We need a new direction in Scotland, not more of the same.

A John Swinney-led government in Holyrood won’t deliver the change in direction that Scotland urgently requires. The Holyrood and Westminster parties are falling in line behind the broken status quo and are moving us further away from meaningful, progressive change.

We need a new direction in Scotland.

To break the big business stranglehold and build a real alternative that works for the working-class majority, socialists should join the Scottish Socialist Party.

Responding to the news of John Swinney’s imminent coronation as First Minister, SSP National Trade Union Organiser Richie Venton said:

“We’ve recently seen the busting-asunder of the coalition between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party which had lasted almost three years.

“Now, what are some of the factors surrounding that and what’s in prospect for the working class and for socialism with a new set up of the minority SNP government? I think first of all that it was fundamentally more right wing forces in the SNP that drove Humza Yousaf into ending the coalition and trying to break free of any influence from the Scottish Green Party.

“But for me, as a socialist, the first point is worth making. I don’t think that the Scottish Green Party have any entitlement to claim that that was a sad demise of some kind of progressive coalition.

“What was progressive about it? They slashed the number of jobs in local authorities. They cut education both in further education sectors, university grants and so on. And they also carried out policies on the environment which they could not claim to be in any way progressive.

“To take a couple of concrete examples, roughly three years ago, the SNP government with the backing of the Greens abandoned their previous promise of setting up a public energy company without even a whimper of protest from the Scottish Greens. Secondly, two years ago they sold off ScotWind, the powers and availability to have licences for something like 17 absolutely massive wind farms offshore off the shores of Scotland.

“Enough to power Scottish homes several times over.

“They sold it off for an amount of money, which means that even with the massive investment required in infrastructure, economists estimate that within one year, they could recover enough money to repay themselves for the investment – and the other 24 years of usually a 25 year contract would be just pure, adulterated, undiluted profit.

“And that’s for multinationals. Not a single one of the companies that took it over is Scottish, I think one was English, was mostly from overseas, such as Sweden, Italy, Belgium, areas like that.

“And more to the point is multinational capitalists – big polluters like BP that now have the power to establish wind farms offshore and make an absolute fortune out of the natural resources of Scotland.”

“So that highlights the fact that unless you’re prepared to challenge the entire ownership that goes with capitalism and demand public ownership of all forms of energy, which is what the Scottish Socialist Party does, then you end up in a position of feeding the profits of the worst polluters and doing nothing to bring jobs or better energy supplies to the Scottish people.

“We also saw in the past 12 months a decline of 4000 in the number of green offshore wind farm jobs in Scotland. They’ve offshore jobs as well as offshore pollution and building equipment for wind farms in places like Indonesia under slave labour conditions.

“So that’s to me the mirror opposite of a progressive coalition.

“Now going forward from that divorce between the Greens and the SNP? What are some of the likely prospects? I think one of the outstanding features of it is that the newly coronated, or likely to be coronated, SNP leader and First Minister John Swinney is very much a pro market man and he’s made quite a prominent announcement of the inclusion of Kate Forbes in his cabinet.

“Kate Forbes is a ‘Wee Free Marketeer’, that’s the reality – very much in favour of letting rip with free market economics.

“Both John Swinney and Kate Forbes, two prominent individuals in this new SNP government, signed up to the notorious Sustainable Growth Commission that the SNP commissioned and was produced by lobbyist and erstwhile SNP politician Andrew Wilson.

“Which proposed that there should be limitations on public sector debt and public spending, which would mean, in concrete terms, at least 10 years of austerity, of course, to wages, cuts to jobs, cuts to services post independence.

“That’s what they represent.

“They’ve put forward documents that would amount to a savage continuation of policies that, frankly, a lot of the Tories would be proud of.

“So I don’t think that the new SNP government, free of Scottish Green influence, is going to be in any way progressive either. Quite the opposite, It’s going to be a move to the right on the part of the SNP.”

SSP members at the International Workers' Day parade in Glasgow, 6 May 2024

“And the other major point I would make is that where is the voice of the left inside the SNP? If people who regard themselves as self assessed socialists, self-described socialists sincere in their beliefs that that’s what they are, have joined the SNP to make it a Socialist Party.

“What have they succeeded in doing? Where were they when the SNP Scottish Greens were selling off Scotland to the biggest multinationals and polluters on earth? Where were they when the SNP were abandoning the promise of a public energy company? Where were they when green jobs were declining under the rule of those two parties? And where are they when the SNP government is carrying out their cuts to local government and other forms of public services, including education? They’re nowhere to be heard or seen.

“Socialists inside the SNP, I believe, are just as much political prisoners as socialists in the Labour Party. And they should be released.

“I think political prisoners should be released and given a real home, which is what the Scottish Socialist Party is: a pro independence Socialist Party that will stand up to the Tory government, stand up to the multinationals and demand public ownership on the democratic control by workers and communities of things like energy and public transport and so on.

“So I think the days of claiming that the best route to get them socialism and independence is by joining SNP are well and truly over. They never actually existed, but they’re well and truly demonstrated to be a dead end, a blind alley.

“Because where is there even a challenge from a left winger for the leadership of the SNP? Nowhere. And that’s an indication that the machine that’s very much pro capitalist is in charge of the SNP.

“So socialists should free themselves of illusions of getting anywhere within the SNP or frankly also the Scottish Greens, let alone the Labour Party, and join the pro independence Scottish Socialist Party, which is an eco-Socialist Party that stands up for a future based on the needs of people on the planet and not of the profits of the multinationals.”