The Euro elections are happening on Thursday, not that you‘d know. Drowned in continued chatter about the referendum and with none of the Scottish political parties really having anything other than “vote for us” to say, the campaign (or at least the non-UKIP related aspects of it) have been almost non-existent. The vote will be carried out under a (sort of) proportional method, meaning Scotland will send 6 MEPs to the European Parliament.
As a blog, we value our independence from party politics, having spent years trapped in its terrible tentacles and quite apart from the obvious “who gives a fuck” factor, we don’t imagine anyone will be enamoured to be blown our queer kiss of death. But you can only say “UKIP are nasty” and “Don’t vote Britain First” for so long, important as spreading information and exposing their agendas may be. We’ve only got 1 cross in a box, to send someone to a Parliament we’ll not hear about for another 4 years or so; it’s not the kind demonstration of people power we get particularly excited by. Nonetheless, as infuriating agitators for a better kind of politics, we never get splinters in our arses from sitting on the fence.
Much as radical ideas may be seen as being resurgent right now, the lack of a coherent electoral vehicle means it would be best for people not to attempt to magic one out of nothing and pretend people will vote for it. Sadly, we’ve been subjected to the familiar 1 or 2 sects + celebrity and/or union list format, in the form of “NO2EU”, another failed project to add to a dizzying array of different names under which the far left has been embarassed at the ballot box.
A massive chunk of Scots, including many of our fellow travellers will be voting for the SNP. We never confuse support for an independent Scotland with toeing the SNP line and were only aware they were campaigning in the Euro elections because they released a statement, 3 hours before a demonstration to show Nigel Farage his bigotry isn’t welcome here, effectively condemning those who chose to protest against him, telling them to wind their fucking necks in and just vote SNP instead.
A huge vote for the Nats would see the election of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, the 3rd placed candidate on the SNP list, who was described last week as “inspiring and progressive” by the First Minister. Tasmina has certainly inspired with her ability to progress up the greasy pole, having been a member of both Labour and the Tories in the past. On parting company with the Conservatives, a former agent described how Ahmed-Sheik had, “felt that William Hague was taking the party too far to the Left and held strong views on homosexuality, education vouchers and further privatisation in Scotland.” Even Alex Salmond has been forced to confess that he has a “political butterfly“ in his midst. Of course, maybe Tasmina has had a sincere change of heart (although if someone was a Tory careerist, membership of the Scottish Conservatives wouldn’t be a great career move), but we’re not flapping with excitement either at the SNP or their butterfly.
There is another candidate, who not only happens to support independence but has a consistent record of supporting policies which would help bring about the kind of Scotland and the kind of Europe we‘re fighting for. This Thursday, without one sandal being worn, without a single windmill being tied to a bike and without even the faintest suggestion of liberal nice-to-be-niceness, we’ll be voting Green, in the hope of electing Maggie Chapman as an MEP.
In a Europe of ever-increasing austerity, deregulation and corporate destruction, we have to ask if a privately-owned, oil-based economy where we encourage “growth“ by cutting corporation tax, makes things better for ordinary Scots. We’d obviously rather there was more off with their heads rhetoric but clear statements from the Greens on repealing anti-union laws, opposing EU enforced privatisation and austerity projects, meaningful financial services regulation and ensuring our core resources lie in our own hands are sufficient to woo us this time round.
In an increasingly militarised Europe, we have to think about whether we want Scotland’s voice to favour continuation of alliances like NATO, to be quite happy to invade Afghanistan, to continue to equate military spending with security – or whether we actually want to start creating the conditions for peace.
When UKIP attack parental leave, we’d rather stand with the Greens who want to extend it, than with the rest who just want everything to stay the same. When faced with relentless racism and attacks on freedom of movement, we’d rather stand up for those fleeing persecution than offer protections to big business to exploit us. With homophobic rhetoric from the Faragists being merely the thin end of an increasingly violent outpouring of hate across the continent, the record of the Scottish Greens in fighting side by side with queer Scots gives us confidence we can actively challenge this.
In the largest city in Scotland, environmental degradation is so severe that life expectancy is just above 70, there is at least a decade wide gap between how long the rich and the poor will live in Glasgow alone – the East End of the city is reckoned to contain areas which have the lowest life expectancy anywhere in the UK. Women born in Glasgow and West Dumbartonshire are the only women in the UK likely to die before the average male and around quarter of Glaswegian men won’t see their 65th birthday. We may differ in our priorities from some in the Green Party but when our living conditions are consistently made worse by the economic and political elite, we don’t think environmentalism is an optional extra.
This is about responding to the challenge posed by our opponents by saying we’re not just going to fall in line and say everything’s OK. The far-right cannot be allowed to be a distraction, used to undermine what little we still have; a bogeyman behind which the political elite can hide. If all we ever do is defend ourselves from attack, we never win anything. Scots on the dole, our pensioners, people who came here to build a better life, thousands of working poor on or below the breadline simply can’t afford for things to just not get worse.
Regardless of their views on the constitutional placement of specific nation-states within larger unions, all the mainstream parties but one have a record of defending the continuation of a mundane, militarised monarchy in a low-tax, low-wage Europe.
We can have a Scotland which stands proud in Europe, a Scotland which fights for economic, environmental and social justice, a Scotland which knows what it’s for, not just what it’s against, a Scotland that can get angry and get even.
We want to send a clear message that we’re just as fucked off with the state of Scotland as those who’re contemplating voting UKIP but we place the blame firmly where it belongs – not on people who happen not to have been born here or people who kiss people of the same gender – but on the economic and political system which is destroying our communities, our environment and our world. For A Thousand Flowers, a vote for Maggie and the Greens just seems really blooming obvious.
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