Why We Won't Let the Tories Win

Democracy can be an amazing thing, as we found when the SNP won 56 of Scotland's 59 seats in May.

That was a huge, passionate expression of a demand for more powers, an end to austerity and progressive policies across the UK.

While the SNP may have scored a historic success in the General Election, there was no comfort for Scottish Tories. Only one in seven Scots voted for them and they returned just a single MP.

This comprehensive rejection of everything they stand for was their worst result here since 1865, so you'd think they might actually now listen to what the Scottish people are saying.

Unfortunately, they don't seem to understand the scale of the political earthquake in Scotland and have totally failed to respond.

Here's just one example. In the final days of last year's referendum campaign, the No campaign delivered The Vow.

"They've rejected every one of our amendments."  

Then they watered that down with the Smith Commission. Now they've produced the Scotland Bill which waters down Smith. They've rejected every one of our amendments to this bill at Westminster.

On top of that, they're trying to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs on English laws. They've pulled out of forcing this one for now, knowing they can't get the number of votes needed in the Commons.

However, they're already back with revised proposals which we've debated and will debate further after the summer recess.

Then there's George Osborne's recent budget. This was shocking in its brutality, with independent research showing that it will cause real damage to the poor, the young and families in particular.

Of course the Tories can do all this politically - they won the election. But you have to seriously question their moral authority to do so. They're out of touch and out of order.

They're also breaking their own promises. Remember how David Cameron said he'd treat Scotland with respect during last year's referendum campaign? That virtually anything was possible if we voted to stay in the union?

Now they're back to treating us like second class citizens, ignoring the huge, unprecedented 50 per cent vote for the SNP and for change in May and riding roughshod over the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Scotland. Then, a few days ago, we learned they were going to try and rush through an amendment to the Hunting Act in England and Wales before the summer recess.

The SNP has had a tradition of not voting on issues only affecting England, but with some 80 per cent of people not wanting changes to this legislation, it was clear the Tories are now starting to disrespect people south of the border too.

Our party made a promise during the election campaign that our MPs would seek to be a force for progressive politics not just in Scotland, but across these islands.

"We'll stand up for fairness, equality and decency"

We fully accept that we lost the independence referendum, so we're still in the union. And while that remains the case, we'll stand up for fairness, equality and decency right across the UK. That's the honourable, moral thing to do.

That's why we decided to oppose the Hunting Act changes. It's clear that this Tory government isn't prepared to listen to the voice of the Scottish people. This was a chance to ensure they don't completely ignore the wishes of the English people either.

So we threw our weight against this move. And in doing so, we scored a win - the very next day the Tories, realising they'd be beaten if it went to a vote in the Commons, withdrew their proposals.

That's a huge win for all those in England and Wales who oppose hunting, 8000 of whom contacted me asking me to support them along with literally hundreds of my own constituents. The number of people e-mailing me asking me to support a change? Four.

Yes, I accept we've voted on an issue which doesn't directly affect Scotland, but we've done so for the greater good and, as we pledged to, we've advanced progressive politics. We've also stood up to, and inflicted real damage on, an arrogant and reckless government.

Will we do it again? Well, we'll take decisions on that according to our own moral compass on a case by case basis. But this Tory government needs to realise that when it deliberately works to block the popular will of the electorate on either side of the border, it can't expect to be let off lightly in return.

David Cameron has learned that the SNP will be no easy pushover. We've beaten him and if we need to, we'll do so again.

And that's something which, as he goes off on his summer holidays, he really needs to reflect on.