On September the 18th I voted yes, because ultimately, it was going to cause a headache for the bourgeois Westminster establishment, coming under more and more control of the Tories and their allies. People felt helpless and detached. But what has happened since then? Scotland has become a divided and hostile nation to people who are yet to be seduced by the romantic nationalism offered up by the SNP. I walk out my front door and round to my corner shop and I’m met with at least ten stickers proclaiming “RED TORIES OUT!”
It appears that elections in Scotland are no longer won by facts and evidence but won by emotive stories and anecdote.
So here’s my anecdote. My emotive story.
I was born at 6.03 am on 10th April 1992- when Britain woke up to another five years of the Tories even when it looked like Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party would win. From what my mum has told me about those last five years, they were tough. From having to live in freezing cold flats, my Dad working nearly 40 hours a week for £100 and my mum having a series of insecure jobs to make sure we could go on holiday every year.
I started school in 1997- just after Labour won it’s landslide general election. I remember my gran- because she used to look after me in the morning before I went to nursery and then school- shouting me through to her bedroom, to ask my Papa to tell her what the result was. Labour were winning and I remember the joy she had for that.
After that, things got better. My dad’s wages went up because of the minimum wage. Instead of cleaning a pub, my mum got a job with the council and she still works there today. There was more money about, my mum and dad got married and they bought a house. Something they should have been able to do when they started their life together, but couldn’t. When I was growing up, I didn’t want for anything. There was always food on the table and money in the bank.
I’m under no illusions though. I remember 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan and asking why we had to go to war. I remember the Iraq war and asking why we had to go to war. I remember being in secondary school and having a brand new school built to replace our leaky old one but running out of jotters and having to bring our own in. Having to pay money for art materials in fifth year because art was seen as a soft subject so their’s was the first budget to be cut and being told I couldn’t do my two best subject at Higher because they were only running them in one column.
But in my opinion, the positives and the actual transformative changes that successive Labour governments have brought in have improved the lives of my family and my friends’ families far too much to let the negatives overshadow the importance of having a Labour government.
I joined the Labour Party in 2011 because although I supported Labour, I wasn’t terribly enamoured with the way they were doing things. People, coming together can change things. Trade unionists, leftists and socialists come together in the Labour Party to fight for changes like, taking a stance against the Bedroom Tax, abolishing employment tribunal fees and regulating energy and rent markets. People did that and I’m proud of what trade unionists have urged Labour to put in it’s manifesto in this election. I don’t believe it goes far enough, but this is just the start of the fight. When was politics ever easy?
Nationalism isn’t about social change. It’s about constitutional change. People having to use food banks, who I worked with for six months,don’t give two flying fucks about the constitutional status of Scotland when there is nothing in the cupboard to feed the weans.
Yes, Labour needs to be bolder and more radical, but we are on the right track. In politics, there is always a beginnimg, but never an end. Trade unionists and people have fought for policies such as a ban on zero hour contracts, increasing the minimum wage, intervening in markets, regulating insecure work and implementing tax reforms. Ordinary working people can win things. We have seen this from bedroom tax protests and campaigns across Scotland. We saw it when the poll tax non-payment campaign began, run by ordinary, working class people. And did they win victories? In Scotland, we no longer have to pay the bedroom tax and the 1990 Poll Tax riots and non-payment campaign ensured that Margaret Thatcher was booted out of office.
The Conservatives and the SNP do not have the same connection to ordinary working people in the way that unions and the Labour movement do. Positive transformative changes have only been brought about by Labour governments and today, if we cast aside national identities and vote for who will make the greatest gains for our class then the hard work can begin today. Politics always has a beginning, it never has an end.
Change Britain; Vote Labour.