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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Election Special

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

THE PHONY war is over and the General Election is now well underway with all the troops in position and taking pot shots at each other, particularly about embarrassing social media posts made before they had their 15 minutes of fame.

All the 59 Scottish seats will see at least a four-cornered contest between Liberal Democrat, Labour, Nationalist and Tory candidates. The Greens are only standing in 22 seats so that their voters can support the Scottish National Party (SNP), whose policies on the environment Greens strongly deplore. Neither the Socialist Party Scotland nor its deadly rival, the Scottish Socialist Party, are in the contest.

The Brexit Party and UKIP will contest a few seats each, as will the latest addition to the political scene. This is the new Scottish Family Party, which is against abortion and will allow cures for “same sex-attraction”. They face strong competition from the rival Christian Party for the same small pool of traditionalist votes. Sadly the Official Monster Raving Loony Party is unable to stand in Scotland because the SNP has recruited all its potential members.

The SNP are by far the strongest party and have 35 seats to defend, none of which is held by more than 40 per cent of the vote, in one case with only 32 per cent. Their polling remains high, so they hope to capture some or even all of the 21 seats they lost to all three parties at the last election, following their landslide in 2015. The SNP are greatly relieved that the election is taking place before their former leader Alex Salmond appears in court to face a series of sex crime charges.

In theory there could be either a Nationalist steam-roller or wipe-out depending on how many people indulge in tactical voting.

A right-wing group has urged a Labour vote in certain seats to get rid of the SNP, assuring its followers it is safe to do so because Labour has no chance of forming a government. How many will head this advice to support anyone, Labour, Liberal or Tory, likely to depose the SNP remains to be seen.

The substantial minority of SNP voters who support Brexit are going to have to agonise over voting for their fanatically Europhile party or for the Brexit Party, where it is standing, or the Tories. The latter possibility cannot be ruled out. In recent contests it has been clear that scaring voters with memories of “Milk-snatcher Thatcher” no longer works as it used to. The Tory vote in many working-class areas has increased so much so that Keir Hardie’s birthplace has a Tory MP.

One of the great mysteries of the election is the stand of the Scottish Labour Party on the question of conceding the demand of the SNP leadership for another independence referendum. Last Sunday speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Jeremy Corbyn ruled it out in the short term at least, saying “No. I do not want us to spend the first year on an independence referendum” and wanted to talk about investing a further £70 billion in Scotland through a National Investment Bank. In his Tuesday night debate with Boris Johnson he reinforced this point about no quick referendum.

On another TV programme the same day, Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth ruled out such a referendum for the whole of the first term of a Labour government saying: “We are not offering a referendum on Scottish independence.” On other occasions statements to the contrary have been made, so you pay your money and you take your choice. Perhaps things will be clearer when the manifesto is finally published but the long running uncertainty will not do any good.

Nicola Sturgeon has joined in the smears of the bourgeois press that claim Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic. Needless to say, she did this in a very non-committal manner so that she could deny saying so. When asked if she thought Mr Corbyn is anti-Semitic, she replied: “I think Labour has failed to deal with anti-Semitism,” adding that: “I don’t know Jeremy Corbyn personally well enough to answer that question directly.” This is despite her oft-repeated pledge to want to support a minority Labour government in return for another referendum and getting rid of Trident. One wonders how that will go down in the SNP heartlands of the northeast of Scotland.

Such is Sturgeon’s eagerness for referenda next year, not only does she want one where she can argue for ‘Leave’ she also wants another, a second referendum on Brexit, where she can put the ‘Remain’ case. It does not seem to dawn on her that one would delay the other.