What The Scotsman’s Scott Macnab doesn’t seem to realise is that elections come down to a matter of trust. Regardless of the detail, it’s a matter of who the voters reckon is the best bet for prudent management of the economy. If, as we’re constantly told, elections are won and lost on the issue of the economy, then it is clear that the people are poised to once again put their trust in the Scottish National Party.
For most, this will be a decision based at least as much on general impressions as on any detailed analysis of economic data or prolonged poring over the economic policies of the parties. This is not to say that, when electors decide what candidate or party to vote for, it isn’t an informed decision. Only that it is, for the majority of voters, a choice informed by a broad appreciation, rather than a focused examination.
This is why the SNP retains such exceptionally high levels of trust despite the frantic efforts of the British parties and their media accomplices to portray the party as economically incompetent. The broad appreciation on which electoral choices are based is informed by a range of inputs. Lived experience has always been the most significant of these. The diminishing role of the mainstream media in creating this broad appreciation of political reality is both cause and consequence of the massive disconnect between its portrayal of that reality and the evidence of people’s senses. With the input from alternative media simply adding to the process of disaffection.
When the papers are telling us that NHS Scotland is in a state of constant crisis, catastrophe and chaos while in the real world we find health service workers quietly and competently going about the business of serving our needs as well as those of our family and friends, we tend to trust our experience rather than the tales of doom and disaster being peddled by the representatives of the British establishment.
It comes down to a matter of trust. And, going by what they know, people in Scotland trust Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney to look after their interests. The opposition’s strategy of trying to undermine that trust by manipulating people’s understanding – deceiving them – has failed. There is no point in the British parties trying to make particular decisions by the SNP administration look bad. Because, even when they don’t like the decisions being made by Sturgeon or Swinney, people still assume that these decisions are made with Scotland’s interests foremost in mind.
Neither is there any point in the British parties offering election give-aways or “bold” policies. Until they can compete with the SNP in terms of that broad appreciation of their competence and trustworthiness, they will not compete at all.
At present, it’s looking as if the best way for the British parties to rehabilitate themselves in the regard of Scotland’s people, is for them to remain silent. At least if they’re doing nothing they are doing no harm.