Springingtiger's Blog

The Eight Hour Day – reflections on Party Conference season.

The Eight Hour Day

There is a slogan (originated by Robert Owen in 1817) from the campaign to secure the eight hour working day which said, “We require Eight hours for work, Eight hours for our own instruction and Eight hours for repose.” The idea was that eight hours each day should provide a worker (I almost typed workman because back then it was largely men working to provide for their wives and families, this is relevent.) with an adequate income to pay for all their needs: accommodation, food, clothes, and other charges, hopefully with a little over for saving or enjoyment.

Karl Marx recognised that the extension of the working day was counter-productive because it produced a “deterioration of human labour power by robbing it of its normal moral and physical conditions of development and activity, but also produces the premature exhaustion and death of this labour power itself.” (Capital). Thus even in capitalist society overworking employees is wasteful. In 1866 the International Workingmen’s Association proposed “eight hours as the legal limit of the working day”. In 1884 Tom Mann of the Social Democratic Federation set up the ‘Eight Hour League’ and persuaded the TUC to adopt the eight hour day as a goal. In the UK today the European Working Time Directives give us the right to limit our working week to forty-eight hours, but any worker can opt out and is too often under pressure to do so.

Working Tax Credits were designed to top up workers’ wages when they fell short of the amount needed to provide for a worker’s needs. If a worker receives enough upon which to live they have a reduced incentive to work extra hours. The abolition of Working Tax Credits as Priti Patel alleged on Question Time is to give the poor the flexibility to work more hours to meet their needs. The truth is that cutting families’ income below what they need actually forces them to work excess hours regardless of the detrimental effects on their health and the quality of their work.

The undermining of the eight hour day began long ago by changing the perception of a worker’s needs. Capitalists often refer to the cost of bread and other staples as a proportion of wages to show that workers’ wages are better now than in previous generations. However these same capitalists have re-engineered the perception of what is necessary to render wages inadequate and force working families to work more hours. True we don’t need television or internet to fill our bellies, but we do need them to function fully in today’s society. Do we need cars? Perhaps not in London and other cities with good public transport, but in many places the services provided by privatised public transport are so inadequate that a car is no longer a luxury, but essential. When I was a boy foreign holidays were a rarity, but the capitalist media have generated a perception that they are a necessity and people will work long hours to pay off the cost of them sooner than take a bus for a week in a caravan in Burnt Island or a tent on Lomond’s side.

Now in these days of political austerity the definition of poverty, and the expectations of the workers have become a problem to the government. In order to remove families from poverty without improving the conditions under which they live the Tories are going to redefine poverty so that fewer people will fall under the definition. Having a job is, indeed, better than benefits, but not when it does not provide sufficient income on which to live. In the Job Centres (which no longer provide assistance to find work) there are banners that say “Work more hours, earn more money” (we are not talking overtime here!). The principle of a ‘fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is oot the windae (as we say in Republican Scotland). Few working families can manage on one wage, the figures that say employment is up disguise how many of those jobs are part time, second jobs, zero hours contracts, enforced self employment, all inadequate to meet the workers’ needs.

Margaret Thatcher sought to make Britain an island of home owners and now a third of the publically owned houses she enabled tennants to buy are in the hands of landlords to be rented out for profit. Why then do the Tories want to, once again, push people into home ownership? Because it increases indebtedness while restricting mobility, and so binds people to employers. A worker who rents his home is free to move on whenever an opportunity presents itself, but once a person has a mortgage his mobility is made more difficult. To support the home owning economy banks lend against the purchased property, it’s a low risk strategy homes can be repossessed and should profligate lending expose a bank to possible collapse they know they will be rescued at the taxpayers’ expense. Worse still any assets bought by the taxpayer will later be sold back at a discount to the class responsible for the policies and mismanagement that caused the problem. Everyone wins apart from the workers and the poor.

It is true that the poverty of today looks different from that of the turn of the last century and to base it entirely on a relationship to a median wage may be over simplistic, but to redefine it to include things like access to free education is to fail to take into account our changed society. However while we we are on the subject of education perhaps we should look at the purpose of education. While the Tory school’s like Eton (subsidised as charities with taxpayers’ money) exist to train the next generation of rulers, unsubsidised state education has two primary purposes. The first is to provide, at the expense of taxpayers, child care to free parents, particularly women to work during the six hours of the school day. The second is to educate workers’ children sufficiently to work in employment and serve society. However should those workers’ children seek to enter the upper echelons of Society by furthering their education in University they come up against the barrier of tuition fees and, instead of the (means tested) grant we enjoyed in my youth, they are compelled to run up debts in order to feed and clothe themselves. An employee with a burden of debt is a compliant worker and a partially educated worker to a state curriculum is unlikely to be aware of the dangerous ideas that lead to demands for workers’ rights.

Where does the ordinary worker get his ideas? From the television and the papers, owned and run by capitalists, who feed him a constant diet of propaganda. The socialists at the turn of the last century had to set up their own papers like the IRSP’s ‘The Worker’s Republic’, the ILP’s ‘Labour Leader or Keir Hardie’s ‘The Miner’ to counter the lies of the mainstream media. These workers’ papers faced all sorts of problems from violence and legal suppression to distribution difficulties and just making ends meet. Much of the distribution took place at public meetings and rallies, not dissimilar from thos of the Corbyn campaign and equally villified by the establishment. What Corbyn had that Connolly did not was supporters with access to the internet and social media. Today the internet enables ordinary people to research the truth of the stories propagated by the establishment media. It also enables activists to reach out to people with an alternative version of events. This is why the establishment is so desperate to seize control of the internet, ISIL exists as an excuse to censor the communications of all the opponents of the capitalist establishment. The problem the Tories have is that anything they put on the internet is merely more of the same, adds nothing to their conventional organs of propaganda and is easily refuted by a few minutes research, whereas it provides an opportunity for ordinary people to counter their arguments greater than (but not instead of) meetings and print.

Today the lies of the capitalist establishment stand exposed and in the countries of the UK more people than ever are awake to the injustices being perpetrated upon the people by a small elite and their dupes. It is four years until this government with its majority of just twelve must put itself up for election, in the meantime we should be doing what we can to render that small majority useless and making it impossible for them to enact any laws they manage to pass. Their cuts mean that they do not have the resources to handle a population determined to resist. To quell the miners they deployed police and soldiers, today they have fewer of both than they had of either then. We may not have a mass socialist party in Britain as such, however in Scotland we have the SNP, not a socialist party, but a party hoaching with socialists that may yet become one and a focus for opposition to rule by England. South of the border we have Corbyn’s revivified Labour Party, like the SNP not a socialist party, but again, a party hoaching with socialists and backed by its social movement Momentum. The opportunity has arisen, as never before in the last half century, of rebuilding the political institutions of the British isles on popular democratic foundations, but it means we must put our doctrinal quarrels behind us and join together to break the hold of capitalism on the structures and institutions of these islands.

To The Child I Used To Be


There is a tradition of people in their maturity addressing, in writing,  their childhood selves;  turning sixty seems a good time.
I think the first thing I would say to my younger self is, “There is nothing wrong with you.  You may find the world confusing  and feel out of place, you may be aware you are different and don’t fit in; your brain is wired differently from other people,  not wrongly,  just differently. You will eventually learn you have Asperger’s syndrome,  high functioning autism,  it’s no big deal. However it’s something you share with some of the great people of history, they are great because they walked their own way. I wasted time trying to be normal and fit in, you are normal for you,  you will never fit in with the norm, but those who matter will include you. You may feel now that you will never have friends you can trust,  you will,  but they will be few,  their lack of numbers offset by the quality of their friendship.


You may feel alone now,  it will not be forever so. You find girls confusing and think you will never understand them, I am sorry but you never will,  that’s nothing to do with the Asperger’s its the curse,  or blessing, of all men; don’t worry,  it is just what’s so. The best you can hope for is that you will find a girl who understands you and accepts you as you are; you will,  I did.  When you find her,  love her and tell her often that you love her, women like that sort of thing.  Love is another thing you will never understand,  but there will come a time when you know you are loved,  and you love so much it brings tears of joy to your eyes. You will learn that tears are not always bad, but often beautiful.  You will never understand romance,  I’m still trying,  I have worked out that it’s something to do with flowers. On the subject of love I should mention sex; apparently it is not just a bodily function,  but women have it as a way of expressing love, take your cue from her. Oh, and you can learn a lot about the mechanics of sex from books, you probably won’t get much practice before marriage and when it comes to sex, practice may cause problems.


Sex tends, eventually, to lead to children. There are books on the practical aspects of parenthood,  but  nothing can prepare you for the emotional chaos children bring. The best advice I can give is love them and do your very best,  whatever you do they will turn out as they will, and all you can do is love them and be their for them. Parenthood is an emotional maelstrom,  yours and theirs,  whatever happens hold on to them, but let them go their own way and make their own mistakes. Not all your tears will be the good sort. Grandchildren make it all worthwhile.


You are intelligent and have lots of potential,  however other people’s expectations of you are just that,  other people’s expectations. Walk your own way. I have used my intelligence to get into management,  in all honesty it did not make me happy and caused a lot of stress. There is nothing wrong with ambition and realising your potential,  but it is more important to be happy and to go to bed looking forward to waking up in the morning. One thing you should know is that there is help available for you with employment and studies.  I dropped out of university,  had my Asperger’s been known perhaps I might not. Would my life have been better with a degree I neither know nor care;  I can only live this life in this moment, speculation on what may have been is futile.  Remember follow your happiness, what does not make you truly happy is unlikely to be right for you.  Walk your own way, follow your happiness and work at your pace.


Change is inevitable,  sorry.  As you go through life you change schools,  change jobs, meet new people and worse lose them.  Pets and people die and when you love them it hurts so badly you want to go to bed and never wake up again. Life goes on and the pain somehow changes into a sort of bitter sweet wistfulness that adds a richness to living. The only way is through,  you will come through,  I have many times.


Keep an open mind.  It is too easy to see things digitally.  In fact nothing is entirely good or bad,  black or white, there may always be factors of which you are unaware. By all means hold firm to your values,  but don’t judge others by your standards,  what matters is that they meet their own.  By all means avoid those who make you uncomfortable,  but first examine your reasons; prejudice is a very poor basis for decision making. Try and be tolerant, other people may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean they are not worthwhile. Be open to experience and be prepared to put up with some discomfort.  Push your boundaries,  get out of your comfort zone. Pursue knowledge insatiably and don’t discount anything just file away the stupid stuff,  further information may make it sensible.  Finally, for now,  read and read and read widely,  about anything and everything you live in an amazing universe immerse yourself in it and enjoy it. Walk your own path, in your own way, with an open mind, be open to experience,  but above all follow your happiness.


The SNP should not attack Jeremy Corbyn
September 30, 2015, 17:17
Filed under: disability, Justice, Politics, Scotland, Yes Scotland | Tags: , , , ,

I am very disappointed by the number of SNP supporters who seem desperate to join the Tory media in attacking Jeremy Corbyn. We have many points of agreement with Corbyn and where we agree we should work together. Together we can fight the Tories, when we attack Corbyn we are serving the interests of the Tory party.

Corbyn is a unionist true, but just as he hopes to persuade his party to unilateral disarmament, we should seek to make him understand the justice of self determination. I don’t think it will be that difficult, I believe in his passion for justice. Of course if independence is just going to make Scotland another tool of international capital it will be a complete waste of effort. However I believe he would support a Scotland committed to social democratic principles as a good thing.

It was not Corbyn’s decision to not discuss Trident at conference and all the papers discussed were drafted before he became leader. The next Labour conference in 2016 well be a better indicator of the direction of travel of the Labour Movement. Until that conference we might best employ a position of cautious, but not uncritical, support for any Labour action with which we agree while maintaining a commitment to independence.

Jeremy Corbyn has benefited from his refusal to stoop to gutter politics and personal attacks. The attacks on him have made him stronger. I suspect that the surest way to revivify Scottish Labour is to drive them to rally around a socialist leader. Far better to give them nothing to push against by following Corbyn’s example and confining our attacks to policy and making the Tories (or the Westminster government) the primary focus of those attacks. Far better to win support for Scottish freedom than provoke resistance to it.

Corbyn’s victory, like the rise of the YES movement, indicates the need and desire for a new type of politics based on positivity and hope. If we aren’t seen to be fair and reasonable, rising above the divisive hate politics of the past, we will suffer by comparison with the new politics Corbyn embodies and we will lose ground to Labour (assuming they follow Corbyn’s lead). There will be plenty of people attacking Corbyn, many from his own party, if we avoid personal attacks the Labour Party will be left to fight itself and the Tories. We must take note of Corbyn’s example and ensure we occupy the moral high ground.

The Lessons of History
September 18, 2015, 21:16
Filed under: Justice, Politics, Scotland, Yes Scotland | Tags: , , ,

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

You could say this has been an historic week. At the weekend the English Labour Party elected a new leader. Jeremy Corbyn is not an identikit party leader in a sharp suit surrounded by media managers, he is different. An honest man of integrity, without a chequered past, he has upset the establishment who could find so little upon which to attack him that they resorted to highlighting the fact that he didn’t sing the National Anthem at a memorial service and allegedly insulted the country. However when asked about he said his thoughts were elsewhere with the people being remembered and with his parents who lived through the blitz. Certain Zionists tried to discredit Corbyn by accusing him of associating with anti-semites and Holocaust deniers, they couldn’t accuse him of anti-semitism himself because no one would have believed it.

I, like most of the country, had forgotten the whole holocaust denying charge until this week when I was watching the House of Commons debating the Trade Union Bill. As I listened to the arguments and realised that we were facing an attempt to destroy the ability of Trades Unions to protect their members or to campaign politically the words of Pastor Niemöler came, unbidden, to my mind. The Thatcher and New Labour years had served the right wing agenda of demonising socialism and now the Conservative government and their financial backers were going to kill the unions.

“Then they came for the Jews”. In today’s Britain one hopes the Jews are safe. However since Nine Eleven we have seen the increasing demonisation of Muslims in particular, and foreigners in general, culminating in the Conservative resistance to allowing refugees into Britain and the constant suggestion that any Muslim refugees allowed into the UK will bring terrorists along with them. In Britain today the word ‘Muslim’ is almost inevitably followed by ‘terrorist’ and ‘Islamic’ by ‘militant’. The British peoples are being conditioned to regard foreigners with the same suspicion as prewar Germans did the Jews. ‘Foreigners are stealing our jobs, houses, benefits, women, grooming our children, undermining our values and culture. We are in danger of being swamped by a swarm of migrants.’

On BBC Question Time last night the new Shadow Chancellor was attacked for remarks he made in 2003. John McDonnell explained his remarks and apologised for the hurt he caused. In 2003 he wrote an article “Why I Stood up for Bobby Sands.” in the Guardian explaining his remarks. In it he indicates another lesson of history,
“Among British people there has to be an acceptance that the violence of the past 35 years had a root cause. It wasn’t some pathological trait of the Irish. Britain faced such violence in virtually every colony from which it was forced to withdraw, from the Mau Mau in Kenya to the nationalists in India. We have to face up to the fact that without the armed uprising in 1916 Britain would not have withdrawn from southern Ireland. And without the armed struggle of the IRA over the past 30 years, the Good Friday agreement would not have acknowledged the legitimacy of the aspirations of many Irish people for a united Ireland.”
John McDonnell points to a sad fact that very rarely does a subject people achieve independence without violence whether the Belgians in 1830, the Irish in 1916, America in 1776, India in 1947 after many years and several rebellions, Bangladesh 1971, and virtually every other successful move to independence. This week we mark a year since the Scottish Independence referendum and we might well be advised to remember the lessons of history. Were it not for the repeated failure of the English government to honour its promises of Irish Home Rule the Irish would not have had to rise in 1916. Now that the English government is backtracking on the promises made to the Scottish people to in 2014 to secure a No vote, it should pause and remember what happened in Ireland ninety nine years ago.

The Tories claim to honour Winston Churchill. They should bear in mind his advice,
“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Slave Nation

I have started watching BBC 2’s excellent series of documentaries on ‘Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners’. Although living in Glasgow we are probably more aware of our debt to slavery than in most parts of Britain, I had not realised how much modern Britain stands on a foundation built of enslaved, exploited and dehumanised people. I was surprised at how many of our ‘noble’ families owe their enoblement and wealth to slavery. I was very interested to discover that Britain’s financial  sector was funded by the earnings from slavery. Britain’s trading power owes its former dominance to slavery. Many of those who formed our laws owed their position to slavery both in the Lords and Commons and it is their heirs who still dominate society using the industries born from the proceeds of slavery. Horribly slavery could not merely be abolished for the inhuman evil it was, the British taxpayer had to pay the slave owners millions of pounds in compensation.

In Britain we fetishise private ownership and so successive governments are happy to sell the assets that belong to the people to private enterprise for a fraction of their worth, however whenever a private asset like the coal mines or railways has been taken into public ownership the previous owner, like the slavers, have been royally compensated, ironically some of them were descended from those same slavers.

This year the Tories in the UK Parliament thought it great fun to laugh at Cromwell’s enslavement of Scots who were shipped out to the Caribbean plantations, but given the rabid racism of their election campaign, it was hardly surprising. As an Irishman, thousands of whose countrymen were shipped as slaves to the West Indies by Cromwell, I find nothing amusing in slavery. However when all is said and done Cromwell has one thing to commend him, he executed a king. A commoner executing royalty set a precedent for the Jacobins and the Bolshevics to follow. In the debate about EVEL in the Commons when the SNP claimed the People were sovereign, but Dominic Grieve, the former Attourney General made it clear that the people are subservient to the Queen and Parliament.
But by what right does the Queen rule over us? The Crowns of the United Kingdom owe nothing to the democratic will of the people they were taken by force. As for this Queen, even if one accepts the principle of hereditary monarchy, her family came to power by usurpation of the legitimate king, the Crown under which the Kingdoms were united was not hers, although her usurping ancestors united the Parliaments.

The Queen’s right to rule comes from her ancestors’ theft of the reigns of power from those who in turn stole it by force from their predecessors at least one of whom was buried under a carpark in Leicester. Her rule does not depend on right, or justice it depends on force. Neither does much of the ownership of land, wealth and property in this country rest on any sort of right or justice. In Scotland the great estates were the outcome of the clan lands being conferred on the clan chief when enobled by the king in a move to bring the country into conformity with European models. The great estates south of the border were conferred on their followers by whichever king they supported at whichever time they supported him, the people who worked the land were little better than slaves transferred from one lord to another. And of course our banks and industries were built upon slavery and not upon any sort of honest or moral foundation. The only right the Queen, our landowners, industrialists and bankers have to their property is that of possession.

The majority of people own only themselves and their labour, but this government wants to remove from the worker even the ownership of his own body by effectively denying him the right to withold his labour in protest against unjust working conditions. Our industries were built on slavery and the Conservative government wants them to return to slavery. The worker who puts into a company is as deserving of the produce of that company as the heir of slavery who invests in the company as his forbears invested in slavery. No, the worker is more deserving because what he contributes is his own not stolen from others, his body, his own labour, unlike the product of exploitation or usury provided by the investors.

The British have been whipped so long into submission that they believe they must be slaves, those who are supposed to represent them refuse to oppose the burden of austerity laid upon them, choosing rather to accept the lies of slavers in return for their comfortable Westminster sinecures. British workers have a choice and they must make it for themselves; will they bow the knee to the Tory descendents of slave owners and expropriators of wealth and remain slaves themselves, or will they take back the country which is theirs by right of birth or adoption, but above all by right of participation? They are no lesser men than the bankers and businessmen who exploit them, they are no lesser men than the parliamentarians who abuse them, there is not one Briton who is in any way inferior to the Royalty artificially raised over them. This country belongs to its people and its people should take it back!

Fuck Off Depression!
June 25, 2015, 15:17
Filed under: disability, Gardening | Tags:

Yesterday I said to a friend that that the first depression is never as bad as the second, because the second shows you that no matter how often you come through it, it can come back. I joked that I sometimes envy the bi-polar because at least they get highs in between the lows, but perhaps they would argue that the higher you soar the greater the crash. The bottom line is that staring an oncoming depression in the face is almost as bad as being hit by it.

I woke yesterday with that depression that always lurks on the periphery of my consciousness reminding me it hadn’t deserted me. It is rarely a big thing that brings on my depression, but rather, an accumulation of little things accompanied by a voice telling me that all this is pointless. So there were the aches as I pulled myself out of bed and the increasingly noticeable veins in my legs reminding me that in any realistic chronology, I am securely into the second half of my life. And the voice asking what I have to show for my years. Outside my window the midsummer sky was grey and the garden wet with rain, and I found myself wondering if I will make any real progress with getting my garden into shape before the winter comes. Experts tell us not to cut mow our lawns when the grass is wet, but the day before I could wait no longer and mowed the damp grass, now it didn’t look as if I would ever get to mow dry grass; the weedkiller washes off the weeds before they get a chance to absorb it and so I hand weed, knowing the roots I leave behind will furnish more of the same within weeks, if not days, and again the little voice reminds me how pointless it all is.

I look at my writing projects with depression reading over my shoulder and whispering that I am not a writer, that no one will ever read what I write and if they do they won’t like it. And so the flow is gone and typing is a struggle, a slow struggle as my fingers type a word order my brain knows is wrong, very wrong. I keep backspacing and retyping, it’s so slow and tedious and the voices tell me I am wasting my time. Voices? Yes, now there’s more than one and they are discussing me without having the decency to go out of earshot of my mind’s ear. All the time I stare at my keyboard another voice is urging me to catch up on tidying that I know will never be complete until the day I just give up trying to sort things and ruthlessly dump roomfuls of accumulated history and knowledge. I ask myself why am I carrying on?

I carry on because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate, I’ve been there. The call of the pit may have a horrible fascination, but just as previous depressions have told me I am not immune from further depression they also remind me of why I will not return willingly into hell. Familiarity warns me when depression is bracing itself to swallow me, I know what to look for and I know when to fight. Yesterday I had a Skype call prearranged with a friend, isolation is depression’s ally so connection is essential, my daughter visited for a little while as well. No amount of social media can replace another’s face to fill the emptiness. All day long I kept busy, studying, reading, writing, housework, getting into the air between showers. Today is not great, but it’s better than yesterday. One thing I have learnt is to be grateful for even small things, everyday I record my gratitude in my journal, some days that awareness, that there is always something for which to be grateful, is the only thing that stops me going under, a life belt against a ‘sea of troubles’. Every day, one day at a time.

I do not know what tomorrow may bring. I know that there will be challenges, I am aware I need to find some solidity beneath me, I know I will not sink willingly however tired I get of struggling. Depression may want to embrace me, but I’m not fucking giving in! I had hoped this blog would be more upbeat and positive, affirming that depression can be overcome; it can, I’ve done it, again and again and I will not give in now. I suppose my message is depression can be beaten, but be ready to fight, don’t be afraid to cry for help and don’t leave it too late. Today is the day to fight, I shall not sit and weep at the grey sky, I shall go out in the rain, so there! Fuck you depression, fuck you sideways, just fuck right off, go directly to fuck, do not pass fucking ‘Go’ do not collect two hundred fucking pounds, I am not fucking playing! I can do this!

SNP: One Million Members.

What if the SNP had One Million Members?

That’s the sort of question that’s guaranteed to trigger all sorts of reactions, many of them, particularly from non members, quite negative. Is it even possible? Numerically, obviously it is possible, but is it realistic? Not as long as we remain bound by negative beliefs of what is possible, but we live in a new Scotland where our old certainties have been turned upon their heads, do we even know what is possible? In both the Holyrood and General election the expectations of experts have been far exceeded despite our own people trying to talk down the expectations. At one point SNP leaders were pointing out that any advance on six seats would have been a victory, later they were suggesting perhaps a count of more than forty seats was possible, but few dared predict fifty-six Westminster seats for the SNP.

I am not suggesting One Million Members as a target or a goal, but as a possibility to live into. The power of a possibility lies in the questions it stimulates. What would we need to do to win One Million Members? What sort of vision for the future of Scotland would we need to have, to enrol One Million Members into the possibility that the Scottish National Party is a cause into which they wish to invest their time and energy?

I suppose about now some Labour people are preparing to launch in with attacks on ‘Tartan Tories’, however I would like to suggest they ask themselves the same questions. What vision of Scotland’s future will engage Scotland’s people? They might also want to ask themselves, why attacking nationalism did not win votes? What sort of Labour vision would make the Labour Party appeal to the Scottish voter? Looking for answers is a better use of time and energy than mudslinging.

What Labour and many others missed is that SNP does not stand for Scottish Nationalist Party. The SNP is the Scottish NATIONAL Party which is a very different thing. Yes it contains some nationalists, but so does every party be they English, Welsh, Irish, Scots, or British nationalists. What the SNP has managed to do is to be a ‘National’ party, an inclusive National party, it presents a vision of a Scottish people based upon residency in, love of, and commitment to Scotland. The Scottish People are not a race, they are a community and the SNP contains within its ranks, and indeed is represented by, people of different races, all committed to a shared vision of Scotland.
No one could deny that some of the nationalists within the SNP are racist against the English, but when one compares the campaigns of the parties it can be seen that Scots of any party have also been on the receiving end of racism, indeed the Conservative election campaign in England was largely based upon the threat that a vote for Labour would hand over control of Westminster to Scots. Whereas the SNP campaign was based on the possibility of making Britain better and speaking up for  Scotland. In the modern SNP, as in the Yes Campaign, there are many people who were born and brought up in England, as well as other countries, who support the SNP because of the possibility it represents.

The SNP thrives now because its identity is given by its vision of the future. There was a time when it was a party of Jacobite nutters in kilts and its identity was given by looking back to the imagined glories, but also the injustices of the past and the SNP accomplished very little. The modern party has taken a position that does not ignore the past, but it does not seek to return to it. The past is in the past, the point is to learn from it, put it behind us and move on. The SNP is criticised for not being a Socialist Party. It does not try to be, its vision is not communist but Communitarian, it wants Scotland to belong to the people of Scotland. It wants a Scotland where the resources of Scotland, whether they be manufacturing, mineral, or land, are owned by the people of Scotland primarily for the benefit and enrichment of the people of Scotland.

Why does the SNP not yet have One Million Members? Because, while levels of political engagement are greater than ever in Scotland, it has not yet presented enough people with a vision that makes them want to be active campaigners for the SNP. I don’t pretend to know what that vision will look like, but I do know it will be generated by the people of Scotland, not by think tanks and consultants. We are edging towards that vision in stages as more people engage with it. It is a vision of Scotland not merely as a place, or an economy, or a colony of England, or even an independent country, it is a vision of Scotland as a possibility that transcends and surpasses previous thinking and belongs to all the people of Scotland.

What would it take for the SNP to gain One Million Members?
What would it take for the Scottish Labour Party to win a million members?

It’s time we stopped the petty squabbling and seized the opportunities within our grasp, it’s time to explore new possibilities for Scotland. Will any Scottish Political Party ever have a million members? Is it even desirable that a party should grow so large? Perhaps not, but what is desirable is a populace engaged in working for a vision that excites them. Do we need an SNP with One Million Members? What would happen if instead the political parties and campaigns of Scotland were able to share a vision and take the people with them? What if we put aside all our beliefs and prejudices about politics and just worked together to accomplish the dreams we share of social justice, a revival of Scottish enterprise, an education system second to none, a healthy population served by a health service that not only treats ill health, but prevents it and actively promotes good health, a peaceful country that propagates peace and justice. A Scotland that stands on her own two feet and owns the envy and respect of the world.

Where do we start? By asking questions like, “What if the SNP* had One Million Members?”

*Insert organisation of choice.


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