Local elections in Scotland, marked by aspirations for independence

The scots vote this May 5 the best way to deal with the worst cost of living crisis, in local elections dominated by Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP), which is seeking new support to call a new referendum on independence region of.

Scotland returns to the polls a year after the regional elections, with a third of its citizens worried about not being able to afford daily expenses due to the increase in the price of purchases, energy and taxes, according to the Scotpulse digital barometer.

Gas and electricity are up 54% from April 1 across the UK, and local governments in Scotland increased their tax collection by 3%.

In these local elections, the focus in most of the political programs is to mitigate the increase in the municipal tax.

“We need to help people as much as possible,” the Conservative spokesman for the local government, Miles Briggs, told Efe.

The unionists (for the “tories” who defend Scotland’s membership in the United Kingdom), says Briggs, are the “only ones committed to freezing it, where possible”.

In addition, he added, they will ask the Scottish Government for a scheme to help homes renovate with insulating materials so that families can reduce their energy bills.

For its part, the main party in Scotland, SNP, promises in its program a total of 290 million pounds (345.45 million euros) in aid to alleviate this crisis.

Almost all of them seek to mitigate the impact of the municipal tax and deal with the rise in energy prices, since they affect 874,000 households, according to the Minister for the Economy of the Scottish Autonomous Executive, Kate Forbes.

PROMISE OF AN INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

The SNP incorporated into its promises “to support the regional government’s plan” to give society the “opportunity to choose its future” before the end of 2023, through a split referendum.

Politics in Scotland is dominated by the nationalist party, with polls suggesting it could command 44% of the vote in these local elections.

“It would be a surprise if it did not do better than in the previous ones (2017),” Professor John Curtice, an expert political analyst, told Efe, who predicts a decline in the Conservative Party to the detriment of Labor, for the first time since 2016.

Curtice puts it down to disinterest “among Conservative voters”, and not to the strength of Labour.

The parties at Downing St, the residence of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in the pandemic, have dented conservatism “just enough to lose second place,” he says.

The partners of the autonomous government -Greens-, also favorable to independence, will benefit from their presence in the Executive, he points out. These elections will be marked by “local problems and the popularity of the candidates,” explains the political scientist.

“A good SNP result – denounces Conservative MP Miles Briggs – will be used as an excuse to force another referendum, which the majority of Scots do not want.”

Only 36% of the population currently supports a consultation in 2023, according to a recent poll by the YouGov firm, and would vote today for remaining in the United Kingdom -53% compared to 47% of Scots- .

Despite this, according to Curtice, these elections will serve the Scottish Government to continue with its plans: “introduce the law in Parliament” for the holding of the referendum and publish a White Paper on independence in the coming weeks.

Curtice, one of the most prestigious political scientists in the United Kingdom, sees the next general elections (2024) as more “important”, in which he sees “a probable Labor Administration in a minority in Westminster (Central Government) that needs the support of the SNP”.

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