Like many people in Scotland, the independence referendum of 2014 sparked a political interest in me that hadn’t previously existed. Like the majority of people in Scotland, that political interest led me to Vote No. If this automatically stops you from reading any further then great, I have no time for close-minded people.
I don’t intend to delve too much into the reasons why I voted No, although I suspect that much of it will seep into other posts if this blog becomes a long term exercise. Briefly then, I started off as a “soft” No vote: arriving at this decision from a standpoint of general apathy for politics; ignorance of many of the arguments from either side but a general, and somewhat irrational, dislike of Alex Salmond and the SNP; and a fervent, and absolutely rational, dislike of nationalism. Then, around March of 2014, I had a Twitter exchange with a Yes voter which I intended to be light-hearted but degenerated into a full-on debate. A debate for which I was embarrassingly unprepared and in which, I’m not ashamed to admit, I was soundly thrashed.
Like most people, I hate being shown up and, most of all, I hate being in a position where I feel like I don’t know a fecking thing. This encounter was the catalyst for me to find out what was actually going on. As I researched the arguments from both sides I tried to be even-handed and I’d like to think that I was successful in doing so although I’m fully aware that I, like everyone else, exhibit an inherent level of confirmation bias – how much you choose to believe this influenced my stance is up to you.
For the purposes of this introduction, suffice to say that I reached my decision, I was happy with it then and I’m happy with it now.
Moving beyond the No vote, the referendum made me consider my general political outlook. What do I want from government, what do I think it should do, how do I think decisions should be made, etc etc. Most of my political “beliefs” are fairly simple: I’m pro-proportional representation and electoral reform, pro-union, pro-EU, pro-federalism(ish), pro-decentralisation, pro-free market, pro-equal marriage, pro-assisted dying. I think government is there to assist people who need help the most and provide a level-playing field to enable social mobility. I believe that the private sector spends money better than government but that it is in the public interest for some essential services to be run without a profit motive. I believe in civil liberties, equality and the right to privacy.
I believe in all manner of things which everyone believes in: providing a world-class education for our children, a health service that’s available on the basis of need not the ability to pay, a stable society protected by well trained and well equipped armed forces and emergency services. Basically, all the non-controversial platitudes that are rolled out by politicians to get some easy claps.
Considering all of that, it was an easy decision to join the Liberal Democrats. In fact, “decision” isn’t even the right word. It was more of an inevitability. Once I’d become politically active and reached the point where I wanted to join a party then there really wasn’t anywhere else that my loyalties were going to reside. I don’t agree with everything the LibDems have ever done, I don’t even agree with everything that they currently stand for, and I’m happy to criticise or voice my disagreement. But over the balance, I agree with the LibDem platform far more than I agree with anyone else’s.
Therefore at least some of this blog will be based on Liberal Democrat politics and what I hope to be a positive message of viable policies that people will find persuasive. The rest will be my take on politics in general and will likely be criticisms of the Conservative government at Westminster and the SNP government at Holyrood. I also plan to run a “meme-busting” section where I will upload copies of the more ridiculous Facebook / Twitter memes and “fact check” them. I’m a sucker for statistics and have become increasingly frustrated with the dubious relationship many political claims have with reality, particularly from duplicitous nationalists trying to foster a manufactured sense of grievance.
I hope that anyone reading will find the blog interesting even if you vehemently disagree with me. I would actively encourage thoughtful debate and will be more than happy to correct any factual errors you spot; but I have absolutely no time for unwarranted, personal attacks and will simply delete any abusive comments that are left.
Thanks for reading.