The winner of the UK General Election is clearly the Conservative Party. David Cameron and the one is six Scots who voted for him must be happy. However, whilst I am sure the Prime Minister will be thanking his Scottish Conservative colleagues for their support, I am certain he will also be grateful to Nicola Sturgeon.
Not only did the SNP help virtually wipe out Labour in Scotland, they also helped drive voters to the conservatives in England by claiming that the SNP would hold undue influence over Ed Miliband. The Conservatives were being fed lines by the SNP at a rate faster than they could design leaflets and posters to print them on. So much for Ms Sturgeon’s pledge never to help the Tories.
The Conservative majority means that they can pursue their ideologically driven plan to reduce the size of the state without having to compromise with the Liberal Democrats. The SNP have only two alternatives to this. The first is for Ms Sturgeon to claim the SNP majority in Scotland is justification for scrapping the Barnett Formula and implementing the Full Fiscal Autonomy proposal outlined in their manifesto. This is an idea so bad that only Alex Salmond and Boris Johnston appear to be fully behind it.
The other alternative would be to respect the outcome of the Independence Referendum and fully implement the Smith Commission proposals. This gives Holyrood the ability to take a different path from the rest of the UK, or perhaps even lead it. By using the tax, welfare and borrowing powers sensibly the SNP Government could, at long last, start reducing inequality in Scotland rather than investing time in endless constitutional politics. As Ian Murray said in his acceptance speech, “constitutional politics has never lifted a child out of poverty”.