After The Scottish Parliament and local elections on May 3, every lamp post in the country will need therapy after weeks of abuse.
Tony Blair has come north, touring the country whipping up apathy. Blair is an "electoral liability" according to a BBC poll (April 15) yet he has made 3 high-profile visits! The BNP are standing under the banner "Local People First". Both candidates for Mid-Scotland live in Bristol and Stockton-on-Tees! Then there's the Christian Party. These loonies want Britain to "buy foreign countries and put prisoners in jails there… to solve prison overpopulation"! The anti-women, anti-choice, pro-bigotry party also wants to reinstate Capital punishment (Herald, April 18).
The Scottish Socialist Party sent out hundreds of leaflets inviting people to vote for them ON MAY 5. If this mob can't be trusted with accurately recording the date of a national election – what are the chances of an accurate minute of EC meetings? This is a snapshot of some of the "politics" on offer.
If the pollsters are correct Robert Burns will adorn Scottish tenners as the Saltire flutters high from the financial centres of Scotland. The Scottish National Party look certain to emerge as the biggest party at Holyrood as dissatisfaction with Labour under Blair/Brown over the past decade manifests into a surge in support for the SNP. All opinion polls over the last six months show the SNP consistently maintaining a lead of between 6 – 10 points. It is, by any standards, an astonishing turn of events.
The SNP are bankrolled by scab millionaire Brian Souter, owner of Stagecoach and born-again Christian. With the SNP promising tax breaks for big business, Souter has nothing to fear. Strangely for a party which desires independence the SNP will retain the monarchy! But in reality, the support for nationalism is a direct indictment of the widespread disdain towards the agenda of New Labour, at Holyrood and Westminster. An ICM poll on April 15, says that while 88% want more power for Holyrood, only 27% of Scots want full independence.
On April 16, "senior Labour sources" briefed the Financial Times that they "fear a drubbing" in Scotland. What we are witnessing is the bankruptcy of the New Labour project which rejected class politics as outdated. In fact, as Socialist Appeal pointed out at the time, Blair – a natural Tory – was elected in spite of himself as the Tories were booted out. Now that same process could repeat itself as Scots look for an opportunity to take revenge on Labour who have failed them.
It is no mistake that the SNP are able to adopt a leftish position on some of the main issues. They oppose Trident, have promised to scrap the Council Tax, they want to revamp the student loan scheme, are opposed to PFI and so on. In this respect they reflect the majority opinion of Scots and are able to place daylight between themselves and Liberals-Labour.
Now, the Scottish Socialist Party and Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity openly support a first-vote for the SNP! Sheridan needs only 6-7% of votes in Glasgow regional list, where he has a personal following and he could very well be the last man standing.
An unprecedented number of parties are standing including two Christian Parties (sic!), Pensioners Party, Scottish Unionist Party, BNP, Jacobites, Anti-Hospital Closure and independents, so the 7% of "others" will be thinly spread.
In reality, a victory for the Nationalists will be a setback for the labour movement, not just in Scotland but in Britain. The blame for what is shaping up to be a disaster for Labour in Scotland lies firmly at the door of Blair and the New Labour project. Our concern, as Marxists, is not the fate of the right-wing interlopers whose betrayal of the most basic Labour values results in these types of upheavals. Our concern is for the class struggle and the fight for socialism. Victory for the SNP will set back the cause of socialism and the basic socialist principle that working people should not be divided along national lines.
The SNP are a party with no roots in the working class and their political success is relatively recent. In truth, the SNP are 2 parties – one in the north and another in the central belt, but both based on capitalism. They offer the working class of Scotland nothing; to paraphrase James Connolly, "Even if you change the flag the capitalist exploiters will still rule you through their system of rent, interest and profit". If they get into power, the left rhetoric peddled by the SNP will soon be dropped as they continue a programme of cuts and attacks on the workers.
How can it be any different if they operate on the basis of capitalism? After the election, we will analyse the results and look more closely at the difficulties nationalism will bring.