Catriona Headley, Edinburgh Labour activist and candidate for Edinburgh Western in next year’s Scottish election, pauses for thought on the eve of election day.
Tomorrow is polling day in the closest and most unpredictable election in my lifetime. I haven’t always been active in politics and this is the first general election I have taken part in as a Scottish Labour party member and activist.
In previous elections, I did what most people do: zone out the noise of the campaign as much as possible, vote on the day without thinking much about it and wake up to the result the next day. I’m very conscious that this is the election experience for most people when I now knock on their door and ask them what they think about it. Some people I speak to are puzzled that door knocking actually happens; some people are completely uninterested. A minority is abusive; the majority is polite. Every now and then you have a long discussion about the issues that are important to the person you are speaking to, who wants to know how your party can make a difference.
I am genuinely proud of the plan for Government that the Labour Party has on offer in this election. It is radical but achievable and it will benefit the many, not the few.
A ban on exploitative zero hour contracts; increase in the minimum wage; incentives for the living wage; tackle tax avoidance and evasion while abolishing non-dom status; abolish the bedroom tax; reintroduce the 10p tax rate for low earners and 50p rate for those earning over £150,000; a mansion tax to increase funding for the NHS; Scottish Jobs Guarantee for unemployed young Scots; a future fund for young people in Scotland who don’t go into higher education.
These are just a few of the policies in a manifesto that is fully funded and committed to addressing the deficit.
These policies would have a genuine impact on the lives of tens of millions of people living in the UK. It is a completely different road than the one which the Conservative and Liberal Democrats have led us on since the last election, a road which they would continue on if they remain in power.
And despite my hope that Labour emerges with a majority or as the biggest party on Friday morning, the reality is we may not. The polls have Labour and the Conservatives at neck and neck. As a result of the predicted gains of the SNP in Scotland, the Conservatives will remain the largest party and will, likely, remain the leading party of a new government.
If this happens, the chance to change our country and implement Labour’s plan for a better Britain will vanish. It will be another five years before we get the opportunity again.
The fact is that if the SNP were not predicted to take the vast majority of Scottish seats in this election, David Cameron would already have his bags packed. But he hasn’t. He’s getting set to stay in Number 10.
A lot has been said about the how even if the Conservatives remain the largest party they could be blocked from forming a Government. Maybe that is possible, but why take the chance? Why gamble on back room deals, body language and personality clicks or clashes to achieve the result you want?
If you want if you want to see progressive change that benefits the many and not few, if you want to see the back of David Cameron and this Conservative led coalition and if you want to see a Labour Government, then you have to vote for it and you have to vote Labour.
There are many things that separate Labour and SNP supporters but I am yet to speak to an SNP supporter on the doors that says they want to see another Conservative Government. Let’s not wake up on Friday and regret the missed opportunity to prevent one.
Another part of being relatively new to the world of election campaigns is realising how much they rely on committed volunteers. Most people probably don’t realise how much political parties and the democratic process rely on people who fold letters, stuff envelopes, deliver leaflets, man street stalls, canvass voters, drive people to polls, drop off snacks for hungry activists. It is a truly remarkable effort which often goes unremarked upon. To everyone who got involved in this process, no matter the party, I salute you and your effort.