By Roddy Slorach
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Issue 426

Bob Fotheringham’s piece (Scottish front, June SR) has been largely vindicated by the election results. He was right that their record in office would damage the SNP, and also that the Tories would be the main beneficiaries.

The big surprise was that Labour also made significant gains at the SNP’s expense. Bob is right to say that Labour’s manifesto, “way to the left of anything being considered by the SNP” (with the important exception of Trident), resonated in Scotland.

Many of us shared his view that rejecting a second referendum on Scottish independence would prevent Labour from winning back working class voters who had switched to the SNP. However, many former SNP voters did vote Labour despite that policy.

Labour’s Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale’s election campaign aped that of her Tory counterpart, focusing on opposition to the SNP and a second referendum. Not only did she largely ignore the far bigger problem of the UK government, she even encouraged votes for “better placed” Tories to keep the SNP out.

So although Corbyn put the emphasis on radical change and resistance to austerity, that message was constantly undermined.

I think that, given this was a pre-election analysis, Bob could have spelled out more fully what a challenge this presented for socialists.

It was not possible for the SWP to call for a Labour vote in Scotland. Instead we argued to “Vote Left” — which in practice meant a vote for either Labour or the SNP.

That Corbyn’s campaign led to such impressive gains in Scotland is tribute to his capacity to inspire millions of people abandoned by the Labour right (and much of the left).

Even more seats could have been won if Corbyn had pledged a new (post-Brexit) referendum on Scottish independence, and if Scottish Labour had aimed their fire at the Tories.

The demand for independence retains a capacity to mobilise and to radicalise large numbers of people, as shown by the 25,000 who joined the pre-election “All Under One Banner” march in Glasgow.

Given the jokes about Scottish votes saving May from outright defeat, we should remember that the Tories’ new crisis is due to that amazing insurgent mood from the Scottish independence referendum campaign spreading beyond the border.

The critical issue is to unite all those who want to fight austerity — whoever they voted for on 8 June.

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