The View From Scotland: Why I’m Voting SNP

A vote for the SNP, for me, isn’t a vote for Nicola Sturgeon or Angus Robertson to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A vote for the SNP is, for me, a vote to increase Scotland’s voice and, crucially, opposition to an increasingly right wing UK Parliament.

The UK government in Westminster is pursuing an agenda increasingly unfair from the Scottish perspective. The promise that “the only way to protect Scotland’s EU Membership is by voting No to independence,” was quickly forgotten by the Scottish branches of the Conservative and Labour parties following last summers Brexit referendum. The Vow, a last gasp plea from UK party leaders promising greater devolution in the event of a No vote – after the Yes campaign briefly enjoyed a lead in the polls – was similarly forgotten.

The UK government in Westminster is pursuing an agenda increasingly unfair from the Scottish perspective

The vote in 2014 was a vote for a United Kingdom which guaranteed Scottish membership of the EU and home rule/ ‘near federalism’ that was promised by Gordon Brown et al. Since then, following the Brexit result, the Scottish Parliament, with cross-party support, has voted in favour of a second independence referendum. A second referendum was a manifesto promise of the SNP, and no single party – especially not the English-dominated Conservatives – should be able to block the democratic desires of the Scottish people as expressed through their representatives in Holyrood. That would completely undermine the principles and faith people have in our Parliamentary democracy. The pro-independence parties outnumber the unionist parties in a proportionally elected government. 62 percent of the Scottish electorate voted to remain in the EU, a significantly higher margin than the percentage that voted to remain in the UK. The SNP were elected as the largest party in Holyrood on the basis that they promised a further independence referendum if there was a material change in circumstances. A UK withdrawal from the EU was listed as one such material change in circumstances. Surely if this is a fair union, this democratic deficit should be debated and resolved. Unionist UK/Scottish parties should be willing to put arguments forward for Scotland remaining in a UK which has patently experienced the change in material circumstances that the SNP based their promise of a further referendum upon. A vote for the SNP further strengthens the case for a second referendum in which these arguments can be made.

This election was called by the Conservatives to take advantage of the rampant infighting within the Labour Party. One of the electoral shifts the Conservatives have benefitted from is the collapse of the UKIP vote. But UKIP voters haven’t stopped voting, instead they are now voting for the party which they feel best reflects their values – the Conservatives. As a social democrat, I find the prospect of a majority Tory Government, which has pandered to the British far-right and which does not have the support of the Scottish people, abhorrent. When pressed on her plans for Brexit, Theresa May responded by saying that it will be “a red, white and blue Brexit.” Make no mistake, we are now dealing with a hard-right, British nationalist Tory party, who are doing everything within their power to ensure a hard Brexit. Labour are lost, they have not woken up to the fact that progressive Scottish voters will not lightly forgive their joint campaign with the Tories against independence. They have little credibility with voters as the leader in Scotland says one thing, and Corbyn says another. They are not trusted on the union by unionists, and they’re not trusted to truly oppose the Conservatives by progressives. This leaves the SNP as the only viable voice for Scotland.

62 percent of the Scottish electorate voted to remain in the EU, a significantly higher margin than the percentage that voted to remain in the UK

The Resolution Foundation, a non-partisan and award winning think-tank, has pointed out that under Labour’s manifesto, 78% of the planned Tory welfare-cuts would still go ahead. For me, 22% opposition to the Tories, and 78% cooperation is unacceptable for a party claiming to be socially responsible and fair. The SNP on the other hand, have a sterling record, opposing Tory cuts and other controversial and damaging policies – such as the “two-child policy” or “rape clause.”

Having been represented by Angus Robertson for all of my voting life, the now deputy leader of the SNP and the head of the party at Westminster makes a highlander feel well represented. He is a principled politician who has lead and rallied the SNP group at Westminster against damaging Tory policies. He has never given the Prime Minister an easy time at PMQs and, in my opinion, is the true opposition in the UK Parliament. Voting SNP will not just give Scotland a better voice, it will give the UK as a whole a viable opposition to the Conservative government.

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