​UK politics may be changing, but Scotland will have to wait - John McLellan

​Well, here it is, the big year of change. Sir Keir Starmer has one foot inside Number 10, Rishi Sunak is already getting quotes from removal firms and Humza Yousaf might have to do the same.
Possible SNP future leader: Net Zero and Just Transition Secretary Màiri McAllan. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.Possible SNP future leader: Net Zero and Just Transition Secretary Màiri McAllan. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.
Possible SNP future leader: Net Zero and Just Transition Secretary Màiri McAllan. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.

​Meanwhile, Ian Murray will be trying not to think about that big room at the back of the Scotland Office he could inherit, the one with the great view of Trooping the Colour over Horse Guards Parade.

I remember visiting the Scotland Office shortly before the 2010 election and the doleful Labour ministerial team knew they’d be moving out. I imagine the atmosphere today is rather similar.

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With a 10,000-person poll by research firm Focaldata putting Labour ahead of the Conservatives by 35 points to 19, Sir Keir Starmer could be heading into Number 10 with a 180-seat majority, yet his performance has been so lacklustre that 29 per cent of voters are still unsure about their preference for Prime Minister.

That “might as well give someone else a go” attitude suggests expectations will be low and perhaps that’s why, unless you are a Labour card-carrier, the sense of anticipation, of change in the air, is less than palpable.

Of course, it might just be me, but there is no getting away from the fact that in the devolution era the immediate effect of the general election here, whatever happens, will be more psychological than practical, partly because of Labour’s “steady now” strategy, but also because the institutions with the most immediate impact on our daily lives will be unchanged.

There may be more Labour MPs and fewer Nationalists, there might even be one or two more Conservatives in Northeast Scotland, but the SNP will still be in charge at Holyrood and local authorities will remain prisoner of successive SNP Scottish Government budgets which have cut them off at the knees.

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Edinburgh Council will plod on, still unable to get enough houses built, still trying to force people to abandon their cars, still producing pointless reports at the behest of councillors aspiring to a sixth form debating club. Scottish Greens will carry on trying to destroy the property markets and supporting criminal disruption under the guise of legitimate protest.

The SNP will still be unable to improve health, education or care services, while making Scotland the least competitive part of the United Kingdom.

In the run up to the big vote, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will almost certainly slash income tax, but unless he takes his shears to National Insurance as well, workers here will feel no benefit because the SNP-Green government decides what income tax Scots should pay and the clear choice last month was for anyone earning more than £28,000 a year it should be more.

If reports this week are to be believed, so too will Labour include similar tax cuts in its manifesto to position itself as a party of aspiration, although how that squares with imposing VAT on private education is hard to fathom.

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Even if the SNP receives an election drubbing and Mr Yousaf does fall on his sword, he is likely to be replaced by another continuity Sturgeon candidate, most probably Màiri McAllan, and still retreat to the tired old trope that nothing can meaningfully improve unless there is independence.

If it feels like everything’s about to change, don’t be fooled. Scotland will have to wait.

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