SNP: Standing up for big business

THE SCOTTISH National Party’s (SNP) election slogan is “Standing up for Scotland”. A more appropriate slogan would be ‘standing up for big business’.

Phillip Stott

The SNP used to be widely perceived as a radical, left-wing alternative to New Labour. But the SNP’s rapid shift to the right has seen them drop like a hot brick their previous policy commitment to public ownership.

After the chaos on the rail network, and despite the overwhelming support for the renationalisation of the railways in Scotland and throughout Britain, the SNP have refused to back renationalisation.

In the 1970s the SNP stood under the slogan of “it’s Scotland’s oil”. Today, the SNP leadership argue for a portion of oil revenues to be invested in international bonds and equities so as to produce a long-term oil fund for future investment in public services. This is at a time when the international stock markets are in a tailspin and the downturn in the USA threatens a full-blown world recession.

The illusions of the SNP leadership in the markets to provide for a “prosperous” Scotland are almost laughable.

Kenny McKaskill the SNP’s employment spokesman demands the “promotion of an entrepreneurial culture” in Scotland and that “Scotland needs to be a player tuned to the global economy”. In other words, the needs of multinational corporations like Motorola which is closing its Bathgate plant with 3,200 job losses.

The SNP policy is for major cuts in corporation tax for big business to assist with inward investment. When the idea of a windfall tax on the oil companies’ profits was raised following the fuel crisis, and the announcement of record profits for Shell, BP and others, SNP convenor John Swinney condemned the proposal as it would “act as a disincentive to investment”.

Despite the unpopularity of New Labour the SNP have failed to make a big impact in recent by-elections and opinion polls. The SNP have responded by introducing a series of policies that are aimed at convincing the working class that they are a Left alternative to Labour.

The nationalists have promised to increase the minimum wage to £5 an hour within two years and scrap the lower rate for 18- to 21-year-olds.

They have opposed the reliance on PFI privatisation schemes and have put forward a Scottish Public Investment Trust that would offer a cheaper alternative to the PFI/PPP schemes.

They are also committed to free education at some time in the future. Under the impact of a growing anti-capitalist mood the SNP could be forced to the Left.

In the general election the SNP may make some modest gains in terms of seats. But mainly as a result of their at times indistinguishable policies from the other big business parties, they will not make sweeping advances at this stage. That could well change under the impact of the economic carnage sweeping its way from the US.

But because they are tied to the interests of big business, the gains the SNP can make in the future will mean that they will fail to satisfy the needs of the working class of Scotland.

The International Socialists, who are working to build the Scottish Socialist Party with a clear Marxist programme, argue that workers’ interests are independent to those of the bosses and the SNP leadership.

Even the struggle for independence will require that the working class armed with a socialist programme take the lead in a fight for both national democratic rights and socialist internationalism.

We will campaign for an independent socialist Scotland to be part of a wider voluntary socialist alliance of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland as a step towards a socialist confederation of Europe.

The above is an edited version of an article from International Socialist the paper of the International Socialists, Committee for a Workers’ International (Scotland).
Further details contact the SSP on 0141 221 7714 and International Socialists (CWI Scotland) on 01382 833759.