New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Elections, Past, Present and Future

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

THE OUTCOME of the General Election north and south of the border for Labour was at same time both different and the same. Labour got well and truly beaten, but by different parties.

The SNP captured 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats, a gain of 13, with the Tories losing seven seats leaving them with six. The misnamed Liberal Democrats stayed the same with four despite losing their UK leader, whilst Labour suffered a wipe-out falling from seven to a single solitary seat, entirely reversing the slight revival of 2017 and returning to their dismal 2015 position.

The borderlands with England are still solidly blue, with the other three Tory seats in the north-east. The only surviving Labour MP is right-winger Ian Murray who sits for Edinburgh South, a leafy constituency which in the natural order of things ought to be a safe Tory seat. Labour came nowhere near recapturing what had become marginal seats in 2017. Voters in Glasgow North East turfed out the Labour MP who had fought to save the local railway works in favour of the nationalists. Likewise in Midlothian the working class failed to show due respect for left MP Danielle Rowley despite her coming from an important local Labour dynasty. And in Gordon Brown’s old seat the SNP narrowly triumphed even though the candidate had been publicly suspended by the party.

If there was any tactical voting it was not directed at the SNP but was undertaken by the ‘anyone but Boris or Jeremy types’.

The share out of the popular vote was less one-sided but still depressing for Labour. The SNP got 45 per cent, the Tories 25.1, Labour came third on 18.6 (the lowest ever, whilst the UK picture was on the worst since 1935), the Lib-Dems had a more rewarding 9.5.

The SNP’s branch office, the Greens, who fought only a few seats to help their unofficial masters, got one per cent and the Brexit party only half that. Because most have joined the SNP there were few cranks standing, but the Scottish Christian Party got 460 votes in Ross, Skye & Lochaber on a promise to abolish elections in favour of establishing a theocracy pending the second coming of Christ.

All but a few SNP seats were won on a minority vote. The highest nationalist vote was in Dundee. Not a few Scots would be delighted if Dundee became independent from Scotland. The large minority (over a third) of nationalists who favour Brexit obviously stayed with the SNP. Once upon a time the SNP used to moan about the unfairness of the first past the post system but not many protests about that injustice have been heard from that quarter recently.


As one might expect, as soon as the results were declared the SNP renewed their demands for another independence vote. After being reminded by Boris Johnson that the 2014 referendum was a “once on a generation” event, Nicola Sturgeon announced on the Andrew Marr Show that Scotland was being “imprisoned in the United Kingdom against its will”.

During the actual election however, they sang a different tune. Just as their battle bus was emblazoned with the slogan “Stop Brexit”, over 40 SNP candidates never actually mentioned the word “independence” in their election addresses. The SNP candidate who recaptured Alex Salmond’s former seat explicitly wrote in his that “a vote for me will be a vote to stop Brexit, it is absolutely is not a vote about Scottish independence”. But that was last week.

Jim Sillars, the former deputy leader who has long been a thorn in the side of the present regime, pointed out that once Britain leaves the EU the economic case the SNP made in 2014 will no longer apply. This Brexiteer points out that after years of moaning about what a disaster leaving the EU would be the SNP will have to come up with drastically different arguments for departing from the UK, which represents about 60 per cent of Scotland’s export market. It will be difficult for the SNP to make a positive case for the EU and the inevitable Euro after our belated departure.

out of the bag

Sillars also let the cat out of the bag when he said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s forthcoming letter demanding a second referendum in 2020 is surely not meant to succeed” and advised her to wait until the polls are about 60 per cent in her favour. But Sturgeon has to keep the party rank and file happy somehow, especially in March when a certain court case involving alleged sexual offences will grip the nation.

As SNP hopes to hold the whip hand over a minority Labour government have been dashed, the legal profession will be looking forward eagerly to the fees from SNP launching a legal challenge in the Supreme Court to have the legal powers over referenda to be transferred.

The Tories have ruled out further devolution of powers from Westminster to Holyrood, but plans are afoot to create an overarching department for the Union with similar status to the Treasury and the Foreign Office to encourage co-operation between the nations of the UK. One example of that is a forthcoming conference organised by the Home Office on the drugs crisis, a serious issue, drug deaths in Scotland rose last year by more than a quarter to 1,187 — the highest since comparable records began in 1996. The Tories think it will be a good propaganda move to be seen to be helping to mop up an SNP mess. Another way to annoy the SNP will be to insist that road signs mention that repairs are being funded by the British government.

Labour leader Richard Leonard will not be following Jeremy Corbyn’s lead by resigning and said he will lead the party into the next Holyrood elections in 2021. No doubt losing under a left leadership will embolden the party’s still-entrenched right wing, and worse could encourage some other members to start to remember Tony Blair fondly as being the chap who used to win elections. Needless to say there will be full and frank discussions over the merits of a second referendum amongst other issues.

As a footnote, it is worth recording a curious feature of the election: the apparent total silence from the two tartan Trotskyite parties, the Scottish Socialist Party and their Judean Popular Front rival the Socialist Party Scotland. So far as can be seen, they never gave any advice to their much diminished flocks about whether to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s party or the SNP. Likewise, the ‘SNP Socialists’ now seems to be reduced to a single individual with a twitter account.