Socialist Worker

Scottish Labour and SNP fail to channel the Corbyn surge

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2558

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon (Pic: Ninian Reid)


Election results in Scotland shocked many people after the Scottish National Party (SNP) lost 21 seats. They lost 12 to the Tories, six to Labour and three to the Lib Dems.

All three parties previously had just one seat each in Scotland.

The Tories continued their consolidation of the anti-independence vote already seen in elections to councils and the Scottish parliament.

They re-established themselves in former strongholds where the SNP had first flourished.

The strategy pursued by Labour’s Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale also helped the Tories.

Instead of fighting on Jeremy Corbyn’s left wing manifesto, Dugdale made opposing independence central to the campaign. She even encouraged votes for “better placed” Tories to beat the SNP.

Dugdale was also up to her neck in the Labour right’s plots to undermine Corbyn.

It’s easy to see how the Tories seemed a safer bet for those who wanted to end the talk of a second independence referendum.

Labour could have retaken over a dozen seats from the SNP had Dugdale echoed Corbyn’s message.

In Motherwell and Wishaw, Labour candidate Angela Feeney missed out on victory by just 318 votes.

Radical

She told Socialist Worker it was “the most radical socialist manifesto since 1945” that drove the return of voters to Labour in her seat.

Yet it appears Dugdale has also driven away thousands of Labour voters.

In some seats Labour losses were greater than the Tory majority over the SNP.

College lecturer John thinks that “had Scottish Labour embraced Corbyn we could be looking at a progressive government in Westminster. We need a root and branch clearout of Scottish Labour.”

The Tories’ vote rose in virtually every seat in Scotland. And in every seat the SNP vote was down by several thousand on its 2015 landslide victory.

It lost by attempting the impossible—to pitch both left and right at the same time.

Common to all the areas where the Tories made gains were higher than average votes to reject independence in 2014 or to leave the European Union in 2016, or both combined.

Support for independence hasn’t changed.

The surge in support for Corbyn’s Labour mirrors the surge in working class support for independence in 2014.

Both connected with a hatred of Tory austerity and were a rejection of New Labour neoliberal policies. The left should make those links and reject divisions.


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