On the last day of the SNP conference I enjoyed an excellent day at the party’s first ever equalities conference. Whilst the events of the day itself will be dealt with in a later post, this one relates the story of my journey to the conference and how my electoral road map may have resulted a change of political direction for one Glasgow taxi driver.
Even for a Sunday the day started unusually early for this church going lass. Well in all my years of attending my local kirk I don’t think I’ve ever had to get up even earlier than the birdies.This however was not God’s call this was the SNP and when they set the women’s conference for a 9 30 start then that means an earlier than usual start to her Sunday morning for this lippy women from the east. Well Baillieston is in east, the east end of Glasgow to be precise so with Sunday morning traffic being a bit quieter than it is on week days especially for those of us who rely on public transport it was essential to be up at the crack of dawn.
On arriving in the city centre I realised that I could be running slightly late so I decided to get a taxi to the Crown Plazza hotel. On telling the driver my destination he said that he wasn’t happy with the SNP as we had let a rival taxi firm in to Glasgow and thus made more difficult for him to earn a living and put female citizens of our fair city such as myself at far greater risk because this rival company were shall we say not the best when it comes to selecting drivers.
Whilst remaining both calm and polite throughout our discourse I informed him that the SNP were not to blame for this issue as not being in control of Glasgow city council we had no power over the granting of licences and if any party were to blame it was the city’s ruling Labour Group who have been in charge of the city for 99 percent of our adult lives and have formed an unbroken majority administration in Glasgow since 1980.
When I told him this my driver seemed shocked and said that he had genuinely believed that since the SNP had gained the majority of Scottish seats at Westminster and won the Scottish Election, then they must also be in charge of the councils. I informed him this was not the case and that the councils like the parliaments at both Westminster and Holyrood were elected every five years that despite our dominance at Holyrood we still haven’t gained a majority in Glasgow city council. I explained to him that one of the reasons for this was that council elections tend to have a lower turn out than what are perceived as national elections and are often wrongly judged by voters not to be so important. I went on explain that this has a particular impact on the SNP as some voters don’t see the connection between local council politics and bigger issues like independence and were therefore less likely to turn out than supporters of the Labour and Conservative Parties whose voters tend to be older and see voting as a duty rather than a choice and are more likely to have strong party identification with one of the mainstream UK unionist parties.
My driver then asked me when the next council elections were going to be held and I told him that they were due to be held in May 2017 and we were hoping to win an SNP majority in Glasgow for the first time in our history. Well he said you’ve got my vote. On hearing this I explained to him how the voting system works as is it different from those for either Westminster or Holyrood. I also told him that he will no doubt get a leaflet explaining in what way to rank the candidates and why it would be important to follow the instructions to make sure we get the greatest number of councillors elected in every local authority in Scotland.
As he dropped me off at the venue he wished me an enjoyable day and thanked me for explaining things to him in a way which wasn’t patronising or offensive and said I was a credit to my party and the cause I represented. I must admit this made me smile it’s the kind of positive feedback which is always good to hear and very good for the ego. We political activists are such sensitive souls you know, but seriously it’s important to get this kind of comment especially since trust in politicians especially those at Westminster is at an all time low.
I however am not a professional politician just an activist doing her bit for the cause she has always believed in and the party she is proud to be member of As I reflect on the journey I think the fact I have no desire to stand for election may have played a significant part in my being able to get through to my taxi driver in a way in which those that some would wrongly label careerists may not have been able to. Indeed it may be that come May next year a Sunday morning chat which gave the driver a new electoral road map may very well result in him taking a change in political direction and going on a journey to progress.
Love And Best Wishes