While people across the Middle East are putting their lives on the line for the right to cast a democratic vote, the Scottish election campaign moves into its final fortnight.
The desperate fight people are making in other parts of the world to enjoy democratic freedom should be enough to encourage every one of us to get out and use our vote on May 5.
Back in February there was a curious poll which stated that one in five Labour, and nearly one in three Liberal Democrat and Tory voters wanted the SNP to be re-elected. Hardly a ringing endorsement of their own parties, one would think, and since then other opinion polls seem to show a strong movement in favour of a re-elected SNP government.
It’s not difficult to understand why, with what the SNP has achieved in its first term in office – sound economic management, crime figures at a 32-year low, a health service again based upon need rather than profit and so on. And all this as a minority administration too.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has popped up to Scotland to tell us to vote Labour to “send a message” to the Westminster coalition. Never mind the Scottish issues in this Scottish election then.
Miliband’s lieutenant in these parts, Iain Gray, will “stand up to Westminster” on our (and Ed’s) behalf.
Suddenly, for Labour, the things it criticised the SNP for in office – like promoting free university education, free prescription charges and frozen council tax – have become a good thing. The charge that the Scottish government, by standing up for Scottish interests, was “picking fights with Westminster” is now to be replaced with the claim that Labour will now be picking more fights than the SNP.
Unfortunately, the idea that Iain Gray, recently seen running away from nine demonstrators and sheltering in the back of a sandwich bar, will be able to stand up to anybody on our behalf is patently ludicrous.
In our own constituency, Jeremy Purvis is, in the opinion of most commentators, under a great deal of pressure. Not only has his Liberal Democrat majority over the SNP’s Christine Grahame crumbled over the years, his own actions in opposition, and those of his party north and south of the border, have not helped.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto for the coming election is costed entirely upon the £1.5billion supposedly to be gained by Mr Purvis’ plan to privatise Scottish Water’s debt. Arguments about the wisdom of this move aside, Mr Purvis and his Scottish colleagues can gain no assurances from their Liberal Democrat colleagues at Westminster, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore, that Westminster won’t simply claw any money made back through a reduction in the Scottish block grant.
Add to this the realisation, after last year’s Westminster election, that there exists no Liberal Democrat commitment that can’t be dumped in a nanosecond if the party senses a sniff of power.
The SNP government in Edinburgh has protected us from the privatisation plans for the NHS in Scotland of both Labour and Con Dem governments in London.
The SNP has also legislated against any council tax increases since 2007. It introduced free prescriptions and has extended the free bus travel concession. Improvements have also been made to education and policing during the party’s tenure in power.
Does any Scottish voter really believe that these benefits would be retained by a Labour government at Holyrood, with or without the help of Tories or Lib Dems?
The three major unionist parties have deferred to the demands of big business and the wealthy – profits before people.
By its actions the Scottish National Party has shown that it cares about the welfare of ordinary people whilst also helping small businesses to grow Scotland’s economy. The SNP has shown that it is a progressive party in government, enacting policies specifically to help Scottish people.
Would it not be foolish of voters to jeopardise the beneficial reforms the SNP has put in place by voting for one of the London-based parties?