Edinburgh

Few would have predicted, until recent times, that the biggest act at the Glastonbury music festival would be a 68-year-old socialist reciting a 200-year-old poem.

Yet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s June 24 speech at Glastonbury attracted what was likely the largest crowd in the festival’s history, NME said.

The recent British general election delivered very different results in Scotland than those of England and Wales.

While the question of Scottish independence was still a major issue for voters, tactical errors by the Scottish National Party (SNP) and a muted Jeremy Corbyn-effect in Scottish Labour’s favour led to some unforeseen outcomes.

After promising for months that she’d never call an early election, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election in April — fully expecting to be returned with a thumping Conservative majority.

Instead, the cynically conceived June 8 poll resulted in a disaster for Conservative politics in Britain. The Tories have lost their majority and now face a hung parliament.

What seemed at first to be a depressing and predictable British election, with the hard right Tories under Prime Minister Theresa May set for a larger majority, has become a fascinating election contest.

Labour’s support has surged to the point where something unthinkable just weeks ago — a Jeremy Corbyn prime ministership — is now at least an outside chance.

You know how it is when you go to the movies. Sometimes the sequel has a bigger impact than the original.

The announcement by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that she would bring forward proposals for a second referendum on Scottish independence may prove another example of this phenomenon.

There is a real feeling across Scotland, in Westminster and the media, that this time the Yes side could win and Scotland could break from the “United Kingdom”.

Britain's May 7 elections revealed the deep divides emerging in British society and offered the promise of a constitutional crisis and social struggles to come. Most commentators had expected the result to be a hung parliament; polls had consistently shown the Conservative (Tory) and Labour parties to be neck and neck. In Scotland, the polls pointed to a wipe-out of the previously dominant Labour Party, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) poised to make sweeping gains on a platform of opposing austerity and Trident nuclear weapons.

Britain's May 7 general election is set to be the closest in living memory.

In the polls, the two leading parties, Labour and the Conservatives (Tories), are within points of each other. The polls have not shifted despite the best efforts of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband to secure a breakthrough.

Why are the polls so close?

Edinburgh’s Augustine United Church is a pretty cold place when the wind is howling, as it was when the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) held its annual conference there on October 25.

But all feelings of chill disappeared when the 200-plus SSP members got down to tackling the challenges of an inspiring new period in Scottish politics.

The period is marked by unprecedented popular engagement in activism and debate over Scotland’s future. This phase was triggered by the referendum on Scottish independence, won by the No vote by 55% to 45% for the Yes side.

After two years of campaigning, Scotland’s independence referendum has ended. It saw victory for the No side, the opponents of independence with 55% backing compared to 45% who backed a Yes to independence.

The referendum saw an unprecedented level of engagement and debate throughout Scotland. This was reflected in the huge and unprecedented turnout of 84.59%, reversing the trend of recent decades of dwindling poll turnouts. Some rural areas even recorded 100% turnout.

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