I'mNotAWriterBut…

I am a 51 year old working mum of five – not all at home thank goodness. Im a member of the Women for Independence National Executive. This Blog is growing and changing as my hopes and aspirations change. I actually DO expect to change the world but I accept that might not even make sense sometimes. I hope you enjoy the read.

Archive for the tag “#GE2015”

Tomorrow.

I’m exhausted and I haven’t done half as much as I wanted to do to support the SNP, to canvass, to change people’s minds, but I’m still exhausted. I can’t imagine how candidates like our own Drew Hendry feel, or the army of canvassers, or the Election Agents like Jill McAlpine – Still emailing at 1am and again at 8am. They must be utterly, utterly shattered even though the results are looking fairly good. Not that I am suggesting that they relax at all but if it’s this exhausting when the outlook is positive then what must it be like for those poor souls where the outlook is bleak. It must be gut wrenching.

I feel like I keep holding my breath. It feels like the whole of the country is waiting to see what happens next. Lots of people seem to be on short fuses and to be frank if one more person calls me a nazi or a fascist this week, they will find out how short my fuse really is. It feels a bit like a football match. It can be agony until the game is over. Watching the Old Firm match or a Manchester Derby is no pleasure for those who are passionate, even if your team is one up at half time. It feels a bit like that now. All to play for but much to lose.

So what’s going to happen tomorrow – well, why would I have a clue? After the referendum I have no faith in my ability to make a judgement. I thought YES were going to win! At least it’s not all or nothing this time. More than 12 seats for the SNP would be fantastic – the most they have ever had was 11. After the referendum we would have been delighted to think we could double our presence in Westminster and I am going to hold onto that thought but, in truth, anything less than 30 and I will be disappointed because whilst I don’t know what WILL happen I know what I want to happen and any less than 30 will make that more difficult.

I want Scotland to have a loud independent voice in Parliament. And that’s independence with a small “I”. It means a voice outwith the strictures imposed by being part of a UK wide party. A voice which shouts for progressive policies and MAKES people listen, a voice which challenges others and argues and fights for the people that it represents. Where commitment to people is reflected within the policies it promotes and where Scotland’s left of centre voice is shouted loudly and strongly. I want my party represented in Westminster by real people as MPs – people who are not coddled by being a parliamentary adviser and then a shoe in for a safe seat. I want our voices to be heard saying something different, I want their loyalty to be to the people they represent and the policies that best serve them. I want our MPs to be people who have never been complicit in the cosy libdem/labour/tory dominated corridors of power with their leather seats and subsidised champagne and who don’t have an eye on a seat in the House of Lords.

I often hear people saying that the SNP don’t have a monopoly on “Standing up for Scotland” and I am sure every single MP elected from whichever parties would say they would do just that – Stand up for Scotland and yet, let’s look at things like the Bedroom Tax. A policy that Scotland did not want  and wasn’t  necessary and yet – despite that – we got it anyway. Scottish Labour MPs abstained in their own debate some even not turning up at all. Surely if it was not good for Scotland, at the very least Scottish MPs should have turned up and voted against it and yet they didn’t. I saw something on Twitter recently which said if all MPs in Scotland stand up for Scotland then how come we got the poll tax and lost Ravenscraig? Old news I know but these things still hurt.

So as a newish SNP member I want to hear the SNP MPs stick up loudly, strongly and often for what is right for Scotland. I believe that what is right for Scotland is in most cases, going to be right for people in the rest of the UK. I will not tolerate my new party being complicit in delivering austerity for anywhere or anyone in the UK. I accept that even with 59 MPs they will not be “in charge” in the way the papers would like to suggest they will be, but I want to see them try. I want to see them be a thorn in the side of the main parties. To argue and debate forcefully and to ask questions that make the other parties squirm.

I want them to behave themselves, no lobbying scandals, no expenses scandals, no calling each other names and no fist fights in the bar. They are in Westminster representing the many in their party and in Scotland, not the few idiots that we have seen jumped on and paraded as the face of the SNP by the vile press in the last few days.

The candidates, the SNP members, the people that I have met over the last couple of years have given me confidence that that this is how it will be and I am excited by this prospect. I believe that these new Scottish MPS can be trusted to do their very best to be the very best they can. I want the SNP to win over the rest of the UK like they won over me and like they appear to have won over Scotland. By doing that the rest of the UK can see that a different sort of politics is possible and, in five years the prospect of the next General Election will be as exciting for the rest of the UK as it is for many of us here in Scotland right now.

So good luck to them all – to Natalie McGarry as she squares up to Margaret Curran and her unpleasant tactics even with her sore foot; to Mhairi Black who has faced the most awful attacks during her campaign to replace Douglas Alexander; to our own candidate Drew Hendry as he prepares to go to the polls to unseat Danny Alexander and to Paul Monaghan, Danus Skene and Ian Blackford as they hope to break the Libdem hold in the far north of Scotland; to Tommy Sheppard who I cheered at conference; to the smiling Anne McLoughlin and the talented and committed Philippa Whitford. To you guys and to everyone else – hold your nerve and remember to breath. Good luck.

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Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know?

I don’t even know where to start! I have watched the news and the papers over the last couple of weeks as they go completely crazy over the role that the SNP may or may not play in the UK after the election. I am utterly astounded. I thought that the referendum campaign had educated me in the ways of politics and I often think I am quite a worldly woman. Years working on the front line in Unemployment Benefit Offices, Job Centres, volunteering, being a single mum and lately a gobby English woman campaigning for independence had, I thought, made me unshockable but I find myself gaping open mouthed at the antics of supposedly intelligent public servants and their hangers on, the supposedly world class broadcasters, the mainstream media both tabloid and the broadsheets.

Today’s Mail on Sunday has headlines which report that the idea that Scotland might send a majority of SNP MPs to Westminster is “the worst crisis since the abdication”. This means that WW2 was less of a crisis than people exercising their democratic right to vote. It is of course, being parodied on Twitter in a highly amusing way with #worstcrisissincetheabdication turning up little gems just like #dollgate did the day before and #tinhat did a few weeks ago. . Whilst this is an effective way of dealing with all this nonsense it doesn’t remove the headlines screaming across the UK using words like “coup”, “dangerous” “threat” and working to undermine the democratic right of voters in Scotland and therefore, anywhere in the UK because this isn’t about Scotland alone, it is about democracy in a wider sense.

So for the benefit of my friends South of the border particularly and wider readers generally, here are a few points about the SNP, about the Scottish electorate and about what is happening in Scotland that I hope will be a bit of a balance to the tantrums we are seeing played out in the full view of everybody and help my friends in England and elsewhere to understand what is happening here.

We are told over and over again that the SNP is dangerous because they want to destroy or break up Britain and therefore EVERYTHING they do and say must be seen in the context of their pathological desire to smash all that we hold dear. In fact I have been asked about this many, many times both on Facebook and in person. This usually goes along with the complaint that the SNP – the yes voters – haven’t “moved on” from the referendum of last year. That we had our arses kicked on 18th September and that we should just get over it.

Let me reassure you – we have indeed moved on. Many of us did that very quickly after the referendum, some of us took a bit longer and a few may never get over it. Me? Well, this year, on 18th September, the referendum will be a distant memory, not even given a passing thought as we celebrate my eldest son’s wedding and you know, that’s what happens in life. You get over things, you move on.

The massive surge in membership of the SNP is actually a huge demonstration of how much we are moving on. The commentators seem baffled this, they seem to think that there is some sort of mind altering substance in our Irn Bru which is turning us all into rabid nationalists. The truth is that many of us have joined political parties as part of the moving on we are doing. For its not just the SNP, its all the independence supporting parties. The SNP is the most visible but the Scottish Socialist Party, the Scottish Green Party and one or two others are all seeing a significant increase in membership. Organisations like Women for Independence and the Common Weal have also seen growth in numbers of members and participants. Political rallies on anything from TTiP, Fracking, Anti nuclear, anti austerity, are well attended in numbers that they wouldn’t have even dreamed of at the time of the last general election. Local hustings lead to packed halls, even workshops on Economics or land reform and local book groups focusing on political books are getting plenty of support and interest.

All this activity is Scotland “moving on”. We lost the referendum, we got over it. Independence does however, remain the key policy of the SNP and there is no reason to apologise or shy away from that. Despite this we recognise that we will remain part of this United Kingdom, of Great Britain and that, in order to try to change things, to work for a better fairer society, we have to be an active part of the Westminster Political process. And that is not by staging a coup, or holding governments to ransom, but by the democratic process. This election is not about sneaking in through the back door to plant some gunpowder and blow up Britain, severing the landmass at Hadrian’s wall, it’s about working within our political system to get the best we can for Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The SNP will always do what is best for Scotland because all of the MPs we send will represent Scottish Constituencies. Just like any constituency MP their first concern must be about the needs of the people in their constituencies and about delivering for them. If …. when they win their seats they have made promises to do the best they can for their constituents, first and foremost. So every single one of them knows we have to grow the economy in Scotland AND the UK. Every single one of them wants an end to austerity in Scotland AND the UK. Because we, those of us who joined the SNP, those of us who will vote for the SNP know fine well that now independence is not happening, what we do needs to work within the wider context of Scotland as part of the UK.  Indeed for many of us YES voters part of what we wanted for an independent Scotland was to be a sort of leading light, to have the sort of success that would show our neighbours, our families and friends in the rest of the UK that you can have a different sort of politics. We hoped to give voters elsewhere the confidence that there is a alternative way to achieve fairer better society, encouraging political change elsewhere in the UK. Idealistic? Of course. But a far cry from the separatist, fascist, selfish personality of the rabid cybernat that the mainstream media would have you believe makes up the majority of SNP Members and activists.

Various commentators suggest that the SNP will pull Labour to the Left…the “hard left” in fact, said with the sort of sneer that used to be reserved for Labour’s militant tendency back in the 1980s. Is that because keeping the NHS in public ownership is “hard left”? Or does believing that we should pay carers who spend at least 35 hours a week caring the same level of benefits that people looking for work get make us “hard left”? When did it become “hard left” to think that education should be free and that all our children should have the same opportunity to get a degree whatever their parents earn? Surely it’s not “hard left” to think that society is important and looking after the poor and vulnerable is the right thing to do? These policies are not policies of revolution, of a party hurtling towards communism or North Korea. In fact, for many, they are not socialist enough. These are actually policies of decency, and policies which we need as a society to enable us to start to move towards being fairer better place to belong to.

The SNP have economic plans to reduce the deficit and to grow the economy through targeted spending and a measured amount of borrowing. No one is suggesting we forget about the dreaded deficit. It’s a bit like the decision you might make to do repairs or update your house and to therefore, increase your mortgage. If your roof is failing and some of your family are getting wet when it rains, even though you are snug, you wouldn’t just leave them, you would need to get it fixed. You might not want to but you may take a loan or extend your mortgage to pay for the work. It might take you longer to pay it off but your house will be better in the long term and everyone was dry. That’s where we are now. The Society we have now is not working for us. It’s failing many of us and we need to invest a bit more to enable us to grow the economy, we need to cut a bit less and we need to take a bit longer to pay back the deficit in order to have a fairer better place for us all to live.

So is Nicola Sturgeon the most dangerous woman in politics? Not for you and me she isn’t. Not for the ordinary working person or for the person on benefits or someone having to rely on foodbanks. She isn’t dangerous to the self employed, the disabled or pensioners. She isn’t dangerous for those of us struggling to work in our NHS or struggling to afford childcare, nor for those of us scared of nuclear weapons and what they could do to our world; or those of us on waiting lists for social housing who nearly cried when they heard that David Cameron plans to sell off properties that we were hoping we would get the chance to rent one day. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are not dangerous for any of us.

She is, however,  dangerous for David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. There are Labour MPs in Scotland who felt they were entitled to expect the support of the people in their constituencies for as long as they wanted it and Nicola Sturgeon with her high approval ratings is a danger to them. The SNP is  dangerous to those politicians who have forgotten that they are the voice of the people they represent and therefore think it’s ok to suggest that Scotland’s voters should just shut up and have no say in the politics of the UK.

A significant number of SNP MPs alone, or supported by Plaid Cymru and the Green Party will be able to form an effective opposition to any government, whether it is a Labour Government or Tory propped up by UKIP, or even the Libdems. We desperately  need an effective opposition to hold the government to account, to challenge decisions, to make sure that policies are properly scrutinised. With a large group of MPs in parliament the SNP will be able to be that effective opposition. They will be able to ask questions challenge policies and demand to be heard in a way that they have been unable to do so with only six MPs.  They will bring an alternative view to those of us watching on tv, reading about politics in social media. They are unencumbered by second jobs, a sense of entitlement, an “old boys network” – many of them have never been politicians before. Whether you agree with the policies of the SNP or not,  it will be good to see these things challenged and properly argued. Of course the main parties feel alarmed at that possibility, they will have to show they are worth our votes in a way that they haven’t had to do for ages. The two party system is being shaken up and they know that they will ALL need to up their game. The Libdems particularly are in danger of disappearing into insignificance and that’s why Nick Clegg has been so strident in his views on the SNP when actually Nick Clegg and the Libdems have struggled to be strident about anything in the last five years. Remarkable how the chance of losing your job concentrates the mind.

This growth of a significant alternative political voice in Scotland, the galvanising of the voters into a politically educated and crucially, politically active population has the potential to be copied in England, in fact that is already starting to happen. Increases in Green Party membership, in UKIP, and the emergence of new smaller parties suggest that the potential is there for more political engagement from ordinary voters, and THAT is what they are scared of. Scared that you guys, my friends, my family in the rest of the UK will see what has happened in Scotland and think that political activism, political intelligence, economic understanding and actually engaging with politics is a good thing and take it for yourselves.  Then what will they do?

The batshit crazy papers, the pasty faced, exhausted politicians, the titled privileged elite are not really scared for the future of the UK, they aren’t scared of the “hard left” SNP that doesn’t actually exist, they aren’t scared of 105 000 rabid, foaming at the mouth bravehearts because they don’t exist either, they aren’t scared of the SNP’s policies on the economy; or Nicola Sturgeon, they are my friends, scared of you, of us. They are scared of a politically aware and engaged electorate. And you know what? That’s a good thing.

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