We’ll just need to take the rest of the UK with us
The Tories love it when you vote SNP. The more seats the SNP have at Westminster, the harder it is for the Labour party to take power, because the British people don’t see a Labour/SNP coalition as legitimate (or at least they didn’t in 2015 when that outcome looked likely:
Have things changed since 2015? Conservative strategy certainly hasn’t.
How much do we want independence, and how much do we want an end to Conservative rule? Because by voting for one we are blocking the other. Every vote for the SNP strengthens the Conservatives grip on power.
I get that Scotland has fallen out of love with the Labour party, and they’re certainly not fond of the Liberal Democrats much either. But these are at least parties that have the potential to contribute to government at the UK level, and (more importantly) to kick the Tories out of power. I am not at all excited about Keir Starmer as Prime Minister, but he’s all we have against Boris Johnson, so in order to halt the decline of the UK (which will continue to drag Scotland down with it until we achieve change), we have to come up with a plan to get him into number 10. Keir Starmer leading a Labour majority government however risks a situation where the government is fairly chuffed with British democracy and doesn’t immediately embark upon the radical changes to our electoral system that we desperately need. A Labour government is also not what we want.
So what can Scotland do to get the Tories out?
We can demand a progressive alliance to remove the Conservatives from power. Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens co-operating to stand single candidates against every Conservative MP. Where it is not obvious which party should provide the progressive candidate, there should be open primaries to identify the constituency’s progressive champion (Realistically, there are only around 30 constituencies where this would be necessary or desirable, the Prime Minister’s seat obviously being one of them).
In entering into a progressive alliance we should ensure that no progressive party can take power alone. The Labour party should not be standing enough candidates in winnable seats to get them into power without help. If we stand as a progressive alliance, we govern as a progressive alliance, with Lib Dems and Greens around the cabinet table.
In power, the progressive alliance will change the electoral system so that we never again have to reduce public choice in order to achieve progress. Proportional representation is vital if we are to become a modern, progressive, democratic, European country (we are already a progressive country, just one with a dreadful electoral system):
Proportional representation will allow new parties to emerge, and old parties to split. We can have choice in our politics at long last, with the opportunity to express our true feelings at the ballot box without the niggling worry that our vote will be wasted in the fight between dismal and worse.
Where does this leave the SNP? There are some in the SNP who have made good and effective MPs (my own Glasgow Central MP, Alison Thewliss, undoubtedly being one of them), and they should have the opportunity to join the ranks of the progressive alliance, but they would have to park their desire for an independence referendum for an electoral cycle. They have to decide between the pursuit of independence and getting the Tories out, because the pursuit of independence is actively hindering the pursuit of the greater prize (and getting the Tories out is probably necessary before a new independence referendum can be achieved anyway).
And so the fate of the nation rests in the hands of the Scottish Greens. If they were to park their desire for independence and join the ranks of the progressive alliance, they could leave the SNP isolated in their ambivalence towards the Conservatives, and ensure Scotland’s progressive alliance MPs save the UK from further Tory misrule. The Scottish Greens can be the midwives to a better nation, it’s just that better nation could be ten times more populous than the one they expected to deliver, and have a hundred times greater impact on the climate crisis as a progressive, wealthy, green United Kingdom at the top table of world politics, and back in the European Union.
If independence is the right thing for the people of Scotland, the people of Scotland will still want to leave the UK after it turns into a modern, progressive, democratic, green, European country… and what a generous parting gift that would be for our friends and neighbours down south.