Stirling: Brexit or bust?

2017-05-25 11.47.29
Beautiful Stirling.

The Guardian’s article on the Stirling constituency is a great example of how bias works in media. The piece was a good read, with some points well made, but on the whole the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

Perhaps it’s the characterisation of Stirling residents as rubes who don’t understand or care for the political issues of the day. Perhaps it’s the fact that the interviewees quoted seemed to have no opinion on Brexit either way.

When Stephen Kerr took the seat in 2017, many of my friends were downcast. We voted SNP or Labour (in fact, I don’t know anybody who has admitted to voting Labour, but some of them must have).

The constituency is determinedly on the left, favouring social issues such as housing, unemployment and the NHS. The reason the Tory candidate took the seat is because of First Past the Post voting: there was one right wing candidate against four on the left. Of course the votes were going to be split.

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Kerr won by 148 votes. That is nothing. It also demonstrates how one form of democracy can work against the will of the people. Kerr represents 37.1% of us, using his seat to oppose issues that are close to the hearts of the people in his constituency.

Kerr voted against legalising abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland; against giving local councils powers like reducing bedroom tax for tenants fleeing domestic abuse; against higher taxes on banks; against scrapping university tuition fees; against nurses’ grants and bursaries; against increasing the minimum wage; against maintaining the rights of EU nationals living here. Kerr is at the polar opposite of 62.9% of his constituency.

Kerr is a staunch supporter of hard Brexit, where 68% of his constituents voted to Remain.

However, the Guardian’s article doesn’t touch on any of that. Instead Libby Brooks spoke to marginal populations and showed them to be looking inwards. “Thereโ€™s palpable frustration among constituents at the idea that their votes will be interpreted through a constitution-or-Brexit prism.”

For many of us living here, the article does not convey how we actually feel. There have been letters in the Stirling Observer in recent weeks begging readers to vote tactically. There are various Facebook campaigns to increase awareness of the need to vote this way. For many of us, this is not a “constitution-or-Brexit” vote, it’s a “stop Brexit at any cost” vote.

I am a Green party member. I strongly believe in most of the party’s key policies. I will not be voting Green on December 12th, and I’m actually flummoxed as to why the party is standing a candidate at such a risky time.

We want social issues such as connectivity, education and under-employment to be addressed, but people in Stirling are aware that the first task is to get rid of Kerr in favour of someone, anyone, who will actually represent our concerns.

It is no secret that I am for Scottish independence, and I think the time is right to push for it. Not because, as the article seems to suggest, that’s what everybody is pushing for here, but because it is the only option that gives us a chance of prioritising social issues that our representative has failed to fight for on our behalf.

We don’t deserve to be painted as uninformed hicks who don’t see the big picture. After two years of Kerr we know better than most how vitally important is the outcome of December’s election. I’ll be voting tactically, because the only thing we can be sure of is that Brexit must not be allowed to happen.