By Ross Walker
We’re living in the deepest crisis of capitalism in history, a crisis which has left no country untouched. The banking crash of 2008 has had huge economic, social and political consequences which has forced masses of previously “apolitical” people the world over to take an active interest in what’s going on around them. Terrorism, wars and violent oppression are no longer the monopoly of the so called “developing world” but are entering Europe and north America dramatically. In October the world watched in shock at the Franco era style of police brutality in Catalonia shattering many illusions of parliamentary democracy and the so called, civilised and fair EU.Britain has been far from sleepy. The story of the year, so far, is May’s gross miscalculation in calling a snap election, losing a majority and allowing for Corbyn to lead a popular left wing campaign, inspiring millions to register to vote. We’re now in a situation where for the first time in decades, a left labour leader could very soon become the British prime minister. The Tory party, which was once the most stable bourgeois party in the world is ridden with crisis. May seems more and more fragile by the day and no wonder. Her backbenches are full of equally pathetic slimy scumbags trying to stick the knife in whilst in front of her an ever emboldened Corbyn is watching ready to pounce.
In comparison the situation in Scotland seems quiet. Turnout in the general election was much lower than the rest of the UK and the mass movement lead by Corbyn throughout England and Wales has, so far, had a very minimal impact. The yes movement which inspired masses of workers and youth to rally against the Westminster in Scotland reached its three year anniversary in September and is clearly on an ebb. Some Left wingers and socialists view this situation with frustration and negativity but such ebbs are par for the course and temporary.
Support for independence has in fact not taken a noticeable drop and remains around 45%. The significance of this should not be understated. The British ruling class and its stooges in the British state has the oldest and by many accounts the most successful establishment in the world. This establishment is no amateur when it comes to shaping public opinion with almost all of the media in Scotland being against independence. Despite this, 3 years ago, 45% of the population voted to break from the austerity, warmongering, chauvinism and corruption of Westminster. In doing this, Scottish workers and youth broke centuries worth of illusions in the British state and establishment, taking a huge irreversible step forward in consciousness. The working classes in Scotland may not be on the streets right now but underneath the surface the desire for people to transform society.
The SNP still overwhelmingly dominates the country in terms of voters, elected representatives and members with more than 2% of the population carrying a party card. The party was the main immediate victor to the yes movement which lead to huge surge in support. Sturgeon walked around with her head held high like she was invincible for two and a half years. They were in a very favourable position where they could consistently oppose the Tory government and rally confidence from the working class in Scotland for doing so but could also blame Westminster for austerity which they had to pass on. However this was always an unstable popularity and this became clear in June when they lost 22 seats.
The large SNP membership stands to the left of sturgeon and the clique who govern the party. The notoriously undemocratic party procedures can only stave this off for so long. It is under an increasing amount of the pressure from the Corbyn movement, the unions and from the party membership and support. To prevent any left factions developing that surgeon has made left moves such as promising public energy and an ending of the pay cap. These are welcome moves but limited and will not keep the working class satisfied for long. Clearer left Figures in the party such as Mhairi Black with her popular, passionate style and Trade Union group leader Chris Stephens in Glasgow south may well start to gain more authority.
The independence movement in Catalonia has been watched closely by many, particularly those on the left in Scotland. This is a movement which has both had been betrayed by the so called Democratic EU but has inspired many due to its brave use of strikes and revolutionary street organising. Solidarity demos in Scotland have been bigger than the rest of the UK due to the obvious parallels with the situation in Scotland. The Catalan independence movement contrasts to parliamentary legal obsessions of the SNP leadership clique who are losing more and more authority mainly due to this obsession.
As we go to print there is also a leadership election going on the in the Scottish Labour party. Right winger, Anas Sarwar against Corbyn supporting Richard Leonard on the left. Leonard has won the support of the affiliated unions and the majority of CLPs and is being predictably slandered and attacked by the right wing of the party. This is of course an important development which could have repercussions for the future. Leonard has a chance of winning which would of course be a welcome step forward. However the labour party in Scotland still remains a small force. The Scottish Labour left have an objectively more difficult task in opposing the SNP which despite losing popularity is still very dominating and far more popular than the Tory government that Corbyn is leading a movement against. The party have also far from recovered from decades of betrayal and their disgraceful role in the Better Together Campaign. Many Scottish workers understandably still don’t trust them.
However another general election which could happen very soon would very likely boost the Corbyn movement and could see a bigger resonance in Scotland. Many yes voters voted labour in the last election despite its unionist obsession but because they were inspired by Corbyn’s movement. This will likely increase in another election and be somewhat of a boost for Leonard and the left wing whether he wins the current leadership election or not. It would of course not be a full recovery for labour but would be a very welcome left development which would at least put more left pressure on the SNP
Both the SNP and the labour party are riddled with class contradictions. The labour party although formed as a workers party, still has a strong Blairite faction funded and backed by the ruling class that it must rid itself of. The SNP as a nationalist party was always destined to split along class lines. It has split at several occasions in this history but a split nowadays would be much more dramatic. We cannot predict, with certainty the political formations of the future but we can say with confidence that the will be much more radical and fluid than those we’re used to.
The industrial struggle has seen signs of opening up with radical signs been shown amongst the workers in areas such as airlines, Royal Mail and Birmingham City Council. McDonald’s workers took unprecedented first step in striking at two stores. This may seem small but shows that previously unorganized workers in casual jobs can and will organise, a sign of massive things to come in the future.
We’re at the eye of the storm in Scotland. The working class in this wee country has a very revolutionary potential. Trotsky once said that what we’re doing now, is not preparing a revolution but preparing for a revolution. To ensure that the Scottish workers and youth plays its role in the world socialist revolution it is necessary to build mass revolutionary party. For now this means building a party of Marxist cadres to get into every workplaces community, campus and street in the country, to patiently but boldly and confidently explain our ideas. We must take inspiration room the Bolsheviks who through such methods became a mass revolutionary party leading the Russian revolution, 100 years go. If you agree with us join the IMT today and help us fight for a Scottish Workers Republic as part of a world socialist revolution.