So this is it – we are all hours away from casting our votes for the next session of UK Parliament and frankly, none of us have a clue how the outcome of tomorrow’s vote will turn out. Many people look back to years like 1974 for a taste of what might come, but in an era where two party politics is well and truly over, 2015 is set to be a very unique year for British politics.
But whilst I like to remain objective in my writing, this is a blog entry where I cannot feel like that. I know where I want my “X” to land on the ballot paper I receive tomorrow and for those of you that know me well today, it wouldn’t require a major amount of skill to work out who I’m voting for. Five years ago, I was a Conservative voter (hard to believe some may conclude when you look at the kind of person that I am now), but since then I have undergone one of the most transformational periods in my life, if not the most. I was gutted when the Scottish Conservatives did not embrace the radical change it so badly needed in order to start winning again and that co-incided with me leaving Scotland for a while – it was the time away that kick started the changes that I was to undergo politically.
Approximately two years after I came home from the West Midlands, I came out for a Yes vote in last year’s Scottish independence referendum. And whilst going public was a huge step for me, I don’t regret it for a moment. It was a huge relief to tell everyone what I really thought. And from then, the genie truly left the bottle. I then produced my own TV/video documentary reflecting on the Yes campaign for independence – it was an absolutely enlightening experience and opened my eyes further to people’s thinking. Just days after the documentary became available to view online, I came off the sidelines and joined the Scottish National Party (I say that with no disrespect to anyone who chose not to join a political party in the aftermath of the referendum last year).
But I didn’t say much until very recently. I haven’t really been active in the SNP campaign until lately, but I so wish I had started earlier. Many other people paint negative pictures of the party and it’s members and regrettably so. The people I’ve mixed with within the party have been incredibly lovely people, many of whom have been in other parts of the world and who form a broad minded perspective on life and many aspects of it.
Where I live now, Brendan O’Hara has been our main man in terms of being the official SNP Westminster candidate in Argyll and Bute. I had the absolute honour to meet him in person when he came to visit Bute last month and what makes him special is his uncompromising passion when he speaks, the fact he speaks with his heart as well as his head and the down to earth personality that he has which will be so key if he achieves the goal of becoming the next MP for Argyll and Bute.
But I’ve also been grateful for the opportunity to help out other SNP campaigns – on Bank Holiday Monday, I travelled round three constituencies across Strathclyde and gave my support to Natalie McGarry in Glasgow East, Kirsten Oswald in East Renfrewshire and John Nicolson in East Dunbartonshire. I just wanted to be there for the experience at this special time and regardless of the final result, at least I can look back and say that I had fun and tried to make a positive difference.
But to conclude, there are three simple yet significant reasons why the SNP will be getting my vote tomorrow:
1. The SNP are clearly the best placed party to represent the national interest of Scotland and have the boldest, most progressive and radical vision for the country. They are also the most pragmatically minded party and pragmatism will be the key here – whilst I absolutely respect that the SNP is a progressive party on the left of centre on the political spectrum, what appealed to me as far as becoming an SNP supporter is concerned was that they are pragmatic in terms of the policies they put on offer and how they advance the cause of achieving the best deal for the people of Scotland. I’m not left nor right any longer, I’m a pragmatist and the SNP have an excellent track record at Holyrood and Westminster when it comes to being practically minded in terms of getting the best results for the people of Scotland.
2. A high presence of SNP MP’s will improve British politics for all of the people of the UK. Unionist politicians have failed time and time again to reform the United Kingdom and the way that it is governed. They have failed to meet the aspirations and expectations of many people and the SNP are now the only party in Scotland who is willing to go further than anybody else in improving the way Scotland is governed and will be more than willing to provide a positive voice for the rest of the UK also.
3. Whilst I appreciate that Scottish independence is off the table for the time being, I am now and have been pro-independence in recent times and there is no way I want to reverse that sentiment. What matters now is making Scotland more autonomous and responsible for it’s own affairs. We need “devo max” – our economy, families and people depend on it more than ever before. Our sense of nationhood has grown and grown and why should that stop now? The outcome of the Smith Commission was nowhere near ambitious or bold enough and we need to exceed the expectations created from the outcome of this commission. It’s time to take up the philosophy of underpromising and overdelivering!
So that’s it – be honest with yourself and make your voice heard if you have a vote!
And on a more partisan note, vote SNP!