Is politics a complicated business? I was listening with my usual scepticism to the revamped Call Kaye/Morning Call/phone-in-your-rant show on Radio Scotland. Kaye Adams was doing her utmost to sound the very model of the “patronising Better Together lady”, confused by all this talk of coalitions and back room deals. Oh, but it’s so difficult for the ordinary voter to get their head around. Really? Not for the vast majority of the voters I’ve been speaking to on the doorsteps.
The referendum’s gift has been the most well informed electorate Scotland has ever had. People know there’s an election on. They want to make sure they are eligible to vote. They are informed about the issues, like trident and austerity, and often cite these as reasons for the decision they’ve come to. Many have not forgiven Labour for siding with the Tories during the referendum campaign, and sadly shake their head at the way Labour have lost their roots. Labour are no longer the party of their fathers and father’s fathers; they have been exposed taking the electorate for granted and treating them as fools.
People in Scotland know that there’s a lot more to politics than the yah-boo bubble of Prime Ministers Questions. They have given their vote thoughtfully to different parties in different circumstances. As a young student of politics, I cherished the idea of the rational choice voter and felt dismay at the voters who would tell me they voted how their father had voted. I’m increasingly finding that traditional vote has eroded and I feel Scotland is the better for it whether they vote SNP or not! Voters are not confused. They should not be patronised by radio presenters determined to dumb down the debate.
Why does the media think coalition politics is so complicated? Even when a party is elected in a majority, there’s no guarantee they’ll hold to their manifesto – take Labour introducing tuition fees for a start! Many Lib Dem voters may have been horrified that their party signed up to a formal coalition deal with the Tories. Even so, they did so in a relatively transparent way – there were negotiations yes, but there was a written deal. It has allowed for the type of stable Government the UK has been used to (too stable perhaps, but that’s a different debate!).
In the Scottish Parliament, there was the Lab-Lib pact, there has been a minority SNP Government and a majority SNP Government. All have them have worked-despite Labour’s resistance to being constructive in any way since 2007. The worst that has happened is the opposition ganging up to saddle us with the Edinburgh Trams. The best is that when being constructive, opposition parties could add to policy, get concessions out of the budget and ensure that Government reflected the wider wishes of the public.
The London-based media seem terrified by the prospect of voters – particularly pesky Scottish voters – upsetting the status quo. They fail to understand that the electorate are completely scunnered by the Westminster system, and are seeking a means of doing exactly that. The presence of SNP MPs can help to mend a system in thole to business, lobbyists and self-interest, and should be welcomed.