THE BLOG

The SNP and the Labour Movement

12/05/2015 10:44 BST | Updated 11/05/2016 10:59 BST

On the 7th May 2015, Scotland moved a step closer to their inevitable independence. The right-wing rags immediately published articles explaining that David Cameron will heroically save the Union. He can't. These articles fail to address the core issues. The appetite for Scottish independence is due to an anti-Tory sentiment - a sentiment sure to be exacerbated in the next five years. Scotland has always been, and indeed still is, a red country. The yellow flag might be flying there, but the ideals of the red flag have always prevailed. Scotland may not support the Labour Party, but they remain the heartland of the labour movement. In that heartland, it seems, the SNP now speak to the aspirations of the Scottish people.

The labour movement has never been about party politics. It has always been an ideal. It is about helping people in your community and supporting those in need. It is about aspiring to leave no plate without food and no man or woman without work. It is about bread and roses. It is an ideal that, in this sense paradoxically, resides in unity rather than division. The Labour Party, in an attempt to perpetuate notions of economic frugality, has distanced itself from that movement. Nicola Sturgeon, on the other hand, positively celebrates those ideals. Sturgeon, attacking the Labour Party during the debates, summed up the primary reason for the rise of the SNP: 'We have a chance to kick David Cameron out of Downing Street, don't turn your back on it or people will never forgive you.' The SNP are now seen in Scotland as the apotheosis of the labour movement, if only through their staunch, and far more ingenuous, anti-Tory stance.

The Scots have undoubtedly taught those on the left a thing or two during this election. They have shown that everyone should be involved in democracy - embodied in Mhairi Black's victory. They have empowered the previously politically apathetic - emphasised by their huge electoral turnout. And, importantly, they have run a campaign that sought to remind us of the core values of the labour movement - social justice, looking after your neighbours and so on.

Hope for the future of what will remain of Great Britain, as ever, resides in unity. And we can learn the ideals of unity - ideals that form the core of the labour movement - in blissful irony North of the border. Despite the fact that by their very nature they seek to escape, the SNP's sense of national unity can help the future of an internally divided Britain.

The SNP and the labour movement now go hand in hand. They won the debate by pushing those ideas. The left, in what will remain of Britain, need to seek a similarly united politics - one that rests on the idea of helping neighbours in our imagined community. The SNP's campaign demonstrated that, even below the Scottish borders, there is an appetite for the ideals of the labour movement. The SNP's lesson of unity might seem paradoxical - after all, division rests at its core - but it is an important one nonetheless. This is a lesson that will hopefully form the basis of the future of the British labour movement, regardless of the party that represents those ideals.