Socialist Worker

Ahead of Thursday’s elections - councils in Scotland have earned voters’ disdain

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2552

Social care workers protesting in Glasgow in 2007 - against attacks from a Labour-run council

Social care workers protesting in Glasgow in 2007 - against attacks from a Labour-run council (Pic: Duncan Brown)


Viewing the results of Thursday’s Scottish council elections as purely a barometer of attitudes to independence, or of Brexit, would be a mistake.

Labour was expected to do poorly, possibly losing control of its last four councils in Scotland.

Angela McCormick is a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition council candidate for Glasgow’s Canal ward. She said, “The last Westminster and Holyrood elections for many were about the break up with Labour—this one is about closure.”

The expected trouncing of Labour in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest council, will be hugely symbolic. But Jeremy Corbyn won’t be to blame for it.

Disillusion with Labour did not begin with his election in 2015. It built over many years of Labour councils cutting, outsourcing and attacking workers and services—in addition to the crimes of the New Labour British government.

Local government has also borne the brunt of Scottish National Party (SNP) austerity.

That’s why the Unison union was balloting, from Friday of this week, 70,000 council workers in Scotland to strike. Workers rejected bosses’ latest pay offer by 77 percent.

Draconian

It is set to be the first large-scale test of a union ballot under the Tories’ new draconian rules for strike ballots, enshrined in the Trade Union Act.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish TUC last week that she wanted to “ensure that everyone can earn a decent living” and supports the “immediate repeal” of the Act.

She also said that where the SNP “has the power or the discretion, as an employer, we will not invoke the provisions of the Act against unions”.

It’s well worth remembering those words.

Pundits say the SNP’s performance in its Dundee heartland will indicate support for independence, but other factors are at play.

The SNP has won more council seats there than other parties since 2003, has run the council since 2009 and has the city’s two MPs and MSPs.

It is in Dundee more than anywhere else that SNP rule can be judged—and anger at its politicians repeatedly voting through budget cuts could well register in its vote this week.

As Angela said, “It’s ridiculous that any of the parties would obey the Tories over cuts when there is no mandate for them.

“We need to be prepared to oppose the cuts of any party.”


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