Are you interested?
It will be MY political party, and all the policies will be based on what I PERCEIVE TO BE in the interests of Scotland’s 20-somethings. Because it is a party for 20-somethings, I won’t care about any other age group – only the interests of those in their twenties. I will produce a long and expensive wish list of policies, and I won’t care what needs to be cut to pay for it.
Does this sound at all selfish, naive, egotistical or irresponsible?
Yes it does! So why is it that people have such praise for single issue candidates (like hospital campaigners) and interest group parties (like SSCUP – the pensioner party in Scotland)? We are told that they are a sign of dissatisfaction with the traditional political party, and that their emergence is healthy for democracy. Is it?
Now, before I argue against that proposition, let me make one thing clear. I have respect for people who feel strongly enough about an issue to get involved in electoral politics. It’s certainly no picnic. Credit where credit is due – it must be even harder without the support of a political party.
However, the reality is that such politics are dangerous for our democracy. Let me use the pensioner party as an example. I agree that pensioners have been treated shabbily by successive governments at Westminster and Holyrood, and I can understand why they may think they can achieve more as a party solely for pensioners. But the fact is that democratic politics is about reconciling lots of different competing interests – not serving the interests of one section of society more than another. If the pensioner party got everything on its wish list,what about everyone else?
That’s why people with a shared vision come together in the form of traditional political parties, to put forward a coherent programme of policies for government, which balances the interests of all our citizens.These political parties are the building blocks of our democracy.
And that’s why it’s irresponsible to have a host of interest group parties and single issue candidates promising a one-sided wish list, without recognising the sacrifices that would have to be made to deliver them.
Voters in Scotland are fed up being lied to. Unfortunately those candidates who think they are breaking the mould, by standing on a single issue ticket or seeking to represent a single group in society, are doing the citizens of Scotland a great disservice and undermining responsible, honest politics.