BY EFFIE DEANS
It’s now around 13 years since we last had a Labour Government. People in their twenties will barely remember it. In Scotland too we have had SNP Government since 2007. The days when Labour and the Lib Dems were in coalition are a distant memory even for those of us who do remember. Change is coming in both the UK and in Scotland.
I’m a free marketeer. I believe in lowering public spending, lowering taxes and being left alone. The state should interfere in our lives as little as possible. It should provide free healthcare, but not in the way that it does now. It should provide help for those who are unemployed or ill. But it should not try to micromanage our lives, nor should it tell us what to think and say about social issues.
I am a Thatcherite Conservative, but I have become like those independence supporters who are so disillusioned with the SNP that they now vote for someone else. Voting Conservative is no more a route to Thatcherite Conservatism than voting SNP is a route to Scottish independence. This is why the next General Election, and the subsequent Holyrood election will be about obtaining change.
The biggest problem with Labour is that it gets the fundamentals wrong. People join the Labour Party because they believe in socialism. But socialism doesn’t work. Human beings are not motivated by achieving equality with other people. They are motivated by profit for themselves and their families. The attempt to change that invariably leads to tyranny, laziness and decline.
But the ideological difference between Labour and the Conservatives is now minimal. Starmer’s Labour would be moderate. The far left is still there but it lacks power and influence. If we were fortunate a Labour Government might just bring the economic success of the early Blair years before Brown blew up the economy. That would certainly be better than the last 13 years of Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss and Sunak.
Labour disastrously gave us devolution, but Cameron even more disastrously gave us an independence referendum which fuelled Scottish nationalism still further. Each party is guilty of trying to appease Scottish nationalism and failing.
The only major achievement since 2010 Brexit was obtained despite the Conservative Government’s opposition. The advantages it might have brought to the UK were wasted first treacherously by May and secondly incompetently by Johnson.
Lockdown was contrary to basic Conservative principles of freedom that leave people to make their own choices. It obviously now cost more lives than it saved.
Britain feels like it is in a worse place now than it was in 2010. The NHS is in chaos. Debt has increased. The deficit is still huge. We are importing one million people a year legally and can do absolutely nothing to stop those arriving illegally.
Labour may make it worse. We may have more and weirder forms of woke. But there is no need to be hopeless. Labour may be more competent that the Conservatives.
There is a bigger prize too.
Imagine if Labour in Scotland approaches or even surpasses the SNP’s share of the vote. The latest poll puts Scottish Labour on 26 seats with the SNP on 22 with an equal sharer of the vote at 34%. This will happen only because former SNP voters in the Central Belt will return to Labour. It is rational for them to do so.
The SNP’s independence project is on hold despite the marching, which has more to do with morale than reality. If you are a moderately left-wing Scot, who doesn’t think there is much chance of independence happening any time soon, it makes more sense to vote Labour than the SNP. You are more likely that way to get some of what you want.
What have SNP MPs achieved in Westminster? I can’t think of a single thing. They even failed to obtain a softer Brexit when they had the chance, hoping instead to stop it altogether. But this was particularly stupid for a party that relies on the result of an independence referendum being fulfilled.
If Scottish Labour MPs are the difference between Labour having a majority and not having a majority, they will have a great deal more influence than any number of SNP MPs. Being part of the Government gives influence, being the difference between majority and minority gives still more.
The prize for Pro UK Scots is not so much a by-election in Rutherglen, nor indeed a Labour Government in Westminster. Both of these however may be crucial to a tantalising possibility unimaginable even a year ago. Anas Sarwar may replace Humza Yousaf as First Minister.
If SNP support falls to the extent that it loses Rutherglen, it will be still clearer that independence is not happening. If the SNP can’t win there, how can it expect to win a referendum? But this will cause still more independence supporters to rationally choose to vote for an obtainable some of what they want Labour, rather than an unobtainable all of what they want SNP.
If more Scots vote Labour than SNP at the General Election, then the SNP argument about Scotland not getting the Government it votes for would be gone.
The SNP will have been in power for 19 years by 2026. Who knows what further scandals may be revealed? Who knows what further incompetence may arise? If the General Election next year is a change election the Holyrood election may be one too.
Imagine if Sarwar in coalition with the Lib Dems and with a Pro UK majority in the Scottish Parliament were able to initiate a forensic audit into the SNP Government’s activities during the previous 19 years. They may be able to hide now, but they would be unable to hide then.
Of course, none of these things may happen. But if the SNP were to lose its independence supporting majority, it would be possible to expose it for what it is and to destroy it. Independence would then be a dead issue.
I will probably still vote Conservative. Where I live the Conservatives have the best chance of defeating the SNP. But we must all focus on the real prize. It begins with defeating the SNP in Rutherglen. It ends with the SNP completely routed with the battle won decisively.