Turning the green seats of Westminster tartan

 stronger_for_scotland

“The more seats we have here, the more powers we’ll have in Scotland.”

Today, the first minister released a letter to members of the SNP  and the media that outlined their plans for the general election campaign. Sturgeon started her letter off by referring to the above image. It shows, the green benches of Westminster turned tartan and the picture is emblazoned with the assertion that “The more seats we have here, the more powers we’ll have in Scotland.” It’s an interesting angle to come at for this general election because the yes campaign utilised the social justice, equalitiy and fairness argument that inspired so many people.

For the last five years, people up and down the country, across the UK have been suffering as a result of the Conservative and Liberal Democrats. We now live in a country where people are having to turn to food banks because they have run out of money. We are in a situation where people are running out of money, are having to use food banks and have also ran out of gas and electricity. The NHS is in absolute meltdown across the UK and people are generally worse off than they were five years ago. The Tories have done very little to mitigate these situations. Instead of increasing taxes for the rich, they have cut them- from 50% to 45% if you earn over £150k and have also cut the income tax threshold for the higher rate tax of 40%. They have also cut taxes for the lowest earners. Surely in a time of austerity, cutting taxes makes little sense? The Tories are ideologically opposed to equality and social justice. They are ideologically in favour of giving tax cuts to millionaires, however.

In 2014, we in Scotland thought we could change that. Some of us believed that it wasn’t just for Scotland, but for the whole of the UK. It was a belief that we were leading, not leaving. While the left wing no voters placed a large amount of emphasis on solidarity and sticking together within the UK, there could have been an opportunity to destroy the British establishment that was inherently corrupt. We lost that opportunity, but we didn’t lose that spirit to try and improve things for the better.

Given that the referendum was lost, though, not badly, it’s time to put social justice, fairness and equality back on the agenda-not just in Scotland, but across the UK. Before you accuse me of coming over all Better Together, the referendum is over, for now, and we must focus on issues that affect people across the UK and that includes improving our standard of living and ensuring people are going to be better off in five years time.

So, that was why I was slightly perplexed when I saw that the SNP would be coming at this general election from an inherently nationalistic position. The more seats the SNP wins, the more powers we’ll have in Scotland. Seems fair enough, but when I asked how the SNP would achieve these powers as a minority party on twitter, I was met with things such as “By demanding them” and “Confidence and supply”. I wasn’t entirely sure what was meant by confidence and supply but demanding powers is a whole different kettle of fish. If the opinion polls and various media speculations are anything to go by then the SNP could hold the balance of power in Westminster. Therefore “demanding” more powers is going to look a little childish if the SNP are looking at wielding actual power in Westminster in May.

With the number of people turning to food banks, the number of people who’s benefits are being sanctioned and the crippling effect the bedroom tax is having on the Scottish government and local authorities, it is surprising that the SNP have not come at this election wearing their social justice hat. They appear to be far more concerned with gaining more seats in Scotland than ever before and gaining more powers for Scotland. This is quite concerning, given that there are many voters in Scotland who will be quite unsure who to vote for in May due to the SNP’s assertion that it is far more left wing than Labour. Scottish Labour are still in the process of deciding whether or not they are comfortable with new leader Jim Murphy. Are we over the civil war yet? At the very least, Murphy has actually mentioned social justice and removing the Tories from office in May, something that I’m sure many, many people in Scotland would be glad to see. But the SNP haven’t made this their biggest priority. If today’s press release is anything to go by, then the SNP’s main concern is ensuring it simply wins more seats in Scotland with very little policies, very little vision and rather a lot of nationalism- once again putting the politics of nation before the politics of class.

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