The television debates broadcast in the run up to this years general election have perhaps been the most inclusive and democratic for many years. With a massive increase in SNP membership since the referendum in September, Westminster politicians and television companies alike have had to change their opinion of those operating outwith the top tier of politics. In the case of the SNP in particular, they have had to accept that, with enough public support and a refusal to adhere to the scaremongering tactics that have become so mainstream, what was once viewed as a nationalist movement has now become a strong political force, not just in Scotland but the UK as a whole. Read just about any newspaper today and you will become painfully aware of the fact that MPs from the biggest Westminster parties, and in particular those leading their campaigns, are extremely uncomfortable with the change this is having on the political landscape. So uncomfortable that they are basing their entire campaigns on persuading us not to vote SNP.
Whilst those at the top levels of politics see only the threat of a future referendum in the SNP, most watching the debates see their leader. Nicola Sturgeon has only been First Minister in Scotland for a few short months, but in that time she has proven herself to be just as charismatic and motivational as Alex Salmond ever was, if not more so. Furthermore, the policies she is proposing to put in place actually make sense, holding none of the feelings of empty promises usually surrounding general election (or indeed referendum) campaigns. Her ability to not only hold her own in the televised debates but completely annihilate the competition is motivational not only to other politicians but women throughout the country. She has shown that the intimidation tactics of other party leaders will not work on her and that, in fact, she can be even more intimidating. As the first female first minister in Scotland her every move is being scrutinised and, so far, she is proving herself to be more than capable of the role her male predecessors passed on to her.
The fact that she is a woman should not be a focal point when discussing this, yet, in a world which has been traditionally dominated by strong male characters, of course it is. Not since Margaret Thatcher has there been a female politician strong enough, or brave enough, to put her opponents in their place and women everywhere are cheering her on. Other political leaders with growing support throughout this election are Natalie Bennett of the Green Party and Leanne Wood, the first female leader of Plaid Cymru. Both women are leaders of large political parties in the UK, advocate for an end to the austerity of recent Westminster administrations and have represented their parties well at the television debates. Strong female political leaders are fast becoming the norm in British politics, a prime example of democracy at its best. The policies of the political parties of course have a significant role to play, Ruth Davidson is also a very strong female political leader but the Scottish Conservatives are unlikely to win many seats in May. Yet it can be no coincidence that those performing best in the televised debates are women, can it?