No one can now deny that there is a strong wind of change blowing over Scotland. Through the day yesterday we were told that exit polls in the country were predicting a possible 58 seat landslide or even a 59 seat #Jockalyspe wipe-out for the National Party. In the end what was delivered by Scotland’s voting public was a truly revolutionary 56 seat landslide. This historic and unprecendented swing was of course tempered by a Conservative majority south of the border; once again a shallow victory of fear over hope, and a present political reality that will dampen Scotland’s now strong unified voice in Westminster. We never managed to get everything on our wish list, but we did succeed – and resoundingly so – to gain more than we could have hoped for a decade ago. This is progress for progressive politics.
In Scotland we managed to completely reject the Scottish Labour Party which so completely aligned itself with the Westminster agenda during the referendum campaign last year, and for the first time in the history of this union we have a voice that matters in London. In doing this we have also put the lie to the claim that our support of the SNP over Labour would ensure only another Conservative government, for had every Scottish constituency declared for Labour it would still be 41 seats behind the Conservatives.
Independence for Scotland was not on the ticket and it certainly does appear to be the case that not everyone who voted for the National Party wants full separation from Westminster. What it does underline, however, is that the vast majority of the Scots electorate want real and meaningful change; a change that simply was not possible with a Labour Party that had made itself wholly indistinguishable from the Tories. A year of political resurgence in Scotland has shown that we do want a fairer, more socially just society, and that the Socialism we craved was not on offer from the Labour stall, and so ultimately Scottish Labour paid the price for not listening to the Scottish people. Labour has paid for being out of touch, and its members are no doubt reflecting on this truth as they lick their wounds this evening.
Tonight now we are standing with the overwhelming share of Scotland, and we must begin the process of thinking through what we want to do with this new thing that we have. It is one thing to want it, but it is quite another to know what to do with it once we have it in our grasp. Our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, our former First Minister Alex Salmond, and all the apparatus of the National Party have proved their great abilities, and we have to trust that they will be working for us in Edinburgh and in Westminster, but none of this absolves us of the responsibility of the thing that we have won today.
Indeed we have won support, and we have won seats – but the winning of hearts and minds is far from complete. Why, we ask, are we doing any of this? Are we doing this for revenge, are we doing it to win for winning’s own sake, or are we doing this for Scotland? If we are working so hard just to win, or to pay ‘them’ back for September last year, then now is the time to gloat, lord it over the vanquished, and celebrate, because this victory will be short-lived and ultimately futile. If, on the other hand, this struggle is all about Scotland – then we have to make the effort to make this thing all about every single man, woman, and child in Scotland.
This never-upon-a-time jam we were promised for remaining with London is the very thing that we now have firmly in our hands. We – every last one of us – have become the national jam providers, and it is this jam that will be the winning of hearts and minds; the trust and support, of all our sister and brother Scots. What happens now in Holyrood or in Westminster happens in Holyrood and Westminster, but what happens in our homes, on our streets, over the newspapers, and over the pages of cyberspace is up to us. When we say that we want One Scotland we mean it – we want all of Scotland behind Scotland in the journey that is now ahead of us. This part is the one part that is completely up to us.
Making Scotland a better, fairer country is not a task we can leave to the politicians. We won this Scotland and so now we are responsible for this Scotland. It has to be fought for in the margins; with the countless families relying on Foodbanks, with the homeless, the jobless, and all the voiceless in the country. It will be won by genuinely reaching out to those who are suspicious and afraid, and by demonstrating that we have everyone’s best interests at heart – in word as well as in deed. It will be in the wider task of living lives that deny the accusations of Fascism that the Westminster establishment has worked so hard to make. Scotland is all but in our grasp. It is up to us now. Let’s make all of this about Jam Today.
Jason Michael, Ayrshire