So, I read an article on yesterday's Guardian online entitled Brown and Cameron head to Scotland to confront SNP threat. As soon as I saw the title, I knew that it would be a good laugh. It's always funny to read Brown's whining about how British he is and it is at least interesting to watch Tory attempts to wash off their black record in Scotland. I have to tell you, I was not disappointed. The article manages to present British politics in all their bizarreness.
Cameron, in keeping with his good record managed once again to outdo Brown and New Labour. He made a speech outlining the "benefits" of the Union, both past, present and potentially future, while also criticizing New Labour and the doomsday scare tactics it employs to frighten people away from the SNP:
"The Labour party's approach is to cow and bully Scotland into remaining part of the union. I believe this is the wrong approach; instead of threatening the people of Scotland we must inspire them."I never thought I'd agree with any Tory political comment, but this one is spot on. New Labour has completely failed to come up with even elementary political arguments in favour of the Union. Their campaign has focused solely on how bad, untrustworthy and incompetent the SNP are (you see, New Labs have proven themselves to be masterful politicians) and how inconceivably weak, poor, small and plainly useless Scotland is. They even sent ex-Stalinist bully John Reid up here to tell us that if Scotland goes independent, she'll be incapable to protect herself from the great threat of terror. The New Labour hacks seem to ignore that one of the key rules of politics (including the politics of everyday life) is that if you want to keep people with you, YOU DON'T TELL THEM THEY SUCK!
Labour's actions have "desperation" written all over them. This is not surprising. Not only is Labour getting its arse kicked south of the border by the Tories, it is also losing (possibly permanently) one of its traditional heartlands. On the other hand, the Tories can afford to remain calm as they are making gains in England and can in fact strengthen their position there by capitalizing on the failure of Labour here.
Of course, tactical blunders aside, there's not much Labour can do to stop the rise of the SNP. Given that they are both parties of the bourgeoisie, their political programmes are not really all that different. Tax cuts and handouts to corporations are at the core of both. The sole difference is that the SNP is not as committed to violent imperialism which I suppose is due both to the relatively strong influence of strong business interests on its agenda and the fact that its most powerful large capital supporters are finance capitalists meaning that they don't need Shock & Awe to rob people. The SNP and Labour represent the interests of different sections of the bourgeoisie, not the interests of different classes. That is why they can't put up an interesting political debate for the life of them.
Funnily enough however, according to the same article, Gordon Brown, in a speech he made at Scotstoun shipyard, did try to point out a potential difference between the two parties future economic policies. This is what he said:
That's right. One of the potential leaders of what has the nerve to still call itself "the Labour Party" is attacking another party for raising taxes. Not only that, but apparently, higher taxes inflate unemployment. If the fact that Labour uses arguments from the 80s Tory book against its rivals isn't proof of its political bankruptcy I don't know what is! They seem to be incapable of understanding that people don't care about "competitiveness" and "attracting business". Of course, you will correctly answer that they do not care about the people. They do, or should at any rate, care about their votes however. It seems to me that Labour is in collective shock. They have probably realised that Scottish independence is now a real possibility, and even worse, that it is beyond their control.
"I'm afraid the SNP policies would mean higher taxes, less jobs, the shipbuilding industry would be put at risk and so would many of our important services and industries in Scotland."
So what should socialists in Scotland do? Our task, as always, is not an easy one. We need to fight against the SNP's vision of Scotland as a corporate tax haven and promote the idea of a socialist republic. If the Scottish people are to be mobilized in strong numbers against the British state, they must be offered something more than a smaller Britain with a nice fresh coat of tartan paint. This is what Independence First has failed to realise as is evident by its insistence to remain apolitical.
Further, we must fight against the persistent idea of Labour as a working class party. While support for Labour is plummeting in Scotland, it is not certain that once a more charismatic and less business loving leader takes over Labour, the working class will not turn to that filthy labour aristocracy and capital alliance once again. It is imperative that we spread the idea that the problem is not Blair Brown and Reid, but capitalism and any political group that is in bed with the ruling class.
On May 3rd, the only alternative to job losses, pay cuts, public sector decay and environmental destruction on the ballot paper is the Scottish Socialist Party. After May 3rd, the only viable vehicle for the fight against both the British state and capitalism will remain the Scottish Socialist Party.