Socialist Worker

No let up in Scotland's political crisis

Those at the top are in turmoil after the Yes campaign. The left must now unite, writes Raymie Kiernan

Issue No. 2430

blairite Scottish Labour leader candidate Jim Murphy

Blairite Scottish Labour leadership candidate Jim Murphy (Pic: flikr: Anthony Mckeown)

The political establishment is still reeling from the turmoil created by the Yes campaign in Scotland.

This is seen most starkly in the disarray of the Labour Party in Scotland. It is currently leaderless and tainted by an anti-independence alliance with the Tories. 

The battle for the leadership is between Blairite MP Jim Murphy and left-leaning MSP Neil Findlay. 

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey last week said electing Murphy would be a “political death sentence”. 

Despite gaining Unite’s backing, along with the majority of Labour-affiliated unions, Findlay distanced himself from making it a “personality contest”.

Polls suggest Labour will not win a majority of Westminster seats in Scotland for the first time in 60 years. The latest poll suggests it would gain just 5 seats out of 59. 

After five years of Tory austerity the only thing that will stop Labour winning the May election is Labour itself.

For more than a decade Labour has sown disillusionment among its traditional working class base. 

It was this that voted for independence in droves and finds itself at the top of the Scottish National Party (SNP) strategists’ priority list.

The SNP is buoyant as it enjoys a tripling of its membership to over 80,000 and rides high in the polls. 

It is on course for its best general election result ever, up to 52 seats according to the latest poll. 

This last week saw a well-managed change of leadership as Nicola Sturgeon took over as SNP leader from Alex Salmond and also become Scotland’s first minister. 

Salmond is widely tipped to return to Westminster.

Many argue Sturgeon signals a shift to the left for the SNP. 

And some on the left are urging a vote for them next May and in favour of postponing a left electoral challenge until 2016. But the appointment of finance minister John Swinney as Sturgeon’s parliamentary deputy shatters that illusion. 

Swinney proudly boasts his pro-business credentials and his disapproval of strikes.

The SNP’s announcement that non-party members can stand under its umbrella next May will also cheer those arguing for a “Yes alliance”.

But blanket support for the SNP will do nothing to provide a focus for the thousands energised by the radical arguments for independence. 

To boil the movement down to voting for the SNP would be a mistake. Despite clearly being to the left of Labour on some social issues the SNP’s economic model is still for a low wage, low tax economy.

Socialist Worker supports a united socialist electoral challenge to both Labour and the SNP. 

Our starting point for that challenge cannot be the sectarian divisions of the Scottish left a decade ago. 

Rather it should be the massive grassroots movement that almost broke the Union.

Radical Independence conference—where next for the Yes movement?

Closing plenary at last yearsRadical Independence Campaign conference

Closing plenary at last year's Radical Independence Campaign conference (Pic: Josh Brown)

The key event for the Scottish left this weekend is the Radical Independence conference. It sold out weeks ago and over 2,500 are expected to attend and discuss the way forward for the movement in Scotland.

It will take up debates that raged during the referendum campaign. These include questions over future devolution and arguments over the economy and austerity.

Taking on privatisation, stopping fracking and protecting the environment will feature in the workshops. 

Delegates will discuss combating racism, Ukip and scapegoating immigrants, and the opposition to war and nuclear weapons.

One element will involve discussion of electoral strategy with workshops debating the role of the SNP and the crisis of Scottish Labour.

A priority for the conference will be to throw its support behind campaigns to resist the current round of council cuts. 

From Glasgow to Angus, and Dundee to Edinburgh all the parties are wielding the axe.

We must build our opposition now and not wait until after the elections.

This can transform the struggle against austerity and help deepen support for independence and the break-up of the British state.

Join protests and rallies against war and racism 

There are two other important dates coming up for the left in Scotland. 

On Saturday of next week the Scottish TUC holds its annual anti-racist march and rally. 

It assembles at 10.30am at Glasgow Green. 

As the racist Scottish Defence League still try to organise it is crucial there is a big turnout for this event.

Opposition to Trident remains high in Scotland. 

Removing the nuclear base at Faslane is popular, no matter how people voted in September’s referendum. 

The Scrap Trident coalition has called a demonstration for Sunday of next week. 

Activists are planning to protest outside the gates of Faslane from 12-2pm.


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