The SNP is not, and never has been a socialist party. However, today’s SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, is reclaiming a left-of-centre political position that has English newspapers screaming fearful warnings of a Scottish Marxist mafia set to influence who forms the UK Government after May’s Westminster Election.
The far-right Daily Mail last week had a banner front-page headline proclaiming that the SNP is set to “hand the keys of No. 10 to Red Ed”.
Notwithstanding the ridiculous assertion that Ed Miliband is in any way socialist, let’s be absolutely clear where the SNP stands politically: it is a moderate, social-democratic party. The SNP’s policies are of the centre-left – social-responsibility coupled with free-market economics – but it is not socialist, nor does it claim to be. The fact so-called mainstream English media sees the SNP as a dangerous, subversive left-wing threat to what passes for democracy in the UK, simply reveals how far to the right much of England has moved in political terms.
There are now very few socialists in the Labour Party: it would certainly be impossible to square Labour’s policy agenda with socialist beliefs. Ed Miliband leads a Labour Party that is a virtual clone of the Conservative Party. If the SNP finds itself in the position of kingmaker after the UK Election, and if it decides to support a Labour administration, then it will not be handing the keys of No. 10 to anyone of a ‘red’ political persuasion.
If the SNP sees its number of MPs substantially increased, as all recent polls predict, and if it allows Miliband to form a minority Labour government – with SNP backing on a ‘confidence and supply’ basis (vote-by-vote) – then England will have the SNP to thank for reigning-in Labour’s right-wing policies. That, however, will not amount to a socialist agenda across the UK.
What the SNP will seek from Labour in the above circumstances will amount to an end of austerity and a return to capital investment to stimulate the economy; full financial autonomy for the Scottish Parliament; Scotland to have a national veto on any UK-wide decision to remove the UK from the European Union; scrapping of the Tories’ proposed Health & Social Care Act, which would impact on the Scottish NHS; and removal from Scottish land and waters of the UK’s nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
Of those issues, Labour currently supports further austerity cuts, opposes the Scottish Parliament having full financial responsibility, and backs spending around £120bn on building and maintaining a new system of nuclear missiles to be based on the Clyde.
The changes Labour would have to make to secure SNP support for a minority Miliband administration would, therefore, amount to common-sense rather than any sort of red revolution. The moderate, centre-left policies of the SNP are also a lot closer to the political beliefs of many Labour activists in Scotland than those advocated by the London-controlled ‘Scottish’ Labour Party.
Rightly, the SNP has ruled-out any support for the Tories, a decision based on the severe damage that party’s policies have caused to Scotland over the years, and, of course, on the fact Scots consistently reject Tory policies and candidates. Such a decision, however, does not mean the SNP has already committed to backing a minority Labour government.
If Ed Miliband is to oust David Cameron from No. 10, his party will have to accommodate the SNP’s proposals, which will benefit not just Labour, but also the people of Scotland and England.
According to opinion polls, a Labour Government acting with SNP support is the favoured option of most Scots in terms of the outcome from the UK Election. That will only happen if Scotland returns substantial numbers of SNP MPs.
The same polls certainly predict a surge in support for the SNP as we head into the campaign for the May 7th election. If Scots want to have any influence on the UK Government, then, this time, we have to vote SNP.
The Labour Party knows it is facing wipe-out in Scotland, a situation that has come about because of its right-wing policies, the party’s anti-independence coalition with the Tories, and the extremely poor quality of many Labour MPs and candidates. This reality has resulted in Labour falling-back on a well-worn UK Election mantra in Scotland – ‘You have to vote Labour to keep the Tories out’. Of course, the facts show this assertion to be absolute nonsense.
In recent political times, Scotland voted Labour (to keep the Tories out) in 1970, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992 and 2010 – on each occasion we got a Tory Government imposed on us by voters in England. Within the British Union, every person in Scotland could vote Labour, but if England backs the Tories, then our votes will be ignored and we will have a Conservative Government.
Another lie being peddled by the Labour Party is that a vote for the SNP will benefit the Tories by reducing support for Labour and allowing David Cameron into Downing Street ‘by the back door’. Labour argues this will be because the largest party gets to form the government.
Of course, we only have to go back to the last UK Election, in 2010, to see that statement isn’t true.
The Tories formed the largest party after that election, but it didn’t stop Gordon Brown from trying to continue as Prime Minister by cobbling together a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Contrary to what Labour want us to believe, it is the party commanding a majority in parliament that gets to form the government, not necessarily the one with the most MPs.
It is this situation that means the SNP can support Labour, giving it a working majority in parliament and securing significant Scottish influence on policy at the same time.
At this election, a vote for the SNP is the best option for Scots.
The next Scottish Parliament Election will be held in a year’s time – May 2016 – when we can support whichever party most-closely represents our personal political beliefs – pro-independence voters can choose from SNP, Scottish Socialist Party, Scottish Green Party – but at this UK Election the Scottish interest is best served by us uniting behind the SNP.
It’s time for Scotland’s voice to be heard, loud and clear, in London and across the UK.