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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Election Fever

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

ON Wednesday evening the new BBC Scotland channel broadcast a series of interviews with the four main party leaders in which the interviewer suggested that crime could be cut by giving free burgers to prisoners so that being “a wee bit puffy” they would be easier for the police to catch. This was part of a spoof election programme but it would be forgivable if some people found it difficult to disentangle comedy from the reality.

It was in real life that Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate John Nicholson made an eloquent speech at a hustings meeting, saying: “As you know, only the Scottish National Party can beat the Tories here in East Dunbartonshire.” He made the statement at a meeting at Alloa where he is standing in the Ochil and South Perthshire constituency, however, so this probably ruined whatever chances he had because he had forgotten that he was not defending the seat he lost in 2017.

No fewer than three candidates have been suspended by their parties in the course of the election because their old social media postings.

In Gordon Brown’s old seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Labour’s tiny majority of 0.6 per cent seems safer now that the SNP’s candidate has been suspended by his party over a 2016 Facebook posting showing billionaire George Soros as a puppet master of the world’s leaders.

Many local SNP members are still working for him however, although others have switched to the Greens. This case has opened up another bout of internal SNP warfare about their vetting process. Safia Ali, the Labour candidate in Falkirk, has also suffered the same fate on similar grounds. Flora Scarabello the Tory candidate for Glasgow Central, was suspended for the slightly different sin of using “anti-Muslim language”.

The SNP have taken a typically two-faced view about anti-Semitism, alleged or real. Nicola Sturgeon has joined in the right-wing smears that the Labour party is anti-Semitic and has denounced Jeremy Corbyn for his “lack of leadership” over the non-existent problem. She still wants to support a minority Corbyn government however, saying that the SNP would somehow be a good influence on the issue.

The SNP’s belated Manifesto launch took place in front of a huge sign saying “Stop Brexit” rather than one demanding “End Austerity” or one demanding a repeat of the independence referendum that is not the top priority for many people beyond the ranks of the SNP membership.

The SNP manifesto said that “We have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change” and claims that Scotland “will lead the way in showing how our society can transition to zero net carbon emissions” — however it also denounced Labour’s policy to tax fossil fuel bosses for allegedly risking “Scottish jobs”. Its love for oil was justified this time around by saying that it could fund a “greener, sustainable future” from North Sea oil and gas revenues.

It is more than likely that the SNP leadership would like to see a Tory government and a small increase in the Tory vote in Scotland. The SNP love the Tories because they are useful Aunt Sallys to have around to denounce whenever something goes wrong with the water supply to hospitals. The SNP leadership does not really want a second independence referendum but it needs to have the Tory opposition to one to keep the ranks in line. Small changes in opinion polls get nationalists excited until the next one come around to tell a different story.

Incidentally, Tory opposition to a second independence referendum has softened: they have announced that one would be possible around 2050, which is perfectly in line with the “once in the generation opportunity” promised by the SNP in 2014.

Logically the SNP should welcome Brexit happening because they if, as they say, it would be an economic disaster for Britain, then it would make independence from England more appealing.