The Tories' agenda is simple; it is an attack on decent European values

As the dust settles on the election and we all start to work out what the election result means for Scotland, only a few facts are clear.


On the one hand, so many incredible SNP pals were given the humbling task of representing their communities at Westminster. On the other hand, like being given a lollipop as your house catches fire, the Conservatives won. And in case anyone wants to kid you on, even if Labour had won every seat in Scotland, they still would have lost UK-wide. The UK has a Conservative government because England voted for it.

But we have had no time to mope. Our Westminster manifesto saw a massive phalanx of SNP activists elected on a platform of opposing austerity, opposing the renewal of Trident, and promoting more job creating powers for Holyrood and making sure changes outlined in the Smith Commission (remember that?) will be implemented. The people of Scotland backed that proposition by a spectacular margin. The people of Scotland did not endorse the status quo. We took the opportunity to remind Westminster that we expect, having been promised it, considerable, significant, change.

So it is all the more chilling to see just how fast things have moved in London. Who speaks for Scotland is more important than ever. There is an agenda: the EU, Human Rights, immigration. None of it as presented by the UK government, looks good, and already we see just how hard our SNP MPs are going to have to work.

Within the EU, the biggest humanitarian crisis facing us is the shaming loss of life in the Mediterranean. The EU has been shown up by the influx of poor desperate souls fleeing conflict and washing up, if they are lucky, on the EU's shores. I have been active as has my SNP colleague Ian Hudghton MEP in calling for greater prioritisation of saving lives at sea, and I think Scotland backs us in that. The UK government was conspicuous by its absence in the common EU efforts, and only sent a few boats after it was made clear the people plucked from the sea were not the UK's responsibility.

On Human Rights, don't start me. I'm a lawyer to trade, I take this stuff personally. The present Tory government is so wilfully boneheaded that it will throw out the noble, honourable, decent inheritance of so many English Common Lawyers who were instrumental in the drafting and promotion of the European Convention of Human Rights, that they would have us in these islands line up with Belarus as the only European country somehow uniquely unable to cope with internationally enforced decency.

The Tory extremists already appointed to the UK government tasked with replacing the European Convention of Human Rights as enshrined in the Human Rights Act with some Mickey Mouse British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities should scare us all. We have no time in Scotland for fabricated differences, we are facing a full on, declared, systematic assault on our values. The Scottish Parliament and government can do stuff to oppose, but lets remember within the UK power devolved is power retained.

And so to immigration. Let me make two things clear - anyone who lives in Scotland is Scottish, and Scotland does not have a problem with immigration, it has been 100% positive for Scotland. Ask a UK politician to say that. In Scotland we have been welcoming, and realistic, about the contribution New Scots make to our communities and our economy. I say to the small minded bigots in UKIP: prove me wrong.

And on the EU, our UK representatives look even stranger. We have been promised an in/out UK EU referendum, whatever that means. The SNP sees no need for such a nonsense referendum, and our guys at Westminster will oppose it and, if it goes through, will seek to amend it to the effect that a 'double majority' of the population of the UK, and of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales will be needed before we leave the EU. But there's the absurdity. Our newly elected Prime Minister has promised a referendum on a proposal he has not made, at a date he has not set, on a new deal he has not negotiated nor secured, over a problem he has not actually articulated. Will it be a vote over "a new deal" v the status quo? Or "new deal" v "out of the EU" (in which case where are we going on our summer holidays?). Will it be a multi-option referendum? They don't even know the most basic details.

All this is just a sideshow. The UK government is deliberately throwing up chaff to distract us. The Conservative manifesto committed our new UK government to an additional £12bn in austerity cuts, all the while safeguarding a renewal of Trident. These cuts will fall upon the most vulnerable in society. While some of us are preoccupied with perfectly valid concerns about human rights, Mediterranean refugees or EU membership, some of our neighbours in Scotland will be starving and reliant upon foodbanks. Welcome to the UK's Big Society. We will all have our work cut out for us.