People with an entrenched view that their political opponents are always wrong are weird. Seriously, anyone who hates an idea simply because it comes from someone wearing a different coloured party rosette is mighty odd.
Yet this is the Scotland some folk seem to be living in. Evil Tories, Red Tories, Tartan Tories and the Lib Dems are the unofficial titles. There’s a lot of hot air but not so much thinking, unfortunately.
A cursory glance at Westminster’s votes this week highlight exactly what’s wrong with the way in which so much of our political debate is framed.
SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson sent out this tweet ahead of one of the Scotland Bill divisions: “Watching to see if Labour will be voting with Tories to deny Scottish Parliament powers to decide on Full Fiscal Autonomy.”
They didn’t, as it happened. Labour abstained, despite having argued so strongly against full fiscal autonomy. This allowed them to point out it was
the SNP who ended up “trooping through the voting lobby with the extreme right wing of the Tory Party”.
So far, so pathetic.
By engaging in this unfortunate air war we’ve sacrificed any sort of rational thought or critical analysis in favour of screaming at whoever voted with the Conservatives.
As with Tuesday’s EU referendum vote, that’s actually everyone who bothers to take part in a division if there’s a Government rebellion happening.
Simply put, if you disagree with the principle of something, vote against it. It’s a sad reflection on politics to back out in a cold and calculated manner just so you can throw mud at your opponents.
Labour did it this week but the SNP has been at it for a long time.
It’s an unfortunate extension of the “standing up for Scotland/talking Scotland down” narrative which has spun out of the independence referendum.
Last September was wonderful in the way it opened up politics to many but we must ensure people remain rational as well as interested.
The constitution aside, there is about the width of a cigarette paper between most Labour and SNP policies and base values. Look at their General Election manifestos, where a lot seemed to be copied from the “Red Tories” pledges and pasted into the batch of promises put forward by the “Tartan Tories”.
Former Labour MP Tom Harris wrote a thought-provoking article about this through the week. He said: “The SNP accuse Labour of letting Scotland down and Labour accuses the SNP of screwing up NHS waiting lists and exam results, and everyone accuses the Tories of being generally evil and uncaring It’s all a little tiresome. And dishonest.”
He’s right. Nicola Sturgeon has also made much of being open to cross party ideas. Scotland also has a much broader political spectrum than the currently accepted spin. The SNP did not establish heartlands in the likes of Angus and Perthshire all those years ago because voters in these areas are
generally radical left wingers.
A raft of new tax powers are on their way to Holyrood, even before the Scotland Bill comes to pass and Ruth Davidson is likely to propose some Scottish Conservative tax cuts ahead of next year’s election.
The coming debates will be fascinating but must be constructive and about policy. Slurs and ideological mudslinging will surely just turn people off.