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The UK is now a Tory heartland - where do we go from here?





I don’t think I need to tell you why I spent an hour this morning crying like a fucking baby.

It wasn’t even just the fact that a party whose austerity measures have killed 120,000 people according to Medical Journals managed to win (in a First Past the Post system) by a landslide. It’s also that I don’t really…understand. I can’t articulate what happened. I’m an over-thinker and if I don’t have an answer to something, I’ll find one. My brain usually creates one, but my brain isn’t getting any further than “some people really do like the idea of Brexit, aye?” The polls said the Tories would probably win it, but that a hung parliament was likely. Boris is a racist, a homophobe, and a snob who wouldn’t even agree to TV interviews (I might not agree with the other Tory MPs but at least they’ve never hidden in a fridge).

If you’re here for a hot take on what went wrong, I don’t have one. My brain is fried from all of this (and I was up all night at the Glasgow count). My only conclusion is that we (including myself) underestimated just how many people wanted Brexit (given that the Conservatives made gains in places with a high Leave vote). What I am going to talk about is what we do moving forward.

But, hey, at least Jo Swinson lost her seat (but I was in the fucking toilet when it happened!).

If you have a political party that you truly believe in, join them

I’ve been a member of the Scottish Green Party for over 5 years. Not only that, but I was elected onto the Glasgow Greens Committee as an Ordinary Member a few months ago. If you join a political party, you don’t need to be as involved as I am. Plenty of members just donate their yearly fee to help with the finances. If you do want to get involved though, there are plenty of ways to do so as political parties and their local branches need a variety of skills sets. This includes marketers, data analysts, election organisers, candidates (!!), secretaries, event organisers, treasurers and confident extrovert types to knock on doors!

Or join a campaign or pressure group

They also need people with a variety of skill sets. 

Consider donating time and money

I still 100% believe that you should be talking to your friends and family about their vote. This includes posting on social media. Saying that, unless you are a public figure or influencer with a wide reach, you might only change the minds of a handful of people.

I know not everyone can, but if you’re in a financially comfortable situation please consider donating money to your candidate or party of choice in the next election - in order to help reach a wider audience. If you also have a particular skill set that could be of use during a political campaign, get in touch with your local organiser to find out how you can get involved.

Don’t think Scottish independence is in the bag

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media today claiming that Scottish independence is now inevitable.
Hold on a second.

The SNP did make big gains last night in terms of the number of seats won – but their share of the vote was 45%. While this is an impressive number, it isn’t high enough to start running around screaming Freedom. 

I support Scottish Independence and in the event of a referendum being called, I will 100% be out campaigning. With a smart campaign, the Yes side may swing it (and remember, we only need to convince the electorate once, Better Together need to keep convincing voters over and over).

I know the thought of Scottish Independence is what’s keeping people going right now. Unfortunately, this could lead to complacency where we think we’re going to fix this mess by leaving. It’s not that simple. Public opinion still looks like it hovers around the 50% mark.

If you want independence, you'll need to restart the campaign. Don't wait for it a new Independence Referendum to be announced either. A lot of Scottish people still need convincing (more on that later!).

Start laying the groundwork for Holyrood 2021

The next election in Scotland will be Holyrood 2021 (but who knows if another General Election will be called, I’ve voted in more elections in the last few years than I’ve had foreign holidays). The political parties are gearing up for this already, with candidates selected and members collecting voting data at counts across the country. 

The Tory vote share in Scotland last night was 25%. Do not kid yourself if you think Scotland doesn’t like Tories, because they came second in both terms of seats and vote share. We have over a year until we decide who is elected at Holyrood (with a form of proportional representation), and if you want it to be a left-leaning government (yes please) then now is the time to start educating people around your on why the left is best (or donating time and/or money).

Use the time between elections to talk about the issues

One problem I did spot during the campaign period was just how much voters aren’t really clued up on the issues. It’s hard to convince people during a snap General Election on why broadband for all is a good idea, why the Greens are the only party who really have a plan for saving the planet, why Universal Credit must go, that there is a lot of economic research that supports socialism, other countries have already proved that equal societies are possible (English voters were saying that free university tuition is far-fetched despite Scotland having had it for years?), why Trident is a waste of money, why the Monarchy has no place in modern society, and that immigration is not the threat to the working class that they’ve been made to believe that it is.

That’s why, between now and Holyrood 2021, we should be raising awareness of issues and educating those around us. Closer to the time we can start campaigning along party lines, but if we want to reduce the number of Tories in Scotland we need to start shifting public opinion towards the left in general.

Understand the root cause

As I said, I don’t really understand what went wrong last night. In order to fix it though, we need to travel into murky waters to find out. What makes a working-class person vote Tory? Why do people want Brexit, when there is no economic justification for it? Why are people ignoring that we only have 10 years before climate change is irreversible?

One of the biggest shifts in my own personal political beliefs was Scottish Independence. I used to be a hard-lined Unionist (and a Liberal Democrat hahaha hahaha oh god) and changed my mind with only two months to go. Shockingly enough, it was not the Twitter Nats shouting off about Unionists being cowards that made me change my mind (imagine that). It was, and this is random, attending a Republic Scotland debate covering what Scottish Independence could mean for the monarchy. I was really taken by what the Green representative said and that night I walked home feeling the shift in me. I joined the Scottish Greens after the referendum and maybe would have never voted Yes had it not been for the alternative Green Yes campaign. 

Granted, I had been questioning my Unionist beliefs in the months leading up to this (with so much discussion going on around me it was hard not to) but this was the moment where I crossed over the line. Later on in the campaign, the straight-up media bias and lies would become apparent (remember when the BBC claimed that Alex Salmond didn’t answer a question but a foreign journalist uploaded a video of his answer in full?) and I was a Yes for good. Nothing was going to convince me otherwise after that.

One of the reasons the Yes campaign was so successful (it might not have won but it did rapidly increase the support for Yes) was that it covered everything. There was the white paper, the tv debates, books, the Green Yes campaign, Radical Independence, English for Yes, and the other offshoots that represented different demographics. Almost no stone was left unturned. It wasn’t enough to convince everyone, but it turned this once staunch Unionist into a Yes voter. 

As someone who knows what's like to switch sides on a massive issue, I can tell you a few things. Don't be a dick to people. Share your opinions in a well-researched manner. Understand why people vote the way they do and then build a campaign around it.

Look after our most vulnerable

I want to pay more tax. I’ll happily take home slightly less money if it means a fully-functioning NHS, that the Masters I’m thinking of doing can be paid for by the state, cheaper (or free!) public transport, a good care home for my parents (I don’t live near them and can’t look after them myself), and a safety net waiting for me if I was to fall ill and couldn’t work (I have savings that I'd ideally use for buying a flat but I'm still hesitant to part with it in case something happens).

I’m making a commitment to donating to charities and food banks. The extra money that I would pay in tax is still going to be directed towards society’s most vulnerable people. My political opinions are firm on the redistribution of wealth (not that I’m wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just comfortable) and I’m planning to put my money where my mouth is.
__

I’m not going to pretend that the result of the General Election last night wasn’t fucking disgraceful. It’s disgusting that a large percentage of the UK population (and that includes Scotland!) wants to see disabled people on the streets or children only eating one cooked meal a day.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but if no one takes action (in a strategic way) then this is very much the future we are looking at. Start having a think about where you can help the cause in your own beautiful way: whether that's through using your expertise in your profession to pen thought-pieces, talking openly about how Tory rule has impacted you, donating money to a campaign you really care about, sharing your skillset with a campaign group or political party, volunteering at a local charity or your community council. 

It's bleak right now, very fucking bleak. But it's been bleaker before and society has - in many ways - made leaps and bounds even in my own lifetime. It's not over yet.  

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