Tribalism in politics is nothing new. It’s not unique to any country or culture. It’s something the Unionists are convincing themselves is the cause of their own downfall in Scotland.
Think of any party, or any politician, and they have their tribalist support. The Lib Dems have their own hardcore tribalists watching Willie Rennie’s hapless performance in the leaders debates and will insist that he won it. The SNP have their own hardcore tribalists insisting Nicola Sturgeon won the debate. All of the parties have this going on.
The major difference is that the Westminster parties are so unpopular with the general public right across the UK, that the ONLY people trying to power their campaigns, are their hardcore tribalists. The SNP have other sources of power that the Westminster parties can only dream of, or are deluding themselves that they also have.
The SNP have people who have joined the party recently either because of the referendum, or the SNP’s behaviour in it. These people are newly awakened to politics. They see the cesspit that Westminster is, and the alternative approach the SNP are trying to built. They also have soft SNP people behind them, who won’t join the party but consider themselves to be SNP supporters and voters. They have people like me, who won’t join the SNP, don’t consider themselves SNP supporters, but have seen the futility of voting any other way than SNP in a FPTP General Election. Finally the SNP have the power of a LOT of neutrals who watch these debates and see the alternate future the SNP propose, and agree with them on the major ideological issues; scrapping Trident, a public NHS etc.
While the Westminster parties try to protect the status quo, the same old same old, the public are sick of it. They’re sick of nothing ever changing when it comes to major issues. They’re sick of the corruption and cosy agreements. They’re sick of the imperialism. They’re sick of the elite privilege while the most vulnerable starve. While the Westminster parties exist to protect and expand their own self interest, this gap will only widen. It’s why neither the Tories or Labour can peak much beyond 30% in the polls.
Think about that. Every government we’ve had, has been either Tory with a Labour opposition, or Labour with a Tory opposition. Both parties get a stint at the wheel, and shift minor things around to suit their own ideology, but on the bigger ideological issues, they’re singin’ from the same hymn sheet. If that was reflected in the opinion of the UK people, they’d both be a lot more popular than they are. They don’t care what the voters want. They exist to score points against each other, and the public see it. This is what turns people off. It’s what reduces their campaigning power to not much more than the hardcore tribalists.
The Westminster parties are deluding themselves if they think that the SNP tsunami is some protest vote, or that their support are losing their minds in some populist cult. That may play to their hardcore support, but they weren’t gonna be shifted from their opinions anyway. It simply drives soft Labour voters who want a grown up party to the SNP. It’s also sticking their heads in the sand about the real problem, because they don’t want to have to actually deal with it.
Westminster have shafted us all. The Westminster elite have caused a lot of problems the world over, and continue to do so. The public see that and want real change, not soundbites or point scoring. Labour in particular are living in a world where the SNP are their downfall in Scotland. It’s not the SNP’s fault that Labour are unelectable self serving career politicians who will say anything to con people into voting Labour, only to be ignored for another four years…..that’s Labour’s fault.
Ignore the hardcore tribalists for every party. Look at the soft support they get from outside that bubble. Look at the support they get from supporters of other parties, and why. We’ve seen a massive coming together of progressive parties who want to change the status quo, create a fairer society and offer real hope for those that Westminster has shafted and exploited since it’s inception. Look at the cross party support between the SNP, Plaid, Greens, SSP and others. Compare that to the cross party support between the three Westminster parties, for whom “cooperation” is an evil term. There must be winners and losers. This cross party Unionist support is not only cynical and disingenuous, it’s aimed at maintaining the status quo at all costs. If either Labour or the Tories were half way popular with the people by offering policies the people want, they wouldn’t need to prop each other up with cynical support. Note that the only cross party Unionist support we see is where one of them smears the SNP, and the others amplify it. It’s only the negative stuff, never the positive.
To make matters more stark, look at the mental gymnastics the Westminster parties hardcore tribalists have to perform to defend their party on different issues. They’ve got to somehow ignore the obvious, and pretend they don’t understand it, while trying to spin the conversation down an illogical path to get to where the party line is, all to an increasingly engaged and educated electorate. The debates from the larger progressive movement (SNP, Plaid, Greens, SSP etc) can be in honest terms around normal people about fairness and equality. There’s logic behind every stance that can be easily followed by people with no background in politics. They can understand what it means for them, and know they’re the beneficiaries of it.
This further disipates the disilusioned Unionist hardcore tribalist who has to keep fighting this same fight over and over, and losing more often than not. Eventually they just give up unless they’re being paid for it. On the SNP side of this, you have a LOT of people volunteering to campaign because they feel their voice finally matters, and that they can have a part in shaping a fairer society for all. Hope is infectious.