Labour’s candidate for Glasgow North East Paul Sweeney, fresh from telling the world that he’s a superior individual who outclasses the other candidates, has decided to tell the rest of us what this general election is all about. Paul knows these things because he’s a superior individual who outclasses everyone else. Contrary to what you or your independence supporting maw might believe, Paul has averred that this election isn’t about Scottish independence. Keep your parochial Scottish issues for your parochial Scottish elections. So that’s us telt. This election is to be what Paul wants it to be about, which means that it is mostly about how he’s such a classy individual who isn’t remotely egoistic at all. Oh no.
Speaking in Glasgow after the Remembrance Day ceremony in George Square, Paul said that the issue of independence was one that should be left to Scottish Parliament elections, and not to elections to that Parliament on the banks of the Thames which actually has the legal authority to make constitutional changes. I am not entirely sure why all of a sudden it’s only elections to Holyrood which count when it comes to demonstrating a mandate from the people of Scotland for another independence referendum. You might think, and you’d be logical and superior, and indeed classy, in your thinking, that an election to the parliament which has the ability to alter the constitution might provide a stronger mandate for constitutional change than an election to a parliament which doesn’t have such a power.
In much the same way, if you wish to provide a party with a mandate for, say, increasing the minimum wage, you do so by voting in an election to a body which has the power to increase the minimum wage, and not by voting for a Strictly contestant who has said that they’d like to see people get a fair return for their dancing. But then if you thought that way then you wouldn’t be demonstrating Paul Sweeney superior thinking, and so it doesn’t really count.
Possibly, and I am just speculating wildly here, this new found enthusiasm for an independence mandate in Holyrood may not be unconnected to the likelihood that the Labour party and the Tories in Scotland are going to get their electoral arses severely kicked by the people of Scotland in this coming General Election. So it’s not really that they’re keen to leave constitutional matters to Holyrood, and more that they’re desperately scrabbling around for excuses to avoid another independence referendum. They know that when that referendum does happen, they’re going to lose it. Westminster hasn’t exactly been treating Scotland in a classy way since 2014, or indeed before that.
However Paul did say that if there was a pro-independence majority in Holyrood, no UK government would be able to deny another referendum. You know, like the pro-independence majority that Holyrood currently has. Oh wait. No. Not like that majority at all. Apparently a mandate from the people of Scotland is only a mandate from the people of Scotland when Labour and the Tories decide that it is and they think that it has been printed in the SNP manifesto in a sufficiently large font so that Mr Magoo can read it without his glasses from a distance which is approximately the same as the radius of Paul Sweeney’s ego. So about the distance between here and the nearest gas giant, who is also, not coincidentally, the Labour candidate for Glasgow North East.
Of course what this is really about is kicking the can down the road. It’s about the anti-independence parties desperately looking for reasons to avoid having to deal with demands for another independence referendum in the hope that if they can avoid it long enough some other factors will intervene to take the steam out of the independence movement. Something. Anything. Alex Salmond trial! A hospital with a leaky roof! Sturgeon ripping up post it notes! We’ve seen this sort of behaviour from the Labour party before, which is why we still have an unelected House of Lords despite the Labour party promising for over 100 years to abolish it.
But they’re wrong. They’re wrong because the desire for independence isn’t driven by the SNP. It’s not driven by the “forces of nationalism”. It’s driven by the behaviour of the anti-independence parties and the contempt and disdain with which they treat Scotland, and the way in which they constantly go back on the promises and commitments that they make to the people of Scotland. It’s not events which have to change in order to take the steam out of the independence movement. It’s the anti-independence parties which need to change, and they show not the slightest bit of awareness that they have to.
So they tell us that denying another referendum is totes OK right now, and it will still be OK after the people of Scotland ensure that the SNP is the victor in the general election to come and elect them on a mandate for another independence referendum. Because reasons. Paul Sweeney reasons, which are reasons which outclass any other reasons. This election isn’t going to be about what you want it to be about, what your maw wants it to be about. It’s going to be about what Paul Sweeney wants it to be about. That’s democracy, allegedly.
It’s not for any politician to tell the electorate what the electorate’s priorities are. We are the voters, and it’s for us to decide what issues are important to us, not Paul Sweeney. For hundreds of thousands, millions even, of us in Scotland this is an election which is defined by two big issues, neither of which are the Labour party’s proposals for introducing free prescriptions or university education in England. It would be great if people in England got access to free prescriptions and free university education, but here in Scotland we already have those things, thanks to the SNP.
Here in Scotland this is an election about Brexit, and about the best way of getting out of the Brexit mess that has been created by the dysfunction of a Westminster parliament and political system that is unfit for the 21st century. It’s about how Scotland can ensure that it gets governments that respond to Scotland’s needs and which listen to what the Scottish electorate tells them. For Scotland, the escape route is independence.
It’s not for Paul Sweeney or anyone else to tell you what Scotland’s priorities ought to be, or what your vote represents. That’s a decision that you get to make. For many of us, this election is about demonstrating that we outclass Paul Sweeney and the British political parties which treat Scotland with contempt. The best way to do that is to vote for the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin in Glasgow North East.
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