So unless you have been living under a rock for the past wee while you’ll be aware of the predicament that Labour currently finds itself in; namely the fact that they are facing an utter wipeout in Scotland at the hands of the SNP. The reason for this is rather simple; Labour has held Scotland as a stronghold in UK politics since the late 1950s and, specifically following the referendum (or referundilymundilyundilum depending on what your party affiliations are) and the supposed broken promised that have come since, the majority of Scottish voters now appear to be disenfranchised with the Labour party, feeling that they no longer truly represent Scotland.
The alternative is the Scottish National Party, who despite losing the referendum last September, are picking up votes left, right, and centre – if you’ll pardon the pun. The SNP are being viewed as the party who can properly represent Scottish people and their interests, but what would an SNP vote mean for Scotland and the rest of the UK?
If I’m being honest, I’ve put off writing this one for a bit because, up until now, I’ve had a bit of a dilemma over the whole thing. After the referendum, I was pretty clear with myself that I’d vote SNP in the General Election, but as time went on, and in the past few weeks specifically, I have been moving towards the fence with the Labour side of things. You see, we’re constantly told that only Labour are big enough and strong enough to stand up to the Tories, only Labour will change the nature of the cuts and measures of austerity that have put ordinary people onto or beyond the poverty line, only Labour will chase after the rich to make sure they pay their fair share.
We’ve been told that the SNP will take away from Labour votes and hand the Tories the reigns once more for another brutal five-year shafting of our poorest and most vulnerable. The only way to keep the Tories out was to vote Labour.
But the past couple of weeks have allowed me to see things a little differently. The SNP stand on the basis that they want to work with progressive parties to make things fairer up here and across the UK in general, they want to cooperate with anti-Tory parties to make sure that we look after our most vulnerable, and, crucially, they want to make sure that Scotland’s voice is heard at Westminster as a clear and distinct one – something the other parties have failed to do in the past.
Labour told us that this was nonsense and we should just vote Labour; “do as you’re told and you might not get the Tories again.” So what if, in the event of a hung parliament, we asked, if the SNP and Labour were to work together and keep the Tories out that way? Well, Labour had a snappy answer for us; “You vote SNP, we’ll stand back and let the Tories in.” Yes, Ed Miliband actually said he would allow the Conservatives form a government rather than have any kind of deal with the SNP.
Over the course of the past year we’ve been told to vote “No” and stay with the UK and that our voice matters and that Scotland can work with the UK to make things better for everyone. We were then told “well done” for voting “No” and that it was a triumph of democracy and that, above all else, we should respect the democratic will of the people of Scotland.
Now that the democratic will of the people of Scotland appears to be that we send a large number of SNP MPs to Westminster, it’s suddenly not the kind of democratic will that should be respected and as such we are to be punished for it. And who wants to punish us the most for it? The Labour Party. The party that supposedly stands up for ordinary Scottish folk is now telling them to do as they tell them or get Tory rule, even if the Labour party and in a position to work with the SNP against the Tories.
If the Labour party, then, truly have the ideals of progressive politics and the good of the working people of these isles at heart, then I believe that they will have to work with other parties such as the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. If they refuse to do so, they either let the Tories in as a minority or are forced to govern as a minority. Any instability of the government is then on them.
We hear a lot from Labour about the hypothetical referendum that they seem so fixated with regarding respecting the democratic will of the people of Scotland (referring to the last one). If they choose to have an unstable government it is because they have failed to respect the democratic will of the people.
Over the past few weeks, it has become quite apparent to me that the SNP really is the only party to vote for if you want change for Scotland (and, indeed, the rest of the UK). They are the only party who actually offer any alternative to the austerity and public sector cuts. They are one of the very few parties (and the only one in Scotland with a chance of election) who oppose Trident. And they are the only party that actively wants to stand up for the Scottish people.
That last bit is important to me. Every other party is part of a greater Westminster machine with a one size fits all approach across the United Kingdom looking to apply the same formulae in the South East as in the Far North and that doesn’t work. The SNP are the only party who listen properly to the needs of Scots, and who have those interests in the fronts of their minds as the walk into the House of Commons or the Holyrood Debates Chamber.
The SNP understand the Scottish people better than any other party because that is their sole function as a party – to understand and work for Scotland. What’s more, they are, as I mentioned above, the only major party with a properly progressive agenda.
It saddens me a little bit that Scottish Labour have become what they are now – a joke party attached to their London colleagues with very little to differentiate them from the Tories they supposedly so bitter oppose. Jim Murphy can stand and shout all he likes now, but most of what he says is utter nonsense; he, in a desperate bit to garner votes spoke of reduced cuts in Scotland, only to be shouted down by Ed Balls who – as Shadow Chancellor – made it quite clear the Murphy wasn’t the one setting the fiscal policy. Murphy has also told us that all the SNP want is another referendum, the only people talking about another referendum are the three main parties, with the SNP having no plans to introduce one at present.
All Labour are doing now is telling the Scottish people that their voice only matters when it agrees with them. And that voice is one of further cuts to public spending and odd economic propositions that seem to have no real backing at all. The SNP meanwhile is actually talking with Scots about progressive poltics, about different ways to kick-start the economy, about how to best represent the people of Scotland.
As I say, I have been putting this off for a while, it’s even taken me two days to actually get this together at this point. I am saddened that I don’t feel the Labour party can adequately represent the people of Scotland any more, I am still at odds with myself because I haven’t ever really seen myself as a nationalist (in the generally defined sense). I want to see a more progressive politics, one where we aren’t so tightly bound to the old ideals of the past and fixated on a solid parliamentary majority where one party can get in and then do as they please for five years.
Now I am growing more and more certain that this is the right thing to do, for Scotland and for the rest of the United Kingdom – on Thursday, I will be voting SNP.