Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/667/11886
Fighting anti-cuts programme needed in Scottish elections
Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland
The elections for the Scottish parliament on 5 May are taking place at a time of unprecedented cuts.
Scottish government spending has been slashed by £1.3 billion for the year 2011-2012 by the current Scottish National Party (SNP) government. Local councils across Scotland of all political colours are carrying out savage cuts to jobs and public services.
The various party manifestos, especially Labour and the SNP, indicate they are living in a parallel universe and are silent on the cuts they are carrying out.
The major parties are both promising to maintain 'free' education, freeze council tax and introduce a living wage. While the full impact of the cuts has been deliberately postponed until after the elections, many are already being implemented.
So, the SNP's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has declared: "If people are willing to accept pay restraint, then we will do our bit to protect family budgets and job security".
Public sector workers will rightly reply, how can you protect family budgets when carrying out year-on-year wage cuts? How can job security be protected when tens of thousands of jobs are being slashed?
What is clear is that whichever party or combination of parties form the next Scottish government, it will be a government that will attempt to carry through the deepest cuts in decades.
The current polls indicate that the SNP have now pulled ahead of Labour and could emerge again as the largest party. With no significant differences between the parties, except on independence, many commentators are speculating on the possibility of an SNP-Labour coalition.
This is an unlikely outcome. However, the lack of fundamental differences has meant that increasingly the campaign is being fought as a presidential contest between Alex Salmond and Labour's ineffectual Iain Gray.
It's a fight that Salmond, as a skilled populist, is likely to win. The Lib Dems are "going to take one hell of a beating" with their vote set to plummet as voters deliver their verdict on the Con-Dem coalition.
In fact the Scottish Greens, who are likely to make significant gains, may well overtake them in the number of Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs). The Greens have been running an 'anti-cuts' campaign.
However, their main slogan, "cut the cuts", is an indication of their acceptance of cuts, albeit at a slower pace.
In contrast the Socialist Party Scotland is taking part in these elections on a fighting anti-cuts programme that puts the need to fight all the cuts at the forefront.
In Glasgow Socialist Party Scotland members - including Brian Smith, branch secretary of Glasgow Unison and Defend Glasgow Services, and Ryan Stuart, a member of Youth Fight for Jobs - are taking part in a joint Coalition Against Cuts list with George Galloway and others.
The agreement with George Galloway includes opposition to all cuts and support for councils setting needs budgets to avoid cuts. The coalition in Glasgow is likely to get the biggest left vote in Scotland and will be an important example for anti-cuts campaigners looking ahead to the 2012 local council elections.
In the other seven regions in Scotland we will be supporting Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement election lists. In North East Scotland Socialist Party Scotland member Jim McFarlane, chair of Dundee City Unison and a local government worker will be the lead candidate for Solidarity.
Likewise in West Scotland, Socialist Party Scotland member Jim Halfpenny, who is a teacher and a rep for the teachers' union EIS, is heading the Solidarity list.
On 5 May vote for MSPs who will refuse to make cuts and will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with trade unionists and communities who are fighting the cuts.
Vote Solidarity, and in Glasgow vote for George Galloway - Coalition Against Cuts.
In The Socialist 20 April 2011:
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