Lewis Akers, West Fife SSP, Fife RISE Circle, personal capacity
When we hear the SNP talk about “Tory Rule” and “closing the gap” I can’t help but feel these are nothing but empty words. You might wonder why. I feel this because The SNP support capitalism a system that will never work for the vast majority of the people. It is based on wealth being held in the hands of the few, even though their profits are made through the exploitation of the many. Of course, Tory rule, which comes with a full commitment to those at the top, makes this worse, but in reality the ever growing gap in inequality and austerity exists all over the world and is caused by capitalism. If we look at Greece and Spain, austerity was begun under social-democratic governments, Francois Hollande was elected saying he would tax the rich and offer reforms. In reality these governments were unwilling to break with capitalism so when the tops of the European banks and the IMF told them austerity was needed, tax would stay as it was and there was no room for reforms, they meekly obeyed orders. Following on from this we also need to look at the record of the SNP. Like Hollande, it too has used the language of social democracy, promising reforms and a fairer society, and, similarly, cracks are beginning to show
Dispelling myths around The SNP’s record on privatisation is a responsibility of socialists. One of the most scathing examples of this is the tendering of Scottish water in which The SNP claimed that their hand was forced by the EU. However this was not the case at all. EU expert Dr Marco Goldini of Glasgow University in a report by RISE dispelled the “EU made me do it” myth by giving a detailed explanation of why The Scottish Government did not have to put the contract out to tender. On top of this revelation, the report also uncovered the appalling anti-union and polluting record of Anglia.
SUPPORTING THE WORKERS
As we have seen from the previous paragraph, workers are not always the SNPs highest priority. However this isn’t the only example, the recent disputes with RMT in relation to Cal Mac have highlighted The SNP and SNP TUG in failing to unequivocally support striking workers. The SNP TUG group put party before fellow workers when they avoided any real stance by releasing a vague statement with lines about “recognising the right to strike.” This inability to support to strikers among both party and trade union groups stems from their inability to choose whether they support the workers or the bosses – stronger for which Scotland indeed.
Many joined The SNP on the back of an anti austerity yes movement. But the disparity between The SNP’s rhetoric and actions has been highlighted even more in recent months with their carrying out austerity. In their betrayal of this key independence referendum principle they have made savage cuts to councils, including 33million pounds in Dundee. Some might say “well you’ve got make cuts” but as we socialists know this is not the case, with the Liverpool militant council being a key example. Between 1979-83 Liverpool City Councils budget had been slashed by 120million and the outgoing administration was making 2000 redundancies. However, as opposed to the SNP’s willingness to make cuts, the Mersey Militants said “better to break the law than break the poor.” They did not just refuse to impose cuts but at the same time built 5,000 new houses, 6 nurseries and stopped all redundancies
The SNP have fared no better on education in spite of their brining in free tuition fees for Scottish and EU students at Scottish universities. Now free tuition is obviously we must support. However, it is important to note how the cuts have been passed on to further education. College cuts have seen student levels drop by 38% between 2001 and 2013 due to a lack of spaces, variety of course choices and the 22% fall in number of lecturers between 2009 and 2014. These cuts are hitting those from poorer backgrounds hardest- with the majority of the course cuts being made to part time courses, affecting those maintaining jobs and family commitments or both. These attacks on colleges are a direct hit on young working class people and those trying to improve their education at later stages. Although we should commend the Scottish Government for making tuition free we should also make clear the damaging cuts they have made in the education sector.
WHAT DO WE WANT?
Whilst recognising that they have introduced some progressive policies to stop the bedroom tax, scrap tuition fees and scrap prescription fees, we still don’t think the SNP have gone anywhere near far enough. They are still acting as the stooges of capitalism, carrying out austerity, privatisation and attacks on workers. What then, do we want? Our demands are simple and modest. We are demanding a break with capitalism and fighting for a new and fairer society- a socialist society- one in which factories, companies and services are put under the control of workers so resources can be used in a way that benefits the millions not the millionaires. We are not fighting for social democracy, we are fighting for a Scottish workers’ Republic as part of a revolutionary socialist international, and ultimately the prospect of a new and entirely better world.