12 Days Remaining

Thursday 30th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

POLLS indicate that the Scottish National Party could sweep the board in a week's time and romp home with all 59 of the country's MPs. 

The seemingly unstoppable rise of the SNP has taken observers aback ever since Alex Salmond became Scotland's First Minister in 2007.

When last year's referendum on breaking away from the United Kingdom was first announced, few expected 45 per cent of Scots to vote Yes.

A clear victory for the No vote last autumn has done nothing to take the wind out of the SNP's sails.

By membership it is now the third-largest party in Britain. It is likely to be the third party in Parliament after next week.

An impressive achievement for an outfit which organises exclusively in a country that is home to less than 1- per cent of the UK population. 

It has successively pitched itself to the left of Labour, attracthing hundreds of thousands of working-class votes.

It supports left policies such as nuclear disarmament which the Labour Party, at British level, opposes.

Small wonder that the party's rise is hailed as a new dawn by many on the left.

But it would be dangerous to fall for this illusion. The rise of the Scottish Nationalists is also a reflection of a broader decline in class identity that has accompanied the decline of the Labour Party.

The SNP's message is simple - being independent will enable Scots to start again, make their own lives, benefit from the country's impressive natural resources and be rid of Tory control.

Over the last two years its rhetoric has shifted sharply left to win Labour heartlands, often in areas where Labour councils have, without protest, imposed the cuts handed on by the SNP government in Holyrood.

But there is also a contradiction.

Labour's policies today are to the left of the SNP's.

In terms of spending the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found the SNP programme require more cuts than Labour's.

Some of the SNP's signature left policies - such as restoring the 50 per cent tax rate on incomes above £150,000 and supporting all-women shortlists - are policies Labour has been signed up to for years. 

Labour is ahead of the SNP in terms of redistribution - lacking the nationalists' obsession with corporation tax cuts - and on commitments on workers' rights and the living wage.

Even on public-sector ownership, Labour's timid step in calling for a public-sector operator for rail transport is preferable to the SNP's eagerness to hand Scottish franchises to private monopolies.

Only on Trident is the SNP ahead of Labour. But even here the plot thickens.

Labour MPs in Scotland are more anti-Trident than those in England.

Their defeat will weaken any subsequent battle to win Labour at British-level to an anti-Trident position.

If the SNP really wanted to get rid of Trident and the Tories it would have focused its attacks on right-wing Labour seats.

But it has not. The party and other pro-independence forces to its left have actually concentrated their fire on MPs such as Katy Clark, Ian Davidson, Jim Sheridan - friends of our paper, our movement and our class.

The SNP has never claimed to be a class party. It is national in its aspirations. It happily deals with big business and the super-rich, from Brian Souter to Rupert Murdoch.

If it eliminates Labour north of the border it will only increase the likelihood of a Conservative government after next week.

This might well boost support for Scottish Independence. It would also spell disaster for working people in Scotland as well as England and Wales.