Many Kossacks seem very excited about the rise of the Scottish National Party (the SNP) in the UK. The little guy! democracy! FREEEEDOOMM!!!! (cue bagpipes).
If a similar party were claiming the mantle of "progressivism" in the United States, you would be appalled. I'm going to walk through specific SNP policies to demonstrate my point. Instead of judging the SNP on what they say, or what other people say about them, let's look at what they do.
A few quick pieces of background information:
 Scotland has its own parliament - its metonym is "Holyrood" the way that "Westminster" is the metonym for the UK government as a whole. Holyrood has powers over many matters within the Scottish borders. It gained/gains these power by statutory grant from Westminster, so they are said to be "devolved".
 The primary source of funding for Holyrood is a block grant from Westminster. The Scottish Government is free to spend this however they see fit. Somewhere between 2/3s and 3/4s of all the government spending in Scotland comes from this pot. The rest comes from Westminster, spending on matters that are "reserved" i.e. haven't been devolved to Holyrood.
 There is this thing in the UK called the "Barnett formula". It says that via the block grant Scotland automatically gets more spending per head than does England, by around 20%.
 The SNP have been in charge at Holyrood since 2007.
 UK parties don't run on "platforms", they run on "manifestos".
Without further ado, to illustrate what the SNP really stand for, let's look at their record.
The 2007 SNP Manifesto - the one that got them into power - promised maximum class sizes of 18 in Primaries 1-3 and to increase teacher numbers. They have completely failed to deliver on both counts. Average class size is 29% higher and rising every year while teacher numbers are falling.
The SNP also made a manifesto commitment to wipe out student debt. They have completely failed to deliver on this as well: Scottish student borrowing is soaring and the SNP actually cut the grants students could receive by 40%. The burden is falling most heavily on the least able to bear it:
Official figures show total student borrowing jumped by 69% for the last academic year up to £430m, the highest level ever, as Scottish ministers championed their policy of providing free university tuition.
The heaviest burden is being carried by the poorest students after ministers cut overall spending on grants for living costs from £89.4m to £53m last year, and introduced far less generous funding bands which penalised low income applications.
The average loans taken out by students from the lowest income families averaged out at £5,610 a year, compared to £4,340 for students from better off homes, said Lucy Blackburn Hunter, a former civil servant who specialises in higher education policy.
Blackburn Hunter said that the cumulative impact of those policies meant that Scottish students doing a typical four year Scottish university course would end up owing more than £20,000, while the poorest faced the heaviest debts.
The average debt per student was £5,020, while the cuts in grant funding would continue for the foreseeable future.
The education policy the SNP are most well-known for is free university places for all - a policy they have delivered. And it sounds nice, doesn't it? But lets examine the actual consequences. Americans use "college" and "university" interchangeably, but in the UK they have distinct meanings. In the UK, a college usually means a place offering vocational training. People studying for an academic degree go to a university. You will find a higher proportion of children from working class backgrounds who want "college" as a route to the future, and more from upper class backgrounds who want "university" as their route.
The free university places are not means tested. Therefore, they are a huge benefit to wealthy parents who send their kids to £25,000 a year private schools and then pay nothing for university. The need to pay for those free university places has led to the Scottish government slashing funding for colleges to the bone, especially in part-time programs, making it very difficult for working-class Scots to further their education whilst holding down a job. Student and staff numbers at Scottish colleges have plummeted to the lowest level on record.
In short: the one education policy the SNP did carry through on has gifted the well-off a tax-payer funded benefit that they do not need, and paid for it by cutting vital services to the less well-off.
BTW, none of this can be blamed on "austerity" or Westminster. The SNP is choosing to underfund education, particularly for the working classes. Spending on schools in Scotland fell by 5 per cent in real terms from 2010 to 2013 - the most recent year for which there is an audited report - while it rose, in real terms, in England. As a share of its budget, Scotland now spends less than England on education.
And that is by choice, the result of decisions made by the SNP.
Like education, health is a "fully devolved matter". And remember the Barnett formula: Scotland gets substantially more money per head than does England.
Since 2009 government spending on health in England has is up a few percentage points - despite the "austerity" regime that has seen an overall decrease of 13% in English departmental spending. But spending on the NHS in Scotland - a matter which is in the hands of the SNP - has fallen by 1%. And in the 7 years before that - years of plenty for public services rather than cuts – real-terms health spending per person grew by 29% in Scotland compared with a 43% increase across the UK as a whole. This was despite overall public service spending per person growing by a very similar amount in Scotland (26%) and the UK as a whole (28%).
This is proof that the SNP consistently places less priority on funding the NHS in Scotland than governments in Westminster do for England.
3) The Environment
There is quite a lot of renewable energy activity in the Scotland. However, this is almost entirely down to the UK taxpayers, who provide upwards of £560m per year in subsidy. The Scottish renewable industry breathed a huge sigh of relief when the referendum was defeated, because they knew that independence would be the end of them.
To their credit, the SNP do grant planning permission for windfarms; however, it costs them nothing to do so. Things that do actually require the SNP to produce funds, like the once-ballyhooed Scottish wave energy industry, have been abandoned.
The "green" credentials of the SNP don't stand up to scrutiny. Yes, they once said the whole country would be powered by renewables by 2020. However, they aren't actually doing what needs to be done to actually make that happen - substantially reengineer the grid so that the electricity from remote windfarms can be utilized. Meanwhile, they remain fully committed to seeing that every last drop of oil is extracted from the North Sea. Furthermore, they are full-on committed to getting more off-shore drilling started - this time on the West Coast.
And their environmental hostility doesn't stop there. Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that the price that any party in Westminster will have to pay to get SNP cooperation in the event of a hung parliament is keeping the coal-fired plant at Longannet in Fife open. Longannet is filthy - it is the worst polluter in the UK, and one of the worst in the whole of Europe. It is also uneconomical, which is why it is being closed. However, Sturgeon is demanding that the UK provide £40m per year in subsidy to keep it open so that it can continue to belch greenhouse gasses into the air.
The SNP in Holyrood was pronounced centralizing tendencies. The examples of this are legion. I'll limit myself to the two most obvious ones: In 2013 Scotlands eight local polices forces were replaced by a single entity, Police Scotland.
Police Scotland is led by Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, the former chief constable of Strathclyde police. The “Strathclydisation” of Scotland’s police force has meant the use elsewhere of tactics popular in Glasgow, such as armed police officers.
Dr Kath Murray of the University of Edinburgh has documented how “stop and search” policies pioneered by Strathclyde have been appropriated by the single force. Rates are four times as high in Scotland as in England and Wales and most are “without reasonable suspicion or legal authority”.
The other well-known SNP policy is the "council tax freeze", which means they have, for eight years now, prohibited local governments in Scotland from raising tax rates. Who benefits? Poor people don't pay council tax. Once again, it is the better-off classes who get all the gain, and the less-well-off who suffer all the pain. Professor Arthur Midwinter
The result has been 40,000 job loses, cuts in services and increased charges. In addition, the Scottish Government transferred a number of high-profile anti-poverty grants into council overall spending – meaning that they can spend it on what they like. These included the Community Regeneration Fund of £113m, the Supporting People Fund of £384m and the Fairer Scotland Fund of £145m. There have also been cuts in the housing and regeneration budget of £307m and Education Maintenance Allowance of £15m. The result is that about £1bn of targeted spend on poverty has disappeared. Despite the Deputy First Minister claiming in 2008 that her government would “address the root causes of poverty once and for all”, poverty levels have increased since then.
In short: the SNP have gutted the anti-poverty program in Scotland to subsidize well-off property owners.
Of course, SNP politicians tour the country blaming "Westminster" for "austerity". While having their own "austerity" program going on at home, in the name of protecting the pocketbooks of the well-off.
Does this confuse you? Do you look at all the people supporting the SNP and think "well surely they must be doing something right?"
Let me put it this way:
*Mitt Romney carried 24 states;
*Sam Brownback was just re-elected;
*John Boehner is Speaker of the House and Nancy Pelosi is not.
People frequently vote stupidly. The Scots today are doing it today with knobs on.