I have never even considered joining a political party before this past week, but today I became a member of the SNP.
Party political membership is always something that seemed unnecessary, and opposite to my principles. Why restrict your activism and ideology blindly to the views of the narrow? It seemed like it closed down the possibility for change and revolution rather than enabled it. Rightly or wrongly, party membership is something that is often looked down upon by those who consider themselves free thinkers – including myself.
The past two years has seen an incredible process take place, with more political engagement than ever before – something that was kicked off by the determination of the SNP. Whether you love or loathe Alex Salmond, under his leadership the SNP in Scotland has fought for a commitment to free education, a protection from arbitrary taxes introduced by Westminster (the bedroom tax), and overall a greater voice for Scottish people.
The result of the referendum has made me question in what ways my passion for social justice has been tempered over the past few years, and what I can do to do more in future. I’ve watched as other crestfallen Scots have signed up for membership of the SNP, and I have thought long and hard about whether I should do the same – analysing my own prejudices and fears.
These are the two listed aims in the constitution of the Scottish National Party:
(a) Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.
(b) the furtherance of all Scottish interests.
In their code of conduct for members, there is a number of other statements, such as:
‘No member may make racist statements in any context’
‘Every member has a responsibility not to discriminate in his or her conduct on the ground of race, colour, gender, religious belief or non-belief or sexual orientation’.
It’s time to nail my colours to the mast. These are aims and values I am happy to sign up to.
If we are forced to participate in the party political process, I want to be aligned with one that will fight for real change. By joining the growing swell of people making their commitment to these aims this week (and creating the third biggest political party in the UK so far), I’m determined not to let the dream for a better country fall by the wayside. Membership will also allow me to more effectively challenge the policies of the SNP with which I disagree (like minimum alcohol pricing).
Next year in May we vote in a UK wide general election. It’s time to give Labour a hammering, and send a message that the way things are just now is unacceptable. This isn’t the end of the story.