England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Nicola Sturgeon arrested as SNP government’s programme collapses

By Paul Moorhouse

The slow-motion car crash of SNP rule in Scotland slid further out of control on Sunday, when former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was arrested and interviewed for seven hours by Police Scotland before being released “without charges pending further investigation”. This concerned allegations involving the disappearance of £600,000 from SNP party finances.

This follows the similar arrests of Sturgeon’s husband, and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and treasurer Colin Beattie. Extensive police searches at Sturgeon’s home, and the seizure of a luxury motorhome – reportedly worth £115,000 – parked outside her mother’s house. Neither Surgeon or Murrell can drive, but workers who donated money following SNP’s promise to fight for independence will no doubt be reassured to learn that the former FM passed her driving theory exam last week.

SNP failing to stand up to big business and Tories

Whatever the murky truth behind this bizarre saga, it pales into insignificance compared to the impact of Sturgeon’s anointed successor as First Minister. Humza Yousaf is determined to follow policies dictated by the needs of crisis-ridden capitalism and the rigged rules of the British state. This has proved disastrous in the face of the determination of Westminster Tory governments (backed up by the courts) to trample on democratic rights in Scotland.

Seven months on, Yousaf has no strategy to counter the Supreme Court’s decision refusing Scottish workers the right to vote in a referendum on independence. To rub salt into the wounds, his only answer to the Tory Government’s decision to shred the basic rights granted to Scotland’s trans community by the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill is to appeal to the same courts for support!

Tory Ministers then made it a hat-trick of attacks on Scottish self-rule by using the Internal Market Act to refuse Holyrood powers to introduce a drinks containers recycling scheme unless glass bottles were excluded. As recently as January, Westminster accepted that drinks recycling in Scotland and Wales was a matter for “the devolved administrations”. This was reversed once the powerful Scotch Whisky barons moved into action to defend their profits.

It came as little surprise to learn that the Scottish Office minister millionaire peer Malcolm Offord, who demanded a recycling scheme, that “works for everybody” has 900,000 shares in the Borders Distilling Company. Yousaf’s response to this attack has been to roll over and accept Tory diktat.

Workers’ discontent will grow

SNP refusal to stand up to big business and its representatives in Westminster has increased oppression and misery in every corner of workers’ lives. The cumulative effect of under-investment in ferry services has left island communities facing a summer of misery without transport and even basic supplies.

The counter-reforms contained in the ‘National Care Service’ Bill announced by Yousaf when he was health minister have been deferred for yet another indefinite period, whilst local authority social care collapses under the impact of cuts. Consequently, the SNP’s share of the vote has collapsed – from 38% in a poll last autumn to 30% now.

However, the authors of the Focal Data survey which revealed this point out that “Labour’s vote share has stayed the same at 28%.” Researchers went on to point out that “Labour is benefitting from a large transfer of votes from the SNP to the ‘don’t know’ category, rather than a rise in Labour’s own vote share.”

This is hardly surprising. Labour has no alternative to the SNP’s craven capitulation to big business. When local authority unions put a resolution to the joint negotiating body asking SNP ministers to increase funding to councils to enable an increase on their current pitiful 5% cost of living award, SNP, Tory and Labour employers’ representatives all voted to reject it. Moreover, despite growing rejection of the SNP, support for independence remains high.

Working class people in Scotland (as well as England, Wales and Ireland) need our own voice – a new left party of class struggle prepared to stand up to capitalist misrule from the SNP, Tories and Labour. This would then provide a voice for trans people and all of the oppressed in struggle, who are facing Tory ‘culture wars’, linking this to the fight for decent public services. It must be a party prepared to fight oppression and exploitation with a socialist programme, rather than begging for crumbs from Sunak and big business.


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