It’s nearly the day of the general election and so much hinges on getting the Tories out as they with their Lib Dem or UKIP enablers will destroy lives over the next five years if they manage to form another government. In fact leaked coalition documents revealed in the Guardian today show that people, especially young people, the sick, the disabled and unemployed, are going to be hurt badly if Cameron gets back in. This isn’t to say I’ve had a Damascan conversion to Labour, I’ve not as a majority Labour government could be as terrible but in different ways as the Labour Party of today needs to be tempered hence my wish for the SNP (and their allies the Greens and Plaid Cymru) to get as many MP’s as possible.
I’ve had Labour supporters tell me ‘but you really want a Labour government so just vote Labour’, but as said, I don’t want a Labour government and I’ve outlined before why I’ll never vote Labour again a few months back. Ultimately because of the system we have either the Tories or Labour are going to form the main core of the government, and seeing as I think the Tories are scum. it makes sense to offer support to Labour in the hope that they listen, and possibly make things better for the UK.
Yet there’s been reluctance from many Labour supporters to even consider SNP support and rumours still persist that some close to Milliband would prefer to let the Tories back in than be put into government by the SNP. I’ve had friends on social media and in the real world voice their concern about the SNP, and yes, the word ‘nationalist’ is used purely as a pejorative with no understanding of Scotland’s old tradition of civic nationalism and how vastly different it is to cultural nationalism, which is what British Unionists pretend to be, but the problem is there is no shared British culture or identity. I can go from my home here in Bristol to Cardiff and experience a vastly different culture, heritage and idea of ‘Britishness’ there and the truth is that a form of conservative nationalism has been spawned that sadly the Labour Party buy right into as much as the right wing parties do.
Now there may be a confusion here as some readers will think there’s only one type of nationalism and that’s that nasty UKIP/BNP type, but here’s the thing: there isn’t and unless one believes in a One World government there will always be borders, and if there’s borders then one defines themselves in the nationalism they wrap around themselves. So you can be inclusive and welcome anyone to your country and they are effectively Scottish, or you can demonise immigrants/asylum seekers and Other them as the Tories, UKIP and Labour have over the last 15 years.
Then there’s the socialist argument that Scotland should still vote Labour in solidarity with their comrades in England, but that is easily shot down as Scotland has voted dutifully for Labour for generations. They acted according to old British Labour and socialist principles and barely got support from many on the left south of the border. When Scotland made it clear they were rejecting Labour in massive numbers many on the left didn’t, and don’t bother to understand the changes in the political landscape or the fact that people may have socialist principles or ideas, but things have developed, and anyhow, a country like Scotland is never going to effect serious change waiting for the disparate left in England to pull the finger out of their collective arses to enact serious change. I’ve said before that many are locked into a binary battle to the death with the Tories that they miss the potential path Scotland offers.
England can find and develop its own socially democratic inclusive path just as Wales is starting too and they’ll find their closest allies in that will be the people of Scotland as although I feel the Union is dead, that doesn’t mean the three largest parts (I’m not even going to suggest a solution to the problems of Northern Ireland as that’s beyond my feeble mind) of the Union cannot form common bonds and create something new, positive and wonderful from the bloody mess of the Union. A close relationship of equals rather than an unequal partnership where England dominates due to it’s massive size in comparison to the other countries is more civilised, more befitting 21st century societies than one constantly looking to the past dreaming Imperial dreams of Great Wars that were never great, or continuing a bloodline that sees one family stand over the people unelected and unaccountable. The Union is a comfort blanket and it’s flag is a bloody shroud and for good reason the Union Flag is called the ‘Butcher’s Apron’.
Now for many people I’ve just written some pretty extreme things, and I imagine even Labour supporters may bristle at what they’ve read, but when you see Ed Milliband rebrand Labour as ‘One Nation Labour’ I only see Labour express their own nationalism and it’s that of everything that’s bad about the Union. This isn’t to say I’ve always felt like this. I’ve not, but on Sunday I was in London for a comic mart and while cutting through Victoria Station the Union Flag was hanging everywhere.
I felt revulsion not because of the flag itself but of what it represents. It represents a nation that’d rather cling onto ‘heritage’ than feed it’s people. That would rather it celebrate the deaths of millions of young men in pointless wars than house people, including the young returning from today’s pointless wars. A nation that has the disabled demonised and spat on in the street. A nation that is not colourblind but sees people that look nothing like them as a threat. A nation clinging onto the very idea of itself and that puts a small elite at the top of the pile and keeps them there.
Then yesterday I saw this picture over at Wings Over Scotland.
This was taken as people waited for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Greenock yesterday. You’ve got the Rangers supporting Unionists (one of which allegedly has some serious form) representing the past both supporting a dead club and a dying concept and a wee girl holding a saltire proudly aloft representing the future. She probably gets it, so I ask my friends and those that don’t know me to get it too.
The SNP are not perfect, but they’re a tool to allow a large part of Scotland to effect change. Yes of course they’ll act for Scotland but because of the Westminster system their actions will aid the poorest,the weakest, the less able in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If they vote down tuition fees, help repeal the bedroom tax and force Labour not to just drop austerity, but roll back Cameron’s cuts then imagine a better country?
There is nothing to fear from civic nationalists like the SNP. There is nothing to fear about questioning the entire purpose and history of the Union. There should only be good people uniting to rid the UK of the Tories and making a progressive alliance of parties (the SDLP will also support Labour) representing all four countries in the UK work. This isn’t to say that Scottish independence isn’t going to happen as I think it will and within my lifetime, but for now there’s a chance for genuine reform and change but I implore people to drop their old preconceptions, open their minds and think. There might never be another chance like this in my lifetime so lets work together but in new ways to improve things once and for all.
So don’t vote Tory. Don’t vote UKIP. Don’t vote Lib Dem as they’re now Tories in all but name. Do vote SNP. Do vote Plaid Cymru. Vote Green in areas where they stand a bloody good chance. Vote Labour through gritted teeth if need be and hope they stay true even to the basic changes they’ve pledged themselves to. Hope Ed Milliband is smart enough to realise Nicola Sturgeon’s offer of a progressive alliance and if he is, then on Friday it could be a bright spring day for all of us, not just the few.