Are you Tories in disguise? Not the kind of football scandal you’d expect to hear about SNP, which has so aggressively pitted itself against conservative values and politics over the past few decades.
Nonetheless, the looming campaign of widespread strikes clashes with supposedly friendly nationalist workers – this is the kind of headache most often faced by Conservative governments.
Scottish Qualifications Authority staff are threatening to go on strike over planned reforms that have resulted in the examining body, which had struggled throughout the isolation, to be dismantled and replaced by a new agency. Unite argues that SQA employees are paying the price for political setbacks, that there was no consultation about the change, and that they face the risk of being fired.
They are not alone, and the scary phrase “winter of discontent” raised its head. The Royal College of Nursing is considering going on strike over what it says is burnout, staff shortages and low wages. Deny workers in Glasgow just after an eight-day shutdown that marred the Cop26 conference in the city, a 5.8% wage offer was turned down, with GMB pledging a new strike vote that could result in trash cans not being collected ahead of Christmas. British scientists, including those in Scotland, are threatening to leave over a retirement dispute, while Caledonian Sleeper workers are ready to go on strike this weekend over wages and working conditions.
An embarrassing railroad strike during Cop26 that would mean no trains between Edinburgh, where many delegates stopped, and Glasgow was only avoided at the last minute. Rail traffic has been severely curtailed on Sundays for several months due to the scandal.
Dark, wintry Scotland, lit by smoking braziers, with pickets, waving anti-SNP placards and pondering ingenious rhymes about what its ministers might do with themselves, was not part of the ruling party’s game plan. During her 14 years in government, she skillfully took the position of an ordinary person in the fight against the revelry of the London elite. He positioned himself as a rebellious outsider of the establishment, though his time in power dragged on more and more, and always held the carrot of an independent Scotland, in which industrial disputes would be replaced by cosmic love. All of this helped the Nates to oust Labor as the preferred party of workers in Scotland.
But, in the end, you cannot rule without quarreling with people. Perhaps the SNP should have fallen out much more than during his tenure. His tenure was marked by a reluctance to pursue much-needed civil service reforms to retain public sector workers, always with the prospect of a repeat referendum in mind. The bloody results of this approach are revealed with every new release of data – or at least with the limited data we’re allowed to see.
The same is always the case with governments. You are out of money. You can’t please everyone. You have to say no. And your insistence that you are more compassionate, sweeter, more moral than others hits buffers. Your deputies and deputies get drunk on planes, or recklessly breaking Covid rules, or use anti-Semitic language and then leave you for another party, or molest 16 year old boy on Facebook, or accused of harassment, or have dirty deeds…
Your face financial misconduct allegations, and loud challenges to your honesty… The mistakes of your policy – say, on drug abuse, on ferries, on BiFab – become so obvious that they become visible from the moon. You may be as good as previous governments, but it is getting harder to maintain the argument that you are much better.
The biggest threat to SNP hegemony in Scotland – and at this stage, little more than a latent threat – is that it is becoming just another government. Its ability to avoid political gravity is largely based on the implicit and explicit insistence of nationalist politicians and their supporters that the movement somehow occupies a higher moral level than normal administration. His proposal for independence is to make this enlightened society permanent. It has always been self-deception, a kind of religious delight among the glassy Yes voters, and after so long in power, the SNP ship inevitably has serious dents inlaid with shells and patches. Simple administration for a simple Jane nation.
But a winter of discontent would be something else. Labor is desperate to gain a foothold in their former geographic, demographic and economic centers. Local elections next year will be an important indicator of whether this is becoming a realistic prospect. A series of strikes by angry workers, which also inconvenience Scots in their daily lives, may well cause gravity to begin to repair itself. You cannot blame Westminster for everything. Labor has a lot to blame on the SNP.
Not all about independence – this is not always an answer and often not even a question. Sometimes people just want to know that their rulers are competent, efficient, focused on more important but equally important things, and not full of crap. The last thing the SNP can afford is to look like the last tired, aging, and ultimately defeated government.