The dishonesty and incoherence of the SNP

April 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm (AWL, class collaboration, elections, populism, posted by JD, scotland, truth)

Steve Bell's If ... Steve Bell’s If … © Steve Bell

By Dale Street (of Workers Liberty)

“Neither Nicola Sturgeon nor her deputy (Stewart Hosie) are saying austerity can be avoided. Instead, it’s being re-badged and re-profiled, or spread out for longer. …”

“The defiant refusal to accept more austerity, which won power for Syriza in Greece last month, is not being offered here. Instead, a serious bid for a share of power in Britain requires a message that won’t spook the markets.”

That was the verdict of BBC Scotland’s business and economy editor Douglas Fraser, and it is about right.

The fact that the SNP are saying that more austerity is unavoidable is at odds with the SNP’s message on the doorstep (and in television debates): that the SNP is the only Scottish party with an anti-austerity agenda.

This kind of incoherence — and dishonesty — permeates the SNP general election campaign. In fact the SNP is not running one election campaign but a collection of mutually exclusive campaigns.

SNP leaders says that this election is not about independence for Scotland but about austerity. In fact, as far as the SNP is concerned, everything is about independence, including this election.

Although both Salmond and Sturgeon previously described last September’s referendum as a “once-in-a generation” event, both of them — just seven months later — are now refusing to rule out another referendum after the Holyrood elections of 2016.

SNP election activists are far more honest and describe the general election as “a stepping stone” (sic) to another referendum and independence. (So too do the SNP’s “socialist” bag-carriers. But not even the SNP takes them seriously.)

SNP leaders claim that they want to help Ed Miliband into 10 Downing Street. But they don’t actually want anyone to vote Labour! Instead, Scotland should vote for the SNP, Wales for Plaid Cymru, and England for the Greens.

Again, SNP election activists are more honest and want Scots to vote SNP and the Welsh to vote Plaid Cymru because they cannot conceive of voting on any basis other than national identity, and because there is no such thing as an English National Party, they cannot work out how the English should vote.

Unlike the public face of the SNP, they are also refreshingly honest in declaring that they really don’t care if the Tories win the general election because a Tory victory would be just an additional reason for another referendum and independence.

The SNP makes much of its supposed commitment to ensuring that a (minority) Labour government implements Labour’s so-called “progressive policies” and goes further than its election commitments. But up until only a few weeks ago the SNP were still pushing out the “Labour are Red Tories” line.

On the doorstep SNP activists still punt the “Labour are Red Tories” line with a toxic vengeance, peppered with all manner of accusations of betrayal, treachery and sell-out. (These are people who would have felt at home in the politics of the Weimar Republic.)

Central to the SNP election campaign is the idea that only a vote for the SNP will allow Scotland to “make its voice heard” in Westminster (illustrated by pictures of Tartan benches in the House of Commons).

But independence for Scotland is the SNP’s mission in life. And just seven months ago a majority of Scots rejected that policy in a referendum. Yet undaunted by the fact of having attracted only minority support, the SNP now campaigns as the voice of all of Scotland.

Some SNP activists explain away that contradiction by claiming that most Scots voted for independence but the British state forged (vast amounts of) “No” votes. (This is not the position of the SNP nor that of most of its supporters. But the proportion of the latter who do argue such a conspiracy theory is frighteningly large. Nationalist movements always provide a natural home for conspiracy theorists.)

Salmond and Sturgeon are demanding that Westminster should hand over to Holyrood control over everything apart from defence and foreign policy and that Scotland be given Full Fiscal Autonomy. This is not that far removed from the “independence-lite” which the SNP campaigned for in the referendum campaign. So the “democrats” of the SNP now want Westminster — in SNP parlance, that well-known home of “the establishment” — to impose on Scotland the kind of policies rejected by the Scottish electorate only last autumn.

Meanwhile the SNP gets on with ongoing centralising powers in Holyrood. Under the SNP’s council-tax-freeze policy, a council which increases its council tax to pay for services will have its grant from Holyrood cut by the same amount. This means, in effect, the imposition of a financial straightjacket on councils and the control of council budgets by Holyrood.

The incoherence and dishonesty of the SNP’s election campaign(s) become even more obvious when its promises are compared with its record in power at Holyrood and the policies which it promoted as recently as last year’s referendum campaign.

“We want more millionaires, and any notion that an independent Scotland would be left-wing is delusional nonsense,” said Jim Mather, the SNP’s Enterprise Minister in the 2007-11 SNP government. Hardly the stuff of social democracy.

According to Salmond: “One of the reasons Scotland didn’t take to Lady Thatcher was because of Scotland’s strong-beating social conscience. It didn’t mind the economic side so much. But we didn’t like the social side at all.” Again, not the stuff of social democracy.

The same applies to Salmond’s hostility to even a regulated (never mind nationalised) banking and finance sector.

“We are pledging a light-touch regulation suitable to a Scottish financial sector with its outstanding reputation for probity, as opposed to one like that in the United Kingdom, which absorbs huge amounts of management time in gold-plated regulation,” said Salmond in 2007.

A year later Salmond lavished praise on Scottish banks: “The Scottish banks are among the most stable financial institutions in the world.” A few months later the Royal Bank of Scotland reported losses of £28 billions and HBOS also teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. The Labour government of the time injected £38 billions to keep them afloat.

Rather than criticise RBS and HBOS bankers for years of speculative lending and predatory unviable acquisitions, Salmond blamed unnamed “spivs and speculators” and (of course) the UK government for bringing down the banks: “This is London’s boom and bust.”

When the banking crisis was raised as an issue in the referendum campaign, the SNP lied, claiming that there would have been no such crisis in an independent Scotland because Scottish banks would supposedly have been better regulated.

The SNP is promising that its Westminster MPs will protect and promote the NHS in England. But this is something that they have failed to do in Scotland, despite health being a devolved power.

In real terms, spending by the SNP Holyrood government on health has fallen during its years in office. Holyrood now spends a lower proportion of its budget on health than the Con-Dem government in England. And the SNP Health Minister who presided over these cuts was Nicola Sturgeon.

Since 2009 4,500 jobs in the NHS in Scotland have been cut, including 2,000 nursing posts. An RCN survey found that 54% of nurses in Scotland work beyond their contractual hours in order to meet demand.

Accident and Emergency waiting times in Scotland are worse than in England. A European-wide survey of healthcare performance placed Scotland in 16th position — lower than England, despite the latter being subject to Con-Dem cuts.

But spending on private health under the SNP has increased by 47% since 2011 and is now running at £100 million a year. Lanarkshire health board alone spent over £6 million in 18 months, referring NHS patients to private health providers in an attempt to meet its Treatment Time Guarantee.

The SNP’s record on education, another devolved power, is no better. When the SNP came to power in 2007 Scotland proportionately spent 15% more on education than did England. By 2011/12 that figure had fallen to 0.4%.

A survey by the EIS teachers union found that teacher numbers had fallen by 4,000 under the SNP. As local councils passed on Holyrood’s cuts, their spending on education fell in real terms by 5% between 2010 and 2013. Under the SNP, the attainment gap between schools in better-off and worse-off areas has increased.

Youth from working-class backgrounds are less likely to attend university in Scotland than they are in England: 28% compared with 31.5%, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

This is because of the SNP’s cuts to Further Education, the main route for working-class youth into Higher Education. It has “merged” colleges, cut courses, axed 3,600 FE teaching posts, and slashed 130,000 places in FE colleges.

The impact of the SNP’s council-tax-freeze policy — a policy which is the property of the Tories in England — has been to benefit the better off.

When the SNP first introduced the freeze in 2007 it was meant to be a temporary measure, pending the replacement of the council tax by a Local Income Tax (LIT), a fairer form of local taxation than the council tax. But SNP proposals for a LIT quickly evaporated.

The unemployed and low paid who pay no council tax do not benefit from the freeze. For the low-paid in Band A properties who do pay council tax, the annual saving as a result of the freeze is 0.3% of their income (£60). For the better-off in Band H properties, the annual saving is 0.8% of their income (£370).

By 2012 owners of Band G and Band H homes had “saved: a total of over £115 million as a result of the freeze. By the time of the next Holyrood elections, this figure will have risen to £300 million.

At the same time, massive cuts in real terms by Holyrood in the funding of local authorities (combined with the failure of local councils to refuse to implement and to campaign against the cuts) have resulted in job losses (over 39,000 since 2007), cuts in services, and increased charges for services.

According to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the councils covering the poorest areas have been hit hardest. Between 2010 and 2013 they cut spending by an average of £90 per head more than councils in more affluent areas.

And the people most dependent on the services which are being scrapped year-on-year, or for which charges are being introduced and increased year-on-year, are the people who benefit the least, if at all, from the council tax freeze.


  1. Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

    It is the English to blame and the English are to blame for everything that has happened before and after the English existed and even before that. Fookin English just send us a GIRO you mugs. You owe us and have suppressed us even before you existed you bastards just keep the GIRO in the post.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      And that Barnet Formula well stick it up your arse we want more and fuck NI and the Welsh spongers.

  2. Lamia said,

    “The defiant refusal to accept more austerity, which won power for Syriza in Greece last month, is not being offered here”

    What is ‘refusing austerity’ even meant to mean? In Greece’s case it was a ‘defiant’ message from the Greek people and government not to accept that the EU would not lend it more money. Great. So how does saying, “I refuse to accept your not lending me more money” actually make them lend you more money?

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    Great art work as ever, from Steve Bell, but a pretty unfunny joke.
    Not that it upsets me but it is a bit hypocrticial of Bell, who is an ultra-leftie, they normally love nationalism and avoid stereotypes for fear of racism.

    But as for refusing austerity, lol, you might as well refuse to pay your overdraft!
    The only way austerity can be ended is when the economy picks up.

  4. caseypurvis said,


    • Steven Johnston said,

      This is what happens when cousins marry…maybe the Steve Bell cartoon was spot on about the incest part!

      • caseypurvis said,


    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      If I was Scot for 500 years that means I would be claiming benefits for at least 435 yrs, a true Scotsman. Thanks England.

      • caseypurvis said,


  5. Jim Denham said,

    Steve Bell obviously had this at the back of his mind:

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Fair point, a joke is a joke and if I start taking them seriously and analysing them politically I’ll join the SWP/CPGB.

    • caseypurvis said,


      • Steven Johnston said,

        Casey calm down, you are telling this to the wrong side.
        I was listening to an interview with the leader of the DUP, a very conservative party, who have the majority of seats in NI. guess with region in the UK receives the largest amount of public spending per head…yes, it’s NI.
        Presumably the DUP being conservatives want to cut the NI budget?
        Nope, the want more & not less money.
        They even use their £10 billion block grant to reverse the bedroom tax.

  6. Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

    Steven everyone wants more money and want the English to pay it. And the English mugs will do it.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      I thought it was the Germans that were paying for everything in Europe?

      • caseypurvis said,


  7. Jim Denham said,

    Nick Cohen in Standpoint, on the ugly face of Scottish nationalism:

    ‘Islam replied that just once in his career had he met fanatics who had made it as clear as they could that an accident of birth barred him from covering politics in these islands. The “only place in the world I have been questioned about suitability to report a story on basis of nationality — not UKIP, an SNP rally.”’:

    • John R said,

      Interesting article by Nick Cohen.

      During the referendum debate, my sister in Glasgow told me she didnt bother with the Facebook debates among her friends. Most of them were “Yes” and insults and accusations soon got out of hand. Her partner (Socialist Equality Party member) who was campaigning for a “No” was having his photo taken occasionally and told it was going to be published on the internet. I don’t know if the website was called “Yeswatch” but it’s the mentality of exposing “traitors” to the Nation, traitors to Scotland and exposing them no matter the consequences.

      And then we get these fucking idiots who try to dress up this crap as some kind of socialistic, National Liberation movement.

      One day, no doubt, someone will write an essay about how the Far-Left in Britain subconsciously and unconsciously gave up on the working class as an agent for social progress. The workers had stopped listening to their “Programmes” many years ago. Indeed, most hadn’t even bothered listening in the first place.

      So the Far Left had to look elsewhere for their kicks. The Provos, Political Islam and now Scottish Nationalism. The story is always the same. “First the petit bourgeois leadership of the oppressed will lead the way, then when they start to sellout, we will be able to put ourselves at the head of the oppressed masses.”

      Except, I don’t think they even think that any more and are just happy to give a left cover and be the foot soldiers for any old shitty “defence” campaign (see Tower Hamlets).

      Am I pissed off? You betcha! I’m pissed off that Scotland is going over to the Nats and Cameron is stirring up anti Scottish resentment to further his own ends.

      I have a small hope that Ed can lead us towards some kind of social democratic future and piss off those who are gleefully hoping for a Pasok type implosion of Labour. But while Ed is no Kinnock, the opinion polls are too close to call and the spectre of 1992 is hovering.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Rafael Behr in today’s Graun is also worth reading:

        “The genius of nationalism lies in its mobilisation for political ends of emotions that people feel as more authentic, less negotiable than ordinary politics. To tell nationalists that their party is engaged in the same power play as other parties then becomes a personal affront, a denial of their right to be an agent of destiny. It is as frustrating for the non-nationalist to argue against such faith-based politics as it is for the atheist to take on the evangelical believer. Evidence cannot penetrate the seal of conviction.”

      • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

        I hope if Milliband gets elected he will not embrace the SNP in any way. They are nasty bastards. I had them at my door and if looks could kill when I told them I was voting Labour then I am fuckin dead.
        And the pretend lefties marching through George Square Glasgow with Irish Republicans last Saturday has made me think, what the fuck is happening here, is Moseley back.

    • caseypurvis said,

      FIX THAT PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Casey…this is a leftie side and Marx is the main man in left-wing thinking. He taught us that the workers of the World have no country. Bear that in mind before you post any more racist drivel.

  8. caseypurvis said,


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