By Socialist Alternative Scotland
For three months now, the disintegration of the ruling Scottish National Party has dominated Scottish politics. Just two years ago SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was re-elected with a record 47.7% of the vote. Following her February resignation, Humza Yousaf, her anointed successor, won a bruising election by the narrowest of margins amidst revelations that the party lost 30,000 members in 2022.
Even before Yousaf entered his office, SNP CEO and Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell resigned. Murrell has since been arrested by police investigating the disappearance of £600,000 donated to the SNP, and it has emerged that their auditors resigned last September! The SNP’s President describes the party as “a tremendous mess”.
Rural communities and workers left behind
The SNP’s chaos, unaccountability and corruption reflects its political impasse due, as we explained when Sturgeon resigned, to straddling the gap between Scottish workers’ aspirations and a refusal to breach the bounds of capitalist austerity. One consequence is the crisis in ferry transport, plagued by a shortage of vessels so dire that the Navy has been deployed to assist.
Stranded coastal communities are rightly angry at ‘central belt’ dominance of Scottish civic life. For decades, capitalist politicians have neglected the Highlands and Islands. However, the contempt in which the SNP hold the ordinary people of rural Scotland is the same as that they show to central belt working-class communities; slashing their education, housing, health and other services.
As Health Secretary, Yousaf presided over the decimation of NHS Scotland, and a 68% growth in private healthcare after the pandemic. Moreover, the draining of wealth from rural to metropolitan Scotland is dwarfed by Scotland’s economic subordination to the City of London. Both show the centralising tendencies of capitalist exploitation. Because the SNP accepts the logic of this system of monopolist profiteering it cannot fight Westminster austerity.
Left alternative needed
Still less can it achieve independence, understood by Scottish workers, particularly youth, as the path out of poverty, oppression and exploitation. Whilst SNP’s polling has plummeted to 36%, support for independence remains around 50%. Labour are initial beneficiaries, but offer even worse austerity than Yousaf and are tainted by their opposition to independence.
Suggestions from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross that his supporters vote Labour to ‘stop the SNP’ can only further discredit them in the eyes of trade unionists locked in battle with Tory austerity. Scottish workers urgently need a mass party able to unite economic and political struggles in a fight for an independent socialist Scotland able to take its place in a voluntary socialist federation of England, Wales and Ireland.