The nights are starting to draw in, the festive fare is already in the shops. Thoughts are turning toward the Christmas period, the Mary Chain are cabined up in their bunker, sprinkling the fairy dust on Psychocandy before touring. The silly season is nearly upon us. And this has indeed been a remarkable year with a lot to reflect on. However, I feel that the biggest pantomime maybe taking place next May in Inverness... If the media reports are true and Alex Salmond will make a spectacular bid to steal Danny Alexander's Westminster seat, then this will certainly be one of the most highly scrutinised battles of the General Election campaign. In fact, the SNP could be responsible for another Highland Clearance, this time of the Red Tories and the Lib Dems!
I hope that Eck does decide to try and capture a very high profile coalition government scalp, and Alexander, as treasury secretary, will be an easy donkey on which to pin the austerity woes of the Tory/Lib Dem policies. Danny Alexander is no match for a charismatic and shrewd political player like Salmond, and the soon-to-be former first minister is indeed very dangerous - as the lion was wounded and will be out sniffing for the kill. The opinion polls suggest that the Lib Dems are, like Labour, in a state of freefall, so a 8000+ majority should be well within Eck's capabilities to overturn and achieve an SNP gain that would be on the same historic level as Jim Sillars' seismic victory in Govan in 1988. The shockwaves of this, though, would indeed be far more significant. Alex Salmond and the SNP got their second term in Holyrood against the odds, because they have listened to the electorate, unlike the Westminster elite, and for the first time a Scottish Parliament has also balanced the books on the budget.
Independence shall continue to be an issue. While Scotland keeps voting SNP and still ends up with a Conservative government, the amount of new SNP members across the whole country has indeed been overwhelming. When even the Shetlands and Hebrides get an increase in SNP membership of nearly 400%, then the old adage that the islands "are not really like the rest of Scotland" seems like a myth. In fact, Scottish Labour have been reluctant for many years to reveal their true membership figures - they will have suffered a massive defection of numbers to the SNP, and you can be sure that many of their disgruntled former card-carrying members will have forgotten to cancel their subscriptions as well. A Ukip/Tory majority will lead to more right-wing policies, more crippling austerity, more needless deaths through benefit sanctions, more civil liberties being stripped away, and the countryside fracked for profit and greed. Their only interest will be to ensure the elite stay in their position of prominence and power, while the rest of us are all kept under the cosh. Scotland must not be submissive, and should stand up and be counted... Returning more SNP to Westminster next May is the only solution.
Labour promised the earth before the referendum, and then shoved Scotland under a Number 20 bus heading to Doomsville. They are offering the least in the way of substantial powers of any of the Westminster parties, and they still expect us to vote for them, well those days are gone. Jim Murphy has seen the unions give their support to Neil Findlay in their leadership battle, including the GMB - the very same organisation that he has been a card-carrying member of for over 20 years!
Labour have sold Scotland down the river and they shall pay for that for many years to come at the hands of the electorate - and as they continue to stab one another in the back internally as well. Nicola Sturgeon will be elected SNP leader uncontested, primarily because the whole party agree that she is the best and most progressive candidate for the job and shall be a fine FM. Salmond knows that he is leaving Scotland in good hands. Nicola is well-grounded, from a good working-class background, has been a member of the SNP since she was 16, was at 21 one of the youngest-ever candidates to stand for Westminster at an election, and worked for many years as a solicitor in Drumchapel, saving tenants in one of the poorest areas of Glasgow from eviction. She is a grafter, and was one of the very few that could influence a man as formidable and forthright as Salmond. And this "wee wummin" shall indeed be as popular as Eck was, but shall be very much her own person and shape and lead the party to the next level. She is stepping into a big pair of shoes but will walk tall with confidence. And Salmond and Scotland can be proud of her, not just the SNP.
We were lied to at the referendum by the media, business, and Westminster, and these are all being exposed one by one, the emperors new clothes are not a John Bull suit, but the naked truth of Scotland being stitched up like a kipper again. The Weir Group chief executive proclaimed in the spring that independence would "carry substantial risks to jobs". I wonder how those unfortunates felt this week, when the redundancy notices fell like a ton of bricks onto the doormats, and I sincerely hope that they all find new employment as soon as possible. As Mr Lydon once said: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?".
But it hasn't been all doom and gloom...
The Commonwealth Games was a major triumph for the city of Glasgow, as thousands flocked from all over the globe to compete at a remarkable sporting event that had the eyes of the world upon Scotland. The most successful games to date was an achievement and Scotland's best ever medal haul helped make it all a truly memorable and positive experience despite the spectacle of the dancing Tunnocks tea cakes! Glasgow and Scotland were shown in a positive light, and all in the name of International brotherhood and sportsmanship.
So, the announcement that the games were delivered under budget by £25million is indeed remarkable, and has to be applauded. A new para-sports centre shall be erected and the substantial surplus is being pumped back into the NHS, and that is a great legacy by the SNP. I shudder to think if Labour would have just handed that money back to Westminster if it had been on their watch. These actions show what can be done with good governance in charge and not a puppet-master with the strings being pulled by Westminster. How much did the Olympics overspend by again, David?
I can think of not just one good reason to vote SNP next year, but twenty five million.