Despite Holyrood working on domestic issues, the campaign in Scotland has been dominated by constitutional questions and very tight races.

Yes, this is the Brexit election”. But here in Scotland, the question of independence is also very much in people’s minds as they think about how they will vote on 12thDecember.

Brexit and Independence

Since the 2014 independence referendum, the UK Government has devolved further powers to the Scottish Parliament on the recommendation of the Smith Commission (eventually passed into law as the Scotland Act 2016). With the recognition that many local issues are now being decided at Holyrood, General Elections in Scotland have by consequence primarily become about who will best represent the interests of Scotland — and in the current context what each of the parties think about both Scottish independence and Brexit.


In Scottish politics, the parties are unambiguously divided into constitutional camps. This makes it entirely possible for the voter to forget traditional party allegiance and vote for the direction they want Scotland to go in.

This has been reflected by the way the parties have approached the campaign. At the SNP’s manifesto launch, Nicola Sturgeon spoke in front of the Saltire and the words Stop Brexit”. By contrast, at the Scottish Conservative manifesto launch, Boris Johnson and Jackson Carlaw stood in front of the words Scottish Conservative & Unionist — no2indyref2”. The Scottish Labour and Scottish Green manifestos focusmore predominantly on domestic and climate issues respectively, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ key message was to Stop Brexit”, but also to keep Scotland within the UK. There are policies throughout all the manifestos about health, education, the economy and other non-Brexit related areas, but they are less prominent in most — it’s clear that the parties want to make the election about Scotland’s future.

Your Vote Does Matter

Many of Scotland’s seats in the House of Commons were won with very small majorities in 2017. In fact, 14 of the 59 seats were won by fewer than 1,000 votes, including Stephen Gethins of the SNP retaining the North East Fife seat through winning just 2 votes more than the Liberal Democrat challenger. So if you are in Cupar, St Andrews or Leuchars, remember that when you go to the polls! Many people I speak to about politics frequently tell me that their vote doesn’t matter or wouldn’t make a difference to the overall outcome. It’s clear that in Scotland this simply isn’t the case.

I am based in Stirling, and the tight race here has been much-reported nationwide. The seat has changed hands between Labour, the SNP and the Conservatives between 2015 and 2017; the latter won by Conservative Stephen Kerr by a majority of only 148 votes. To put that into perspective, Scotland’s safest seat, Edinburgh South, was won by Labour’s Ian Murray in 2017 by a majority of 15,514 votes.

In many ways my constituency is a microcosm of Scotland as a whole. The small city of Stirling is steeped in Scottish history and is made up of a mixture of families, students and older people. The affluent towns of Bridge of Allan and Dunblane complete the urban bridge” between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. The rest of the constituency spreads over lots of small villages and the stunning Trossachs National Nature Reserve. People here voted No” (60%) in the Independence Referendum and Remain” (68%) in the EU Referendum. This diversity of backgrounds, beliefs and lived experiences is what will define the General Election across Scotland. And each vote will absolutely matter.

Our Christian Response

So whether we have decided who we are going to vote for yet or not, how can we engage in the campaign here in Scotland in a way that reflects Jesus and be salt and light in our communities?


It seems obvious, but the first way is to actually engage. Of course social media has its benefits, but how much better is it to speak to our candidates face to face and ask them questions instead of doing so from behind the protective wall of our phones and keyboards? As Christians in the UK we can sometimes be guilty of treating politics and politicians in a completely different way from how we treat anybody else. We can forget that those who run for office are just like us; we think that they are somehow beyond us because we disagree with them. You’d be surprised at how many politicians at Holyrood say the church and Christians just don’t reach out to them. Politicians, especially female politicians, are currently receiving a shocking amount of abuse online and in person — as those whose lives have been changed by Jesus, surely we can be different?

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that…But love your enemies, and do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32 – 33, 35 – 36NIV)


We live distinctly as we lift up in prayer those who stand for election. We do this not only in response to the command we have been given by God, but also as an act of love towards those in authority over us. Offer to pray for candidates and for their wellbeing, their families and their communities. If you know of Christians running for election, commit to praying for them and ask them how you can best do so. You can also pray through our General Election Prayer series on our website.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1 – 4NIV)


Finally, take the opportunity to use your vote. Democracy in the form we have today did not exist in the ancient world, but it is a blessing of freedom we have been granted, and part of our responsibility to steward the world God has created.. When the results come in, we would do well to be thankful for the new government that God has blessed us with and submit to it out of love for Him.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves…Give to everyone what you owe them: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.” (Romans 13:1 – 2NIV)

So we can take comfort in that whatever the future uncertainty for the nation of Scotland, God is on His throne and continues to grow His church here through the saving work of Jesus. May we all love our communities, and point beyond our earthly leaders to the one who sits enthroned in heaven.

To find out your constituency and the candidates you can vote for, you can use the following tool on the BBC Election 2019 website.