Socialist Worker

More trouble lies ahead for Labour in Scotland

by Eileen Boyle
Issue No. 2101

Gordon Brown is not the only Labour leader in trouble. North of the border the knives are out for the head of Scottish Labour, Wendy Alexander.

This follows her dramatic U-turn in calling for an immediate referendum on Scottish independence.

This call was taken without consulting Brown at a time when he is keen to present himself as the arch defender of Britain.

Brown refused to endorse Alexander’s position. Last weekend he pledged to do “whatever is necessary” to maintain the union between Scotland and England.

Alexander said she will back Scotland’s first minister’s plan to hold a referendum in 2010.

Labour lost control of the Scottish parliament last May as a result of its craven support for the war in Iraq, coupled with privatisation and attacks on public services.

Since then the party has been floundering, attacking the Scottish National Party (SNP) administration for being “tartan Tories” – despite it ending PFI, scrapping prescription charges and student fees.

Opinion polls in Scotland have shown that people support the SNP in government more than they support their stance on independence.

But with the growing fear that the Tories could win the next general election, Wendy Alexander’s desperate attempt to wrest the initiative from the SNP could result in Scots deciding to vote for independence to escape the clutches of both New Labour and David Cameron.

For the left in Scotland two dangers loom. One is to uncritically back Brown in defending the union, which some in the trade union movement are arguing for.

The other is to collapse into uncritically backing SNP leader Alex Salmond. Last week Salmond congratulated Boris Johnson on being elected mayor of London and said he could work with David Cameron if he was elected.

The Scottish people have a right to decide on independence but this does not represent an escape from free market policies.

The SNP likes to portray itself as standing for a social democratic Scotland in an effort to capture Labour’s support.

But it champions making Scotland a bastion of neoliberalism.

The left has to address those contradictions and demand Salmond acts on pledges to stop Trident nuclear weapons and its replacement being based in Scotland.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 13 May 2008, 19:09 BST
Issue No. 2101
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.