Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

New Year Blog

New Year Blog

Happy New Year to one and all.

I'm on the train heading back to that there London for the start of the new term at the political equivalent of Hogwarts.


Lots of stuff in the diary already this week. Looking forward to my studio debut on The Politics Show tomorrow. Then a series of briefings throughout the day. On Wednesday I hope to get in on a debate of the treatment of Palestinian children by the Israelis, and there will be Scottish Questions in the main chamber after. And I trust there will be several opportunities to hold the government to account on both flood defences and selling arms to the barbaric regime in Saudi Arabia.


Inevitably, though, minds are turning to the May elections. I'll be playing a supportive role this year helping the excellent team of SNP candidates in Edinburgh East as much as I can.


I'm looking forward to being able to put the SNP's record in government to the people for judgement. It's a good record of decent choices made in difficult circumstances, of free provision of medicines and higher education maintained in the face of a ten percent overall cut in the Scottish budget - which is, of course, controlled by Westminster. And I'm looking forward to campaigning on a positive practical vision for Scotland's future - even before we become independent.


But there's a worrying development in this prelude to the election campaign in the actions and and attitude of our main opponents. I know both Tories and Labour have their own problems. The Tories facing a year of division over Europe and Labour is divided on, well, pretty much everything. But even so, we've all got to try to engage in some political discourse rather than name calling.


The argument goes, and degrades, like this at the moment.


The SNP's opponents will make an allegation about something the Scottish government has apparently done and demand that they defend their record. The SNP and its supporters do just that - either refuting or explaining. At this point our opponents should say - ah, but that doesn't answer the question and besides, here's another one. This is how political arguments usually unfold. But in Scotland many of our opponents often don't do that. Instead, they condemn the SNP - often SNP members on social media - for having responded to the criticism in the first place. You can't take criticism, they say, you're all being told what to do. SNP monolith. One party state. Robots! Yada-yada.
Come on guys, countering an argument or a point of view with an alternative is actual political discourse. It's a great thing and we should all see it as fundamental component of a thriving democracy.


Some anti SNP commentators go on about how shocking it is that people in the party agree with each other and that this is obvious evidence of brain-washing or democratic centralism rather than individuals genuinely sharing a common perspective. Is really isn't. We don't all agree with each other all of the time by the way. But we do seem to have the knack of having a discussion to resolve disagreements in a collegiate, dare I say fraternal, way. And why is it remarkable that people in the same political party should agree on the big picture stuff anyway?


I don't mind being called a robot or brain-washed. I'm big and ugly enough to take whatever names I get. But my guess is that this probably isn't a good thing to call the Scottish electorate if you're trying to win them over.


Anyway, here's Kings Cross - let's see how it goes.....

Pension Equalisation Debate
Daily Politics

Related Posts

 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Thursday, 19 July 2018

Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
11 July 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media

We need to talk about democracy. The UK government recently hosted its first ever “National Democracy Week” – with no sense of irony.

We absolutely should be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the equalisation of voting ages for men and women. Nobody would argue with that.

Tommy Sheppard
21 June 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
Brexit rumbles on. Last week the SNP walked out of parliament in protest at not being allowed to discuss House of Lords amendments that will seriously affect how we are governed. If we can’t have our say inside the chamber we’ll make our arguments outside.Meanwhile the UK government say we’re scaremongering. What power grab say the Tories? They claim that the Scottish government will get more powe...
Tommy Sheppard
15 June 2018
Tommy's Blog
Buckle up folks – here comes a bumper blog as this week saw the return of the EU Withdrawal Bill after its time in the Lords. Or, more accurately, we were back voting on the EU Withdrawal Bill given there was precious little time for any actual debate. Over two days we were supposed to debate and vote on 20 different changes to the Bill that the Lords had put forward.You’ll likely have seen and he...
Tommy Sheppard
19 May 2018
Tommy's Blog
Okay I know that it’s probably not the best time to try to start a discussion about the monarchy. With a popular prince wedding his celebrity sweetheart in a lavish event resplendent in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, it might be best for dissidents like myself to keep our republican heads below the parapet.Then again, with the nation’s attention focused on the royals because of the wedding, t...
Tommy Sheppard
02 May 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
This is a piece about the SNP’s constitutional review. Exciting, huh? Well, maybe not, but important all the same.I know – at least I hope – no-one joins a political party to debate its internal structure. And set against debates on Indy, Brexit and the World War III this is unlikely to get anyone’s political juices flowing. People are motivated by ideas and feelings, powerful emotions that propel...