The unionist party leaders on Newsnight Scotland tonight did an admirably good impression of three utterly baffled individuals, when Nicola Sturgeon was pointing out that the Tories were planning to 'claim as their own' Labour and Liberal Democrat votes in this election to justify their rule in Scotland, and that therefore only SNP votes could be regarded as true anti-Tory votes. But I think we all know that Tavish, Annabel and "The Snarl" doth protest too much. To understand why, we only have to recall Ian Lang's 'victory cry' the last time the Tories attained the full levers of elective dictatorship, despite attracting only a small minority of the vote in Scotland -
"Tonight, Scotland has said 'no' to nationalism, and Britain has said 'no' to socialism, and that's a double-whammy."
There can rarely have been a more brazen political taunt, given that implicit in it was an acknowledgement that Scotland had just voted 'yes' to socialism, or at the very least 'no' to five more years of Conservative rule. But that didn't matter, Lang was essentially saying, because the majority of Scots had just indirectly legitimised Tory minority rule by voting Labour or Liberal Democrat, on the basis that both those parties supported the continuance of the union. Precisely the same logic will apply this time round, as evidenced by the fact that Iain "the Snarl" Gray has just pronounced himself positively relaxed about the prospect of a Tory government that lacks a Scottish mandate - to his eyes, devolution is sufficient to resolve the issue of legitimacy. I doubt most Scots will agree.
So Tavish, Annabel and Iain - do you understand the point now, or will you be requiring a diagram?