Opinion polls are showing likely electoral carnage for Labour in Scotland on May 7. The latest poll of polls calculation by the What Scotland Thinks website indicates that Labour will lose 36 of the 41 seats it won in 2010. The SNP, according to the polls, will win 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster MPs.
The possibility of a complete election wipe-out for Labour is not ruled out. Even if Scottish Labour restrict their losses and avoid losing all their seats, it’s clear that Scottish politics is approaching a watershed moment.
Polling company TNS – BMRB poll found that the increase in SNP support has occurred primarily amongst working class and younger voters. 57% of working-class voters say they will vote SNP and 71% amongst those aged 18-34.
This represents a big swing to the SNP over the past two weeks and coincides with the televised debates involving the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Strenuous efforts have been made by the SNP leadership to claim the mantle of an “anti-austerity” alternative standing to the left of Labour.
The SNP manifesto opposes the renewal of Trident, calls for an end to cuts, a minimum wage of £8.70 an hour by 2020 and cuts in tuition fees in England and Wales.
The huge growth in support for the SNP in Scotland, and the increasing echo they are getting in England and Wales as well following the TV debates, shows the potential for a genuine anti-austerity alternative to be built. The SNP’s membership has grown still further to 104,000 in Scotland. Thousands of people in England have also applied to join the SNP as well.
However, the SNP in power have carried out Tory cuts in Scotland since 2010. Their proposed public spending increases, even it they were fully implemented, of 0.5% of GDP would leave over 90% of the austerity programme intact. The SNP’s declared intention of supporting a pro-cuts Miliband government will mean they will face huge questions if they go along with further austerity after May 7.
Their support for big business and capitalism mean the SNP are not a sustainable vehicle for working class people seeking a struggle against austerity. PCS, Unison and Unite members in Scotland are currently involved in strike action against cuts, a direct result of the SNP’s role in austerity. Nor do the SNP leadership support public ownership, even of the privatised utilities.
In contrast TUSC is 100% anti-austerity, pro public ownership and stand for socialist change. We are receiving a good response for that alternative, as the report from Glasgow South underlines.
Labour’s crisis in Scotland is rooted in their pro-business, anti-trade union and pro-war policies over decades. Labour’s central role in Project Fear in last years independence referendum has also been a catalyst for a collapse in working-class support on May 7. After the election the need for a new mass working-class party to be built to offer a real fighting and socialist alternative to austerity will become even clearer.