Ungagged: Scottish Elections

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The daft fools lovely people at Ungagged weren’t put off with my first attempt at a podcast and asked me to do a second.  Link here to listen to the talented contributors, my piece is only 5 minutes.

I’ve been to my local polling station so often in the last few years I’m half expecting to get a bill from Glasgow City Council for room rent.  Between moving here at the end of 2012 and June 8th I will have made my mark for two General, 1 Scottish Parliament, 1 European Parliament, 1 council and 2 referenda.

And to make it that little more interesting, we also have 3 distinct voting systems; first past the post for Westminster, d’Hondt for Holyrood & European and finally Single Transferable for Councils. Which latter two means there is always a discussion on the ability to tactically vote.

Is it any wonder the Scottish electorate is considered to be the most politically aware in the UK? And you know what? We are still beginners when compared to the Swiss. They had 13 propositions put forward for referenda in 2016 and plan another 7 for this year.

People talk as though going to vote is so difficult, that it’s such a hassle. I have to say that putting a cross or ranking candidates is far from being the most onerous task I have been asked to do. But of course that’s not what they mean. What they are on about is that they don’t want to have to weigh up the options. Making an informed choice means thinking, and taking responsibility for the results of your choice.

Any Leaver who complains about having to pay to visit Europe after Brexit is an idiot. You can’t expect there to be exceptions just for you.

A third of UK registered voters don’t even bother, presumably because they think their vote won’t change anything. People say politicians are “all the same” and “nothing changes.” Well it won’t if you don’t do something about it.

The Conservatives got a majority in 2015 with 37% of votes cast, this equals only 24% of the UK registered voters. This is a disgrace not a democracy.

Many politicians want a compliant electorate; they want you to think it has nothing to do with you, that it should be left to professionals.

Politics is not for an “elite,” it impacts us all. Saying you don’t do politics is stupid because politics “does” you. It encompasses everything from bins being emptied, pot-holes being filled, the food on your table, the water in your taps, young people being sent to fight in foreign lands.

You can’t wait until issues directly effect you, you have to get in there first. Call out representatives on their policies. Petitions, emails & protests may seem pointless, but the “noise” adds up. Pressure can be applied. Doing nothing never changes anything.

But I digress.

Until I moved here I had no idea of Scottish politics apart from it being – at that time – a Labour stronghold. I was fairly politically aware, but it’s not like Holyrood ever featured much (if ever) in the UK national six o’clock news.

I wonder how much coverage the “suspect packages” delivered to SNP offices earlier this week is getting? It feels like terrorism in Scotland isn’t newsworthy unless it involves someone getting kicked in the baws or an egg thrown at Jim Murphy.

It’s not normally as extreme as that, usually disagreements don’t get past inventive name-calling on social media and you have to take into consideration that swearing is taken to a level that is almost an art form.

You get some saying that Scottish politics have become divisive but to be honest, I don’t remember the 80s being all peaceful what with the poll tax, miners strike, Toxteth riots etc. What they mean is shut up, don’t rock the boat and do as we tell you.

It’s an exciting time in Scotland, there has been a lot of change and the upcoming Council elections could be an indicator of the changes to come. The unionist parties seem to be running solely on a No Referendum line, which is strange as I’m pretty sure none of the Councils are thinking of striking off on their own.

To put it bluntly, Labour up here have been totally screwed over by the Tories. They happily took they money and fronted the No campaign in the 2014 referendum and then wondered why so many left-wing people stopped voting for them. There are alternative up here, the SNP, Greens, and smaller socialist parties.

And yet, they don’t learn. Despite only keeping one MP in 2015, coming third in Holyrood and repeated “listening exercises” they still don’t hear many of their ex-supporters calling for change.  They’re seen as Tory-lite. And unfortunately for them, Ruth Davidson, with media backing, has stood up and declared herself defender of the union.

You can never out-Tory a Tory. They are so much better at being it. Whether “it” is wrapping themselves in a Union flag or being heartless bastards.

It feels like it is the unionist parties who go on and on about referendums the most, which is seen a distraction from their policies, or lack thereof. When the leader of the Scottish Tories response to cruel cuts to benefits is to suggest that the Scottish Government mitigate them, you know the current system cannot continue.

The commentariate talk as though the upcoming council and general elections are there to judge whether or not the Scottish Government have a mandate for a referendum. They forget they already have it. That was delivered in the Holyrood election.

Scotland as a whole voted 62% to Remain in EU, much higher than the 52% Leave for the UK which Theresa May says gives her a strong mandate. Right now it looks like it will be her own party which will be the main architect for breaking her “precious union.”

Right I’m off now to see if anyone has managed to get her to say something that isn’t a slogan.

 Image by: Red Raiph
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