Finding a real voice that counts for Scotland

Finding a real voice that counts for Scotland

by Andrew Brown
article from Tuesday 16, May, 2017

IT’S A LITTLE OVER three weeks to go until polling day when Scotland and the rest of the UK will cast their votes in the General Election. Not only is this election an opportunity to cast judgement on the government and opposition parties, it offers Scotland a chance to re-balance the landscape in its favour. Let me tell you why.

On the morning after the 2015 General Election Nicola Sturgeon spoke to David Cameron on the telephone and told him that Scotland’s voice will not be ignored. Inevitably Scotland did not have its voice heard, but it was Sturgeon’s yellow henchmen and women who ensured that fate.

The SNP had scored just short of 50 per cent of the vote that day and swept the board, leaving the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats with only a single MP each. With their 56 MPs the nationalists were able to effectively block any view from sight in Westminster which they did not approve of.

One example: Nearly 40 per cent of Scots voted to leave the European Union yet not a single SNP MP voted to trigger Article 50. For a party that claims to speak for Scotland (and at least a third of whose supporters backed leaving the EU) this was an astonishing move – one million Scots were effectively airbrushed out of the picture because it didn’t fit in with the independence agenda.

Herein lies the problem, the nationalists want to frame the Scottish debate so they can stir up division between Holyrood and Westminster. But it means that at least half of Scottish voters are not afforded a real voice in the UK Parliament.

If ever there was a democratic deficit it is here. Single issue governments with overall majorities become one party states that are content with leaving the rest behind. Scotland would benefit from MPs who sit round the Cabinet Table or in Ministries or even who just have the ear of government ministers from time to time. As long as the SNP covers Scotland in a sea of yellow the issues of the day will be smothered under the blanket of the constitution.

Politics is not just about opposing. A strong opposition is vital (such as the one Ruth Davidson leads in Holyrood), but the willingness to engage and collaborate, and even compromise, are essential components to getting things done.

It is not enough to broadcast a grievance agenda for five minutes on a Wednesday afternoon and claim this is standing up for the people. There is a significant difference between being an effective opposition and a group of MPs who simply like to oppose.

Wouldn’t it be better to have MPs who could and would actively involve themselves in the process of changing policy to better Scotland? Instead of grievance, what if we took a positive and inclusive approach to how we engage with the UK Government?

The results of this would be immediately beneficial because instead of finding arguments for the sole purpose of political capital in Scotland, Scottish MPs could influence policy outcomes to meet the needs of Scottish men and women across the country.

Scottish Conservative MSPs are champions of Scotland and stand up for our interests every single day in Edinburgh and our MPs will be Scotland’s champions south of the border. But instead of a blanket policy of opposing for the sake of opposing, we will work across the board to ensure that Scotland gets the best deal.

The fact is the current approach taken by the nationalists just doesn’t work. Instead of representing the views of their constituencies, SNP MPs are more intent on championing whatever party line is passed to them by the Sturgeon, Salmond and Robertson trio. It’s not a healthy approach to democracy and it leaves millions of Scots without a voice.

For the last two years the people have Scotland have gotten a raw deal out of the SNP. It’s ironic that Scotland’s voice has been smothered by the party who once ran on the slogan “stronger for Scotland”.

This chance to re-draw the Scottish landscape is a great opportunity for Scotland to be heard loud and clear. After two years we really have to ask ourselves what the SNP has achieved in Westminster? Is blocking Sunday trading laws in England really the strong voice that Scotland seeks? Are we not more ambitious than that?

Is that worth the tens of millions of pounds that we have paid into SNP MPs salaries and their expense accounts?

So I urge voters to take this opportunity and get rid of the yellow that holds Scotland back, let’s cut the nationalist-bloc down to size in London and send them a clear message that they were elected to represent our views and not just the views of SNP members.

Because after all, isn’t that what the Scottish taxpayer is paying them to do?

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