Today is the first day of the future. But don’t worry. So is tomorrow.
For so long, this has been the implication of our politics, and for so long this is what we have grudgingly accepted. No more. From this day, this hour, this moment, we are to begin to make strides to a better state of affairs.
The seismic nature of the Scottish Independence Referendum has finally triggered genuine introspection. From this, I believe we can draw a huge amount of hopeful activity to shake up the status quo that so clearly dissatisfies the vast majority.
Just look at the turnouts in Scotland. It is nearing 90%. No General Election has come even remotely close for over 20 years. This debate has vitalised and engaged its electorate, and haven’t the rest of us in England, Wales and Northern Ireland felt somewhat envious?
Huge numbers of us, be us Labour, Liberal, or Tory, Plaid Cymru, Democratic Unionist, or Sinn Féin have identified with the grievances and frustrations that Scots have had the fortune to be able to express, and many of us have also felt this for quite some time. Enough is enough.
It seems ridiculous to me to suggest that a disunited Britain benefits any of us. The capacity that comes from pulling together our immense resources can generate so much good. However, having travelled across this country, met people from many backgrounds, and experienced the huge levels of division that live and breathe every day in this land, it seems equally ridiculous to me to suggest that Westminster is the best place to generate policies that can benefit both London and Lanarkshire, both Guildford and Grimsby.
It is a source of immense pride that we live in a country that celebrates difference: a nation that seeks to find and fortify unity, rather than impose it from above. However, we should acknowledge that a consequence of that is that the needs of different parts of the country vary hugely from one to another. Local areas are the best informed to make their own decisions about their own needs.
We can unite, we should unite, we must unite on the things that are most important to us. We must unite for our mutual security. We must unite in order to continue to run one of the best International Development funds in the world. We must unite to pursue good whenever we can in international relations. For that we need to be together. Nevertheless, I do not think that the concerns of the Home Counties should dictate the governance of Glasgow, and I think that that is a two-way street.
Of course, the situation is more complex than that, and I cannot convey in a relatively brief blog post how I would propose to deal with the ins and outs. However, I have no doubt that it can be comprehended and conveyed. For too long, bold and brilliant ideas have been shot down as “too risky”, “too costly” and, worst of all, “too difficult to implement”. These are not sufficient arguments. To believe that they are is a failure to engage. Playing it safe has left us with a populace who are disaffected, disheartened and divided. This must stop, and now is the time.
I dream of a politics where the people feel empowered: where we can debate and feel like we can make a difference. I dream of a nation where we can see the everyday suffering that rock concerts don’t raise funds for, and think that we ourselves have the means to effect some positive change to rectify it. I dream of a politics defined by its people, inspired by its people, and valued by its people. I believe that this is within reach.