[Genuinely] Astonishing

A silver lining from last week’s loss has been the explosion in party membership across all of the main independence supporting parties – the SNP, the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party.

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All three have seen their numbers go through the roof, which is excellent news on several levels.

Firstly, it demonstrates to the wider public and the media that this is very much a movement, not just a one-time thing, and that while it is predominantly – although not exclusively – a left of centre movement, it has a broad base of support.

Secondly, it’s simply great to see so many new people deciding to become actively involved in politics. As a proportion of the total electorate, party numbers may still appear relatively small, but for these three parties at least, they’ve just leapt massively.

The SNP have just today announced that their membership has now passed 50,000 – that’s 6,000 more than the Liberal Democrats have UK-wide. That’s astonishing (that’s how you use that word, Johann).

For the sake of perspective, the Tories have 134,000 members across the UK, Labour have 190,000, the Lib Dem’s have 44,000 and UKIP have 35,000. If you were to scale the SNP membership up to a UK-sized population, they’d now have over 600,000 members – 200,000 more members than ALL of those parties combined.

The Scottish Greens too have had a stonker of a weekend with their membership numbers. As of yesterday, they had grown to over 5,000 members – 3,000 more than they had on Thursday. Again, for a UK comparison, that would equal over 60,000 members.

The good news for the Greens doesn’t stop there though. Recent opinion polls put them at 10% of the regional vote for the next Scottish Parliament election – that could see them become the third largest party at Holyrood, overtaking the Tories. Again, astonishing.

I can’t find numbers for SSP membership at the moment, but if anyone can provide me with these, please do.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour have said “We don’t give out exact details on our membership figures…”. They did however add that their membership figures had gone up “by hundreds”. Chalk and cheese.

There is another reason that this surge in membership is great news though, and that is that these new members can now be part of their chosen party’s internal democracy, helping to shape party policy over the coming years. If these people get properly involved, attend meetings and annual conferences, exchange ideas, discuss and debate… they’ll be not only helping is get another shot at independence, but influencing policy and therefore society in the meantime too. That’s a massive plus.

If you haven’t done so already, please get yourself involved in the politics of the party you support. Become a member, make a difference.

If you support no particular party but support independence, keep campaigning with us and fight for those principles you hold dear.

The Yes campaign has brought about change, even if it’s not the main one we were hoping for… yet. We must use this opportunity to continue to build, connect and involve.

Become a member:
SNP
https://my.snp.org/join
Scottish Green Party
http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/join-donate/#section2
Scottish Socialist Party
http://www.scottishsocialistparty.org/join-us/

Why Bigger isn’t Always Better

Okay, so you don’t trust or like the SNP. That’s your prerogative, and I’m not going to try tell you that you must.

I am going to ask you something though: do you trust the Tories? Or the Lib Dem’s? How about Labour?

A lot of people in Scotland, and indeed the rest of the UK, simply don’t trust politicians. There are many and varied reasons for us to doubt their honesty and integrity. Why should we have faith in MPs who abused the expenses system for their own personal gain, for example? What words CAN we trust when we are lied to about such major issues as our country being taken into war, as happened in Iraq?

This isn’t about which party to go with in an election though – I’m not a member of any political party myself, and I’m not going to do that job for them.

What it is about is who you trust in the independence referendum.

So, let’s just say that you don’t trust any of the main parties, be that the Tories, Lib Dem’s, Labour or the SNP. Where do you turn to get some advice that you can have some belief in?

What we could do with in this situation is small parties. Parties that have no ambitions of great power or forming the next government. After all, what do they gain if they’re found to be lying? Even fewer votes?

In a Scottish context, this means either the Greens, the SSP (Scottish Socialist Party) or individual Independent MSPs. The Greens currently have two MSPs in Holyrood: Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone. The SSP did have four MSPs from 2003 – 2007, hence their inclusion here. Margo MacDonald was the only Independent MSP elected in 2011, although there are now four in total.

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Alison Johnstone MSP & Patrick Harvie MSP, Scottish Green Party

None of these parties or individuals have any hope of attaining any meaningful power within the Scottish Parliament. They are there purely to represent their causes and constituents. For example, I dare say you could ask any MSP, from any of the major parties, what they thought of the policies and integrity of the two Green MSPs and get similar responses every time. Something along the lines of ‘I don’t agree with a lot of their policies, but they’re certainly honest’. I’d wager you’d get that response every single time.

And there’s one thing that unites these smaller parties and Independents: they ALL support independence, and are actively involved in the Yes Scotland campaign.

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Margo MacDonald MSP, Independent

The parties opposed to independence – Labour, Tories and Lib Dem’s – all have vested interests in maintaining the union for their own, or their own party’s, interests.

Having said that, although these three parties are officially determined to maintain the union at all costs, their party members aren’t quite so clear-cut on the issue. An Ipsos/Mori poll conducted in February found that 15% of Labour voters said they supported independence (that’s one in under seven). With Lib Dem’s, that figure rose to 19% (one in five). Even Tories aren’t completely united against independence, with 5% of them stating that they support it (one in twenty).

There’s even a growing Labour for Independence group, campaigning for independence and a chance to reset the Scottish Labour Party back to it’s old ideals and principles.

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Colin Fox, SSP

So you don’t have to trust or even like the SNP to support independence. Apart from anything, there will be another Holyrood election before independence anyway, so you can vote for whoever you want as the first proper Scottish Government.

Trust the small guys who have nothing to personally gain – or at least give it a go. What have you got to lose by listening to them, asking them questions and giving them a chance to tell you their reasons for supporting independence?