So here’s the thing, and it worries me. The media are raving about the performance of Nicola Sturgeon in Thursday’s televised party leader debate. “Woman who now holds all the Aces” shouted the Daily Mail, “Sturgeon Triumph has Labour in Turmoil”, asserted The Times. It took the FT front page to remind us that the “Nuclear deal (with Teheran may be the) first step to a less hostile relationship with West” – not that many of us would even know what it’s talking about, never mind that the world may just have taken a small but momentous step to peace, because that’s not what’s important this Easter morning. What’s important to Britain is that Nicola Sturgeon, a little known Scottish politician until her party lost a referendum to cede from Britain six months ago, put up a solid performance during a debate with Britain’s other six party leaders two days ago.
Sturgeon is part of a population of just over 5 million people who happen, by accident of birth, to live on a northern section of this small island. Many, but by no means all, of these 5 million like to think of themselves as having a separate, glorious history from the rest of the island’s additional 56 million people. At the last election the SNP, which Sturgeon now leads, gained the support of 45.4 % of the vote (that’s less than half the people who bothered to vote who, in turn, represented half the people eligible to vote). Granted, enthusiasm for the SNP has been building steadily in recent years and is liable to reach a crescendo within a few weeks at the May election. But even at last September’s referendum, which occasioned a flood of often nauseating jingoism north of the border, only 1,617,989 Scots voted to cede from Britain while 2,001,926 (53.30% of the 84.5% of the electorate who bothered to vote), elected to stay with Britain. So what we’ve got, when we boil it all down, is that Sturgeon speaks for around 1.6 million people out of some 4.1 million eligible voters in Scotland and for not a single one of the 44 million people eligible to vote in the rest of Britain.
This is the person the Daily Mail tells us now holds all the aces in the political poker match we are heading for. And, yes, she put on a far more professional and convincing performance as a committed politician than the buffoon chosen to lead the Labour party, but, frankly, a monkey could have improved on Edward Miliband’s nerd-like attempts to connect with the electorate. The fact that Sturgeon appealed to us is neither here nor there. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin appealed as well and look where that kind of charisma took us. The point is that Sturgeon and the SNP seem to think it appropriate to revel in the extremist policies their party will insist on if they become the pivot on which Labour power will rest in a hung parliament. Instead of showing a smidgeon of humility and a willingness to accommodate the vast majority of voters on whose behalf (or not, as the case may be) she may one day be influencing policy in Westminster, she emphasizes that if Labour are returned with her help Britain will effectively be run by a minority pressure group. Make no mistake. If Labour scrape in to power their policies will emerge from a swamp of disenchanted, bolshie and nationalist elements in Scottish society, obsessed by an irrational hatred of the English, born of a self-inflicted inferiority complex and a skewed view of history. If that’s part of a functioning democracy you can almost understand why the kind of Russians who admire Putin regard western democracies as a pathetic joke.