Scotland shakes it off

With pop sensation Taylor Swift embarking on the UK era of her global tour in Scotland, politicians have been quick to capitalise. From the renaming of Loch Tay to Loch Tay Tay, which was endorsed by First Minister John Swinney, to Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville telling voters to “shake off” the Tories and calling the Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer a “Blank Space”, it seems Scot’s voters will be in for a Cruel Summer this general election.

Duguid drama as Ross resigns

The Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, has announced his intention to stand in the general election, despite having previously committed to standing down to focus on the 2026 Holyrood election campaign. The seat, Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, was to be contested by former Scotland Office minister David Duguid. Ross said in interviews that he was brought in to run as a candidate of last resort. However, Duguid took to social media to clarify that he had every intention of fighting a campaign, but that the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Management Board stepped in to deny him the candidacy following a recent medical operation, with no apparent medical consultation.

Following on from this, Ross then announced he would be standing down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Ross said he intends to carry on in the role until after the election and will also resign as an MSP if he is re-elected to Westminster. Ross originally said he believed he could serve as an MSP and MP, as well as party leader, but came out on Monday saying, “on reflection, that is not feasible“.

Going Green

The Scottish Greens announced this week that that they will stand a record 44 candidates in the upcoming general election, surpassing the party’s previous record of 31. It had been understood that the Greens deliberately chose not to field many candidates for fear of splitting the left vote. However, following the collapse of the Bute House agreement with the SNP earlier this year, the party now seems to be throwing their full weight into this general election campaign.

Dinnae forget the policy!

Scottish leaders have their own series of televised debates, which are key to establishing which policies and issues are front of mind north of the border. Interestingly, all four main parties are currently sparring on macro-level topics such as austerity, cost of living, Brexit and management of the economy, rather the usual constitutional questions. Compared to previous general election cycles, the conversation around independence has been largely absent. This has been picked up by activists and commentators, prompting the SNP to publicly state this week that page one, line one of the manifesto will be about independence.

Another policy area proving pertinent in Scotland is net zero targeting, and what this could mean for the oil and gas industry. Aberdeen and the surrounding areas will be looking closely as how parties say they will secure the future of these regions, with new extraction licences a key topic of debate. Parties will need to convince the people who rely on the industry that a pivot to renewables will protects their livelihoods in practice.

This week we should see the publication of the SNP manifesto, likely to focus on economy, cost of living, child poverty, rural issues and energy development plans in Scotland. We’d also expect to see a renewed focus on delivery of core services and the reform of education, something as a former Education Secretary, John Swinney, likely feels is unfinished business.

As the campaign continues, those north of the border will be keeping a keen eye on how the parties in Scotland show they’re championing the nation and if they can put Holyrood-led issues aside to make their voices heard down in London.