Socialist Worker

No let up in SNP surge looks grim for Labour

The Scottish National Party is benefitting from the desire for an alternative, writes Raymie Kiernan

Issue No. 2448

SNP supporters march against nuclear weapons in Glasgow last week

SNP supporters march against nuclear weapons in Glasgow last week (Pic: Duncan Brown)


The new reality of electoral politics in Britain has put the smaller parties in the spotlight. For the first time, a television debate had seven party leaders taking part. 

The revulsion towards the established parties after five years of brutal Tory austerity means many people are looking towards an alternative.

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon has continued her pitch for the anti-austerity vote. This comes off the back of a surge in new members and Labour’s near collapse in Scotland. 

Her party is certain to have some say in the next government.

She has called on Labour to join with the SNP to stop another Tory government.

Many who tuned into the leaders’ debate will have understood why the political landscape in Scotland has undergone such a dramatic shift. 

Bitterness

The same bitterness at corrupt, lying politicians and their lack of interest in working class living standards exists everywhere.

So it is refreshing for people to hear a mainstream politician say migrants are welcome here, nuclear weapons are a waste of money and austerity must end.

The SNP claimed over 2,000 new members within 24 hours of the leaders’ debate. 

And its membership has quadrupled since last year’s independence referendum—making it the third largest party in Britain.

The feeling that it offers an alternative to rotten decay at Westminster has only intensified.

This is despite the SNP implementing cuts in local councils and in government (see below) and only calling for “a modest rise in real terms spending”—continuing cuts.

For months the SNP has consistently been shown in polls to be heading for something close to a landslide win. They currently have six seats in the House of Commons.

A seemingly unstoppable momentum will see the SNP emerge with the majority of Westminster MPs in Scotland.

Grim

Meanwhile things are looking grim for Labour in Scotland. Labour figures celebrated a poll last week that showed only 28 of its Scottish seats would be lost.

For some Labour MPs it’s all getting a bit too much to bear. 

With less than a week to go until all candidates had to be declared Dundee West MP Jim McGovern announced he was withdrawing, citing ill health.

And the bad news continued for the party’s new Blairite leader Jim Murphy. 

His new Labour strategists argue around 190,000 independence supporters who have never voted SNP are crucial to preventing a wipe-out in May. 

Most are men over 40 living within 25 miles of Glasgow.

As part of his pitch for their vote Murphy has called for an end to a 35-year old ban on the sale of alcohol at Scottish football stadiums. 

He just forgot to mention the best man at his wedding is a top lobbyist for the drinks industry.

With opposition like this, the SNP is getting an easy ride. 


Scottish colleges suffer from funding cuts 

A public spending watchdog report released last week revealed Scottish National Party (SNP) austerity in action. Audit Scotland’s findings on further education colleges shows there are now fewer students, fewer staff and less money.

Student numbers have dropped 36 percent since 2008/09 and teaching staff was cut 9.2 percent in the last two years alone. Budgets were down £69 million between 2011/12 and 2015/16.

The SNP has disguised its cuts through college mergers, reducing the overall number from 37 to 20. 

Yet Audit Scotland concludes there’s been “minimal negative impact on students”. The EIS lecturers’ union said that “is simply wrong”. It criticised the report as being “mainly from a management perspective”. 

The SNP wants to cut £50 million a year from 2015/16 while talking about protecting and enhancing learning and teaching.

The fact the report reveals “there are no systems in place” to measure the impact of the mergers shows it was just about cuts.

The SNP should be held accountable on their record—not just on their sound bites for the press or TV debates. 

 


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