A week to go for the third UK General Election since 2015, and I suspect a great number of folk in the isles are sick to death of them all. They’re sick of an incumbent Prime Minister who seems incapable of telling the truth; they’re sick of an opposition that should be wiping the floor with the most evil government in living memory; they’re sick of the Third Party promising change who they know, deep down, will happily facilitate the evil government for the price of a ministerial role. And even in Scotland, where the First Minister is widely considered not just the best, but the only serious politician in every debate – by newspaper readers, commentators, many folk down south, even the BBC – we Scots seem determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
There’s no point in me pretending everything’s fine, because nothing’s fine. We’re living in frightening, dangerous, terrible times, and it’s a miracle the independence movement is surviving at all when you look at the chaos erupting everywhere else – chaos that is but the tide sweeping out to sea before the tidal wave crashes the shore. As the media & commentariat wonder just why politics has “become” so divisive, so nasty, so unpleasant, I look at the tens of thousands who have died, the hundreds of thousands impoverished, the millions disenfranchised. They tut-tut some robust language & aggressive confrontation while people starve and freeze and die, and wonder why people are so grumpy these days. People throughout the UK are in crisis, but have no option to direct their frustrations & desperation into positive action – the UK Establishment has robbed them of agency. They have no way to articulate what is wrong or what they need to make things right, because the press & media put words in their mouth & pretend to speak for them. They’re expected to pull themselves out of this mess while those who rule over them keep pushing them down.
Compared to the lives lost by negligence at best & design at worst by the UK Government over the past decade, even my most profound criticisms of the SNP pale into insignificance; compared to very real threat to lives & livelihood looming over millions of UK citizens in the event of leaving the EU without a deal, they barely register. This is not to say my criticisms are not important, or that those criticisms others have over one contentious issue or another are irrelevant – far from it. I’ve had frustrations, disagreements, & even arguments with my own MP, MSP, & ward Councillor over the years because I had issues with party policy or internal protocols.
But never once – not once – did I think this was enough to push me out of the party. Such an action would be akin to leaving Scotland because it isn’t independent – how can I leave, when we aren’t there yet? I cannot blame anyone who has either left the party (or Scotland), or never joined (or returned), because of one key issue that’s important to them – your principles are your principles. And believe me, I’ve had issues that had me tearing my hair & beard out (you wonder why it’s so wild & unkempt, there’s your answer).
But then I see the crocodile smiles of the UK-wide party candidates, eager to claim Scotland as their party’s territory – some saying “come home,” others pleading “save the United Kingdom,” and some squeaking about “we speak for the majority.” I recall their unbearable self-satisfaction in 2014, when they thought they’d “killed Nationalism stone dead,” gloating as hundreds of thousands broke their hearts. I think back to 2017, where the SNP’s second best Westminster election in its 80-year history was heralded as the “death” of the next independence referendum. I look to them, and think: there is no way I’m letting you have my cross on the ballot.
All three of the major UK parties are committed to wasting billions on nuclear weapons while the British coastline is pitifully undefended & the danger of nuclear contamination remains. All three insist on treating a gerrymandered, illegally-won referendum as if it was binding, with even a promised second EU referendum likely to be a rerun of the first – with no guarantee of a different result. All three, if pushed, will sacrifice Scotland – and Wales, and Northern Ireland – to benefit England, be it in terms of infrastructure, funding, development, or even its very existence. Britain, after all, is England Plus Three.
There’s absolutely no question for me which candidate I’ll put my cross next to. All the ranting & raving on the internet, all the responses to troll-baiting politicians & activists, all the snide asides when we see one mistruth or another – not one of them is as powerful as putting your cross on a ballot. That cross is not just a concrete, sacred covenant between voter and democracy, but a cross denied to those who mean to rule over us, exploit us, abuse us. Nobody – within the SNP, or without – is going to take that away from me.
CONSTITUTION OF THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY
1. The Party shall be named the Scottish National Party.
2. The aims of the Party shall be:
(a) Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.
(b) the furtherance of all Scottish interests.
That’s the constitution of the party I joined, the party I’ve voted for, and the party I believe in. For as long as those items remain in the party’s constitution, I will be a member. You will have to kick me out before I’ll leave of my own volition.
And, if nothing else, it is clear from this election that there must be a reckoning, within and without. We will confront this, we will storm, form, & norm’, and we will seek a way forward. Because, quite frankly, our future depends on it. If we let our party, our movement, be torn apart like this, then what does it say of our movement at all? What does it say of the strength of our resolve, our belief, our cause? We will get through this, and we will continue.
Let’s get through this election.