Scottish National Party Socialists: A Letter from the SSP

  • Revive democratic pluralism in Holyrood – rethink “Both Votes SNP”.
  • Raise your voice to demand more from your Government.
  • Restore socialist representation that benefits us all.
  • Tell right-wing factions they don’t own your movement.
  • Deliver independence for real change, not more of the same.
  • Use your regional/list ballot to bring radical politics back to your Parliament.

Scottish National Party socialists, we know you want real change for Scotland, not more of the same. Use your regional/list ballot to demand it.

“Both Votes SNP”? Don’t Repeat a Bad Strategy

In 2016, over one million pro-independence votes were wasted by the “Both Votes SNP” strategy. This is because the proportional representation system makes it difficult for parties that win a lot of constituency seats to also win regional/list seats. Boris Johnson’s Scottish Conservatives have benefited from this mistake. The result is a paralysed Parliament, and devolved leadership more concerned with defending the status quo than advancing possibilities for radical change.

We can’t afford to repeat that mistake. We need to you to revive democratic pluralism and radical politics in Holyrood.

The Scottish Government’s Record: You Deserve Better

13 years past time.

The Labour Party, the Greens, and the Scottish National Party all promised to scrap Council Tax – but you’re still paying Council Tax. Citizens Advice Scotland says that Council Tax, the government giveaway to the superwealthy, is the “number one debt issue” they see. After years of universal acknowledgment that Council Tax is unfair, it’s time to get on with building a system that properly funds local services.

In January 2020, Audit Scotland confirmed that Scotland is being ripped off by PFI robbery. They found that for the £9 billion worth of public infrastructure built through PFI contracts, “the Scottish public sector will make payments worth over four times the capital value of the assets built (over £40 billion) with £27 billion still to be paid between now and 2047/48.”

“The Scottish Government accepts that using private finance to pay for public buildings is more expensive than other forms of funding” – but it is still strongarming local authorities into schemes that rip off taxpayers, plunder public funds, and lead to cuts in public services.

Scotland has a housing crisis, rapidly becoming a housing catastrophe, but the Government is only interested in protecting landlords. The Scottish National Party leadership promised you real action to control rent and protect tenants – but vetoed that action, and bailed out landlords with free loans instead. You were promised policies to control rent at a fair level – when no SNP MSPs supported the Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill, they broke that promise. We need urgent change to control rent, cap secondary homeownership, and restore the public housing stock.

We can’t afford another generation of unmet promises (Img: Craig Maclean)

The pro-independence think tank Common Weal described care home COVID-19 deaths as “the single greatest failure in devolved government since the creation of the Scottish Parliament”. SNP MSPs voted with the Tories to shoot down collective bargaining for care workers and are dragging their feet on using devolved power to build a publicly-owned National Care Service. The provision of PPE has been completely inadequate during the pandemic, and the Scottish Government has tried to privatise responsibility for the devolved issue of public health.

Since 2016, the Scottish National Party has repeatedly made flagship commitments to a second referendum on independence – and ran away from them when delivering means rocking the boat. The SNP spent three years pursuing the dead-end policy of a second European referendum – a direction that only delivered a Boris Johnson majority government and a “Hard Brexit” – rather than advancing the case for independence. The independence movement can’t stay in limbo forever. We need working-class organisation and a radical programme to break our political paralysis.

The SNP declared a Climate Emergency and talked about a green transformation of our economy, but invited BP and Heathrow to sponsor their 2019 climate conference. The Scottish Government isn’t doing nearly enough to meet Scotland’s climate targets – and we’re running out of time. If Scotland is going to host COP26 as a global leader on climate action, we need to ditch the political reliance on petrochemicals and renew the economy with a Socialist Green New Deal.

With Socialist Representation, Everybody Benefits

The SSP has a proven record of standing up for working-class communities in Scotland. We:

Colin Fox MSP introduced a bill to scrap prescription charges in 2006
  • Introduced Holyrood legislation ending poindings and warrant sales.
  • Introduced legislation ending prescription charges in Scotland.
  • Introduced legislation providing free school meals to every school pupil.
  • Pioneered radical arguments for drugs decriminalisation.
  • Kept our promise that our MSPs will only take home the equivalent of the wage of the average worker they represent.
  • Played a crucial role, as members of Yes Scotland and the Radical Independence Campaign, in shaping the independence movement into a positive vision for a radically transformed Scotland.
  • Oppose illegal and unjust wars, from Tony Blair to Donald Trump.
  • Have unflinchingly supported workers taking industrial action.
  • Have put our members at the heart of the winning campaign within the Trade Union movement for a higher minimum wage for all over 16, for the abolition of zero-hour contracts, and public ownership as the alternative to private profiteering.

Now, and in 2021, we are bringing forward plans for a publicly-owned National Care Service and to scrap the regressive Council Tax. We’re campaigning to build 100,000 Council homes per year to fix Scotland’s housing crisis and for a Socialist Green New Deal. We’re out to win a better deal for workers, and to advance the winning case for an independent, socialist Scotland.

With Right-Wing Factions, Everybody Loses

Scotland has made incredible progress in becoming a more open and informed country. We are proud to have worked with you in repealing Section 28 in Scotland, in supporting equal marriage legislation, and working towards liberation – not rainbow capitalism.

But we need to be vigilant in defending that progress. The SNP leadership has failed to get a grip on right-wing factions that are trying to hijack independence to bring an unwelcome ugliness back to Scottish politics. Don’t reward the leadership for their failure, and don’t vindicate right-wing factions. Use your voice to demand real change.

Independence is About Real Change

The leadership of the Scottish National Party believes that the only way to deliver and win a referendum on independence is to make independence as palpable as possible to the British state, and to British capitalism – using independence to maintain the status quo, not to challenge it.

Independence needs the working-class majority

This won’t deliver a referendum on independence. Progress requires the support of a majority of people in Scotland – and the majority of people in Scotland are the working class. The only successful vision for independence – both why and how to win it – is one that prioritises and improves the lives and prospects of working-class people. The persuasive case for independence must be transformative for the working-class majority – and led by the working class.

We are not Nationalists, and independence is not about waving flags and changing passports. Our focus is the same as your focus – independence and self-government to benefit working-class people: delivering the tools to hold power to account, and the means to make real decisions about the national future.

Independence is about real change, not more of the same. The Scottish Socialist Party has always supported an independent, socialist Scotland – a modern democracy. Scottish independence must give us the tools to meet the challenges of the 21st century – climate crisis, automation, inequality, the instability of capitalism, the eroding of democracy, and the long-term consequences of Coronavirus – with radical action.

The Broad Base for Real Change

During the 2014 referendum campaign, the SSP made this principle the basis of our campaign for Scottish independence. As members of Yes Scotland and the Radical Independence Campaign, we worked with you to shape the independence movement into a positive vision for a radically transformed Scotland.

The SNP’s George Kerevan at a Scottish Socialist Voice forum on independence

We want to work with you again, to make sure that the next Scottish Parliament regains its radicalism and that the Scottish independence movement rediscovers the transformative vision that will win a better country for us all.

By using your regional/list vote in 2021 to support the Scottish Socialist Party, you’re turning the broad base for real change in Scotland into action – and shunning toxic voices. You’re bringing democratic pluralism and radical politics back to Holyrood, and delivering a pro-independence platform with a vision worth fighting for.

Nobody Owns Your Voice

And you don’t owe any politican uncritical support.

By supporting the Scottish Socialist Party on your regional/list ballot, you are supporting a pro-independence majority for real change, not more of the same.

We don’t have or want billionaire backers and big corporate donors: we only seek our support from the generosity of working-class communities. We need you to support real change.