Saturday 26 September 2015

SNP, Lib Dems and Labour out

Politics is not like football, though too many treat it as if it is. It doesn’t fundamentally matter if Aberdeen win, or more likely, don’t win the league. Likewise it doesn’t matter if the Lib Dems win one seat or fifty-seven. What matters is not the existence of a political party, but the things that are achieved by political action. If the political goals of liberalism could best be achieved by the Lib Dems ceasing to exist, there would be no reason in and of itself to preserve the Lib Dems. The one party that understands this is the SNP. If the price of achieving independence was that the SNP ceased to exist, every single SNP supporter would grasp this opportunity with both hands.

There are two types of people involved in politics. There are party supporters and there are the rest of us. The former strongly identify with the party, get involved at times of elections, wear rosettes and think the main political goal is that their party wins or at least wins more seats. This is to treat politics as if it were football.  

A political party winning seats or not winning seats doesn’t matter at all to me. Party politics is not an end in itself, but a means to bring about long term goals. I have only one long term goal. That the UK should be as prosperous, free, united and fair as possible. Of course it’s only by winning seats that a party can have any chance of bringing about a goal. But I have, over the years, been willing to lend my vote to various parties insofar as I thought at that time they would best help my long term goal. I vote in this way also, because I never want to see one party in power for too long. This inevitably leads to poor government. Therefore above all I want the electorate to be able to kick out any government that has been in power too long.

I have had a policy of being reasonably politically neutral while writing, but that has changed this week. My long term political goal can at present only be fulfilled by the Conservative party in Scotland. The reaction of the Labour Party and the Lib Dems after the general election has been most illuminating. They think that what matter is the number of seats they win. This does not matter. Because they think what matters is increasing their seats they are willing to do what is necessary in order to do so. This shows in fact that it would be better if they did not exist. It is after all a short step from one to zero.

Some months ago I was involved in a tactical voting campaign. I urged people to vote for whichever of the Lib Dems, Labour or Conservatives had the best chance of winning a particular seat. I did not organise or start this campaign, but was asked to help and did so, because at the time I did not think it mattered which of these parties won a particular seat. They all could play a part in my long term political goal.  I campaigned in this way because what matters to me most is the preservation of the UK. The UK is my country. I fight for it in the same way that an American would fight for the USA.

The tactical voting campaign failed to influence the result in Scotland. Perhaps even it made a bad situation worse. In a small way it may have helped influence events in the rest of the UK. The SNP are not in government in the UK. That was my only goal. It’s largely a matter of indifference to me now whether the SNP have six seats or fifty six. They are just as impotent.

But this is beside the point. The basis for my willingness to campaign for tactical voting was that there were people I agreed with and respected in each of the mainstream UK parties. The difference frankly between a Labour moderate, a Conservative moderate and many people in the Lib Dems is frankly trivial and amounts to the colour of their rosette.

So long as each major party supported the UK wholeheartedly then I could support them. In the past week however both Scottish Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems have said that they will allow MPs to support independence. Sorry you just lost my vote. How could I vote for a candidate who might support independence? How could I vote for a party that might work with the SNP? The SNP desperately need help from other parties. It makes their cause more mainstream and more legitimate. It’s a very small step from allowing MPs to support independence to actually supporting it yourself. Instead of fighting for the UK we have just another group of people who have meekly surrendered. Does anyone believe either Labour or the Lib Dems would oppose the SNP on a second referendum? Of course they wouldn’t, that might upset the people they are trying to attract back to their party. It’s just one more instance of putting party before country. It is this that I am fighting against. It is this that I have been fighting against all my life.

I always suspected during the last General Election campaign, that Labour and the Lib Dems would have made a deal with the SNP if it brought them to power. The idea that they would allow a Conservative minority government to rule unopposed was preposterous. The problem is that everyone in the rest of the UK knows this too. They will vote for anyone to avoid the fate of the SNP ruling England, so expect the decline of Labour and the Lib Dems to continue next time too.

Sorry but I take the same line. I'm going to vote for anyone but you also. Being Pro UK is the only policy to me that matters. It’s not something that I can allow a free vote on. If you think it’s like being pro or anti tuition fees, then I will see you as being rather lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, about an issue that it is fundamental to me and so of course I’ll spew you out, you and your whole party.

We have at the moment three opposition parties in Scotland each with one seat. It would be better by far that those who are soft on independence merge with the SNP. If you are on the left and support independence what reason do you have for not joining the SNP? Is it because you prefer Red and Orange to Yellow? This isn’t honest. This is to be a fellow traveller.

It is no more intrinsically unfair that five million or so people in the South East of England vote Conservative and get a Labour government than that five million people in Scotland vote Labour and get a Conservative Government. Each of us has one vote and is equally a citizen of the UK. That is how everyone more or less used to think in Scotland. But during the 1980s the Left in Scotland couldn’t quite bear that they were not in power and so they created the idea that unless they won the result was unfair. It is this that at root is the cause of Scottish nationalism. Once you go down that route then the logical endpoint is to vote for the SNP, because they have the only solution to the problem once you accept that it is a problem. The answer of course from the Pro UK perspective is that it is not a problem, no more here than in the United States. Parts of any democracy vote differently to the whole. This is not a fault. It’s a feature.
What is becoming ever clearer is that the Left in Scotland thinks achieving power is more important than preserving the UK. Hundreds of thousands of Labour supporters clearly are not that bothered if their goals are achieved within the UK or without. Breaking up the UK would be a small price to pay if only we could have higher benefits and an end to austerity. The trouble is that it’s clear now that Labour and the Lib Dems more or less agree with them. If they attracted back all their lost voters, how long would it be before either party came out in favour of independence? They would after all have to reflect the wishes of their members.

The whole problem in Scotland is that the Left is grotesquely overrepresented. 88% of seats in the Scottish parliament are held by left wing parties. There is thus no opposition. The parties on the Left agree on virtually everything. There was never a fundamental difference between them apart from on the issue of independence. Now they don’t even particularly disagree on this.

But it would be far better for those of us who support the UK to be the opposition to the SNP. The task is to make the Scottish parliament better reflect the attitudes of Scotland. We are, in fact, not much more left wing than any other part of the UK. But somehow, mainly because of the 1980s and hatred of Margaret Thatcher and the word 'Tory', we have got ourselves into the situation where we are effectively a one party state. Not because everyone votes for the SNP, but because everyone votes for the Left.

The reason the Left is soft on the issue of independence is that they see the UK as something that should exist at best for pragmatic reasons. It is for this reason that the campaign was called Better Together. Nonsense. The UK is our country and should be supported not because we get a grant from London or we get certain rights that we wouldn’t otherwise have. No other country would make this argument for why it ought to remain together. Does a Dane in Jutland think he's better together with a Dane from Funen. He wouldn't even understand the question. He's together because he's a Dane. Likewise we're united because we are British. That's it. No more arguments are necessary.

For the moment the Left in Scotland is part of the problem and not part of the solution. What Scotland needs is a centre right opposition to counter not only the SNP’s views on independence, but their whole ideology that every solution to every problem requires government intervention and public spending. Let those who agree with this solution merge into a single opposition. At least then we would know what we are fighting against.  

If we could have a balanced parliament in Scotland where something close to 50% of Scots voted for the centre right while 50% voted for the Left, then we would have taken the biggest step possible to securing the future of the UK.  It is for this reason above all that those UK supporters who care most about the future of our country should no longer vote Labour or Lib Dem. Voting for them will not help reduce 88% to 50%, rather it just adds to the tendency of moving us towards 100%.

Scotland at the moment is struggling economically. There is a reason for this. Part of the reason is that our prosperity depended on the price and the existence of a commodity, rather than the success of our businesses. It’s not accidental that the South East of England is more wealthy than Scotland. It’s not because they have secret oil fields. Rather it’s because they support business, free markets and enterprise. The reason Scotland is poorer is that on the whole we don’t. We prefer to get our money from Nanny Nicola and she prefers to get it from Nanny Dave. If you look on wealth creation as something a little slimy, don’t be surprised that you remain poor. Relying on the state to give you money is a recipe for being too wee, too poor and too stupid. This applies not only to Scotland it applies to every single country in the world.

So I’m no longer going to campaign for #SNPout rather I’m going to campaign for SNP, Labour and Lib Dem out. If you allow independence supporters into your party you’re all the same to me. If there is room for them, there's no room for me and I hope anyone else who voted No. 

I urge all No voters to vote for a party that actually does support the UK, that is actually willing to kick out anyone who supports independence. The Conservative party is straddling the centre ground. If you think that the UK should live within its means. If you think we should try to make a profit as a country rather than a loss. If you think the economy is doing reasonably well. But above all if your main long term goal is to keep the UK intact, then vote Conservative. It's the only party left in Scotland that shares your goals.

A year ago we won a great victory, but the response has been pathetic. Can you imagine the SNP allowing MPs to vote against independence? We are where we are in Scotland because the Left began to side with nationalism in the 1980s and have been lukewarm about the UK ever since. It would be better that they had never been born. Time to spit them out.