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Left-wing unionist tactical voting for the Tories to stop indyref2 is madness. Here’s why.

It feels ridiculous to even stick a “here’s why” onto the end of that title. These things, you’d think, are so self-obvious they do not have to be explained, and in any election up until now, they would be. But unfortunately, I have literally no choice but to talk about this.

If you’re a Labour or Lib Dem or CPGB-ML supporter who is vehemently against independence, you, sitting squarely in the targeting computer of Ruth Davidson’s “NO TO A SECOND REFERENDUM” electoral laser cannon, will by now quite possibly have given a thought to voting Tory to Keep the SNP Out™, especially if you live in a rural area. In fact, Ruth Davidson has personally appealed to you to do so, and Ian Murray, Scottish Labour’s last remaining Westminster MP, has as well. Now I don’t expect you to listen to me much – full disclosure, I am an SNP member, and I am in favour of independence – but if you are thinking of gritting your teeth and voting Tory just to show us how much you don’t like us, please, please reconsider. You are asked to make a choice which is obviously vehemently wrong just to make a relatively shallow, meaningless statement: “no to a second independence referendum”, without considering the implications of voting Tory for yourself, your family, or your society.

Let’s look at objective reality here for a second. The Tory argument for why you – you, in this case, addresses left-wing and centre-left unionists – should vote for them is that under FPTP, they are the best-placed political force to keep the SNP out in most seats, especially in most rural seats and in Edinburgh. You should want to do this mainly because, they reason, you are a unionist, you are against independence, you want the SNP to be put back in their place. The question you should ask yourself even if you fully agree with these statements is: why does it matter?

The SNP is in power in the Scottish government, very narrowly short of a majority in the parliament, supported by another pro-independence party that fully backs indyref2. Your disdain for them, even if it is strong enough to bring you to vote Tory, even if it elects a raft of Tory MPs across Scotland, is meaningless: the split between unionist and nationalist, or more accurately anti-independence and pro-independence voters, in Scotland is very close and one way or the other we have to admit to ourselves that whichever side has the advantage right now (a difficult question to answer in its own right) the numbers are very tight. To argue that, say, 50 SNP MPs instead of 56 and an additional say, 7 Tories instead of 1 – the intricacies of FPTP aside – undermines what mandate the Scottish government does have for indyref2 is at best a very weak suggestion. To put it in simple terms, it won’t go away even if you vote Tory. That’s simply a fact. The Scottish Government will not put down its plans for indyref2 on account of your being disgruntled.

That aside, if you’re a Labour supporter, for you specifically voting for a Tory candidate is a form of not even cutting your nose off to spite your face, but of shooting yourself in the face to spite Nicola Sturgeon. Your hypothetical Tory MP, no matter how angry you feel at the SNP when you go to vote, will not back a Labour government, but a government formed of their own party (obviously). By voting Tory, you are literally handing political power to Theresa May, and a program of cuts, austerity and the hardest possible Brexit, because that’s how much you don’t want independence. If that’s really the choice you’re going to make, fine, but remember that you’re not just voting against indyref2, you’re also voting for an end to the triple lock on state pension, driving the NHS into the ground by depriving it of necessary staff born abroad, and a Brexit plan that yells arrogance in every possible direction, whose only concrete promise aside from meaningless soundbites like “no deal is better than a bad deal” was to turn the UK into a tax haven. You’re thinking of a vote for everything you detest just out of a dislike for Nicola Sturgeon. Obviously, the choice is ultimately up to you, but I feel it is absolutely necessary for you to rethink what you’re doing before you do it.

If all of that doesn’t make you change your mind, think about this: the SNP’s argument for calling a second independence referendum is that there is a Tory government in power that is pushing the hardest possible Brexit that would leave Scotland outside the EU single market and the four freedoms. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if there was a hung parliament, where the SNP would obviously vote for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, where they would have the position, as kingmakers, to force the UK government into a soft, rather than hard, Brexit.

I’m not saying that a vote for the SNP is actually your best bet to stop indyref2, but all I’m saying is: such a scenario definitely throws a wrench in our argument. And in such a scenario the Scottish Government might well rethink whether they want indyref2 so soon.

Dovydas Kuliesas

CORBYNITES FOR SNP

In recent elections, pro-indy Scottish Socialists may have hesitantly voted SNP to take us further towards independence. But Corbyn’s radical manifesto has brought a challenge to the SNP to justify to these people why they should vote for them again on June 8th.

Corbyn has included a number of policies that would be attractive. But for pro-indy Socialists, the best option is to vote SNP.

Scottish Labour is not Corbyn’s Labour. Only 20 of the Labour candidates in Scotland are known Corbynites. We can’t be fooled into thinking SLAB have changed. I’ve often said that most of the Corbynites in Scotland are in the SNP. For many SNP members, independence is the route to a Socialist Scotland that just isn’t realistic in the long term while we stay in the UK.

While the SNP may not be to the complete liking to pro-indy Socialists, the policies they agree with are often overlooked or taken for granted. Opposing austerity and nuclear weapons on the Clyde, increased council house building, redistribution of wealth through a 50pm tax rate, a welfare system built on dignity and respect, triple locked pensions, opposition to foreign intervention, community empowerment to name but a few.

And Corbyn hasn’t changed Labour policy completely. Labour doesn’t respect Scotland’s will to rid us of Trident nukes on the Clyde. They don’t respect the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum. They don’t respect our democratic rights to decide our future.

In any case, Corbyn isn’t going to be around forever. The Blairite wing of Labour are already sharpening their knives preparing for the 9th of June or a future election. If Socialists in Labour win the civil war again, while we remain in the UK we will always be subject to Tory Governments we don’t vote for. Corbyn is for five years. Independence is forever. We can’t ignore the fact that we are at yet another critical juncture. And the only way Corbyn would be open to discussions over Scotref is if there is a strong SNP voice sent to Westminster.

As a party that can only win 59 seats, the SNP has to work with other parties to greatly impact UK policy. Realistically, SNP MPs will always back a Labour Government over a Tory one. We’ve already seen this with olive branches being extended by SNP council groups to Labour across Scotland only for Labour to strike deals with Tories.

Given that the Scottish vote has only affected the outcome of UK elections a handful of times in the past 100 years, what happens in rUK will ultimately decide who sits in Government. SNP MPs will give a uniquely Scottish voice whether that is in opposition or through backing a Labour minority government.

A Labour-SNP supply and demand deal would give the perfect mix of radical progressive policies, many of which are shared between the parties, while securing a uniquely Scottish voice and Scotref.

The only way to do that is for pro-indy Socialists in Scotland to vote SNP and for us all to cross our fingers for the rest of the UK.

Rory Steel

SNP Youth National Vice Convener

Marginals, marginals, marginals.

Every vote counts, but some votes count more than others. It’s sad fact of First Past The Post that votes cast in a ‘safe seat’ are statistically worth less than those cast in swing seats which are more likely to change hands. It’s the main reason that systems like AMS which we use for the Scottish Parliament elections and STV which we use for the Council elections are much more democratic. What this means is that your activism is worth more in these swing seats. So if you’re wanting to maximise the SNP and therefore pro-indy majority in this GE you should target campaigning to these seats which are in danger of changing hands;

JOANNA CHERRY, Edinburgh South-West

CALLUM McCAIG, Aberdeen South

JOHN NICOLSON, East Dunbartonshire

STUART DONALDSON, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

RICHARD ARKLESS, Dumfries and Galloway

STEPHEN GETHINS, North-East Fife

ANGUS ROBERTSON, Moray

TONI GIUGLIANO, Edinburgh West

ALEX SALMOND, Gordon

EILIDH WHITEFORD, Banff and Buchan

STEVEN PATERSON, Stirling

JIM EADIE, Edinburgh South

GEORGE KEREVAN, East Lothian

TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH, Ochil and South Perthshire

OWEN THOMPSON, Midlothian

PHIL BOSWELL, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

ROGER MULLIN, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

BRENDAN O’HARA, Argyll and Bute

CHRIS STEPHENS, Glasgow South-West

ANGELA CRAWLEY, Lanark and Hamilton East

KIRSTEN OSWALD, East Renfrewshire

CALUM KERR, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

MIRIAM BRETT, Orkney and Shetland

MÀIRI McALLAN, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

CORRI WILSON, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

So if you’re looking for the best way to put the brakes on Theresa May’s plans and to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard then get yourself out and campaign for the marginal seats closest to you. Extra campaigning there could be enough to tip the scales and make sure that the people of Scotland will have MPs who will fight against the disgusting policies of the Tories in Government, whether it is their pension cuts, Brutal Brexit obsession or the abhorrent rape clause. These elections will play a huge part in determining how well placed we are to make sure Scotland’s interests are heard in the Brexit negotiations and to ensure we get a second independence referendum to give the people their say on a final deal. So get out in your constituency, get out in these key seats and let’s show the people who is Stronger for Scotland.

@AlexKerr3

SNP Youth Glasgow

The Tories and Workers’ Rights: The Real Fantasy Land.

The Conservative Party Manifesto opens with a bold premise on introducing new rules for a changing economy, that they believe if we value something, we must reform it to conserve it. Further down the page, the manifesto promises further protections for those in the ‘gig’ economy, where they are legally self -employed, but the reality is quite different. This is, in all likelihood, down to the Employment Appeals Tribunal Decision in the Uber BV case, the Court of Appeal ruling in Pimlico Plumbers (yes, that one) and the highest of the mighty, Autoclenz v Belcher. There’s also a plan to introduce a year off for workers needing to care for families. As far as workers’ rights go, so far so good, right?

No. Wrong. I’ll explain why.

Firstly, the increased protection for ‘gig’ workers, although the courts have already made great strides in determining some of these working arrangements as clear shams, we need more, and as far as policies go, this is one I welcome. However, it’s about as useful as a Philip Davies MP, our favourite little misogynist. You see, while increased rights for gig workers are useful in theory, in the modern practicalities of our court system render them pointless to have. Take an example, if the Conservatives guarantee a minimum wage for these workers, the hours won’t be guaranteed, as the work given will only match demand. For argument sake, let’s say Jane works 20 hours a week on average for a delivery service who once classified her unfairly as self-employed, but thanks to the new rights the Conservatives have codified, she’ll get the living wage of £7.50 per hour. She’ll make £150 a week, not great, but better than what she had been making. Jane pays her rent, her bills, and her other outgoings, and is left with very little of that paycheque. Say her employer then infringes her brand new rights and refuse her holiday pay, in such a clear cut way that bringing a claim is a slam dunk. Jane planned to take two weeks holiday, where she would be entitled to £300 in holiday pay. She goes to a lawyer and discovers that bringing a claim to an Employment Tribunal to enforce these rights will cost her £160 to lodge a claim, then a further £230 to pursue the hearing before a tribunal. That’s £390 off the bat. Then add to that the lawyer’s fees. Let’s say she’s a generous lawyer and agrees to charge her £20 an hour for her case. After the preparation work, the trial itself, and all the little ancillary stuff, this can add up to dozens of hours. Let us say, in this case, there’s 20 hours of work all in. That’s £400 pounds. Will she get legal aid for the claim? Don’t make me laugh, criminal defendants struggle to get legal aid these days, a serious national scandal, but one I’ll avoid. Her total costs amount to £790 pounds against a claim value of £300, and the Tribunals don’t always award costs for the victor, so even if she wins, she could be £490 out of pocket. That’s more than 3 weeks wages, and in all reality, when she only makes £600 per month, and deals with her outgoings, how can she afford it? Why on earth would she bother to bring her claim, even though she would be very likely to win? The dirty secret is most won’t. Most won’t. In fact, since the fees for Employment Tribunals were introduced by the Conservatives, the number of claims has fallen 70%. I can tell you from personal experience working in a pro bono law clinic, even when we think victory is dead certain, most will not pursue because they cannot afford the fees. These promises on increased rights are welcome in principle, but they are useless and unenforceable in law, so don’t buy this Conservative “compassion” for even a second.

Secondly, the Conservative Manifesto pledges a year off work for those seeking to care for those needing it. Super, right? Again, wrong-o. The year is unpaid. Yes, completely unpaid. What good is it caring for a family member who needs it when you can’t afford to keep the heating on, or the lights on, or buy food and necessities? It’s no good, that’s what. The Conservatives are no good, that’s what.

If you are a worker, and employee, anyone who takes heart in these new measures, don’t. They are useless, they are unenforceable, and they are typical of the faux concern of the Conservative Party. If you want workers rights, don’t vote Conservative. If you want a fairer society, do not vote Conservative. If you have a shred of compassion, of humanity, do not vote Conservative.

To those reading this, and calling it nonsense, research it for yourself. Ask a lawyer, an academic, they will tell you the same thing. Read the twitter and blog of the Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret), who will do this infinitely more justice than I have. Just please, do your research. The Conservative Party are not the party of the workers, they never have been, and they never will be, and to those falling for their same old tricks, my heart only goes out to you, because they are lying to you.

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Ross Wilson

LLB Student and Law Clinic Operations Manager.

Breaking the Stigma

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

At a time when suicide is the biggest killer of young men in Britain, it is more imperative now than ever that mental illness, particularly in young people, is discussed openly and frequently. Youth mental illness is so frustratingly misunderstood and the consequences are devastating. Negative feelings are often put down to typical teenage hormones and the stresses of school/work and other trivial, typical youth related problems. However, the reality of mental illness for young people is far from the trivial every-day, hormone induced stresses that youth mental illness is so wrongly and  frequently categorized under.

It is exhausting, it is lonely and it is terrifying. It’s being surrounded by hundreds, even thousands of people and feeling like you are all by yourself. It’s waking up in the middle of the night unable to even move because you are so consumed by anxiety. It’s being unbearably irritable and not understanding why. It’s the struggle of trying to silently understand your own feelings while at the same time being too scared to admit your struggle for the fear of being judged.

Roughly 1 in 5 young adults currently suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition at the same time as 3 in 4 young people aren’t receiving the help that they need. These figures are horrifying and opening up inclusive discussion on this topic is incredibly important as we take steps towards a more effective society-wide attitude towards mental health. The sad reality is that even with the fantastic efforts of the Scottish Government and organisations like SAMH, we can’t beat the destructiveness of mental illness until we defeat the societal stigma attached to it and discussion is one of the best places to start. Having someone to talk to in your loneliest moments makes all the difference to your situation and I urge anybody who recognises any symptoms I’ve described to reach out to someone, anyone – even me.

Stigma kills. People are literally opting to end their own lives rather than seek help because society tells them that having a mental illness is something to be ashamed of. They are suffering in painful silence because society tells them that mental illness is less acceptable than physical illness. We need to spread the message that it’s ok not to be ok and it’s equally as ok to admit it.

In case you hadn’t worked this out – I suffer from mental illness. I was relatively recently diagnosed with a combination of anxiety and depression after years of suffering in silence. At times it has been almost debilitating and incredibly limiting, but the help I needed was out there when I looked for it and it has dramatically changed my life for the better. People were surprised by my diagnosis when I finally built up the courage to speak about it. I seem like a normal, happy person with a stable job and a loving home – but that is precisely the point. Depression doesn’t care if you have a stable job or a loving home or anything else for that matter and this is something society as a whole massively struggles to understand. We must emphasise that there doesn’t always have to be a reason for mental illness, much like I very much doubt there was a specific reason that the little boy down the road fell and broke his arm last week. It can happen to any of us, and it happens to more of us than we think.

Unlike physical ailments, those of us who suffer mentally are expected to just carry on and help ourselves because after-all it is our own bad attitude towards life that has caused us to feel this way, right? I too believed this to be true, until I realised that there is in fact no difference in severity when it comes to physical vs mental illness. Would you expect someone with a fractured spine to just help themselves? Well, unless said person has extraordinary healing powers, I very much doubt this suggestion would be feasible and mental illness is exactly the same. You can’t heal your bones overnight and you certainly can’t heal your brain overnight.

It’s time we changed the conversation when it comes to mental health. Let’s #BreaktheStigma.

-Kelly Given, SNP Youth Equalities Officer

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What is Westminster afraid of?

On May 4th I proudly cast my first ever vote in the Scottish local government elections. It was a great feeling, knowing that I was helping to contribute to my local area in some way. I must say though, my mood was dampened somewhat when I remembered that only a month later there shall be another election, in which I will not have a say.

There is no reason that the voting age shouldn’t be lowered to 16. I understand why the Right wing is resistant to young people voting, since we so rarely vote for them, but it is unacceptable. The Scottish Government are leading by example, it’s time for Westminster to follow suit.

I strongly believe if young people get into the habit of voting early we will see improvements in turnout. The Scottish referendum saw 75% of 16 and 17 year olds registered voting compared with 54% 18-24 year olds. Due to this lack of engagement, young people are being outvoted by older generations. The referendums in both Scotland and the UK saw the majority young people on the losing side. We should be doing anything we can to increase turnout from young people, to ensure that the outcome of votes are representative of what all the people want, not just a specific age group.

At 16, Westminster are more than happy to accept our taxes, but they deny us a vote. To simplify this, our money is paying for things we have no control over. We can’t even have a vote on what those tax levels will be!

While I appreciate not many 16&17 year olds earn enough to pay tax it’s the principle. Westminster will use us for our money, but when it comes to hearing our voices, they slam the door in our faces.

I’m fed up of being patronised by the UK Government. I’m angry that my voice doesn’t count at all levels of government. This idea that 16 year olds can’t make educated, informed decisions on who to vote for is absolutely ridiculous. In Scotland we have proved that notion wrong, yet Westminster still refuses to give us a vote. What are they so afraid of?

-Logan Unwin

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Making History

It is not often that a political party continues to win elections after ten years in Government. In fact, it is almost unheard of. Yet that is exactly what happened yesterday as the SNP swept across the country, becoming the largest party in 19 of 32 Councils and increasing the total number of SNP Councillors.

The people of Scotland have had ten years to see what we are capable of in the SNP and they have decided once again that they like what they see.

The SNP have won 431 seats to the Tories’ 276 (Almost all of which came from hardline unionists abandoning Labour in droves) and have become the largest party in the four biggest cities in Scotland.

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In Glasgow, a city which has been voting for Labour for 80 years, saw the fate of Labour sealed. A humiliating collapse of their vote to the Tories and loss of the Council to the SNP have consigned Labour in Scotland and their horrendous mismanagement to the people of Glasgow to the history books – where they belong.

Now the city of Glasgow, like most Councils in Scotland, will have a tremendous team of SNP Councillors fighting to empower local communities and build the self-belief and trust that will help lead us towards independence for Scotland.

We in the SNP have made history once again.

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As always though, there is another election around the corner and some of the results in the Council election show that we cannot afford to be complacent. With the self-inflicted demise of Labour the race is now between the SNP and the Tories. It is a straight fight between a progressive, optimistic and internationalist SNP who will stand up for Scotland, or the regressive, fearful and insular Tories who will dance to whatever tune Theresa May plays. It is a choice of baby boxes or rape clauses. A choice of hope for a better future or the brutality of more austerity for our poorest and most vulnerable.

It may sound clichéd but these next elections will have a huge impact on how protected the people of Scotland are and how well placed we are for another referendum when it comes. Let’s make sure we grab this opportunity with both hands. Let’s get out there and make history again.

Alex Kerr – SNP Youth Glasgow Convener