THE NEW WORKER

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16th June 2017


Election Special

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

LOSING 13 or 3.9 per cent of your parliamentary seats whilst increasing your popular vote by 5.5 per cent is a crushing defeat demanding the resignation of the leader. Losing 21 seats, or 37.5 per cent per cent and a similar percentage of your popular vote is a glorious victory. Such was the verdict of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the performance of the Tories and Scottish National Party (SNP) respectively.

The General Election in Scotland saw the SNP drop from 56 to 35 seats, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party rose (it is important to note the Tories’ full Sunday name) from one to 13, Labour from one to seven, and the Liberal-Democrats from one to four. In terms of votes the SNP dropped to 36.9 percent, the Tories almost doubled to 28.6, Labour rose by a modest 2.8 to 27.1.

The LibDems fell slightly to 16.8 with the remaining 0.7 shared out amongst the Greens, UKIP and the very few others who ventured to stand. Another 330 well placed votes would have allowed Labour to recapture a further three former seats from the SNP. SNP supporters who go about wearing “45” badges will need to buy new ones reading “35”. Ironically the party that is verbally insulted the most by the SNP is the main beneficiary of their abuse.

All the SNP MPs were elected on a minority vote, including one with a majority of two and another with a mere 32.6 per cent of the vote. SNP members high and low are unlikely to give a high priority to calls for a second independence referendum now that the despised ‘Yoons’ won 62.4 to 37.6 per cent.

The revival of the Tories was heralded by last year’s Scottish parliament elections and this year’s local elections. It was mainly, but not exclusively, a rural affair. The seats they captured would be regarded as naturally Tory seats south of the border. They also polled strongly in working class areas however, doubling their vote in Glasgow. Keir Hardie’s birthplace, where the Tories came a distant third in 2015. now has a Tory MP to match their local councillor. Constituencies with fishing interests were those that had a strong Leave vote and now have Tory MPs. Despite their moans, farmers seem unconcerned about leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and swung behind what was seen as the main Brexit party.

regretting?

Former Tory and Labour Party member Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh must now be regretting her defection to the SNP after heavily losing her Ochil seat.

Despite his replacement, it was gratifying to many to see the former parliamentary expenses claiming champion and former First Minister Alex Salmond evicted from his Gordon constituency. Demonstrating his profound ignorance of Scottish history in his concession speech he quoted a Jacobite poem, seemingly unaware that the Jacobites were the original Tories, who wanted to maintain the union by taking control of the British throne. Nicola Sturgeon did not sound excessively heartbroken in her message of regret.

The loss of Angus Robertson, who was the pretend deputy leader (the real one is the party’s Chief Executive and husband of Nicola Sturgeon) and leader of the Westminster contingent, will result in battles over who fills these roles. Many of the surviving SNP MPs either make nonentities look like nonentities or are colourful characters whose extra-curricular activities provide copy for Private Eye. We can gleefully look forward to vicious SNP infighting over who is to blame for what is plainly a crushing defeat. Although the party remains the largest single party in Scotland, it is now a much smaller minority than it was and its claims to have the monopoly of “speaking for Scotland” are in tatters.

Kenny MacAskill, a former SNP minister sacked by Sturgeon, has got his revenge by calling for the sacking of Sturgeon’s husband, which is plainly a coded way of saying that Sturgeon herself must go. Another sacked minister, Alex Neil, stuck the claymore in her back and attacked Sturgeon for “jumping too far ahead of public opinion” by constantly going on about a second referendum.

The so-called SNP ‘Brexit minister’ Mike Russell seem to have learnt nothing. He called for a halt to the Brexit process despite losing so many seats to parties who want to get on with it. Nicola Sturgeon said that she would “reflect on plans for a second independence referendum.” With 38 per of the vote going to a party that has spent the last year doing almost nothing but demand a second independence referendum, and 62 per cent going to three parties sternly opposed to it, we can easily see what direction that reflection will take.

Labour MSP James Kelly said that the SNP should make it clear “indyref2 is off the table” and focus on “the issues that matter in Scotland, for example child poverty.”

could do better

It has to be said that the Labour report card should be marked “could do better”. Labour recaptured two Lanarkshire seats where the Nationalists’ antics have often graced these pages. In Glasgow Labour only regained one seat, losing two others by tiny margins of 60 and 75. Holding their Edinburgh seat by a huge majority, Gordon Brown’s old seat was won back and two Lothian seats were regained. But that only amounts to seven out of 59 and is far short of the 40 lost two years ago. Only two of the victors were endorsed by the Campaign for Socialism, the Scottish equivalent of the Labour Representation Committee.

Some SNP activists accuse Labour of somehow engineering their defeats by voting Tory. There is of course no evidence of this. Tactical voting did of course take place but it was not widespread. If it was then Labour would have done much better in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Had it been so, there would have been an almost total wipe-out of SNP seats. It was decisive in only three constituencies, Renfrewshire East, Dunbartonshire East and Rutherglen where voters held their noses to allow Tory, Liberal and Labour to triumph respectively, but even in these cases it was more or less a return to pre-SNP days.

Before the election the Morning Star published a special free issue calling for a Labour victory.

The SNP should have done the same and ordered extra copies of the newspaper that has given them many years of unstinting support. While the election-day edition of the Sun published in England had a headline “Don’t chuck Britain in the Cor-bin”, the Scottish Sun said “Nic can clinch it” — which demonstrates that proprietor Rupert Murdoch knows where his interests (and those of capitalism in Scotland) lie. Most of Scotland’s Trotskyites followed suit. They called for an SNP vote in Scotland and for a Labour vote in England and Wales, justifying this on the grounds that the Scottish Labour Party was insufficiently Corbynite, which is of course exactly that same situation in the party south of the border where the Blairites still dominate the party machinery and the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Labour came second in 24 seats, the priority now is to win them back.