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The General Election: Scotland’s Revolution

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If the result of the General Election in the UK as a whole was somewhat of a surprise and a bit of a bloody nose for the pollsters, the results in Scotland are a revolution.

The numbers are staggering. The Scottish National Party has moved from six to 56 seats (out of 59). The Tories retained their one seat in the Scottish Borders, the Liberal Democrats lost 10 of their 11 seats (retaining only Orkney and Shetland) and Labour lost 40 of its 41 Scottish seats, just managing to hold on to Edinburgh South. Seats in which Labour votes could be weighed rather than counted have all turned SNP. The youngest MP since 1667 is Mhairi Black of the SNP aged 20. Twenty of the 56 SNP MPs are women.

 But these stark numbers don’t tell the whole story. As someone who has lived in Scotland for five decades I can’t quite get my head round the idea that there are no Labour MPs in Glasgow, no Lib Dems in the Highlands and no Conservatives in Edinburgh. It’s as though there were no Labour MP’s north of Watford and no Conservatives in the Home Counties.

I am currently in New York and I know that I will be returning home to a United Kingdom that is no longer united, despite the promise of the Prime Minister to govern ‘one nation’. England voted overwhelmingly Conservative (even if Labour had retained every one of its Scottish seats it would not have won) and Scotland, thanks to the vagaries of the electoral system, voted overwhelmingly SNP. So what are the lessons for the Church?

Firstly, the United Kingdom is in grave danger of falling apart. What was originally conceived as a union of Protestant kingdoms and has in the providence of God overall been a blessing to the Church of Christ and the cause of the Gospel throughout the world, is fading.

Secondly, the SNP won not only because it is well-organised, well-led and has largely governed well in Scotland; it won because David Cameron granted a referendum last year. About a year before the actual referendum, those of us who are Scottish and live in Scotland became aware of a change in the atmosphere. Everywhere you went, from village to city centre, from suburb to housing scheme, there was excitement and tens of thousands of people getting involved.

If David Cameron thought that the referendum ‘No’ would be the end of the process he was sadly mistaken. Within a couple of months the SNP membership had risen from 25,000 to more than 100,000. Nicola Sturgeon spoke at venues to thousands of people. It is very important for people in the rest of the UK to understand that this was not done because of some emotional nationalism (the rather sinister comparison with the Nazis whispered by some was just silly – Nicola is not Hitler). It was done because people who were cynical, disenfranchised and disengaged felt hope. Ordinary people got involved and they turned out in their tens of thousands to campaign and to vote.

There is no doubt that sometimes things got a little heated and some people were ill-disciplined. But overall the hope, belief and indeed even joy have been impressive to watch. The real danger lies in what lies ahead. Some have compared the current state of the SNP to that of a religious sect with all the dangers that it brings. I think that is a bit simplistic.

But I don’t believe that the kind of hopes currently being invested in the SNP will ultimately bring what people are looking for. Salvation does not come through politicians. Good government does. If hopes are dashed there will be an inevitable reaction. The situation has been made worse because of the effective Conservative campaign in England warning about a ‘Jockapolypse’. There is as much a danger from English nationalism to the Union as there is from Scottish nationalism.

Thirdly, we must pray. Pray for all the people of the United Kingdom. Pray for the Prime Minister, the new leaders of the Labour, Liberal and UKIP parties and pray for the people of Scotland. That our new and inexperienced MPs will learn quickly and grow, that our hopes and expectations will be realistic and that their will be a renewal of biblical Christianity in Scotland – a spiritual revolution.

May the day come when our nickname as ‘the land of the people of the book’, will not be a remnant from the past, but rather a description of the present.

Rev David Robertson is the Moderator-Elect of the Free Church of Scotland.


  1. Nicola Sturgeon herself has stated that the SNP triumph was not a vote for nationalism, but a vote for “progressive politics”. Scotland is, in a sense, now a one-party state, where the governing party has “progressive” views. Within Christian circles, we know what that word represents – dilution and re-interpretation of God’s word, acknowledgement of the supremacy of human wisdom – especially where that has confronted and replaced God’s Kingdom values – and rejection of a values system that was in most respects built on the principles in God’s word.
    As I read it from afar, the SNP seem to have the belief in the good of government to run peoples’ lives – typical of a left-wing party. I do not see the Bible as promoting society based on allowing “the state” to run everything. We have seen, and continue to see, the disasters that arise in countries where the state is paramount. Surely Scotland does not want to emulate the one-party states (of which really only Singapore, still really a one-party state, with its peculiar nature as a city state, is successful to any extent)?
    Perhaps Scotland’s only salvation would come through full independence, and a resumption of a political system with multiple parties, a marketplace of alternative views, and checks and balances. I suspect that the Conservatives in England will soon come to the realisation that keeping the union is not the best way to secure England’s future.

    1. I find this continuing mantra of ‘one party state’ becoming somewhat tiresome. Scotland is not North Korea. There are many parties in Scotland. People can vote for them if they wish. To accuse the SNP of creating a one party state because they are popular is absurd and silly.

  2. Yes, it is a fascinating time for politics in Scotland and it is interesting to know where it is going. I agree that there is a big danger in English nationalism isolating Scotland or the belief that an independence/SNP voter is anti-English. I also agree that the best thing we can do is pray for our nation, it is what can make the difference when people are disillusioned, where they are looking for hope.

  3. By birth a Scot, I have lived south of the border for most of my life.

    I despise the “Jockapolypse” jibe as much as anyone – this just feeds the feelings of hostility and alienation (and I for one pray that Boris NEVER becomes leader of the Conservatives).

    But the reason for the increasing divide between north and south is the referendum itself. The decision on the whole future of the United Kingdom was given to only about 8% of the population. The rest of us were given no say and were completely disenfranchised despite the fact that a “yes” vote would have had huge political, social and financial consequences for all of us. That was not democracy and IMHO was a huge political mistake – one of many made by the Coalition and the Lib Dems have paid a heavy price for their involvement.

    It is this that has created the feelings of resentment in many in England.

    However it has happened and we cannot go back – the election has confirmed this beyond all doubt.

    In my view the most sensible way forward is for there to be a national debate involving all political parties, and including representatives from all sections of society. We need to find an agreed vision for the future of the Union – something that is positive and which meets the aspirations of people in England, Scotland, Wales and NI. However sadly I suspect that the politicians will go for what is expedient rather than what is right.

    Isaiah 40, 23 tells us that “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing …..He blows on them and they wither and a whirlwind sweeps them away”.

    Well there certainly has been a whirlwind this week and many rulers have been swept away. I did not vote for Cameron for a variety of reasons, but I think he will ultimately pay a price for destroying biblical marriage and will be swept away in time.

    We shall see.

    1. Thanks for your comment. However I find it quite incredible that this point is made at all. Should the Russians be allowed to vote on whether Ukraine or Estonia should be part of Russia? Should the Chinese be able to vote on Tibet? Your latter point I agree with…

  4. Sorry David – an Aunt Sally….. !

    Ukraine and Estonia are now completely independent countries, and have been so since the collapse of the USSR. Putin’s “aspirations” to restore the previous governance are not comparable in any way to our situation.

    Scotland currently remains a part of the United Kingdom, and to tear the union apart would be a deeply traumatic process for all of us with huge consequences, both for the 8% population in Scotland, and the 92% of us in the rest of the UK.

    I also find it extraordinary that a very small country with a tiny population should wish to remain in the EU with the Euro, given that Scotland would have minimal or no influence on the political agenda, but yet be subject to all the dictates and control originating from Brussels. Is this “independence”? (I personally believe that the UK should remain in the EU – but with sufficient combined authority to challenge Brussels which Scotland alone would lack).

    I do not wish to secularise what is essentially a Christian (excellent) blog, but nothing I have said is “incredible” – it merely reflects the realities on the ground.

    I know that the Kingdom of God is more important than the Kingdoms of this world (and will ultimately triumph) and our duty is to pray, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done….”

    That is my prayer.

  5. You seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the SNP. This is surprising for a student of history who must surely recognise the dog whistle politics of the Scottish Nationalists.

    There is no English equivalent to the SNP. None. The only party threatening to break up the UK is the SNP. The only party that demanded a damaging and divisive referendum – which they thankfully lost but still struggle to accept – us the SNP. The SNP were demanding, amongst other things, a currency Union with the rest of the UK. In those circumstsances, yes, the vote should have been granted to the rest of the UK. As it was, the referendum vote was granted to non-UK nationals in Scotland who would have had no loyalty to the UK whilst Scottish people in the armed forces and presently living in the rest of the UK were denied a vote on the future of their own country. If they had been, the No vote would have been even higher.

    The SNP record on Christian matters – abortion, gay marriage, named persons, to namd just three – is so poor that it’s difficult to understand your desire to elevate them above the other main parties.

    1. William. I am fully aware of the faults of the SNP and have written about them many times. Seeking to have independence for ones own country is not necessarily a sin! Your point about the single currency was easily answered. The rest of the UK did have a vote on that (or at least their elected officials did). They could have refused. But surely you would not dispute that the Scots alone have a right to determine whether Scotland should be independent? (And by Scots I mean those who live in Scotland. Though I do think exiled Scots should have been given a vote – I suspect they would have voted massively for independence). Do you think the Half million English in Scotland should have been allowed to vote?

      The SNP record on ‘Christian’ matters such as abortion and SSM is no better and no worse than the Tories and Labour (just wondering who has the blind spot here?). And since when was Named person a Christian matter? I was not aware that the Bible said anything about it. We should be careful before imposing our politics on the Word of God.

  6. The named person legislation has clauses facilitating the removal of children from homes where the parents refuse to bring up the child in a ” state approved manner”. If a christian family brings up their children with a biblical view on homosexuality they will have their children taken from them. This legislation is an attack on Christians.

  7. “But surely you would not dispute that the Scots alone have a right to determine whether Scotland should be independent?”
    Perhaps this is more complicated than it first seems: Should Texans alone determine whether Texas remains in the USA? Should a husband alone determine whether he remains in a marriage?

    1. Seriously? You are claiming that Scotland being in the UK is equivalent to marriage? Or that Scotland, as a country, is equivalent to Texas, a state within the US? No wonder you want to be anonymous!

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