The only poll results that seemed to be accurate in the recent elections in the United Kingdom was the Scottish National Party (SNP) was going to win big and boy did they ever. The SNP took 56 of the 59 seats at stake and came within an eyelash of winning 58 out of 59. With this result, many assume independence for Scotland could be well around the corner, even though the referendum for independence lost by a 55-45 margin. However, just because the Scottish did so well, one shouldn't assume anything when it comes to the future in politics because what may happen in Scotland and the UK could be the very same thing as what happened to Canadian politics at the turn of the century.
The Liberals dominated much of the 1990s in Canada because the Tories were torn to pieces and the Bloc Quebecois controlled Quebec (in fact they were the official opposition from 1993-1997). After 2001, the Tories came together again as the CPC and managed to block the Grits but neither side could take power again because the Bloc removed between 45-55 Quebec seats off the table and neither side wanted to do business with the Bloc to legitimize it.
The Bloc failed largely because the dream of independence vaporized after 1995 (which was an even closer margin than the Scottish referendum). There are many reasons for this but ultimately what happened is many Quebecois (especially the younger generations) realized independence was never going to happen and decided they were going to play a role in national politics instead of just sitting on the sidelines so they voted en masse for the NDP. Will the same happen again this fall? We don’t know, but what we do know is the Bloc ain’t coming back.
This could easily happen to the SNP as well. While not every SNP supporter favors independence, its activist wing does and they have to be catered too and cultivated. But that puts pressure on the SNP to hold another referendum soon. The SNP is no position to do that right now and they know it. But it’s this tension that I believe is going to pull at the Scottish Nats for some time to come, just as it did in Quebec.
Perhaps the biggest difference even though the Bloc and the PQ were the biggest parties in Quebec at the time, there was still a strong Liberal Party opposition that was pro-union that proved to be a break on their efforts. Right now in Scotland, the major British parties are a joke. Only utter mismanagement by the SNP would bring them back. Not to mention the fact the SNP has young faces representing them like the 20-year old who won a Parliamentary seat. Quebec nationalism was largely the movement of a single generation (Baby Boomers) and failed to progress beyond it and to French speaking immigrant groups as well.