The Student sat down with Thomas Anderson, President of Edinburgh University Scottish National Party, to speak to him about the General election, how local students view his branch and his party and to ask him what he thinks will happen come 13 December.
How long have you been a member of the SNP?
I joined just after the Scottish independence referendum around October 2014, so about 5 years now. The referndum definitely inspired me to join. I was part of the wave of the 100,000 members that joined the SNP then.
So, you’re in charge of the Edinburgh University branch of the Scottish National Party. How do you feel other students at the University of Edinburgh view your party?
I think politically if you look at our outlook, especially on Europe, Scotland’s quite a hot topic among students, we’ve got lots of international students here and lots of EU students. The SNP is fighting for their place in Scotland and in the UK as well. We want the UK to remain within the European union, not just Scotland.
The Conservatives rebranded one of their twitter accounts as a factchecking service during one of the leaders debates and they did receive a mix of condemnation and support for this move, what are your thoughts on this?
It signifies perhaps the trumpification of British politics. I would say that it’s completely not on. If you’re rebranding yourself as an independent factchecking service just to bash on an opposing party, it’s completely misleading to the voters and it should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Hopefully we won’t see too much of that. I don’t think it’s healthy for democracy.
The SNP have listed some of their red lines for supporting a minority Labour government. What do you say to people who believe it’s wrong for a national party to influence UK wide policy?
I mean a lot of the UK wide parties can affect Scotland and Scottish voters. Lots of the powers are in Westminster and we want to put forward a progressive agenda not just for Scotland but for the whole of the UK as well, but the cost is that if it’s a hung parliament you’ve got to engage with other parties. Whether it’s the Northern Ireland parties, I mean none of them apart from the Tories stand candidates in Northern Ireland, but they never come anywhere close to winning. Labour don’t stand candidates there, so even from that you can say that no party is truly UK wide.
What do you say to people who believe the independence question was answered in 2014?
Well, I think the circumstances have changed dramatically since then. We were told in 2014 ‘Vote No’ to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, to protect Scotland’s place in the European Union and obviously less than two years later we’re being dragged out. We voted 2:1 to remain. It’s time to ask the question again: do the people of Scotland really think they want to stay part of this broken system and these politics? We’re talking about a change in tactics. It’s become toxic down in Westminster and it’s not just about Brexit, it’s also about whether we want to stay attached to that.
Coming back to a local level, why should students at the University of Edinburgh vote for the SNP?
Well, students are obviously an important demographic here in Edinburgh and we’re fighting to keep hold of them. We’re the only remain party who can win in Scotland. The SNP wants to protect Scotland’s place and Edinburgh’s place. The University has got a lot of funding from the European Union and if we look at the Erasmus programme, there’s lots of EU students coming over to study here- we want to hold onto that. Unfortunately, EU students can’t vote but we would hope that the students who can would stand by them. I feel like they enrich the university.
Is there anything you would change about the SNP?
As a law student the one thing that I think we could be more ambitious in is law reform, particularly in the private law and criminal law. But that’s just in terms of actual governance and not in terms of the constitutional questions.
How do you think the SNP will do here in Edinburgh and across Scotland?
Well, across Scotland and in Edinburgh I think we’re going to make gains. It looks like it’ll be a really good election for the SNP I think a lot of people in Scotland are going to reject the the omnishambles that Westminster have created and are going to vote for a party that wants to put Scotland’s interests first. I think in Edinburgh we’re certainly looking at holding onto the three seats that we’ve got and I wouldn’t be surprised if we gain the two that we don’t have at the moment.
Image: via flickr.com