Jeremy Corbyn would be a great PM, so please don’t vote for Scottish Labour
I’ve heard quite a few independence supporters talking about voting Labour in the last few days.
I get the reasons why. Many Yes voters, myself included are not the hard-line nationalists we are often made out to be. We are progressives who see independence as a means to an end. We think that an independent Scotland is a fast-track to a better political system. One that is more representative and inclusive and therefore one that will lead to policies that benefit the many and not the few.
Part of what drives independence supporters like us is the realisation that the UK system is broken. It returns governments most people don’t want. Governments that are not accountable and this results in decisions being made that mainly benefit the people at the top.
Most independence supporters want a better system and Jeremy Corbyn has given a lot of people hope that we can solve the institutional problems at UK level.
It is a common refrain among Yes voters that they see the SNP as a means to an end. Now Corbyn pops up with a manifesto that is far closer to their brand of politics. Corbyn who almost everyone, including myself wrote off, is speedily closing the gap in the opinion polls. If he were to be elected PM he really does have a chance of making the radical political changes that need to be implemented to make the UK system fit for purpose again. I can see why people find that attractive.
That said, even though I feel politically close to the Yes voting Corbynistas.
Even though I share a lot of Corbyn’s goals. Even though I would like nothing more than to see him become PM. I will not be voting for Scottish Labour. In my opinion doing so in Scotland would make Corbyn’s vision less likely to occur.
Here are my reasons.
- The goal of progressives should be to minimise the number of Tories elected. Labour don’t have much of a chance of winning most Scottish seats. So therefore, a vote for Scottish Labour by progressives is a vote for Tories in most areas. In some places, where the Tories don’t have a chance you could probably do it safely, but in many seats you will be inadvertently delivering May that increased majority she craves.
- Labour MPs that do have a chance such as Ian Murray have been in open rebellion against Corbyn since he took over. There has been more resistance to Corbyn within his own party than via the Tories. So why elect people who have shown no desire to support Corbyn, want him ousted and have been dismissive of his policies?
- It’s not just candidates like Murray. From the top Scottish Labour have it in for Corbyn. Kezia Dugdale refused to back her leader when the party tried to oust him in 2016 saying, “I don’t think Jeremy can unite our party and lead us into government. He cannot appeal to a broad enough section of voters to win an election”.
- While his own party wont back his policies the SNP will. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon have confirmed that they will work together in a confidence and supply arrangement in the event of a hung parliament. This is important if you would like to see a more progressive UK as the most important policy for bringing that about would be electoral reform. Everything else would flow from that. Corbyn has been a backer of Proportional Representation and has talked about a Federal UK system. However, the Labour manifesto has no clear commitment to deliver these changes. The SNP have promised to deliver voting reform if they gain power, so Labour relying on SNP votes might be just the situation needed to bring about the change you want.
- Jeremy Corbyn seems open to the idea of a second independence referendum whereas Scottish Labour have completely ruled it out. Now this is important even if you are a soft Yes voter as the lever formed by the threat of independence makes progressive UK reform more likely to happen. The more threatened Westminster is the more likely it will be that change will occur.
- Also there is the small matter of Brexit. A Labour government forced to work with the SNP will help secure better options for Scotland with regards to leaving the EU. For instance, Sturgeon had previously argued that Scotland could remain in the EU Single Market even while remaining part of the UK. Scenarios like this become more likely with a strong SNP presence in a hung parliament. Even if this is not possible, the SNP will be a good influence for making Brexit as soft as possible and for ensuring Scottish interests are looked after.
- Finally, although Corbyn has a chance he is still an outsider. The Tories are still most likely to win another majority. In that scenario I would rather have a strong SNP presence as Labour MPs in the recent past have had a bad habit of waving through harsh Tory policies. It is hard to dispute that the SNP have done a good job holding the government to account in the Commons. Check out our earlier blog for proof of this.
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