P came with apple pierogi.
P was confused. He’d announced to work colleagues at the call centre that he was now entitled to vote in ‘their’ elections – and they had greeted him with blank stares. The more engaged shrugged. Someone laughed ‘so what?’
P was deflated. He saw that right – won after two years of employed residency – as significant. He’d started to think about who he’d vote for, given the chance. He saw the system as infinitely superior to the Polish one he had left at home.
He revealed the story with a searching look – he wanted me to make him feel better…
Thing is, for me, thoughts of Poland have always been bound up with Solidarnosc, Lech Walesa, trade union repression and leftist anti-communism. P reminded me that that was all history. My memories were from the 1980s and he laughed that he was insulted by my ‘knowledge’ of Poland.
He asked – with an apology – who I’d vote for in the next elections. Conservatives? Scottish National Party? Labour? Lib Dems? Greens?
I groaned. Grimaced. Hated being put on the spot – when I’d been wondering just the same thing for at least the last 10 years…
Thing is – I cannot bring myself to vote for the Conservatives (or the Conservative and Unionist Party as they are referred to in most parts of Central West sectarian Scotland).
Growing up in a semi-skilled household in an old mining/steel community; being a pre-Thatcher child; living through the devastation wrecked by the deliberate mass unemployment of the Thatcher years (and it’s still affecting us); having a father who greeted Thatcher’s ‘St Francis of Assisi’ speech with profanities and a thrown shoe – it’s all a bit of a barrier to voting for what I still think of as ‘that woman’s’ party…
P wanted to know what I thought of the SNP.
I was finding the conversation increasingly uncomfortable.
In my council housing scheme, the SNP were lovingly referred to as the Scottish Nose-Pickers. Funny how a childish name like that can colour one’s political views… Anyway, can’t vote for them either. Ideological opposition aside – their representatives are singularly annoying. In fact, that’s too tame. I cringe when Nicola and Alex et al appear on telly…
Greens? Nope. Support their aims – but think they are more of a pressure group. (and with that I have insulted many friends and acquaintances).
Lib Dems. Like the Proportional Representation. But they are sooooo wet! So middle-class and moderate. (ditto last para).
Ah. Therein lies the rub. Having been a Labour activist up until 1998 I find the umbilical pull of the party emotionally over-whelming… holding that pencil over the ballot paper I find the Labour candidate’s box draws like a magnet. It is like a dirty, guilty secret. Admitting I still vote Labour (can’t bring myself to say New Labour…). I place the cross and walk away despising myself and my personal history and the exisiting system which means I feel I have no real choice. It would have to be a strongly reasoned argument which overcame the pull of emotion and tradition.
It appalls some that I can still place my vote for them despite Iraq and the Kelly affair and…
But P? He says it’s the SNP for him (he really didn’t understand the nose-pickers thingy at all). And he explained how Poland and Scotland are spritual twins. Both subjugated by dominant neighbours (he referred to Germany and England). In Poland he was a nationalist. So, in Scotland he would be too.
I am not entirely sure that I understand his ‘nationalism’. And he left me in no doubt that he wasn’t very impressed with my lack.
But we agreed that the apple pierogi were delicious.