As the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale in the Scottish Parliament Elections last Thursday, I would like to thank all those who voted for me and the Scottish Liberal Democrats - either by post or in person.
In the lead-up to the election, and on the day itself, we saw further polarisation of voting intentions - all swirling around the constitutional question of a second independence referendum. Depending on your viewpoint, this was the primary concern - or opportunity - that trumped all others. All parties converged on the theme of recovery - something we the Scottish Liberal Democrats put foremost in our campaign from the outset - yet all the while the constitutional stand-off was set to dominate at the ballot box.
This was reflected in the outcome - a great day in constituencies held by our highly-regarded incumbent MSPs, but slim pickings for Scottish Liberal Democrats elsewhere.
It's clear that a significant proportion of our country now embraces nationalism - separatism, independence, partition - call it what you will. And I know that this is embraced - on the most part - with the best of intent. When we witness one affront after another by the unchecked wielding of power in Downing Street, the post-Brexit reallocation of UK powers, and the chumocracy that has become commonplace in Westminster, it can hardly be surprising that we Scots have had enough.
Not every vote for the SNP or Greens is a vote for another referendum, let alone independence. Nicola Sturgeon was unwavering throughout the campaign in portraying the choice as being between her government and Boris Johnson, which of course was never really the case. It simply suited her purpose to present it that way. Yet everyone knows the SNP is all about independence and will stop at nothing in its pursuit. So this sizable electoral result - just short of an overall majority of votes, and just short of an overall majority of seats for the SNP, cannot be ignored. To do so would leave a democratic deficit that should be intolerable for anyone calling themselves a liberal or a democrat.
If we are ever to reunite our divided country, rather than sowing division and grievance, it is imperative that we should seek out creative, rigorous and proactive constitutional change. For some people, that will automatically mean an IndyRef2, but that is far from the only answer, and doesn't in itself bring unity. It is also something that should not be embarked upon lightly, without robust proposals, debate and scrutiny. I trust the people of Scotland to make informed choices – when informed choices are presented - and that is what must now be enabled.
In the end, whatever our future constitutional arrangements are to become, the enlightened voter in liberal democracies will always seek out liberalism, in some form or other.
I look forward to a day when we can look past the politics of division, when we stop dividing our country, and start recognising that we have more in common than divides us.
AC May, Scottish Liberal Democrats
In the above one-page statement, AC May gives his view on the result of the Scottish Parliament Election, 2021