A vote for kindness

I posted last week from Northumberland on Thursday, election eve, unaware of what was going to happen the next day. By the time I left to drive home on Saturday morning, the political landscape in Scotland had changed beyond recognition.

It was raining when I got to the border on the A68, a lonely saddle in the hills with a St George’s Cross flapping damply on one side, a Saltire on the other. But as I crossed the invisible line, I felt my heart lifting. I was returning to a country that had cast its vote for kindness.

I believe what happened here last week was overwhelmingly about a wish for a fairer, more democratic, less divided society. It’s the same feeling that drove people to vote Yes in last year’s referendum: a mounting, and thankfully no longer impotent, fury against a rotten status quo.

I don’t believe for most people that it was then or is now about independence, per se; but rather that that option has seemed to so many like the only way to achieve the society they really wish for. And I fear that events in the last few post-election days may already, increasingly be proving that to be the case: Gove versus human rights, Whittingdale versus the BBC, and so on.

Despite the hateful torrent of bile and lies spewed out by The Mail and The Telegraph, despite the utterly disgraceful Tory poster campaign depicting Alex Salmond as a puppet-master and a thief, despite Boris Johnson’s ‘Ajockalypse’ jibe and the frothings of sundry political luminaries about the danger of the Scots to the civilised world, I don’t know any Scots who bear anything but goodwill to the people of England. The idea that we might wish to threaten them or steal from them would be utterly risible were it not so insulting.

In fact most Scots did laugh at it. They’d seen it before, last year, and they knew it was coming again. But imagine for a moment if the tables had been turned. Imagine if the Scottish press had begun to demonise the English people collectively. Imagine if the SNP had taken out 48-sheet posters in Edinburgh and Glasgow showing David Cameron as the Grim Reaper. You can hear the shrieking now.

It’s telling that while the term ‘Jock’ predominated in the Tory press, there is no derogatory word north of the border for the English, unless you include ‘sassenach’ which is an archaism mostly used in humour or mild affection. But for me the most telling observation of all came from a friend we saw at dinner on Monday. An Old Etonian who lives partly in France, partly in Scotland, he explained that he had voted SNP because ‘It’s basically about people being nicer to one another’. I would only add, regardless of which side of the border they live.

I’m going to Barcelona on Saturday and may not post next week. But watch this space for news from Catalonia.

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About Jamie Jauncey

Author, writer, blogger, facilitator, musician, co-founder of Dark Angels and The Stories We Tell
Gallery | This entry was posted in Community, Friendship, Kindness, Referendum, Scotland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A vote for kindness

  1. Jane Cox says:

    I’m English, married to a Scot with two children born in Scotland and have happily lived here for 15 years. I voted no for Independence – I like our United Kingdom – but I stood in the polling station booth last week and cast my vote for the SNP. I was so angry about the way Scotland, the Scots, the SNP and in particular, Nicola Sturgeon were portrayed – demonised – by the British press, Cameron, Milleband and the Westminster elite. Milleband was always losing Scotland but his categorical dismissal of Sturgeon on Question Time was disgraceful and that’s when I changed my mind. Nicola Sturgeon seems to embody the Labour ideals that Labour have all but forgotten; my vote wasn’t for future independence but for a fairer, better country. I don’t think Westminster understands that at all. We are already finding out what a Tory government, not tempered by Liberal Democrats is going to be like (vis Human Rights Act, BBC etc). My prediction is that if the European Referendum is a No (with the English saying no, the Scots saying yes), the SNP will have every justification for another independence referendum and then I will vote Yes (as will many) as Europe is too important to abandon. I also think this election – more than others – is a rallying cry for PR. The SNP is well represented but other votes were drowned out. A proper democratic, pluralistic society would mean more MPs for both Greens and UKIP. And if we stay in the UK, the SNP will need have a better, more functional opposition which PR would deliver. Jane Cox

    • wrbcg says:

      IYou speak for many of those who voted NO in September and then had that decision thrown back in your faces within 24 hours as Cameron added conditions (EVEL) and all three Unionist parties reneged on their infamous vow. As you say the demonisation of Scots by the MSM, and Westminster politicians just added fuel to the fire. The Lib Dems were done for from the outset – they had foisted a Tory government on Scotland and were always going to pay for the betrayal of their voters both sides of the border. Labour caused their own demise and the natural inheritors of their mantle for social justice, the SNP, merely filled the vacuum.

      I suspect that there will be an increased Green and SSP presence in the Scottish Parliament in 2016 (I hope so) as I am no fan of one-party states.

  2. Jane – I couldn’t agree with you more about PR and the need for balanced representation across the whole political spectrum.

  3. Steve Rawson says:

    Another great blog Jamie. Thank you.
    It’s perhaps not surprising that a ‘colonial master’ might regard a move for independence by one of its colonies as a statement of rejection, hence I think the demonization of ‘us Scots’. How presumptuous and wrong they are (‘they’ being the ‘establishment’). This has nothing to do with the rest of the UK. This is about us, our desire for a fairer society and our need for self-determination. It has absolutely nothing to do with an anti-English sentiment and I can say that because I am English. Sometimes I wonder if ‘the English’ (huge generalisation) can cope with the fact that we don’t hate them anymore. We’ve moved on. We love our neighbours. We (and by ‘we’ I mean the YES voters) just want to be their equal, not their dependent subjects.
    I do agree with the need for PR though because right now almost 50% of the population aren’t represented (by a party they voted for) in Westminster, and they should be.

    • Stephen Myerscough says:

      PR would help get rid of the block votes of major parties, but it would introduce the dangerous minorities to the government process. Say we have 1% in each constituency voting for a party with extreme views: currently they would get half a million votes across the country and no seats. With PR they would get 6 seats. Do we really want that?

  4. Nicola Sturgeon’s call to “lock the Tories out of Downing Street” was illiberal, provocative and undemocratic in the extreme.

    She was prepared to use the muscle provided to her by just over 3% of UK voters to prop up a Prime Minister even if he had fewer votes and fewer seats – a leader, in other words, without a mandate. If 1.5m voters can hold sway over the wishes of 11.5m voters, no democrat should be happy.

    I’ll take your word, Jamie, about the torrent of lies and bile from the press. I don’t read them; don’t look at them. However, all over social media – bigger than all print media put together – the bile and lies were aimed at one target only – the Tories. The Left’s voice is the loudest by far.

    As for PR, 1.5m votes in a country with 4.2m voters got the SNP 56 seats. 4m votes got UKIP one seat. So something is clearly wrong. My money’s still on a federal UK. Something has to change.

    Apart from anything else, locking Labour out of Scotland very probably means you might never see another Labour government. Talk about the law of unintended consequences!

    • wrbcg says:

      I think Paul you overstate the case. You bandy large figures around like confetti, but the truth is that the Conservatives only have support of less than a quarter of the electorate (36.9% of 66.1%) and that predominantly south of the Humber! There is a very clear North-South divide that is currently being highlighted by an on-line petition, which has accumulated more than 20,000 signatures, for the Scottish Border to be moved to Yorkshire. While this may be merely lighthearted, it does point to the fact that not ony is the UK is badly fractured, but also England.

      Sturgeon has no choice but to lock out the Tories, given the ill-feeling that the Conservatives have engendered in Scotland over decades, but also because her party is anti-austerity and pro-EU (the Tories being utterly divided over the latter and Cameron unable to provide strong leadership due to his own indifference) and in alliance with the English Greens and Plaid Cymru. Furthermore, within less than a week, Cameron has shown his disdain for Scotland by appointing a hated Thatcherite Poll-tax adviser to the Scotland Office (to prop up the only MP the Tories have in Scotland who is already out of his depth as Scottish Secretary) by making him a peer (very democratic). Scotland – and Sturgeon – know that the Tories have given up on Scotland (a country which once used to vote mainly for the Tory Scottish Unionist Party).

      What became clear during this election was that the Labour Party – which had no clue how angry many Scots felt about the betrayal of going back on more powers after the NO vote in the Independence referendum, then elected an arch-Blairite leader (Blair being Thatcher’s heir) who was entirely out of touch with the voters – had also given up on Scotland, preferring to chase seats in the Tory English heartlands.

      In comparison to Cameron’s mere 24% support in the election, the SNP won 50% of the vote on a 71% turnout (35.5%) – it is unknown how much share the SNP would have had if they could have fielded candidates in England (given the number of people who expressed the wish that they could have voted SNP). This gave the SNP 56 out of 59 seats – making them the third largest party in the UK by both seats and membership – the remaining three (now all marginals) giving a mere token representation in Scotland. The only way that Cameron can be seen to have any mandate in Scotland is through the principle of colonialism. And that in the 21st century is unacceptable.

  5. Had Nicola Sturgeon been able to fulfill her rallying call, it would only have been because the Tories were unable to command a majority in Parliament, and thus no more mandated to govern than any of the other parties. And as you’ve probably read elsewhere, Paul, Labour could have retained every seat in Scotland and it would still have lost the election! Its problems are not merely Scottish but UK-wide.

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