Labour Hame editor Duncan Hothersall says the Tories have a long history of enabling, not opposing, the SNP, and the way to stop the nationalists is to vote Scottish Labour.

 

I’m not a huge fan of voting against things in elections. It’s a far more positive motivation to vote for something, and all parties should be seeking to persuade us of their positives, rather than the negatives of their opposition.

Nevertheless it is inevitable in these polarised times that there is much talk, in the lead up to the snap general election on June 8th, of how to “stop the SNP”. The party’s dominance under the Westminster first past the post system, which in 2015 delivered them 95% of seats on less than 50% of votes, makes them the election’s only real target. And the fact that they consistently use their dominance as an argument for independence means the parties which, like the majority of Scots, oppose independence are strongly motivated to try to knock a few off that total.

Incidentally, remember when the SNP campaigned for those seats in 2015 by telling us a vote for them was not a vote for a second referendum? Remember when they played down independence in their 2011 manifesto only to spring five years of division on us when they won? Remember how in 2016 they said the same again, and that a second referendum would only happen if there was sustained, significant support for it in the polls? One lesson we have to learn this time is that you can’t trust the SNP on this issue. No matter what they say during an election, after it they’ll claim every single vote cast for them was a vote for separation.

So there is an understandable groundswell among the majority of Scots who do not want independence and do not want to be put through another divisive referendum: the SNP must be stopped this time. So how do we do it?

Well let’s just remind ourselves of the track record of the Scottish Tories.

When the SNP were first elected as a minority government in 2007, they faced four years of trying to pass budgets in the Scottish Parliament to build up their credibility in government. Who did they find to help them in this endeavour? Not Scottish Labour. We stood against their tax cutting, public service cutting and centralising nationalist agenda. No, their little helpers for the four years from 2007 to 2011 were the Scottish Tory party, who did cosy deals each year to get budgets passed.

Thanks to this, by 2011 the SNP were in a position to form a majority government. (Incidentally, the tax cutting, public service cutting and centralisation continued apace.) We faced three years of a divisive independence referendum, but through hard work and sacrifice we saved the union. And what did the Tories do? They undermined the hard-won No vote by announcing “English Votes for English Laws” on the morning of the referendum result; helped to cement, rather than overcome, the division in the country; and sowed the seeds for the next grievance which would lead to the next referendum.

And of course nobody needs reminded of the most reckless and damaging action the Tories have taken: attempting to resolve internal party conflict by promising an EU referendum if they won the 2015 election. The reckless Tory Brexit vote of 2016 now risks a second independence referendum, and puts the union in peril again only three years after we saved it. Not to mention the fact that Brexit is an act of economic and social vandalism whose negative effects will be felt for decades.

Against this backdrop it is nothing short of extraordinary that the Scottish Tories should be arguing that a vote for them is a vote to stop the SNP. Time and time again they have demonstrated that nothing enables the SNP and their nationalist agenda more than a vote for the Scottish Conservatives.

Labour is the underdog in this election, without question. But those who seek to stop the division of nationalism in its tracks should examine the track record of the parties claiming they can do that.

We know the SNP spend elections pretending that a vote for them is not a vote for independence, and then as soon as polls close they grin and assert the opposite. We know the Scottish Tories spend elections claiming they will stand up for the union, and then as soon as they have the chance they endanger its future at every turn.

Labour will do no deal with the SNP or the Tories. Labour stands implacably against independence and against a divisive second referendum. And unlike the Tories, Labour won’t play games with your votes.

If you want to stop the SNP, vote for your Scottish Labour candidates on 4th May and 8th June.