I’m watching the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham and it got me thinking. The attendees love the Tory party, and not because they’re crazy. They’ve benefited from their Tory-led council, they’ve been let down (with the rest of the UK) by their Labour government, and they will vote Conservative at the next general election with a clear conscience. These people are not evil, misguided or, again, nuts; nevertheless I cannot find any common ground with their position.
In Scotland the Tories will never have power. It can never happen. Thatcher was no friend to us and we will not willingly go back to those dark days. Trouble is, Labour are basically a right-wing party now, and have demonstrated a penchant for illegal war, surveillance-obsession and alarming ID card schemes.
I voted for the Scottish Green Party at the last election, and the one before that. It’s not considered polite to ask a person how they vote, but I don’t mind telling you. I was told by some that it was a wasted vote, or worse, a vote for the Tories. The Greens could never achieve power and every vote against Labour strengthened the Conservative position.
Nevertheless I stuck to my guns and my principals. This is a democracy, I thought, and as such surely it can only be for the general good if I vote for whom I want. It may be tactically unsound for the anti-Conservative, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to endorse the Labour party who I consider criminals. So I voted Green.
What happened? The SNP got the majority of the vote. Neither Labour nor Tory. In England, the Liberal Democrats are the ‘third’ party and they have no hope touching either of the Big Two, but here someone else pipped them all to the post. Not by a great margin, however, and to form a minority government the SNP had to go into coalition with one or more of their rivals. The Tories wouldn’t even consider it and neither did Labour. So who used their limited number of seats to take up the SNP shortfall? The Lib Dems and, yes, the Greens.
So thanks to all those who voted for parties other than Labour or Conservative, we are now governed in Scotland by neither of those two behemoths. The Nationalist-led coalition’s performance so far has received a mixed reaction, but no one could argue that it has been a disaster.
I offer all this to make the following note-to-future-self: forget tactics, vote for who you want.