Scotland: Scottish elections

May 1st will see the second elections to the Scottish parliament. After four years of devolution, extreme disappointment would sum up the mood of working class people towards the inability of the political establishment to reverse the rising levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland.

A scandalous one-in-three children grow up in poverty in Scotland. Up to 7 billion of public service contracts have been handed out to the private sector through PFI and PPP schemes. Hospital waiting lists and times are increasing. While the Scottish economy is mired in recession and thousands of manufacturing and electronics jobs have been wiped out. The limited powers of the parliament, with Holyrood having no control over income and corporation tax, welfare benefits, pensions and defence etc, have proved incapable of reversing the impact of the crisis of the capitalist system on working class communities in Scotland.

The pro-big business political parties that dominate the parliament have an almost indistinguishable approach to the economy and social issues. All of them want to see the illusion of a "Smart Scotland" a modern, vibrant free market economy. All of them put law and order and getting tough on offenders at the forefront of their manifestos. None of them have any answers.

The one exception in this election is the Scottish Socialist Party. The SSP has put opposition to poverty and inequality at the heart of it’s agenda. The SSP can make a big breakthrough in these elections. The election of a number of SSP MSP’s would be a victory for socialism. After the election there could be pressure on the SSP to back an SNP administration. This must be resisited. The SSP could grow rapidly, but it must maintain it’s independence from the big business parties.

The International Socialists will be working hard to ensure a big vote for the SSP in this election. At the same time we will argue inside the SSP for a clear internationalist and socialist alternative to end capitalism, poverty, hunger and war.

Vote SSP on May 1st

  • For public ownership under democratic working class control of the major sectors of the Scottish economy.
  • For an independent socialist Scotland as part of a socialist confederation with England, Wales and Ireland.

Following a proposal from the International Socialists (CWI) the Scottish Socialist Party in Dundee East agreed not to stand against John McAllion the sitting MSP in the Scottish parliament elections. Harvey Duke is a CWI member. Below is the SSP press release.

After detailed debate and discussion the Scottish Socialist Party has taken the decision not to contest the Dundee East constituency at the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections. The reasons for this decision were in recognition of the principled campaigning record of the sitting MSP John McAllion. John has been an outspoken and consistent opponent of the war on Iraq. Unlike many politicians he opposed the war whether or not it was supported by the United Nations. He was the co-sponsor of SSP MSP Tommy Sheridan’s bill on free school meals. He backed the SSP bill which won the abolition of Warrant Sales in the Scottish Parliament. John has been to the fore in supporting the firefighters. He has also condemned New Labour’s privatisation of public services through the use of PFI and PPP schemes.

These form some of the key planks of the SSP’s policy pledges.

Harvey Duke who was the SSP candidate said "John McAllion has a tremendous record of fighting New Labour’s pro war and pro big business policies. He has stood out from the rest of the New Labour clones who have taken over from where the Tories left off. His re-election would be a blow to Tony Blair and Jack McConnell and a victory for the anti-war movement. John is a principled socialist and because Dundee East will be closely fought contest we decided to stand down in order to maximise the socialist vote in the constituency."

"We do believe that the best road for John McAllion to take is to break with New Labour and work with the SSP to help build a mass working class party in Scotland. We appeal to John and his supporters to join with the SSP in that struggle. However in this election we are prepared to support a vote for John McAllion. We appeal to all SSP supporters and John McAllion voters to vote for the SSP with your second vote. The SSP is poised to win at least one seat on the regional list and every vote for the SSP can help ensure a campaigning socialist is elected from north – east Scotland."

The SSP recognises that many trade unionists, young people and anti-war activists will vote for John McAllion. For them John is not seen as representing New Labour. A party that has shown itself on the war on Iraq and it’s attacks on the firefighters and other workers to have nothing to offer the working class. While voting for John McAllion with their first vote the constituents of Dundee East should vote for the most consistent anti-war, anti-privatisation and anti-poverty party with their second vote, the Scottish Socialist Party.

From International Socialist, paper of International Socialists.

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April 2003