Guest Post by ABU HAIMI ABU HASSAN
SCOTTISH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION 2016
Make no mistake, the Bitter Together gang are quaking in their boots with regard to this election. The chickens are coming to roost. They are reaping what they have sown. That is why the shrill is so loud from the Bitter Together gang. They and the establishment have been flinging all kinds of mud at the SNP but none seemed to stick. The one that ticked me off was the GERS cringe. Just whoa. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that one takes delight in one country’s woes and wishes it ill.
Not to worry though. Scotland is about to deliver the third nail to the Union’s coffin. This vote signifies two things for me; one, it is a vindication of SNP competence and two, Scots realise that notwithstanding the independence policy, there is a home grown party managed by Scots themselves that can actually administer Scotland properly. This is why the SNP is defying the odds and the true cause of the dire straits of the Bitter Together gang in the polls.
I am quite sure those who are of the political anorak-esque persuasion have read a lot of blogs highlighting issues/policies relevant to this election. One of the themes of discussion that intrigued me is that the SNP is not being radical enough. The further discussion is that due to the said fact, Scots should vote for other left parties in Scotland particularly the Greens in order to drag the Scottish Government more to the left.
There maybe some merit in the discussion (personally for me I’d like the Scottish Government to be more radical on land reform) but in terms of political strategy these arguments must fail because of two reasons. One, it is Nicola Sturgeon’s promise that she will steer the SNP leftward. She was not elected the First Minister. She succeeded Alex Salmond. She needs to win this election as proof of her mandate to administer Scotland and the same given to her by the Scottish electorate. This might seem trivial but I believe this a personal psychological edge that is needed to validate her actions as First Minister.
Secondly, the SNP has the misfortune of building its political base top-down. It has the majority Scottish MPs in Westminster, in the process of gaining one in the Scottish Parliament and has yet to gain majority in local governments of Scotland. It should have been the other way round. Local governments are the last bastions of Unionism/Bitter Togetherness in Scotland. Unless and until Fortress Glasgow et al have fallen, the fight for a fair and just Scotland, and independence can never be fully realised. You can bet the Bitter Together gang controlled local councils will throw a million spanners into the works just to thwart anything to do with the SNP. #SNPbad. This is also one of the reasons why I have said Scotland was not ready to be independent in 2014.
For me, achieving independence overrides other causes. All the new powers devolved to Scotland were gained because Scotland voted SNP each and every time it happened. We are nearer to independence than ever before. Everybody knows it. Some can feel it. The establishment is merely delaying what is inevitable so that they can suck Scotland out for what it’s worth to the very last minute.
This is why we must redouble our efforts and vote the SNP twice in this election. Take Scotland seriously or we may just walk out.
THE FOURTH AND FINAL NAIL TO THE UNION’S COFFIN
As mentioned above, local governments are the last bastions of the Bitter Together gang. True enough, local elections are more about local issues but for too long Scots have suffered mismanagement by local councillors. Local governments control a lot of day-to-day affairs of ordinary Scots. The current fiasco of Edinburgh school closures highlights the magnitude of the problem. A small issue/problem like this can snowball into a national headache. In 2017, we must stop the rot, sort out the mess and turn local governments into an institute that serves the public, not the other way round.
It will be the final nail in the Union’s coffin. This is when the majority of Scots understand that they and they alone can run the country to the fullest of its potential without being propped up/restrained by Westminster. Thus the Union will then cease to be relevant.
The moment that the SNP controls all tiers of government is when the second quest of independence will begin. I suspect Nicola Sturgeon has already anticipated this by preparing to launch an initiative to build up support for independence in this summer. By summer the only stumbling block will be the local governments. I will particularly enjoy when the SNP election machinery-behemoth steamrolls the Bitter Together gang during the local elections in 2017.
But what then?
I think this will the high-water mark of the SNP in Scottish politics. The only way after this is down. Not because I think the SNP will be less popular (due to malaise, which is quite possible) but the SNP would have used up all available avenues within the Westminster politico-legal framework.
Herein lies the SNP’s blind spot. They place emphasis and faith within the Westminster politico-legal framework. It is blindingly clear that there is one rule for the establishment and another for the rest, as illustrated by the recent Panama papers. In which the Prime Minister is still trying to wriggle his way out by protesting his ignorance/misfortune of being born rich. Right!
After 2017, the SNP must not be too constrained by the Westminster politico-legal framework. The SNP/Scottish Government must be radical in it is action. We do not want a government that is dissimilar to the UK one; we want a government that is truly divergent. Three issues (other than the standard ones) that the Scottish Government should agitate on are land reform, local government and youth participation in politics/governance.
Firstly, land reform is necessary because the unequal distribution of land ownership in Scottish is detrimental to the people and economy of Scotland. There is a housing crisis due to land unavailability and concentrated ownership has stifled economic growth because the land cannot be utilised fully, lies abandoned or both. The Scottish Government should table radical amendments to the recent Land Reform Act as recommended by the Land Reform Review Group. I am not sure why the Scottish Government is afraid of legal challenges to the more radical recommendations. Let it be challenged, let it be declared void. The point of passing such bold acts is to show that the government is serious about something. If the law is declared void, table another one. Now the Scottish Government can be accused of bowing to the landowners.
Secondly, the structure of local governments in Scotland is problematic to say the least. Local government areas must be broken up to smaller pieces so that it can be managed better and more representative of its population. Before 1975, Scotland was governed by a plethora of multi-tiered local governments. I direction your attention the Wikipedia article with particular reference to the map showing local government areas:
In the map, local government areas made sense geographically, economically and culturally. Coupled with the possibility of local government funding reform (introduction of local income tax), local governments have the potential to be self-sufficient administrative units of governance.
Lastly, I think Scotland has led the way in youth participation in politics/governance. I was sceptical when it was announced that 16/17 year olds would be allowed to vote in the indyref. As time passed by, I was proven wrong and I'm now a convert to such a proposal. Sometimes the youth can show the way because they are unencumbered by jadedness or cynicism. This why I cannot stress how important local government reform is. The easiest and nearest avenue to participate in politics/governance is local government. By making smaller and easier to access, we are encouraging people (in this case the youth) to engage with the local government. By allowing them to be involved with local government, we are training our youth to be responsible and better leaders of tomorrow. If one were to do a survey, I think we might just see a correlation between good state governance as whole and smaller local governments.
There is still a bit more to go before Scotland achieves independence. We must remember the State/establishment/elites will not allow this and they, for sure, will fight dirty. The SNP is the only vehicle available in order to achieve independence. Independence overrides everything else. For those who are apprehensive that the SNP is not being left enough, don’t be dissuaded by that fact. Join the SNP if you haven’t and drag it to the left. Nicky Lowden McCrimmon had shown that it could be possible.
And always remember: this Scottish Parliament is NOT the parliament that signed away Scottish independence in 1707. This Parliament has been bastardised by the Scotland Acts and hemmed in by Westminster. When we are ready, no amount of laws and regulations can stop us from being independent. It didn’t stop the Irish and it sure hell won’t stop us.
Before I end, I want to explain why I am sure an independent Scotland will be a beacon of fairness, justice and equality. An independent Scotland will shatter the myth that the UK is everything that it is not, and allow other Commonwealth nations (particularly) to chart their own course in the international arena. By propagating the myth that the UK is to be emulated within the Commonwealth, other nations are merely transplanting and creating environment ripe for democratic deficit, inequality and unfairness, as in the UK. It is imperative for me that Scotland achieve independence soonest possible.
Scotland must be independent by 2021 or it will take another 30 years. We are running out of time.
Make this self-appointed honorary Scot proud.
Both votes SNP!