Undecided voters should back the SNP

Fancy a flutter? Paddy Power has odds on Labour winning a majority at the next election. Fifty to one on. As any senior Tory aide knows, that means you have to bet fifty pounds to have the chance of winning one. At those prices it’s hardly worth the trip to the bookies. 

Even the Tories admit the game’s up. So, get used to it: Sir Keir Starmer will be the next British Prime Minister. Labour is so far ahead in England, and the right-wing vote so divided, that any other outcome would be the political upset of the century. 

This is what any undecided voter in Scotland should ponder over the next ten days. Sir Keir Starmer does not need your vote to win.  

In truth, despite fanciful rhetoric about the road to Number Ten running through Scotland, it never really has. The last time there was a Labour government, the party won three elections in a row. And in every case, it would still have been a Labour government even if they had lost every single seat in Scotland.  

I’m never sure why this surprises people. It is simply a consequence of this asymmetrical union. England’s population is after all eleven times bigger than ours.  

The question that undecided voters need to ask is: given there will be a Labour government, who will best represent them in the new parliament? Labour candidates up and down the country are claiming the answer to that is them. They say that if you are represented by a Labour member you will have a voice right at the heart of government. That’s quite a stretch.  

Let’s not kid ourselves, the parliamentary Labour party is not a body which tolerates dissent from its members. It is a transmission belt to deliver their votes behind the leadership. If you don’t agree with the position, tough. You’ll vote for it or lose your job. This is not of course unique to Labour. 

We have some limited evidence of how this will work from the real-life actions of Labour’s Scottish representatives in their parliamentary party over the last year. Admittedly there are only two of them so it’s a small sample. But at every turn where there appeared to be a difference of view, or even emphasis, between the views of Scottish Labour Party members and the UK leadership, the dynamic duo fell in behind their London masters.  

There is an alternative answer to the undecided voter’s question. Elect someone who will push Sir Keir Starmer to go further than he might want to. Ironically, to behave more like you might expect from a Labour Prime Minister. Elect someone who will constantly press the Labour government for more rather than put up with the paucity of ambition they currently are offering to the electorate. And in every battleground seat across Scotland which Labour is targeting, the way to do that is to vote SNP. 

The undecided voter who wants their representative to tell Starmer what to do should vote SNP. If they would rather their representative be told what to do by Starmer they can vote Labour. 

I think it would be true generally that someone independent of the governing party would have more ability and agility to criticise them and hold them to account. But in the current context the veracity of this proposition is turbocharged. 

We should remember that this Labour government will come to power at the hands of an exhausted electorate anxious for change, any change. Many of them will hold their noses and vote out of desperation not enthusiasm.  

I’ve never known such a disparity between the major opposition party’s prospectus and the views of the electorate it is asking to support them. They may have the word plastered on the side of their campaign bus but Labour is promising very little change at all. 

Labour promise to keep the Tory spending plans including a new and severe round of cuts in public service funding. Labour voters don’t want that. Labour promise not to increase taxes for the super-rich. Labour voters don’t want that. Labour won’t talk about Brexit. Labour voters wish they would.  

The UK has become the most unequal country in Europe. For anyone interested in challenging that about the best thing you could say about having a Labour government is that it ought to be easier to push in the right direction than the Tory tribunes of capital. It ought to be. But whether it can be very much depends on who will do the pushing and how many of them there are. 

In the context of a huge Labour majority, it won’t be easy but nor will it be impossible. The SNP will gladly ally with Greens, Liberals, Plaid and a growing number of Labour backbenchers who will not go meekly into a new round of Labour austerity. But we need to be there for that to happen. 

The SNP promised that independence would be front and centre of its manifesto for this election. And it is, in eighty-four-point type. But more than that the manifesto connects the power of independence to the action it would allow us to take. Many of these measures are from a tried and tested social democratic menu which has worked before and is working elsewhere today. 

Fair taxation, big increases in NHS and other spending, eliminating poverty through higher minimum wages and social tariffs, state intervention to fund a just transition to renewables, rapid social housing construction, morality in foreign policy starting with Palestine. 

As well as being a potential programme of government for a newly independent Scotland, these objectives will simultaneously be our immediate schedule of policy demands on a new Labour government. Some we will win. Some we will not. But every time the Labour government fails to do the right thing, the case for taking these powers into our own hands becomes more compelling. 

Most of all, because we want these changes for ever and not just when the Tory/Labour oscillation provides a possibility, we will prosecute the case for independence with renewed vigour. Every vote the SNP gets makes that case stronger. 

And if we win this election and secure a national mandate for Scotland to have a choice on an independent future then we will demand that the UK government begin discussions with the Scottish government about making that happen. The Labour manifesto sets its face against Scotland having that choice and if they win here, they will claim a mandate against it.

Indeed, in an astonishingly arrogant outburst on Friday the Labour leader said he would ignore Scotland altogether, no matter who we vote for. If ever there was a wake-up call for Indy supporters this was it – if you believe Scotland should even have a choice on becoming an independent country, don’t vote Labour.  

But if Labour loses in Scotland, no matter how big their majority in England, they will have to respect the opinions of the Scottish people. If they don’t, they will stand accused as democracy deniers every bit as bad as the Tories and the case for taking control of our own affairs will be strengthened still.  

So, it is important, this election. For Independence. I ask everyone who shares that aspiration, including those who feel bruised and battered by the disappointments of the last few years, to vote SNP on 4th July. Do not let your frustration metastasise into inaction. That is what our opponents are hoping for.