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Scottish TUSC campaign: Building the socialist alternative to austerity

Philip Stott reports

The result of the election to the Scottish parliament election on May 5th is not in doubt. According to all opinion polls the Scottish National Party (SNP) look certain to win another overall majority at Holyrood. Labour are set to suffer another body blow in Scotland, following the loss of all but one of their seats in the 2015 Westminster election. Only the partial PR system in Scotland will allow Labour avoid another catastrophe. No doubt the SNP leadership will claim the result as a confirmation of their policies. But that would not paint even half a picture of the real situation on the ground.

The mood in working-class communities has changed significantly in the past year. The hope that was engendered through the independence referendum of September 2014, of an escape route from austerity, has not been delivered. Indeed for increasing numbers of people there is growing mood of disappointment at the actions of the SNP leadership, in some cases anger and a sense of betrayal. Despite 100,000 new members in the “surge” that followed the indyref and the election of 56 SNP MPs last year, the SNP have continued to implement Tory cuts.

In the first instance this mood in many working-class areas is going to lead to a dramatic fall in turn-out for the election. The independence referendum saw an unprecedented mobilisation and an 85% turnout. 70% voted in the Westminster elections in a tidal wave that swept the “red Tories” to near extinction. But this election is likely to see a turn-out of less than 60%, reflecting this mood of disappointment and the lack of a national fighting anti-austerity alternative.

Tax the rich? No thanks

SNP first minister Nicola Sturgeon described as “reckless” calls for the new powers coming to Holyrood to be used to increase the top rate of tax. Protecting the elite 1% from tax rises while inflicting Tory austerity on the 99% is not what the 1.6 million who voted for independence expected.

The latest round of austerity cuts are devastating council services. SNP and Labour councils are playing pass-the-parcel and blame-shifting. Not a single SNP or Labour councillor or MSP has been prepared to call for no-cuts budgets. As a result there are growing demands for elected politicians to fight austerity rather than meekly implementing it. This has been reflected in the stand taken by the Glasgow and Dundee council trade unions, representing more than 20,000 workers, who demanded no-cuts budgets from their respective Labour and SNP councils.

Scottish TUSC campaign

The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing to offer that fighting 100% anti-austerity and socialist alternative. We are contesting six constituency seats in all, in Dundee, Glasgow and Renfrewshire. Our candidates include leaders of local government trade unions at the forefront of leading struggles against Labour and SNP cuts. All are members of Socialist Party Scotland.

Scottish TUSC’s campaign has centred on demanding that MSPs should refuse to implement cuts at Holyrood. By using the powers that the parliament has it would be possible to defy austerity and build a mass campaign to win back the billions stolen in since 2010.

There is an overwhelming mandate for the SNP to fight following their sweeping election victory last year on an anti-austerity platform. But it’s clear that the pro-capitalist leadership of the party have no intention of launching a real struggle.

TUSC candidates are also standing for a £10 an hour minimum wage with no exemptions and an end to zero hours and insecure contracts. We call for a doubling of the top rate of tax on those earning more than £150,000 a year. TUSC campaigns for an independent socialist Scotland with the democratic public ownership of the banks and big business in order to plan the economy for the millions, not to line the pockets of the billionaires.

We’ve had a very positive response to these policies in the areas where we have been campaigning. The mood of disappointment at the role in power of the SNP will soon turn to outright anger. And to the searching for a genuine 100% austerity and socialist alternative. While are votes will be modest in this election, Scottish TUSC is helping to preparing the ground politically for the upheavals and mass struggles that are around the corner.

The Scottish TUSC candidates are:

Brian Smith (Glasgow Cathcart); Ian Leech (Glasgow Pollok); Jamie Cocozza (Glasgow Shettleston); Jim Halfpenny (Renfrewshire North & West); Leah Ganley (Dundee East) and Jim McFarlane (Dundee West)