Elections to the Scottish parliament on 5 May offer the possibility of a breakthrough for the left.
Campaigners for the George Galloway (Respect) Coalition Against Cuts in Glasgow have been out in force in the last few weeks.
There is a real chance that former MP George Galloway, who heads the list in Glasgow, could be elected. The coalition needs to pass the 5 percent threshold to get an MSP.
Solidarity, Scotland’s socialist movement, is also standing candidates in every other region of the country.
Campaigners are sending an anti-cuts message to the government.
Galloway told Socialist Worker, “What we’re saying is, Scotland has already paid in unemployment, in lack of life opportunity, and we’re not going to pay again.”
The Glasgow Coalition Against Cuts includes student, pensioner and anti-war activists, and members of Solidarity, the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party.
The Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs the Scottish government, and Labour currently lead the polls.
Both parties have spoken out against some cuts. But their record of implementing them through councils and parliament means that neither can expect a massive show of support.
The SNP formed a minority government after the previous election in 2007. Scottish Labour defended the Labour government in Westminster, meaning the SNP could paint itself as a “left” alternative.
The Scottish parliament’s main influence is over education and health.
This means that whoever is in power can blame Westminster for issues over which they claim to have no control—such as cuts in benefits.
But neither health nor education has been spared the knife under the SNP.
Over 3,000 NHS jobs have been axed in Scotland over the past year. And a 45 percent cut in midwife training places means that half of the country’s midwifery schools are set to close.
Education is also under attack.
Angela McCormick is second on the Coalition Against Cuts list in Glasgow, and is a national executive member of the EIS/FELA lecturers’ union. “There are huge cuts in education, with courses and departments being slashed,” she told Socialist Worker.
“There’s also a widening pay gap among education workers and their bosses—coupled with attacks on pensions for teachers and lecturers.
“Every day, the lie that we’re all in this together is exposed.”
But there have been protests and resistance to the cuts across Scotland. This opposition needs a voice in the Scottish parliament.
Brian Smith is third on the Coalition Against Cuts list in Glasgow and a member of the Socialist Party.
He told Socialist Worker, “We need MSPs who will stand up to the Con-Dems by refusing to pass on the cuts.”
If elected, Coalition Against Cuts and Solidarity candidates will oppose all cuts. They would also oppose the fleet of Trident nuclear submarines in the Clyde as well as the West’s wars.
The fightback against the cuts has to start at the grassroots. But a strong voice in parliament can help electrify the resistance.
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