Con-Dems battered in Scottish local elections

Step up the fight against SNP and Labour cutting councils

Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland

Both the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Labour declared victory in the Scottish local government elections. Labour polled closer than expected to the SNP with 31.5% of the national share of the vote against the SNP’s 32.7%.

The SNP has the most councillors across the country with 424, up 57 on its 2007 result. Labour increased its representation by 58, to 394 council seats.

A section of workers returned to Labour to punish the Con-Dems. Where the SNP have been in power for the last four years in coalitions with the Liberals – in Aberdeen, Fife and Edinburgh – carrying out brutal cuts and privatisation, Labour made some of its biggest gains.

SNP leader Alex Salmond had given the impression that winning Glasgow would be key in the campaign for independence. Labour won it with 44 seats to the SNP’s 27. Labour is now the largest party in the capital, Edinburgh, as well as Aberdeen.

Doubts about independence, a growing feeling that the SNP are not resisting cuts and the exposure of Salmond’s close relationship with Rupert Murdoch, benefitted Labour.

The Scottish Tories, under a new leader, continue to travel further into electoral oblivion. The Lib Dems lost 80 seats, over half of their councillors.

With only six Scottish councils having an overall majority, negotiations will take place over coalitions to run the remaining 26 councils. These may involve SNP and Labour and also the Green Party, which now has 14 councillors. None of these councils will defy the cuts.

Anti-cuts coalition

The Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition (SACC) stood 38 candidates in ten local authority areas.

Those standing included trade unionists, socialists, community campaigners and Youth Fight for Jobs activists. 3,200 people gave SACC candidates their first preference vote. But significantly SACC also gained more than 4,500 second preferences and 10,000 third preferences.

SACC beat the Lib Dems in some wards in Dundee, Glasgow and Renfrewshire. In Glasgow our candidates often polled ahead of ‘Glasgow First’, a splinter from Labour of well-known councillors from the previous administration who tried to pose as anti-cuts despite voting for cuts weeks earlier!

12 Socialist Party Scotland members stood as SACC candidates, gaining respectable votes that can be built on. Gail Sheridan, standing as Solidarity in Craigton, Glasgow (under the SACC constitution parties can stand under their own name) polled a very creditable 5.8% – the biggest left vote in Glasgow – beating the Greens and the Lib Dems.

There was a near media blackout of the SACC campaign but at the hustings our candidates received the most applause for exposing the other parties’ craven capitulation to the cuts.

For Socialist Party Scotland, SACC’s campaign and result give a platform for building political representation for the working class in Scotland and a mass campaign against austerity.

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