Whether you call it trust, honesty or integrity it’s the single most important commodity in life and especially in politics. When trust goes out of a relationship there is rarely anything left of value.
I was reminded of this simple fact again quite recently when watching that car crash of an interview poor Kez had with Andrew Neil on the back of Sadiq Khan’s speech to the Scotland Branch of Labour.
Trying to defend the indefensible is never an edifying sight and Kez was in an impossible position. The more she refused to condemn Sadiq, the more distance she put between herself and the ordinary voter, regardless of party. Well apart from kippers and they’ll believe anything the Express says!
As she wittered on and on defending her comrade, she divorced herself from the real lives of people in Scotland. With approx. 1.5% of adults in Scotland holding a membership card of the SNP, virtually everyone knows at least one member. More importantly, roughly half the voters now give the SNP their support and have done for the last few years consistently.
The reason, in my opinion, is down to that one word; Trust.
They may agree with the vision of an Independent Scotland, they may strongly support the policy platform they may just like the leadership. But what they unquestionably do is trust the SNP to do their best for Scotland and to, as the old slogan says, Put Scotland First.
We all know people who vote for the SNP but do not give unquestioning support for Independence, who voted Leave in June 2016 but still give their votes and trust.
For many of those people who regularly vote SNP now they switched because Labour betrayed their values and core beliefs. People will forgive anyone who gets a decision wrong as long as they believe that the person was acting from the best of motives and from conviction. When they believe that the decision is based on anything else that vital trust is eroded. Do it often enough and trust runs out and as Labour are finding out is very, very hard to regain. Perhaps impossible to regain.
When the voters stopped believing that Labour “had their backs”, whether that was on Iraq, migration, jobs or getting into bed with the Tories in Better Together is not important, it was the cumulative effect of bad decisions which destroyed trust and forced individual change. Now we have Labour supporting the Tories austerity and Brexit programmes apparently unable to see that it is little more than class war dressed up in a softer name. They’ve shattered the dreams and now many feel betrayed.
The old “class warrior” Corbyn is unable to recognise the whites of the enemies eyes even just across the despatch box!!
It’s also worth reminding ourselves that the SNP had won the 2007 election as a minority Government and had broken the system to win a majority government in 2011, long before Better Together was formed.
When Labour now seek to portray the SNP as racists or bigots it flies in the face of what people see in their day to day lives from SNP members and voters. Their family, friends and workmates. Sure we have the odd numpty as every organisation has but the people of Scotland see a party which lives and works among them which works and plays alongside them. They do not see what Labour sees and they trust their own eyes, ears and instincts.
This puts an enormous pressure on the SNP at every level to be better than not just our opponents, but to better the expectations of the voters. We have to ensure that honesty, integrity and fairness are at the heart of every decision.
For the supporters of Independence, we have arrived at a place where we have the trust of our people. We have seen from our opponents what can happen if we are not seen to act with honesty and integrity. Scotland cannot afford for us to betray that trust.