It’s probably fair to say that the opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament have reacted badly to the SNP’s victory in two consecutive Holyrood elections, especially the 2011 one in which the nationalists secured an unprecedented overall majority. Scottish Labour in particular has never really fully come to terms with its rejection by the electorate in a place where it has regarded power as a birthright for half a century, as can be seen by its constant demands to be consulted over legislation despite the voters unequivocally choosing to exclude the party from government and placing their trust in the SNP alone until at least 2016.
Despite enacting some highly controversial policies in its first 18 months as a majority (minimum pricing, the anti-sectarianism bill and equal-marriage legislation), polls consistently suggest that if anything, the gap in popularity between the SNP and Labour is growing as Johann Lamont’s party indulges in factional infighting and alienates its core voters by adopting neoliberal policies from its UK parent.
Meanwhile, the Tories continue to flatline in Scotland as they’ve done for most of a generation, and the Lib Dems suffer the consequences of a massively unpopular Westminster coalition and a third successive leader who seems more consumed by hatred of the SNP than any commitment to seeing his own party’s policies advanced.
So it shouldn’t come as a great surprise to any passing neutral observer that the Scottish opposition has all but given up on any hope of defeating Alex Salmond democratically at the ballot box, and quietly embarked instead on a new strategy: to steal power from the nationalists by bypassing Holyrood altogether.
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