Monthly Archives: November 2014

UKIP AND THE SNP

Of all the lazy and ridiculous comparisons made in politics the one that goes, ‘The SNP is just the same as UKIP’ ranks as one of the most absurd. This week even the Prime Minister got in on the act in response to a question from me in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Let’s look at this at its most ridiculous. To buy into this you have to accept the simplistic formula which advocates that if you want to leave X you must therefore be the same as another party or movement that is advocating to leave Y. This therefore means every independence movement in history, and yet to come, is essentially Farage-ist in outlook and, by default, can be conveniently bundled together with him. Poor old George Washington wasn’t so much fighting for American independence but was, in fact, an unwitting predecessor, advocating the leaving of a European superstate. Then there’s Gandhi, enjoying his fags and beer, whilst trying to get Indian independence. How was he to know he was nothing other than an evil separatist? Oppressed nations or those that believe that self-Government could help transform their nation? Forget it, you rotten UKIP fellow-travellers! This is how nonsensical this lazy comparison is.

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Let’s then have a cursory look at what UKIP and the SNP share in terms of policy to see if this helps make sense of any comparison. Immigration, don’t think so? Green energy, got me there? Redistribution, the Health Service, equalities, defence, the environment, ehm, maybe not? If anything the SNP is the polar opposite of UKIP. The SNP also has a progressive world-view that believes in international solidarity and welcomes and encourages our membership of international institutions. We are just about the most enthusiastic champions of European Union membership and one of the reasons we wanted our independence was to ensure we wouldn’t be taken out of Europe, against our will.

We just happen to believe that Westminster is no longer capable of delivering the change that we, as a nation, require. We are a Scotland with our own institutions and Parliament – a confident and culturally-secure nation. We, in the SNP, think we’d be a damned impressive independent nation that could do something remarkable and might even be a positive example to the World community. We have never wanted to ‘separate’ from anyone, merely recalibrate political relationships in these islands to allow different component parts, with different priorities, the opportunity to achieve and secure those priorities.

But, let me see… Is there perhaps any other political party in the UK that might better warrant this, ‘just the same as UKIP’ tag? Well, Prime Minister what about your Conservative Party? Isn’t it the case that the Conservative party, absolutely terrified of UKIP’s progress, have become practically nothing other than a UKIP-lite? In fact the whole of the House of Commons is in thrall to UKIP, and Farage pulls nearly all the strings in the Commons. It is his agenda of European exit and immigration that dominates daily discourse on the green benches.

Pandering to UKIP has been a disaster for the Conservatives. By-election results and a cursory look at opinion polls clearly demonstrate that to be the case. But Labour, always late to the show, also want a piece of the action. Not content with their own disastrous poll ratings they want to reduce them even further with their own UKIP inspired agenda. Listening to Yvette Copper last week was like listening to any UKIP candidate fighting in any recent by-election. It’s almost like a Westminster establishment death wish is going on as UKIP grow stronger and stronger with their agenda adopted by all the UK parties who can never beat them on their own ground.

Instead of ‘being the same as UKIP’ the SNP seem to be about the only party in the UK prepared to take them on. We won’t join them in a race to the bottom because we absolutely reject their narrow world-view and pernicious agenda. The same as UKIP? We couldn’t be more different!

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WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY AT THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION!

The next UK election is shaping up to be one of the more interesting and intriguing contests of the past decades, with no-one really having a clue about the certainty of the outcome. Six months out and no clear leader has emerged, with all the UK parties struggling to get any traction in one of the most turbulent times in UK politics.

Neither Labour, nor the Conservatives currently poll much above 30%, whilst the Liberals now battle to remain above the Greens on single digits. Only UKIP look like they’re on the rise with a concerning 15%-plus; favouring their xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda in the polls. Then there is the SNP. Such is our support that we are now registering in UK opinion polls for the first time and everyone is talking about what our levels of support could mean in the post-election sums at Westminster.

governmentIn Scotland, we are registering levels of support of 45%-plus and if translated into seats, it means that we could be sending up to 50 MPs down to Westminster. I don’t suppose there are many people who believe that we will continue to sustain such stratospheric opinion poll ratings, but we are now being taken seriously as a potential player in any electoral arrangement next year.

And what will we do? Well, we will have absolutely no electoral arrangement with the Tories. The Tories are the antithesis of what Scotland requires and as a nation we remain defiantly set against their austerity-based agenda. A vote for the SNP is, therefore, a vote to keep the Tories out of power.

What about Labour then? Well, UK Labour are a curious party. Badly led with no real sense of what they want to achieve. They are variously pitching to their core vote, whilst at the same time attempting to get in on the new UK centre-right agenda of welfare cuts, immigration and Euro-scepticism. One minute they’re raging against bankers and ‘the rich’ then the next voting for a welfare cap and trying to outdo Farage on immigration. It is a strategy without any real sense of purpose and without any discernible momentum.

An Ed Miliband-led Labour Government would be, at best, a semi co-ordinated shambles; becoming the largest party on a paltry low 30s percentage share of the vote – with the resultant questions of legitimacy and mandate. It could, however, be an opportunity for Scotland. If they were forced to rely on our support, we could lever in all sorts of concessions for Scotland, force them to consider their attachment to austerity and issues such as Trident renewal, whilst making progress in securing the powers our nation requires.

Labour will always suggest that a vote for the SNP at the General Election is wasted or will even help get a Tory Government into power. Without any Scottish agenda of their own it is, in fact, all they can and will say. It won’t work this time, though, as experience shows this for the nonsense that it is. In the last General Election, Scotland foolishly swallowed this line, went to bed with Brown and woke up with Cameron’s Tories, with an almost useless cuckolded Labour opposition in its wake. This time round, Scotland will vote for its national interest.

Never before have we had such an opportunity at a General Election. With a load of SNP MPs with real influence at the UK level just imagine what we can secure for Scotland.