End inequality – Canvass now!
To him that hath, more shall be given.
If there was one idea that united the thousands campaigning for independence, it was surely the desire for an alternative to the unfair system of government under which we live.
To all those uncomprehending voices – Labour leadership included – we cried out: ‘It’s the inequality, stupid!’
Yet we lost. Or rather, we haven’t won yet. The struggle to establish a society which puts all of us first goes on.
Since the referendum, with every week that passes, the Westminster system increases its rewards to the rich and cuts further into the lives of the poor. And, with every new scandal that emerges, it shows itself to be irredeemably rotten, incapable of its own improvement.
Whatever dies was not mixed equally.
Maybe so, John Donne, but some unequal things take a heck of a long time to gasp their last. And when it’s a whole system riddled with inequality, then changing it for the better needs a push from an alternative, fairer force.
The only thing that can affect them, the only thing they are justifiably scared of, is the ballot box. We know this: last September we witnessed the blind panic of the Westminster party leaders as they ditched Prime Minister’s Question Time and dashed north to “save the union”.
Most people north of the border, Yes or No, want home rule – it is the unsettled will of the Scottish people. But the UK government will never concede power without intense, concentrated pressure from outside and right now the Scottish people are best placed to bring that pressure to bear.
If we want to win any power for Scotland we’ll have to wrest it from where it lies now. This election gives us a chance to take a step towards self-determination, but only if we seize it with both hands. In reality this means actively supporting SNP candidates between now and 7 May.
It’s not enough to take comfort from the opinion polls – they won’t win a single seat, not even a single vote. Nor – with the greatest of respect to Bella, and all the others, social media etc – will online activity be enough.
It’s not Murphy or Miliband we need to focus on. It’s the voters. This especially means the voters who – against all the odds, against even their own interests – cling on to an ingrained allegiance to Labour, as if they still hope the lies can come true.
Of course this is changing now. We can see on the doorsteps how this belief is crumbling. But we cannot afford to take anyone or anything for granted.
This first past the post is so unfair that, just as it can suddenly swing to our advantage and win a disproportionately high number of seats, so it can also swing back. The difference between a seismic victory and a modest advance is too narrow to leave to any kind of chance or complacency.
And we saw how ruthlessly the establishment behaved when things got close during the referendum. Then they were fighting for the union. Now they’re fighting for their jobs. Just think how dirty they will play it.
Of course we are helped by the SNP’s formidable machine at times like these, plus the great number of people, party members and other campaigners available. But we’ll need every one of them to help turn the promise of change into reality.
After the election, imagine how virulent the opposition will become, how they will resist if we have actually gone ahead and done it; if we’ve started to challenge power where it can make a real difference to who and what controls our lives. You can just hear it: “Well, you only won some of the seats/more people didn’t vote SNP than did/most people still support the union” and so on and on, ad nauseam.
So we cannot afford just to scrape victory – we need to win every seat convincingly. Huge SNP majorities that cannot be pushed aside and belittled – this is what we’ll need to negotiate clear demands on issues like Trident, austerity and home rule with authority.
Fundamentally we can succeed because our message is one of change, hope and above all fairness. Connecting, sharing that message, talking and listening to people – these can turn ideas into power.
You don’t have to be a party member to help with the campaigning. Please get out and lend your support – give your time, your efforts, your sweat and as much energy as you can muster to make sure SNP candidates win unbeatable majorities.
The best way to secure the massive push we’ll need to shift the tenacious grip of the powers-that-be is to get out on the streets and doorsteps and canvass, canvass, canvass.