The SNP has a good record in office, but that’s not the main reason to vote for them in 2017.

by Elias Blum

Folk easily forget how much the SNP has done to make Scotland a better, more social democratic country.

– Free prescriptions
– Publicly funded university tuition
– Universal free childcare
– Baby boxes, and free vitamins for pregnant women
– Maintained free care for the elderly
– 35,000 new council / housing association houses this parliament
– Big infrastructure investments including the new Forth bridge, M8 completion, rail electrification, and the new Borders railway
– End of workfare, sanctions related to workfare, and Atos assessments for PIP
– Rated the best country in Europe for gay rights
– Saved the steel industry and Ferguson’s shipyard
– Beat our targets for renewable generation and carbon reduction
– Delivered the land reform bill + a land reform commission
– Free school meals for P1-3
– Alleviated the Bedroom Tax and cuts to housing benefit
– Ended bridge tolls, brought in road equivalent tarrif on ferries
– Delivered all this on a balanced budget during a time of imposed austerity
– Doing whatever is possible, this side of independence, to defend Scotland’s place in the Single Market, the rights of EU citizens resident in Scotland, and ECHR protections.

I could go on.

These are good reasons to have confidence in the SNP and in its vision, record and trajectory. They provide good ripostes to those who doubt the SNP’s civic, progressive and social-democratic credentials. They show that it is possible to have policies that bring help the poor and that lighten the burden of ordinary working families, while at the same time promoting a growing, flourishing and entrepreneurial society.

Yet, important and worthy though they are, these achievements relate mainly to the policies of the Scottish Government, not of Scotland’s delegation in Westminster. They are not the primary reasons why we should vote SNP in this 2017 UK General Election.

Westminster elections and Scottish Parliament elections are different. When we vote for the Scottish Parliament, we are voting for those who are going to govern us in those things that most immediately affect our everyday lives – roads, police, schools, hospitals. When we vote for the Westminster Parliament, we are voting for the swords and shields who have to advance Scotland’s cause and defend Scotland’s interests externally.

Scotland faces a harsh choice: an austerity-driven Brexit Britain that will make the worst of the Thatcher years look like a happy picnic, or grasping the thistle of independence. The Tories are already lining up to strip powers from the Scottish Parliament. Scotland’s success under the SNP is a thorn in their side, an embarrassment to them which shows people in England that there is, indeed, an alternative to the Tory agenda (which, sadly for them, the opposition in England cannot credibly articulate), and they are determined to undermine it. So the primary reasons for voting SNP in this election are existential. They are about the survival of Scotland as a distinct place, not just a region of the UK but as a country with its own national voice and an effective national Parliament to advance national interests.

This strong voice for Scotland is needed now more than ever. At a time when the UK faces the biggest economic, political, diplomatic and constitutional crisis of its modern history, we need a strong bloc of SNP members in Westminster to oppose a disastrous Hard Brexit, to mitigate its effects, and to strengthen the SNP’s hand in any future negotiation over Scotland’s future.  Scotland voted to remain in the EU, and the UK Government is trying to take Scotland out of the EU without our consent. That is a scandalous betrayal of democracy that can only lead to more and more people coming to see independence in Europe as the natural, necessary, option for Scotland.