Scotland: Fighting Labour and the SNP

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Glasgow Stand Up Demo

The urgency of the fight for socialism has become apparent with the result of the general election in Scotland. A reshuffle of seats between the parties implementing austerity, racism and war saw the Scottish National Party (SNP) lose 21 seats, the Scottish Tories gain 12 and Scottish Labour gain six. In affluent rural constituencies, leading SNP MPs including deputy leader Angus Robertson lost to Conservative candidates while Labour regained some of its old territory in working class constituencies in and around Glasgow.

In the weeks before the election Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! comrades urged people to break from this parliamentary sham, arguing ‘Don’t vote – fight for socialism!’ On 27 May, we confronted the local Labour Party in Govanhill. Its supporters abandoned their stall after they failed to stop us exposing their record of cuts, racism and war to the passing public. We said that Labour and the SNP should be treated as class enemies, and many people agreed.

Voter turnout was lowest in areas of greatest deprivation. In Glasgow East, the SNP retained its seat on a 54.6% turnout while Labour gained a seat from the SNP in Glasgow North East on a 53% turnout. In the affluent suburb areas of East Renfrewshire, a Conservative beat the SNP on an election turnout of 76.7%. The class-ridden nature of British democracy, where the real questions of how this society is run are never on the table, is clear to those with least stake in its continuation.

The Scottish middle class left urged the working class to vote Labour or SNP in order to ‘keep the Tories out’, regardless of the fact that both these parties are fully committed to implementing another round of council cuts to jobs and services. Tommy Sheridan of Solidarity, the main speaker at a Glasgow March for Independence on 3 May, urged everyone to do the ‘right thing’, ‘set aside our differences’ and vote for the ‘progressive SNP’ on 8 June. Both the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party Scotland called for a vote for Labour, while insisting that Labour should support Scottish independence. These parties ascribe to Scottish independence a progressive character of which it is now entirely devoid. The RCG is clear - the potential for building a movement against austerity was demobilised in the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum in 2014 in order to defend the electoral aspirations of Radical Independence Campaign leaders (now RISE) and the SNP.

The call for a second Scottish independence referendum has become a means of shackling the working class to the party it must confront locally and nationally to defend its interests – the SNP. In supporting a second referendum, the opportunists place the interests of a section of the British ruling class who want an independent Scotland within the EU before those of the mass of the working class. Under such leadership there will be no fight for socialism. The working class confronting cuts to jobs and services and social injustice in their communities should remember the electoral advice given by these ‘false friends’ as they try to influence the struggles which lie ahead.

Dominic Mulgrew

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 258 June/July 2017