Tuesday, 26 April 2011

if Labour says the Union is an election issue, feedback on SNP policy must matter

The Labour campaign has now declared the Union potentially at stake in this election. Hence they too should agree that it matters that public consultations on the independence policy should not be censored, and responses withheld from public access, by the SNP.

Granted Labour says nobody cares about the constitutional issue, but if the SNP wins the election it is certain Labour will care in opposition to the issue.

Meanwhile the Greens don't sound anything like as total on independence, in their manifesto, than the SNP. Though they support it, they support a multi-option referendum that might just bring stronger autonomous powers.

I have been quite against the Greens for years, for telling us to use public transport but refusing to take positions on specific injustices to passengers and bad operating done by particular transport services. That line was exploiting us. You don't tell the public to do something potentially inconvenient and kick away all question of doing anything to ameliorate the inconveniences. During the election last year I had a letter published in the Metro making this point. But in the present Green manifesto I acknowledge progress and movement on this issue. Perhaps it is because Scottish level is the level where they feel most empowered to actually do anything with their electoral successes, hence more ambitious? Or have they actually responded to concerns like mine?

This time they are not just giving us their old waffle. Most importantly for my previous discontent, they are calling for "greater regulation of bus services". This will make some difference to all the aggro and shoving around that the giant private sector bus companies now give passengers with impunity, and even the consulting on that policy will be an opening to press those issues in detail and how the public have been left in the lurch by the Greens not getting drawn on this issue before. They also want to subsidise reductions in transport fares, and we know how those have rocketed and are some of the most extortionate in Europe. They propose specific railway reopenings, they will keep the bus pass system which the Tories and Lib Dems both want to cut back which would make some folks' lives significantly less free, and to budget for facilities for physically "active travel" which is some shift away from their former line that it rigidly always must be public transport. Come to think of it, maybe those extortionate fares are what have forced the Greens to shift their demands on us?

They have shifted. They are also taking the strongest anti-cuts agenda, universal right to a bank account, and good left wing taxing of big business, also motivated by trying scale business away from bigness again in the face of the the peak oil problem. So I'm voting Green this time.

This means voting for the other pro-independence party besides the SNP, which according to Labour's warning, might swing the difference for the SNP to get the referendum through this time round. Presumably, the Greens too won't want to have the referendum if they think they will lose it, and that might remain the case for the whole of the next parliament as it did the last. Or it might not.

I have no grounds to believe the Greens will necessarily be any fairer than the SNP towards consultation feedback. But knowing how the SNP has handled it already, it will be better to have 2 parties than 1 behind the process, just to spread our bets and try to give voters more leverage on both for how they treat us in all further consultation process. This thought, realistically sceptical about the Greens and not putting faith in them, is further good reason to vote for them.

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