On Friday evening I went to a fundraiser in Shettleston for the SNP’s candidate for Glasgow East Westminster seat in May. A hall full of highly motivated people, all of whom are going to give up their time and their energy to campaign over the coming weeks and ensure that Labour gets its come uppance. Many of them – like me – had no involvement in organised politics before the referendum campaign.
Natalie McGarry will be a fantastic MP for the East End, she’s intelligent, educated, and passionate. Admittedly the current incumbent sets the bar pretty low – a pint of milk that has been left in the sun for a fortnight has more culture than Magrit Curran. And a hedgehog that has been flattened by the wheels of a 40 tonne artic would show more in the way of life and vitality. But naturally Natalie’s vitality is no fallacy. She deserves to win because of her positive qualities, and not just because this part of the world desperately needs to jetison Labour’s useless time servers.
Natalie was one of the founder members of Women for Independence, which sought to create a space for women’s voices in the traditionally male dominated world of politics. After all, there’s no point in getting independence if it just means we’re going to keep doing everything the same. Thanks to Natalie and the other women involved in the creation of Women for Independence, the voices of women were heard loud and clear during the referendum campaign, and continue to be heard afterwards.
Women like Natalie are making a difference and building a new Scotland, one that’s outward looking, tolerant, and progressive. I had a wee chat with Natalie, and she told me that she’d been invited to the Basque Country and Catalonia to talk to independence activists there who feel they have much to learn from the Scottish experience. But she’s forgone the trip to Bilbao and Barcelona in order to chap on doors in Baillieston and Barlanark, there’s dedication for you. The East End is more important for once.
Scotland is a country where families were kept together by strong women, Natalie and the other women of Women for Independence made sure that those strong women have a strong voice too. Compare and contrast: Magrit Curran’s main contribution to women’s role in politics would appear be denouncing anyone who criticises her as misogynistic.
The anger at Labour in the East End of Glasgow is palpable. The party that campaigned alongside the Tories in order to scare Scots into a No vote and the continuing risk of Tory governments now tells us that we must vote for them to keep the Tories out. That would be the Tories who cheered Alistair Darling when he addressed the Conservative conference. That would be the Tories that we failed to keep out even though Scotland returned a huge majority of Labour MPs the last time.
Just talking to neighbours and people I know locally, the feeling is that Labour is in for an even bigger kicking than the Ashcroft poll suggested. People who are still going to stick with Labour are thin on the ground. People who are determined to kick Labour out are numerous and vocal. And the hundreds of enthused and energetic activists in attendance on Friday haven’t even started yet. Where are Labour’s activists? Where’s their energy and enthusiasm? Where’s their big idea? They’re nowhere to be seen. All Labout has left is desperation and their praying mantra of lies: “Vote for us to keep out the Tories.”
Labour has nothing to offer, just more of the same. The Tories take an axe to public spending and do it with glee. Labour gives us Tory policies and tells us with a solemn face that it’s for our own good. That’s the only difference between them. The happy face and the sad face on the Westminster theatre of charades. Shettleston Road will still be depressed and down at heel, worry lines etched into harrassed faces, just like it was when I was a wean, just like it is now. It’s time for a change. And in the East End that change is Natalie McGarry. Natalie will go to Westminster and say “haw you”. Magrit Curran goes to Westminster and says “haw me”.
This time Scotland is important. This time attention will be paid. The reason is not because we’re going to vote Labour like we’ve always done. It’s because we’re not going to vote Labour. Vote Labour to be ignored, to be marginalised, to be left on a shelf gathering dust. Vote Labour so Scotland can be a decorative wee tartan box of trinkets that allows British nationalists to pretend that their nationalism is the non-nationalism. No one can hear you scream in the vacuum they create.
No more. The reason Scotland is attracting attention is because we’re going to vote for what’s best for Scotland. We’re going to vote not to be ignored. We’re going to vote to speak for ourselves and not to have others claim to speak for us and tell us what is in our best interest. We’re going to decide that for ourselves, all across Scotland, not just in Glasgow East. We’re going to vote to hold the balance of power in this Better Together union, and we’re going to vote to ensure that vows are kept and delivered according to our understanding and convenience – not that of the Westminster parties.
People in this part of the world have voted Labour far too long, and the party takes us for granted. But political parties are like nappies, they need to be changed regularly, and for the exact same reasons. Glasgow East deserves better than a party that reeks of rot, corruption and decay, and an MP who is best known for looking like a bad smell. Natalie’s got my vote, and I’m not a member of the SNP, I’m not an SNP activist – I didn’t even vote for them for most of my adult life.
I’m not a Nationalist, I’m a Natalist, and on 7 May 2015 I’ll mark my cross beside Natalie’s name, and I’ll vote for something better. I’m voting for change.
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