I have a confession to make… I vote SNP. Sometimes. And sometimes I vote Green, and in fact when I think about it, I’ve marked my wee cross next to Labour, Lib Dem, SSP and Independent candidates in the past. Because I use my vote. I think about the issues I care about, and who might best promote them. I think about an incumbent’s record, or I actually read the pamphlets delivered through my door, or go to a hustings to meet the candidates. So the last couple of Scottish Parliament elections, I have used my constituency vote to vote for Kenny MacAskill. Because I think he’s a good guy, he’s good at his job, and once I met him and we had a chat about Austerlitz by WG Sebald, which he was reading. Which I think is pretty impressive. If my day job was Justice Minister I’d probably find something completely trashy to read in my off hours. Frankly if Susan Deacon was still around, I might well vote for her, but she isn’t. Ewan Aitken’s candidacy last time around caused me to think quite carefully about where to mark my cross, but I was still pretty angry at Labour for selecting an East Lothian councillor with a bad rep the time before…
I would vote for Margo on the list, because I think her independent voice is an asset to the Parliament, but I know she doesn’t need my vote, so I use it differently. Last year I used it to vote Green, the time before I voted SSP because I liked having Colin Fox in the Parliament.
So, it’s interesting to me that when I comment on Scottish politics at the moment, and when I express my unhappiness, nay depression, at the quality of the opposition and their inability to tackle the SNP, and when I say that I do think we should wait til 2014 for a referendum and it should be up to Scotland, not Westminster to decide, suddenly I’m a ‘Nat’.
Aside from being frustrated that folk might be pigeon holing me in a way that is inaccurate, this makes me angry at the state of Scottish politics. Since when did expressing the opinion that Westminster is alienated from the mood of Scotland make me a card-carrying member of any particular party? When did being interested enough to care and want to actually have choices about the constitutional future of my adopted country become akin to nationalism?
My real confession therefore is that I’m not a nat. I’m not a Greenie, I’m not a Trot, I’m not a Tory (actually I’m really, really not a Tory). I’m an interested citizen who desperately wants politics to actually deliver on the promises we’re made by our elected representatives. I don’t want petty quarrels about dates and mandates, I just want to know how you’re going to fix the god-awful mess we seem to be in.