"Lost by 60 votes"Author's Note: Unfortunately I lost by just 60 votes - still, more time for AH!
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Scotland's President would fight the election from Dublin
“Scotland kicked off regional elections on Tuesday as many pro-independence candidates sat in jail or in exile. Polls have the separatists and pro-Westminster parties neck and neck ahead of the vote. "London doesn't want us campaigning on an equal footing with the other candidates," said Patrick Harvie in a video message to supporters. From his haven in Dublin, Harvie said Scots must "choose between nation or submission." Harvie's former deputy Keith Brown and three other independence leaders had their request to be released on bail rejected on Monday. The central government wants Harvie and his associates imprisoned for rebellion — a charge that can carry up to 30 years in prison. British prosecutors are currently fighting to have Harvie extradited back to the UK to face trial.” - DW News Bulletin (2018)
When the election began the first question was of the party leaders, two of the three largest parties in Scotland had its leaders either in exile or imprisoned, and a considerable chunk of separatist MPs were held in custody awaiting trial. Keith Brown and Tommy Sheppard, the two most high profile Scottish politicians in prisons, both appealed to be released for the duration of the election campaigns due to their senior political positions. After these appeals were rejected Brown announced his intention to lead the SNP from his prison cell in Belmarsh. However, nearly 90 MSPs, MPs, Councillors and activists were released on bail in order to campaign, the Court justified this by saying these minor political actors were not at risk of causing violence, unlike Brown and Sheppard.
Polls showed a tight race with the three hardcore Separatist parties polling an average of 49%, whilst the unionists and federalists stood on a total of 51%. The race for first place was also close, with Patrick Harvie’s RISE Party and Ruth Davidson’s Unity within margin of error of each other. Traditional parties were expected to do badly, especially National whose new leader Adam Tomkins had risen to the top more out of loyalty to the London Head Office, rather than from any love of the Scottish electorate. Some National MSPs had called for an non-aggression pact or even formal alliance with Unity to ensure a unionist plurality, but this had been dismissed by Tomkins out of hand, leading to MSP Donald Cameron to defect to Unity.
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Unity had moved to the right in hopes of squeezing the National vote
Parties in the middle of the constitutional issue were also getting squeezed, the People’s Alliance were desperate to pivot the conversation away from independence and towards issues of austerity and inequality, but this only made them seem delusional and out of touch. Anas Sarwars’s “blether” campaign had initially seen a lot of support but as the immediate threat of armed conflict dissipated, most voters moved back towards their original constitutional camp. The Social Democrat’s devolutionist pledge didn’t appeal to anyone, and with the party becoming increasingly irrelevant at a Westminster level they couldn’t even present themselves as the only way to give the Tories a kick.
“The Social Democrats voted for the implementation of Article 219 and for the British Government seizing Scotland’s autonomy. It also walked out in protest during the voting on the Declaration of Independence in the Scottish Parliament. It did so, in fact, along with two other unionist parties: Unity and National. But, the SDP is the only left-leaning one of the three, putting it in a delicate position. It has wavered on a unionist alliance with Unity and National, even flat-out denying it would back a Unity or National Scottish presidency. The SDP has been focusing on other political elements other than the independence road-map for its campaign. In all, the Social Democrats are eager to move on from the pro and anti-independence narrative that’s been dominating the election cycle. Whether voters feel the same, is yet to be seen.” - Scottish Election Profiles; the SDP, BBC News (2018)
Harvie’s personal popularity had shot through the roof, despite mostly taking place over Teams his rallies pulled thousands of attendees where Harvie’s face would be projected onto a giant screen. However both his party and his broader separatist alliance was feeling the pressure. Most of RISE’s leadership were abroad or in prison, and whilst Teams rallies were all well and good, ground campaigning noticeably suffered as experienced MSPs and party staffers rotted awaiting their day in court - with younger activists having to step up and coordinate local campaigns. To make matters worse, Róisín McLaren had pulled the Workers Party out of any election cooperation with RISE, with the party’s base infuriated at Harvie’s delay in declaring independence.
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Both the SDP and National were struggling to stay relevant in Scotland
During his rallies Harvie dropped several hints of a planned return to Scotland, with millionaire Christine Weir offering to charter a private jet to return the exiled President to Scotland. This was the nightmare situation for Westminster, in one leaked briefing Security Forces told the Prime Minister they would be unable to stop crowds from storming Glasgow or Edinburgh airport should Harvie make a return, warning arresting Harvie in the face of an “organised crowd” would be “a near impossibility”. The martyr affect around Harvie seemed to paying dividends politically as even international audiences were joining in on the “#FreePatrick” campaign.
For Ruth Davidson, not being in prison was a big plus, allowing her to attend rallies and press interviews in person. The Unity campaign focused not only on unionist voters but winning over soft-nationalists through appeals around securing Scotland’s place in the EU. Like in the 2016 elections, Unity hoped to attract quiet unionists to turnout, those who weren’t particularly fussed by the high-level philosophical arguments around sovereignty, but were worried about paying their bills and preventing a return to violence. The fear of the bad old days was a real draw for voters, as scuffles broke out between sectarian gangs and even the occasional car bomb attack by SNLA dissidents.
Violence aside, just the rhetoric between parties was increasingly aggressive. In separatist areas, Unity posters of Ruth Davidson’s face had swastikas graffitied on them. Unity’s Ian Murray complained of harassment by “radical separatist activists” claiming some nationalist neighbourhoods were becoming “no-go areas”, in Maryhill a mural appeared overnight entitled “You are now Entering Free Glasgow”. The political parties reported ten incidents of vandalism, with seven of these reported incidents taking place on Unity or SDP offices. In Dumbarton a group of young Social Democrats were assaulted putting up posters, the youngest victim being just fifteen years old.
“Scotland's election campaign has been shaken up by the murder of a man wearing the British flag. Many supporters of the union allege they are the target of a "hate campaign". Some separatists, meanwhile, say they have been assaulted by their opponents. A 55-year-old man, David Clark died on Tuesday four days after he was hit on the head with a metal bar outside a bar in Dundee. Clark, who was wearing union jack suspenders, got into an argument with the alleged attacker, Rory Lewis, a police spokesman said. Witnesses told local media that Lewis and the three others began yelling at Clark and calling him a "fash", or fascist, because of his suspenders. When Clark left the bar, Lewis, 33, allegedly ran after him and hit him from behind with a metal bar before running away, leaving him unconscious.” - Murder of unioinst Scot shakes up election, France24 Bulletin (2018)
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Political violence ranged from coordinated bombing campaigns to pub brawls
Take it as a compliment that you went from that large a margin to that small of one.It's ok, in 2018 lost the ward by nearly 800 votes so 60 is a minor miracle
Hmm."The British state is allergic to democracy, it is so allergic to us practicing democracy that it has completely altered the rules of the game. It does not respect democratic principles. That is what prevents our leader Patrick Harvie from being here today," said Sillars.
Davidson said it was time to move on.
Term of Office
First Lord Louis Mountbatten
1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
9 December, 1968
20 October, 1980 †
11 Years, 311 Days
First Lord Peter Hill-Norton
20 October, 1980
16 May, 2004 †
23 Years, 206 Days
First Lord Sir Mike Jackson
16 May, 2004
14 March, 2005
14 March, 2005
17 November, 2012
7 Years, 213 Days
17 November, 2012