’s not avoid the word - fall into two broad groups, those who are part of the new Parliament and those who put them there. Those in the Parliament are savouring their triumph today, enjoying the ritual, experiencing the warm feeling that comes from being part of a team that won against what at times seemed overwhelming odds against them. They have a right to enjoy these historical moments, because they worked very hard for them, and in many cases made personal sacrifices and took career risks that no one outside of the political process can ever fully understand.
Those who put them there fall into two sub-groups, the first being those who tirelessly gave of their time and energies to support the campaign on the ground - the canvassers, the leafleters, the envelope stuffers, the telephone teams -with no expectation of reward, no salaried post to look forward to, no expenses, no trappings of status.
I am not a part of that sub-group, but they have my unqualified respect, admiration and gratitude - they won this historic election for me and for Scotland. I am one of the other sub-group, which of course, since it embraces every member of the electorate who voted SNP, isn’t really a sub-group at all. (A Venn diagram is needed!)
And this total group, the group that put the winners into Holyrood, watches, rejoices - but waits …
I have experienced this moment before, as a ten-year old in 1945, when a war-weary generation threw out the hero of the nation, Winston Churchill, and elected a Labour Government - the Attlee Government - to the incredulity and terror of the British Establishment. While the privileged inhabitants of countless Downton Abbey’s muttered fearfully around their dinner tables and looked suspiciously at their servants, the rest of the nation, exhausted physically and emotionally from the long conflict, rejoiced briefly - then waited …
That government did not betray them but it did not deliver the revolution that some expected - the destruction of a privileged establishment - but it did deliver better housing, the NHS, the welfare state, nationalisation, and it ushered in a period of unparalleled prosperity - the 1950s. It used its mandate and its power to revolutionise British society.
The Attlee Government did not betray the people, but the people betrayed them in 1951. Their failure to destroy the British Establishment left them vulnerable to that pernicious web of privilege and influence - it re-grouped and destroyed them.
Clement Attlee was the greatest Prime Minister of the 20th century, and his Government was a Labour government. Its demise marked the end of the Labour Party as it was conceived by its founders, and the Labour Governments that followed were Labour in name only - the insidious decline in values and morality that led to the thing that the Labour Party became under Blair and Brown began.
Today, Scotland has its bright new day, and its elected representatives have their moment in the sunshine - the Scottish spring has begun, but so has the testing time. The eyes of Scotland are upon you, Holyrood - don’t disappoint us …