With the SNP holding the balance of power at Westminster, we can force a rethink on the policies causing hardship for so many Scots
The biggest story in Scottish politics since the referendum has undoubtedly been the remarkable SNP surge – both in the opinion polls and in membership, which is now standing at over 93,000.
Of the many tens of thousands of people who’ve joined the party in the last few months, each has their own story and reasons behind their journey to the SNP – but there is at least one common theme.
So many of the new members I’ve met in places like Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and my home city of Dundee were traditional Labour supporters – people with a passionate commitment to social justice and equality – who simply couldn’t stomach what the Labour party has become any more. It’s no wonder these people no longer feel at home in a Labour party led by the likes of Ed Miliband and Jim Murphy. These people – like so many others across Scotland – recognise that it is now the SNP which is Scotland’s party of social justice.
In the last few weeks alone, we have witnessed the appalling spectacle of Scottish Labour MPs trooping through the lobbies with the Tories to vote for another £30bn of austerity cuts – despite many of the same MPs representing some of the communities worst hit by the Tories’ cuts agenda.
And only days later, the same Scottish Labour MPs refused to vote with the SNP and our progressive allies in Plaid Cymru and the Greens to halt spending on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons.
For Scottish Labour MPs to vote to continue with George Osborne’s austerity agenda while sitting on their hands and allowing a further £100bn to be spent on new weapons of mass destruction is nothing less than a scandal – and is the final nail in the coffin for the myth that Labour represent the interests of hard-working and vulnerable people.
The social-democratic Labour party of decades gone by has long since died – with their priorities under Ed Miliband and Jim Murphy now almost completely indistinguishable from those of George Osborne and the Tory party they were happy to work shoulder to shoulder with during last year’s referendum.
Left to their own devices, it’s clear that Labour would continue with the economic failure of austerity – continuing to cut funding for vital public services, pushing more children into poverty and imposing welfare cuts which are causing misery in communities across the country.
A strong team of SNP MPs elected in May can ensure Labour are forced down a different path – and guarantee a real, progressive voice is heard in the House of Commons, rather than being drowned out by a Westminster establishment who too often are willing to dance to a right-wing UKIP tune.
With a majority Labour government under Ed Miliband, Scotland can only demand, but with the SNP holding the balance of power at Westminster, we can deliver.
We can force a rethink on the Westminster parties’ disastrous commitment to austerity – which is causing real hardship in communities across the country and pushing 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty.
We can stop the moral and economic obscenity of spending another £100bn on the renewal of Trident while more and more people are forced to rely on foodbanks – and can ensure these immoral weapons of mass destruction are no longer based just thirty miles from our largest city.
We can ensure Westminster finally delivers on the ‘extensive’ new powers promised in the Vow – powers that would allow us to take action to create jobs and to tackle poverty, rather than leaving these vital powers in the hands of George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith.
And most of all, we can make Scotland’s voice and Scotland’s priorities heard louder than ever before – and guarantee that the Westminster establishment are never again able to take our country and our votes for granted.
With these opportunities within our grasp it is absolutely no wonder that more and more people in Scotland are abandoning a Labour party which has let Scotland down for generations, and are putting their trust in the SNP as the party who will always put Scotland’s interests first.
Stewart Hosie is the deputy leader of the SNP. Follow him on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.