So, if you have been watching, Scotland had an election at the end of last week, which saw dramatic changes to Scotland's political map. Traditionally, a Labour heartland, many long-held seats were lost to the SNP, raising questions about what happened and why? We might wonder whether Labour policies over the last decade, which promoted higher education, employment, house-purchasing, and other middle-class ideals in their own electoral areas, may have back-fired as a new (and in the current recession, now rather tenuous) middle-class's horizons changed. Can we say that the legacy of the death of the coal and steel industry (the heartbreak over which, no doubt, helped sustain Labour votes over the last few decades) is now finished in Scotland? Are Labour's traditional voters feeling the pinch of jobs losses, cuts in university places and in the public services, that will see them slide once more down the social mobility ladder, and buying into the blame placed on them by the Tories and LibDems? The questions are numerous?
Perhaps, less surprisingly, is the massive losses sustained by the LibDems- losses that even their own party recognises came from a coalition with a party that their supporters hated? I hate to say, I told you so- but I did, in a letter to them after they made this decision. The complete lack of regard, or awareness, of their party's new-won supporters values is quite breathtaking. Do we think we'll get through four more years at Westminster? Do we want to?
The new Scottish parliament has a historic majority for the SNP, but more disappointingly, the number of women sitting in it is still only 34%. Up 0.8% from 2007, but down from the all time high of 39.5% in 2003. Even more concerningly, the losses of several Labour seats held by women saw a reduction in female seats at the constituency level; we only got to 34% because Labour has gender balanced lists and they made it up at the regional level.
As the SNP stood together after their wins in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon, the only woman among them, commented that the SNP is more gender balanced than this- I am a wee bit sceptical (the list of 2011 MSPs' names are not yet compiled in one place, or I'd have counted!!), given that only 1/3 of their constituency candidates were women and their lists were not gender balanced (in fact heavily male)- but the very fact she noticed is why Nicola should be First Minister!!
Reclaiming women’s bodies
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