As promised; squirrel thoughts on Salmond's election.
So, Alex Salmond did manage to grab the First Ministership despite his supporters being in a minority. He has also now appointed the Cabinet and significantly, not a single member of the opposition chose to vote against the appointments, opting to abstain instead. Now that the MSPs have been sworn in and the Queen has signed the relevant documents, the probability of a challenge to the election results seems nil. Personally, I don't think there ever was any chance that a challenge would be mounted, as it was in none of the big parties interests. The Tories wouldn't possibly manage to make any gains, the Lib Dems would not like to see themselves associated with Labour given their ever hastening downfall and Labour themselves would be seen as childish sore losers if they challenged the SNPs victory. So the whole thing was pretty much an exchange of fiery rhetoric, just to keep things interesting and make the politicos feel important.
I have made a number of posts regarding the bourgeois nature of the Scottish National Party and nothing much has changed since then or happened since Salmond's rise to power, quite understandably too, as it was yesterday. However, there have been a few signs indicating the trajectory Salmond's minority government will follow.
For starters, Salmond's rhetoric of ruling by consensus and in the "national interest" confirms our predictions that he will lead a government that is completely servile to the bourgeois. Scottish Labour leader Jack MacConnell also said that his party is willing to work with the SNP on an issue by issue basis and that they "will not oppose for its own sake. Translation: "We will be happy to promote the agendas of our common masters even if we might find our selves disagreeing on an issue or two". Therefore, we should not expect to see any particular clashes over issues affecting capital; business as usual.
Things of course aren't that simple. Battle lines are already starting to form between Holyrood and Westminster. According to the Scotsman, Gordon Brown, the ultra British soon to be New Blabour leader and Prime Minister (aye, the guy who thinks Thatcher didn't go far enough in promoting private home ownership) has not yet called Salmond for congratulations. In fact, answering questions after a speech delivered in the London City HQ, Brown commented that Salmond does not hold an absolute majority, a subtle threat rather than a kind reminder:
"I think it's a huge responsibility that he has taken on," Mr Brown said of Mr Salmond, serving notice that Labour will quickly condemn as "irresponsible" any SNP move to alter the devolution settlement.
"He is the lead party in terms of numbers of parliamentary seats," Mr Brown said, his voice drained of earlier enthusiasm. "But he doesn't have a majority."
He continued: "While I congratulate him and respect the decision that has been made, I remain firmly committed to the union."
"I do not believe the vote was a vote for separation and independence."
What makes this particularly interesting is that the ultra bigot filthy loyalist fascist that is Ian Paisley did congratulate Salmond and also stated that he would be soon meeting him in Belfast in order to discuss the possibility of reestablishing the devolved authorities' Whitehall committee. It seems that Northern Irish loyalists are happier to work with the SNP than Gordon Brown is.
On his part, Salmond has not been slow to pick a fight with Westminster either. Yesterday, the St. Bernard's look-alike politician attacked Westminster's plans to shut down 2,500 post offices all over the UK come summer, vowing to use all powers at the Scottish Executive's disposal to "soften the blow". Given the opposition of trade unions and community group to said plan, this could very well be a maneuvre aiming to further erode Labour's working class support and attract it to the SNP.
Overall, it might be too early to make conclusive judgments on the nature of the SNP led administration and the possibilities it will open for working class mobilization, but it seems rather evident that they are adopting a bourgeois agenda while maintaining semi-confrontational politics with unionism. While it maybe true that since, unlike Labour, the SNP doesn't have deep roots in the working class, its right wing trajectory will definitely lead to its support plummeting, thus opening up space for the left, it might well be the case that SNP will use its minority position as an excuse for not pushing through with its progressive policies (students grants etc.). Meanwhile, it will also gain further credibility with big business, leading perhaps to even more support from capital in 2011. This, coupled with a possible victory for the Tories in the Westminster election of 2009, can possibly propel the SNP to a position of power in the next parliament. Should they manage to deliver independence then, their support will become great and more solid. I don't like to repeat myself, but this is exactly why socialists in Scotland must act now to build hegemony for republican socialist ideas in the independence movement.