My scientific hero, since I read his biography as a teenager, is physicist Richard Feynman. His cosmological theory, that the world is a weighted sum of alternative histories, states that when particles interact, reality bifurcates into a set of parallel streams, each being a different possible outcome. This has always challenged me (most of physics does). That was until last Thursday, where I am pretty sure that I was transported to a parallel universe, albeit one designed by Carlsberg!
For many of us the sheer scale of success on the 7th of May, particularly in a Westminster context, was beyond our wildest dreams. I remember being encouraged by pollsters in the past, only to be disappointed by the result ! Despite the appalling failure to predict the UK outcome which had consistently been too close to call, it seems from Ashcroft to TNS the Scottish sampling was accurate. I await with anticipation, the John Curtis investigation into the performance of the poll companies.
So as Scotland wakes up to a new politics, with 56 talented, eclectic and passionate MPs heading to Westminster, what does this say about the new Scotland we find ourselves in? As someone whose family has lived and worked in Industrial Lanarkshire I know that the loyalty to the Labour movement and the values of Kier Hardie has not wavered. This is still a passionately socialist area, steeped in the Trade Union movement and social justice. What has been severed is the fundamental belief that the Scottish Labour Party carried those values and beliefs at its heart. There have been harsh words about the SNP stealing Labours clothes! If that is the truth of it is because Labour had cast them off and draped themselves in right wing economic ideology of the New Labour brand. Whether it is the illegal Iraq war, Labour’s stance on nuclear weapons or standing hand in hand with the Tories in the No campaign the collective voice of the Scottish people was “enough is enough” and an anti-austerity voice is carried loud and clear to Westminster. I do not think for a minute that the values of the people in Lanarkshire have changed, but their allegiance has. Having severed that dearly held bond, decades in the making, with Labour they have reached out to the SNP to be the embodiment of social justice and the Labour movement values.
I send my heartfelt congratulations to all the new SNP MPs, They carry the hope of Scotland with them in their new roles. And whatever their tipple, pink champagne to Carlsberg, we will raise a glass to all of you in celebration of a truly historic victory for our Party and for Scotland.