Socialist Worker

Labour Party faces serious setbacks in Scotland

by Jimmy Ross
Issue No. 2032

May 2007 sees the next elections to the Scottish Parliament.

The current ruling Scottish Executive is a coalition between Labour, who were the largest party in the 2003 elections, and the Liberal Democrats.

Although the war, attacks on civil liberties, and Trident replacement are not matters over which the Scottish Parliament has control, they are obviously having an effect on Labour’s election chances.

The prospect of the Scottish National Party (SNP) overtaking Labour as the biggest party caused Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to spend most of their time at the recent Scottish Labour Party conference attacking the SNP and the idea of Scottish independence.

The SNP and the Scottish Lib Dems are both presenting themselves as to the left of Labour. This is not a difficult task these days.

The one area where all the main parties appear to agree is over economic policies – each rushing to promote itself as the most business friendly.

Labour has put forward a plan to cut business rates by £200-£300 million a year. The Tories have long backed these kind of policies. The Lib Dems too are a traditional pro-business party that like to pose as a bit more left wing than Labour.

But what of the SNP? Many people in Scotland think of them as in some way taking the traditional place of Labour.

A quick glance at their economic manifesto tells a different story. They are committed to scrapping business rates for 120,000 small businesses. They also plan to cut corporation tax from 30 percent to 20 percent, a move which would benefit the biggest firms in Scotland.

Scottish bosses have in the past been generally cool about, or hostile to, Scottish independence, but now there is more of a feeling that it might not be such a bad idea.

Nothing on offer from the four main parties in Scotland would do anything to change the position of the poorest people in Scotland.

A neoliberal, independent Scotland would be locked into a race to the bottom in competition with Ireland and eastern European states as to who has the lowest corporate tax rates.

That would have disastrous consequences for social deprivation – already among the worst in western Europe.

A vote for Solidarity, on the other hand, is a vote for the party which would benefit almost 80 percent of the population.

Tommy Sheridan MSP, the party’s co-convenor, put forward a bill to scrap council tax. None of the main parties, including the SNP, which claims to oppose council tax, supported it.

Solidarity will still be less than a year old at the elections. But it stands out as the alternative to the pro-war Labour Party and the pro-business policies of the other main parties.

The re-election of its two MSPs, Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne, would be a boost for the anti-war movement and the left in Scotland. That’s something we must strive mightily to achieve in the coming weeks and months.

Jimmy Ross is a member of the SWP and co-chair of Glasgow Solidarity

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Sat 6 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2032
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