Sometimes, maybe not often, politics is too important to leave to the professionals and the deeply unrepresentative minority of party activists and campaigners.
The voters of Scotland, and Shetland in particular, recognised just such a moment in the referendum last year, and turned out in huge numbers to engage with the issue and to vote to firmly reject the divisive calls for Scottish independence and the dangerous uncertainty that would have caused.
I contend that the UK General Election of May 2015 is another vital political moment, also deserving all our attention and participation. The central issue of this election, the democratic government of the UK in accordance with the will of the vast majority of its citizens, is of such great importance that all the sound and fury around individual policy differences needs to be put in its proper, lesser, place.
The Little Englanders of UKIP and the Little Scotlanders of the SNP threaten to wreck the proper Government of the UK and use their tiny minority position in a hung Parliament to impose extreme policies which the vast majority will reject in the election. The SNP, in particular, have no role to play at Westminster other than to disrupt the UK and pursue their rejected aim of Scottish independence. They claim otherwise, but deep down everyone knows this to be the essential truth.
There are many problems in Shetland, Scotland, the UK, Europe, the world in need of serious attention. Poverty, climate change, inequality, the dysfunctional world financial system, terrorism, over-mighty and unaccountable multinational companies and institutions, are all issues crying out for serious attention. But greater human division, and a real dividing line from the Solway to the Tweed between England and Scotland, are the answers to none of these problems. On the contrary, breaking up the UK would be a major problem in its own right, and a terrible example in a dangerous world, where nationalism and other –isms are causing real distress in many places.
The valid answers to all these issues, and others I haven’t mentioned which are no doubt important to you, lie somewhere on the political spectrum which comprises the social democratic, liberal and conservative philosophies. These cover the views of the huge majority of UK citizens. If you don’t think the parties which represent those political views are currently making a good job of doing so (and there is definitely a case to answer) then get involved in changing those parties.
But don’t, whatever you do, think that giving the UK parties a bloody nose in the UK General Election is a good idea. What that means is don’t vote UKIP, and in our part of the world it especially means don’t vote SNP. Such an action will only open the door to political chaos and disruption, the outcome of which is uncertain and potentially very dangerous. In Germany in November 1932 the electorate decided to give the political establishment a bloody nose when 33% voted for their nationalists. Within three months that led to a Nazi dictatorship, and within a few years that led to a bloody nose for everyone between the north of Norway and the south of New Zealand.
So the conclusion has to be that we shouldn’t play with political fire in the UK General Election. Vote for the UK party that most closely reflects your views (and get involved if they don’t adequately do so), and don’t vote SNP.
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