I've been absent from here because I don't know what I can add that hasn't already been said by one of the many other people who campaigned for a Yes vote. In the weeks after the referendum I couldn't help feeling that a huge step had been taken backwards and now our goal was as far away as it was back before the election of 2007 when the SNP were only just seeking to enter their first term in office. A lot has changed since then but it will be just as many years if not more before the next independence referendum comes upon us.
However, there must still be a purpose for everyone who became engaged and energised by last September's campaign. There has to still be something we have worth fighting for. Well we do. There is a General Election coming up in less than forty days time and for the first time ever it is conceivable that the SNP could have a real influence on Westminster politics.
Of course the naysayers will as usual tell us that it is unthinkable that a party 'wants to run the very thing it wants to break up'. Which leads us to ask the question why did they want us to stay so badly in a 'family of 'equal' nations'? We were told Scotland brings added value to the UK that it brings something special to Westminster politics. Yet now it's looking like they don't want us to make a contribution to Westminster politics if we decide we want the SNP to represent us. It's clear there's no love lost.
But what is also clear is just how much Labour has alienated the Scottish population over the last four or five years. It seems like only yesterday that it was April 2010 when Labour could still happily claim Scotland as their own territory, that tactical voting to keep the Tories out seemed justified. Not this time though. Labour's current mantra - "vote SNP get Tory" - is no longer convincing. And it's ironic because what are Labour now but, well, the Red Tories. If Labour so badly wanted Scotland to banish the Tories we had that golden opportunity to make it so and make it permanent last September!
But my dislike of the Scottish Labour Party is far deeper than that. They just didn't respect the ordinary people who voted Yes. They couldn't appreciate the real concerns that motivated us to aspire to a different Scotland through a Yes vote. And whilst presenting erratic counter-arguments they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories and the Lib Dems to try and unfairly blacken our name. So folks don't vote Labour. Vote SNP. And do it for these reasons:
- This is justice. Disputing our case for independence is one thing - trying to smear us quite another. Remember how all these Labour politicians tried to suggest we were all abusive cybernats? Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but when a small number of abusive online activists attacked No voters it was all that was needed for Labour, Lib Dem and Tory politicians. They simply couldn't resist using the situation against the rest of us who were NOT responsible for what got said by those so called 'cybernats'. And yet they turned a blind eye to all the occasions when some of their own supporters metted out similar abuse against people who were voting Yes. I agree online abuse is wrong whichever way it comes from. But if you're going to condemn it you condemn BOTH sides and not just one side in order to try and bolster your side. The SNP went out of their way to condemn abuse on both sides but Labour tried to make it sound like a problem exclusive to Yes supporters. I am still to this day seething with fury over Labour's attitude on this matter, it was one of the biggest injustices of the whole campaign and just on that I will not forgive them! I accept the referendum result quite willingly even if it is not what I wanted as I accept people voted No in good faith. But I will struggle to come to terms with Labour tarring us all with the same brush. Of course I am equally annoyed with the Tories and Lib Dems but I reserve my biggest anger for Labour, the party who is feebly trying to win back Yes voters without so much as an apology.
- Additionally lest we forget how Jim Murphy's predecessor, Johann Lamont, tried to call our cause 'a virus'. You're hoping to be the next first minister and you effectively call a third of your own compatriots a virus? Is this the woman we were supposed to look up to? And then Jim Murphy himself using his Irn Bru crate tour of Scotland to call us 'nosiy nationalists' - now he's trying to reach out to us. It's laughable.
- Labour stood with the Tories to campaign in Better Together. They could easily have run the campaign without them but instead they invited them to take part. The result? A common message based on an anti-SNP theme. They may have won the referendum but the path they trod to try and maximise support will soon backfire on the party.
- When it comes to policies Labour are little better than the Tories anyway. To have given the Tories support for the UK austerity programme means they have endorsed cuts in their desperation to overturn the deficit. The consequence will likely be more unemployment and more of our vital frontline services at risk. For what? Some sort of better economic outlook one day in the distant future? They must realise that when some of their own MPs including Dianne Abbott and Katy Clark (an Ayrshire MP) rebelled something is a miss in this programme. The SNP on the other hand voted with their conscience alongside Plaid Cymru and the Greens to join the few brave Labour souls. The bill was passed with fewer MPs voting against than years I've been alive and I'm still a young man!
- Voting SNP means Scotland getting a far better voice fighting our corner in Westminster. Simple.
- It may actually be a blessing in disguise for Labour if they face annihilation in Scotland to the SNP. If they are to stand any hope of getting more MPs than the Tories they will have to win in England. Which means taking more centre ground possibly more than they would prefer. And then at least they could be willing to scrap some of their more regressive policies to get the votes of the SNP and treat it as a concession they had to make. I don't think the SNP will particularly mind taking the 'blame' for scrapping Trident.
- Contrary to Labour's arguments that the party that wins the most seats has the exclusive right to seek to form the next government, it is all dependant on whether or not the party with first priority (granted that's the party with the most seats) can get the first Queen's Speech passed. The party with the most MPs elected may feel cheated by a deal between two smaller parties but if the collected weight of their shared policies is good enough for parliament it's good enough for forming a government. There's a small chance Labour will win more seats than the Tories but if they don't they can be assured there'll be a good majority against Tory policy. Ed Miliband being Prime Minister is not a thought to savour. But if the SNP MPs we send to Westminster have enough influence then Miliband would only be occupying the floor of Number 10 while dancing to our tune! He may have ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP but if Ed Miliband is serious about gaining the keys to Britain's most coveted front-door an informal agreement with the SNP will be almost if not entirely unavoidable.
And if unfortunately the Tories do emerge with the most seats then my message to Labour is clear:
Don't blame us, the people of Scotland, for your party's misfortunes. We only voted for the party we wanted to have fighting our corner, the party we felt represented us. If you can't win more seats than the Tories then look at yourselves not us. It can only be your fault, Labour, if you don't make enough effort to win over the hearts and minds of voters in the places where you're actually fighting the Tories. We accept no responsibility for Ed Miliband's ineptitude and if you walk away from any post-election talks of an anti-Tory alliance simply because you've lost then that is your problem. You will be the ones in the end letting the Tories in through the back door.