The Day that Scotland Changed

Gerry Hassan

Prospect, December 18th 2015

May 7th 2015 stands out as the day Scotland changed.

The House of Cards that was Labour dominance collapsed: a domino effect which witnessed 40 out of 41 Labour seats being won by the SNP.

Scotland has seamlessly switched from a nation of Labour supremacy to one of SNP ascendancy, and no one is quite sure why and what it means.

The standard explanation is that Labour tied itself to the Tories in the independence referendum, but that is one small part. Much more pronounced is the decline of British Scotland, the hollowing out of the Presbyterian and Catholic traditions, and the absence of any popular, instinctual story of Britain.

The liberal unionist establishment of the law, other professions and churches is no longer so sure of its views and place. This has produced an independence of the Scottish mind – where Scotland sees itself as an autonomous nation and one increasingly self-governing. That is an enormous shift, but also one with challenges, in recognising some of the domestic continuities and inequities in public life and public services which need greater scrutiny.

The big questions are: what happens next, can Scotland develop a public culture which is self-governing and honest about some of our own shortcomings, and does formal independence follow from this informal sentiment?