Scottish election 2021: Tory ministers' message that 'you'll have had your democracy' won't see Scots telt about independence – Eleanor Bird
So, that’s another Scottish Parliament election over, and one like no other we’ve ever seen.
A record high turnout, a pro-independence majority and the SNP returned to government for a fourth consecutive time. This was the most important election in Scotland since the beginning of devolution, and the electorate knew it.
May 6 was already a notable date in the democratic calendar, of course, as the first election to include everyone who is resident here. This followed the enfranchisement of 16 and 17-year-olds in 2015 and the basic principle that it is all those who call Scotland home who should have the right to choose Scotland’s future.
I, like so many others, spent two days listening to the unfolding political commentary and speculation over the weekend, gripped by the energy of Scottish politics and the opportunities that lie ahead for the next term of parliament – and the result that we, eventually, saw was undeniable.
It was a wholesale rejection of the politics of hate and division and yet another significant deviation from the race-to-the-bottom Brexit Britain that Scotland didn’t vote for but was subjected to regardless.
Our regularly scheduled programming seemed, however, to be interspersed with Westminster ministers rolled out to tell us that – despite the SNP receiving the highest vote share ever in a Scottish election – they’ve decided there’s been quite enough democratic participation of late and they won’t be bestowing any more on us any time soon.
Essentially, "you’ll have had your democracy”. They still don’t seem to have twigged that getting the Scots telt hasn’t been the winning strategy they’d hoped, and we have – once again – voted for something entirely different to them.
I am thrilled that as a country we have also voted in the first two women of colour in Holyrood’s history, Kaukab Stewart and Pam Gosal, as well as the first wheelchair user, Pam Duncan-Glancy, and the highest ever percentage of women MSPs at 45 per cent.
Without increasing the representation of women, people of colour, disabled people and those from across our LGBTI communities in our parliament and in all institutions of power, we will not achieve the robust, representative democracy that our country needs and deserves.
This election has signalled a shift away from the toxic entrenchment and sleaze that has pervaded politics for too long and, instead, delivered a resounding vote of confidence in the honest, trusted leadership of Nicola Sturgeon and her vision for a fairer, more equal society for all.
Thursday’s vote has been a timely reminder, to anyone who needed it, that it is the people of Scotland who are sovereign and that no politician – Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson or any other – has the right to disrespect or run roughshod over our democratic will.
The SNP will now get back on with the day job of leading us through the pandemic and into a just and green recovery, and Scotland will embark on the next chapter of its story as a progressive, inclusive, outward-looking nation.
Eleanor Bird is councillor for Forth Ward