The Scottish parliamentary elections are on Thursday 3 May and I’m still trying to decide who to vote for. I see that Colin Will has also been considering the issues, as has Andy Philip.
By a process of elimination, the choice becomes clearer for me. I will not vote Conservative. Not even if they paid me a million pounds to do so. I won’t vote for the extreme left parties, as they tend to get more obsessed over ideology than real people. I won’t vote for the extreme right because I disagree entirely with them. I won’t vote for any party that wants to take us out of Europe. I won’t vote for the Liberal Democrats because they stood last time on a platform of abolishing student tuition fees and promptly sacrificed that as the price of a coalition with Labour – I don’t like people who sell out their principles so cheaply.
So effectively, that leaves the centre-left Labour and the Scottish National Party, a centre-left group who believe in an independent Scottish nation (within Europe).
If it were a UK election, I wouldn’t consider voting Labour because of the Iraq issue, but it’s not a UK election. However, the Scottish Labour Party give me a strong impression of being in Tony Blair’s pocket. I have tended to vote Labour in the past. All through the bleak years when the Conservatives were in power in the UK, I voted Labour. And when Labour were finally elected, things looked promising. I think the UK Labour Government has been much better for Scotland than the Conservatives would have been (shudder). But I don’t trust them an inch, and I feel that getting a real gubbing in the Scottish election might lead the Scottish Labour party to distance themselves more from their UK counterparts.
The problem with voting SNP is that I am not a nationalist. I don’t feel particularly patriotic. Indeed, I feel quite critical about many aspects of Scottish life. I would like to think that independence would give us a new sense of belief and confidence, but I suspect the politicians would make a mess of things and people would become even more cynical than they are now. On the other hand, at least we wouldn’t have anyone but ourselves to blame if it all went wrong, and this might be good for us. If we broke with the UK and got into a mess, we might make genuine changes to the political system rather than mirroring Westminster politics. We might even manage to dig our way out of a self-inflicted hole. Or we might lie down and die.
The choice isn’t easy. All the polls show the SNP well ahead, which could trigger a constitutional crisis in itself.