By Rory Anderson and Héctor Sierra
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Scottish activists say mass mobilisations needed to win independence after election

This article is over 2 years, 11 months old
Issue 2754
A mass protest for Scottish independence
A mass protest for Scottish independence (Pic: Andrew McGowan)

Parties in favour of Scottish independence have won a majority in elections for the Scottish parliament. The Scottish National Party (SNP) won the most votes in a Scottish parliamentary election ever.

By the end of this term, it will have been in office for 19 years.

The pro-independence Scottish Greens also made gains.

Together the SNP and the Greens control  72 of the chamber’s 129 seats.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday claimed a second referendum on independence was a “matter of fundamental democratic principle”.

Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, launched in March, failed to make a breakthrough with no seats won. 

The unionist parties didn’t see their fortunes improve either. In some constituencies, there was a shocking transfer of votes between Labour and Tories depending on who was more likely to challenge the SNP. 

This showed how Labour has moved further right under the leadership of Anas Sarwar.


Socialist Worker spoke to grassroots activists about the election campaign.

Keir McKechnie is from independence campaign groups All Under One Banner and Now Scotland. “The results in Scotland are a huge rejection of Boris Johnson and the Tories,” he told Socialist Worker.

“The key issue in this election was independence and a clear majority has now voted to end the union with Britain.”

Class issues were largely absent in the election campaign. John Kelly, the EIS-Fela union salaries convener, told Socialist Worker, “Issues such as fire and rehire and attacks by employers have not had coverage in this election.

“The SNP refused to support my own union over the replacement of lecturers with instructors”.


Pauline Brady, a leading NHS campaigner for a 15 percent pay rise, agreed. “All the main parties are out of touch with the issues working class people face,” she said.

Pauline says the SNP’s offer of a 4 percent pay rise for NHS workers “goes no way to restoring the pay NHS staff have lost”.

“Anyone that believes being 3 percent better than a Tory is good enough need to take a look at themselves.”

Gil, a young activist with Extinction Rebellion in Glasgow, agreed the SNP’s promises are tokenistic. “The SNP have yet to set out a genuine, well-designed plan to curb emissions and ensure workers and communities reliant upon closed industries are supported,” he said.

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Asked about independence, Pauline said, “It needs to be a socialist independence, otherwise the austerity we have felt under Westminster will not improve.”

John agreed, “Scotland can become a fairer society. However, let’s be clear that major change can only come by overturning the rotten system under which we live. Societal change will not come from parliament.”

On Saturday, Boris Johnson reinstated his determination to stop indyref2.

Sturgeon declared the SNP will introduce legislation for a referendum. She said, “If Boris Johnson wants to stop that he would have to go to court.”

This strategy will surrender the initiative to the judiciary.

Even this legal clash is uncertain. The SNP manifesto only commits the party to push for a referendum when the pandemic is over.

Asked about the alternative, Keir said, ‘The key next step is to make sure this majority is urgently mobilised into a mass campaign of demonstrations and protests. We need to force Westminster to cave in and exert maximum pressure on the SNP and the Greens to set the date for indyref2 now, not later.”

Rally for Independence- IndyRef2 Now! Saturday 22 May, 1pm, outside the Scottish parliament, Edinburgh. Called by All Under One Banner.

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