Saturday, 7 January 2017

The SNP: Lost In Translation


After losing referendums on Scottish independence and Britain’s membership of the European Union, why does Nicola Sturgeon bang on about a second independence vote? 

Yes, it’s a given that she and her party want Scotland to leave the United Kingdom. 

But she must know that, having failed to carry the day after the most abjectly inept campaign run by independence opponents — the spuriously named Better Together car crash — chances of victory now are slim. 

Despite the pro-independence side being boosted by Labour’s made-in-Westminster decision to campaign alongside David Cameron’s Tories and to have Blairite remnant Jim Murphy as its public face, Scots rejected the SNP pitch by 10 clear percentage points. 

Even now, little more than a third of Scots favour a second independence vote, yet Sturgeon acts as though the result went the other way. 

She uses the fact that a majority in Scotland voted Remain in the EU referendum to demand that the 52-48 per cent majority in favour of the UK leaving the supranational bloc be disregarded. 

She wants Scotland to have membership of the EU single market, irrespective of what happens to the other countries of the UK. 

No-one can take seriously the suggestion that Scotland could have a different relationship with the EU trading bloc from that enjoyed by Wales, England and Northern Ireland while all four are part of the same state. 

Yet Sturgeon proposes either this unworkable mishmash or a form of leaving the EU that includes continued single market membership, including accepting European Court of Justice jurisdiction, knowing that this would not amount to real withdrawal from the EU. 

The alternative, she warns, is that her government will push for another independence referendum. 

The Scottish First Minister appears to have learned her tactics, if not her politics, from Leon Trotsky’s Transitional Programme — to make demands for reforms that, if conceded, lead to the real goal. 

In Trotsky’s case, socialism. 

In Sturgeon’s, an “independent” Scotland subject to the diktats of the austerity-obsessed EU neoliberal bloc. 

How do anti-austerity SNP members reconcile their principles with the neoliberal atmosphere that dominates the EU and its institutions, irrespective of party affiliation? 

How do they feel about the European Commission, European Central Bank and other EU institutions cancelling debt-relief measures agreed for Greece because the Syriza government decided to distribute €617 million as Christmas bonuses to 1.6 million pensioners living on up to €800 a month? 

Even the International Monetary Fund has voiced frustration at EU inflexible austerity rules that result in vindictive imposition of unfeasible economic targets on Athens. 

Many Labour supporters in England and Wales who watch SNP members in televised exchanges from Westminster have been impressed by the opposition expressed to the Tory and Liberal Democrat austerity agenda played out over nearly seven years. 

Yet something appears to have been lost in translation between Westminster and Holyrood where the SNP government operates an economic orthodoxy barely distinguishable from the Tories. 

Unite leader Len McCluskey’s invitation to Sturgeon’s government to champion a new approach based on public investment in offshore oil and gas, local government services and education should be considered seriously. 

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s recent endorsement of radical proposals for a federal framework for Britain can also help kick-start an alternative to the options of Scottish or British nationalism. 

Jobs and qualitative development must underpin the task of regenerating the nations of Britain.

But this can only be won by breaking the austerity chains imposed by Westminster and Brussels.

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