by Stan Crooke
In the 3 May elections for the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP) emerged as the largest party. It looks likely to form a minority administration.
The SNP’s gains did not come from a collapse in the Labour vote, but mainly from the collapse of the votes for independent candidates and the candidates of the smaller parties.
Or as Alf Young put it in the Glasgow Herald: “The far left took out its anger over New Labour, Blair, and Iraq, by backing a party which, while sharing their goal of Scottish independence, has even less interest than Gordon Brown in bringing the pillars of modern capitalism crashing down.”
The SNP election manifesto in the 2003 elections contained a commitment to re-regulate bus services. The same policy was backed — unanimously — at the SNP’s last conference.
Then, in March of this year, Brian Souter, who has made a multi-million pound fortune from the deregulation of bus services, donated £500,000 to the SNP. When the SNP’s manifesto was published the following month, the re-regulation policy had disappeared. What a coincidence!
That’s the same Brian Souter who condemns “quick divorces” for “legitimising illegitimacy” and threatening “traditional values.” When the Executive of the first Scottish Parliament decided to scrap the Scottish equivalent of the anti-gay section 28, Souter funded the pro-section-28 campaign to the tune of £500,000.
That’s also the same Brian Souter whose business activities have been described by the Monopolies Commission as “predatory, deplorable, and against the public interest.”
And the same SNP which, on Falkirk Council, decided last year to walk out of negotiations with the trade unions, terminate the contracts of the bulk of the council workforce, and then re-employ them on inferior contracts.
Will the SNP victory lead to independence from Scotland? That is far from certain.
On closer inspection, the SNP’s “independence” policy looks more like a radical form of federalism than what is normally understood by independence. In the election campaign, even that became no more than a distant aspiration (no referendum until 2011).
That the SNP failed to make greater inroads into the Labour vote than it did is all the more striking when one bears in mind the record which Labour was saddled with defending in the elections: Blair, Iraq, privatisation, “cash for honours”, PFIs, hospital closures, school closures, renewal of Trident...
By the end of the election campaign Labour had virtually given up trying to call for a vote for Labour. Instead, it called for anyone opposed to independence to express their opposition by voting Labour.
The prospect of an independent Scotland was portrayed by Labour in the most lurid terms: mass unemployment, homelessness, and a collapse in living standards to 1707 levels.
• More: www.workersliberty.org/node/8411