By Charlie Kimber
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SNP manifesto reflects a timid and exhausted party

The more radical policy mentions are all carefully qualified
Issue 2911
Man in suit (John Swinney) uses a sewing machine.

SNP leader John Swinney campaigning in Oban. He won’t be able to sew together an independence deal with Westminster.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) launched its general election manifesto on Wednesday with what was seen as a firmer emphasis on independence.

But the first-page declaration “Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country” is a complete illusion. SNP leader and Scottish first minister John Swinney said the election gave voters a chance to “intensify the pressure” to secure independence.

“If the SNP wins a majority of seats in this election in Scotland, the Scottish government will embark on negotiations with the UK government to turn the democratic wishes of people in Scotland into a reality.”

But he made clear this means begging for a second independence referendum from the Westminster government. The Tories always refused that, and so would Labour unless prime minister Keir Starmer faced massive social revolt.

Previous SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had suggested that this election itself would be treated as a vote on independence—although she never said how that would overcome Westminster’s obstinacy. But even that talk has now gone.

The crisis-ridden SNP is an even more timid, more institutional party.

The SNP is facing a big loss of seats at the election—and a major source of its funds. So it is talking about independence to cement its core supporters to the party.

Swinney’s speech sounded a bit more adventurous than Starmer’s Labour—which is the SNP’s major competitor.

He said, “Lift the two-child benefit cap not the cap on bankers’ bonuses. Bairns not bombs. And, investment not cuts.”

The SNP touches on some more radical policies, although it always has a “balancing” element to calm the rich and the corporations.  

“For Scotland’s workers we will support the end of exploitative zero hours contracts, the unacceptable practice of fire and rehire, and we will fight to scrap the so-called Minimum Services Level Act which is an attack on the right to strike.”

Note the limits—“exploitative” zero hours contracts only must go.

The manifesto says the SNP will “Scrap Trident and invest the money into conventional defence and public services” That’s already one pro-military lean—no nukes but more machine guns, missiles and flesh-shredding bombs. 

And then just to add another layer of cover, on the second mention the money saved from Trident is switched from “conventional defence and public services” to the other way round—public services and conventional defence.

In any case, although the manifesto doesn’t mention it, the SNP wants to support the Nato nuclear-military alliance. And it does say “We will continue to back military support from the United Kingdom to Ukraine and will press the UK Government to ensure the sanctions regime against Russia is effective.”

Some imperialist-backed wars are fine

The party will however “demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, release of hostages and ending arms sales to Israel. We call on the UK Government to immediately recognise Palestine as an independent state.”

The SNP hopes it can fend off Labour, but its tiny elements of radicalism won’t be enough to make it an insurgent threat to the British state.

We need a much more militant challenge.

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