As Scottish voters go to the polls for the seventh time in just three years, many will identify with the sentiments of Bristol pensioner Brenda, who’s shocked and exasperated reaction to news of another General Election so captured the public mood. If English voters are fed up with voting after just one referendum and a single snap election, how much more exasperated must Scottish voters feel having endured an additional devolved election and, most significantly of all, the deeply divisive and unedifying separation referendum of 2014?
The SNP’s incessant demands for separation are the root of this electoral mess, and their fascination with what is ultimately their sole raison d'être has had the very unpleasant effect of making every election feel like a re-run of the separation referendum of 2014. Every election is to their mind about gaining a mandate for a second referendum, even when the body those elections are for has no power over the UK constitution, as is the case with the Scottish parliament. With the SNP everything is about their ultimate end goal and for that reason every UK, Scottish and local election, as well as a referendum on any topic, is immediately twisted by them into a roundabout vote on breaking up the UK.
This has crippled democracy in Scotland and drowned out a myriad of concerns over health, education, employment and all the things that elections used to be about. We are forced to vote on what are increasingly single-issue elections and referendums so often that it is bordering on farce, every time the future of our country being placed in doubt. Things are now reaching such a stage that it is hard not to feel that we are devolving into arbitrary government, with the value of any particular election or referendum being made almost redundant by the fact that a re-run or another vote can overturn any previous result just a few months down the line. This devalues the significance of any one election and cheapens our democracy.
People can see that this is wrong and they are sick of it. If we want to put an end to this and return to the ‘normal’ politics of health, education, the economy and all the other serious things that really affect our everyday lives, then we have to vote the SNP out. This would be the one single biggest change in Scottish politics that we could ask for right now; the SNP are no longer a protest party, they are a party in their third term of government at Holyrood. If you are fed up with the constant elections, the neverendums and the subjection of all Scottish politics to the SNP’s supreme goal of independence, then that change can only come about by getting the SNP out of power.
Indeed, on the big issues of the day, if you want real change then the SNP are not the party to vote for. Consider for example the matter of Brexit, where the SNP have chosen to align themselves with the elitist, undemocratic bureaucracy of Brussels, siding with London bankers, multinationals and indeed the entire political establishment and against the majority of the people of this country who support Britain’s exit from the European Union, which the working-class in particular enthusiastically voted for. Even one-third of the SNP’s own supporters backed Brexit, not to mention 2 out of 5 Scottish voters; this is all the more remarkable given the near absence of the Leave campaign in Scotland, and the rather unedifying sight of Sturgeon, Davidson, Rennie, Dugdale and Harvie all standing literally shoulder-to-shoulder to support the Remain campaign.
Leaving the European Union provides Britain with an opportunity to re-shape its connections with the world. We can at once forge new trading links across the globe, free from the EU Customs Union. We can rebuild national industry and put public services back into the hands of the British public, free from the EU’s competition laws. And we can regain control of our borders and place sensible limits on immigration, free from the EU’s demands for the unrestricted movement of people. These opportunities for fundamental change, supported by the British people, would be denied to us by the Blairite SNP who, incredibly, value European over UK Union.
Immigration is another issue in which the SNP offer nothing but a continuation of the same failed policies of recent decades. It is beyond belief that the SNP imagine themselves to be championing the cause of immigration against the supposedly right-wing, anti-immigration government of Theresa May. Under the previous Conservative government, immigration reached record levels, and in Mrs May’s last year as Home Secretary 650,000 immigrants entered the UK; this is greater than the population of Glasgow. That figure was no aberration; it is simply the high point in the almost exponential and unchallenged rise of immigration rates which are now happening on a scale that has no precedent in history. This issue, which was central to the Brexit debate, is another matter in which the SNP offer no change, but only a continuation of the Blairite policies of New Labour and the Conservative Party.
The SNP’s stance on the EU and immigration is part and parcel of their wider support for globalisation and the post-80s neoliberal, debt-based economic order. Their fascination with the ‘arc of prosperity’, as the area spanning pre-financial crash Ireland, Iceland and Norway was dubbed, made clear their view on what sort of economy Scotland should develop. It is only with the increased scrutiny of recent elections that they dropped their previous commitment to reduce corporation tax in Scotland, part of their wider plan to emulate the tax haven model which fuelled the boom, and later bust, of the Irish ‘Celtic Tiger’. Scotland already has a reputation across Eastern Europe as a tax haven thanks to the rather dubious ‘Scottish limited partnerships’, or SLPs, which allowed one Moldovan tycoon to funnel one billion pounds through the country; this hardly sits well with the SNP’s narrative of Scotland’s social democratic ethos .
Although the SNP never did follow through on their earlier commitment to reduce corporation tax, they also never followed through with their more recent promise to raise a 50p tax rate for the highest income tax band. Sturgeon’s justification for this was that it could lead to high earners in Scotland moving to England; this offers a little glimpse of the reality that an independent Scotland would face, stuck in a race to the bottom as a small nation desperate for investment.
The SNP’s plan to break up Britain and leave several small, vulnerable states in its place, stuck in this international race to the bottom, is simply part of a wider assault on the nation state by vested interests and market forces, seen for example in the EU’s notorious regionalisation plans and in the carving out of quasi-city states complete, in for example the case of London, with its own assembly, administration and tax & spend. A strong nation state can resist multinationals and market blocks like the EU; small nations like Scotland cannot. So if you are fed up with being walked over by multinationals, seeing your country sold off to the highest bidder and with rampant globalisation, then you have to vote the SNP out, because their vision is for all of those things in their most extreme form, beyond even what we have witnessed under the Labour and Conservative parties.
Within this framework of the ‘big picture’, the SNP represent the most extreme manifestation of the political, constitutional, economic, social and moral revolution of the last fifty years; their end goal in the political destruction of the UK represents the culmination of this process. As Britons, we have had to endure the loss of some much of what our country once was: our unity, our industry, our sovereignty, our once intimate society, rooted in a sense of time and place; in a common culture, experience and purpose which truly made us a nation. It is now that very existence as a nation which is under threat, and the SNP’s plans to break up the UK are at once just another step in the gradual dismantling of our country through the devolution process of recent decades, and the final and most extreme act in the broad revolution which has so damaged our country and society.
There has been a deep sense of unease amongst many ordinary people with the direction we have been heading in during recent times. Though suppressed for a long time, the silent majority made their voice heard when they voted for Brexit, and in Scotland also when they were faced with the much more fundamental question of the very existence of their country in September 2014.
People are beginning to speak out against the political class, and we must build upon that by punishing the most revolutionary, anti-British party at the polls: the SNP. They have, after all, been in power for at Holyrood for a decade now with huge powers covering public spending, health, education and the economy. They hold 54 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster. And what have they achieved? How have they made the lives of ordinary Scots any better? All they have given us is more of the same.
So if we want change, if we want a different political direction, the SNP are not the party to vote for. They are the most extreme manifestation of everything the silent majority has opposed in this country, of everything the worst of the political class represents. Britain now has a real opportunity for change, for something different from the Blairite consensus that has dominated politics throughout the country until now. We must not lose this by allowing the SNP to stay on in power.