I did something I’ve never done before last night; I stayed up to watch the General Election results come in live. Finally getting to sleep after 5am, my brain was buzzing with excitement, dread, hope and fear.
The SNP result has reiterated the unsurprisingly real difference between Scottish and British styles of thinking that, whatever your political views, cannot be denied. The British values of imperialism, conservatism and altogether downright selfishness have never been fully welcomed by the Scottish people. We are deeply rooted in the beliefs of fairness, democracy and power to the people. This, feeling, is hard to put into words. It comes from the ground, from the land we walk on, from the rocks, trees, animals and the very air we breathe, the water we drink and the crops we farm. To try and put this feeling into words is quite simply beyond my abilities.
The result across the UK has shifted from a coalition to a, out-and-out victory for the Conservatives. It is early doors, but this says to me that generally speaking, the people of the UK are scared. The individual’s chief concerns are that of self-improvement, of protecting what they own, of providing what they think they need for their families and their families alone. In a modern, fast and distracting world where the feeling is that things can change at the drop of a hat, where we are told to fear enemies from far away lands that wouldn’t loathe us quite so much if we hadn’t been self-obsessed power hungry imperialists in the first place.
This time around, a vote for Conservative is not only a vote for self-confessed economic stability, it is a vote of confidence in the unfair society that we currently reside in, a vote that favours the rich and continues to downpress the working classes. It is a vote to scrap benefits for young people, it is a vote to continue selling the NHS, it is a vote to maintain zero hour contracts under the guise of making sacrifices in order to bring the country out of a recession. It is a vote to continue to penalise the poorest sectors of the people. I can’t help but wonder how they sleep at night. The result shows Britain to be a place ruled, at present, by selfishness and self-gain. A sentiment that is not shared north of the border.
The Scottish result shows a much more forward-thinking, progressive form of politics. The ousting of Margaret Curran, Anas Sarwar and other political dinosaurs is a very welcome shift, as is “Earthworm” Jim Murphy losing his seat to the SNP, and Gordon “I saved the union” Brown’s old seat also getting swept aside.
Perhaps the most positive result of all was that of Mhairi Black, who, by a landslide, saw off Labour’s Douglas Alexander; former shadow foreign secretary and the man in charge of Ed Miliband’s general election campaign. The 20 year-old politics student and chip shop worker spoke concisely and positively from her winning podium, and did not look a bit fazed by the fact that she is the youngest MP elected since 1667. Quite an achievement, and demonstrates the Scottish mindset of progression and forward-thinking that is absent across a lot of the rest of our island. I don’t believe that any other main parties would have ever allowed a 20 year-old woman to stand for election.
Generally speaking, I think many of the the large nest of fledgling SNP MPs soon to be winging their way to Westminster have a fresh, untouched, borderline naive air about them, and I think that it’s a good thing. The House of Commons is a dusty relic and could do with a heavy injection of fresh faces from all corners of the country. Either that or rebuild it in keeping with modern times, although with the present government so intent on things staying at the same stagnant low watermark, I fear that if this were to happen, Westinster would be rebuilt to an inch-perfect replication of itself. At the expense of the taxpayer, of course. The well of inspiration has very much run dry down there, the algae creeping slowly towards the lip of the cesspool. Here’s hoping that the SNP give it somewhat of a hosedown. The pressure must be switched on for progression’s sake.
Speaking of progression and reform brings me to another worrying rhetoric; the UKIP vote. The UKIPPers received 12% of the UK vote, but due to the tired, outdated voting system they only received a single seat. Compare this with the SNP share of around 5%, getting 56 seats. Now, all personal opinions aside, this does note bode well for the system as we know it. Results like this do not demonstrate a democracy at work, and any other government bar the Conservatives would likely have seeked to change this in some way. The democrat in me is left sorely conflicted and a little disheartened by these numbers. 120 UKIP second places and 364 third places is something that will not be brushed aside.
However, here is another resounding contrast between us and them. UKIP are essentially non-existent in Scotland, being placed in the 2.5% of Scots votes for “other” parties (including all the Green votes, independents and the singular-minded “Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol” party).
If this election has confirmed anything for Scotland, it is that the political ideas in the rest of the UK are utterly unwelcome in our land now. It is time for change, however we continue to be governed by a socially removed man from a privileged party who so far has not listened to us.
When I finally got to bed, and when I eventually rose from a disturbed and unpleasantly twisted sleep, the birds were tweeting, the sun was shining and the grass felt warm between my bare toes. We are still orbiting our favourite little star and still hurtling, together, through space and time at speeds unfathomable to us. The election has been a remarkable, somewhat uncomfortable and yet still resoundingly positive distraction. The message to each other in Scotland regardless of political preference is that things need to change, and I can feel comfortable in saying that I think that we’re on the right path. The people of Scotland will continue to scream it from the rooftops, and our MPs will channel that passion, defining, distilling and refining it as best they can into the trough of agendas from which the Westminster folks take their fill.
Fear not, we still have each other. Now, I’m off to see my pals. Love and light to everybody.