what can we tell from the scottish local election?

By Allan Armstrong

The Scottish local council elections, held on May 5th, have attracted much wider interest than would normally normally be the case for such an event. The primary reason for this is the mounting speculation arising from the SNP Holyrood government’s promised Scottish independence referendum in 2014. The media has become more aware that the current UK constitutional arrangements face a real challenge. Therefore, whenever any Scottish election occurs, the runes are carefully being read to see if support for independence is growing or falling away.

The usual presumption is that votes for the SNP can be directly interpreted as support for Scottish independence. There are a number of problems with this. A vote for the SNP represents different things in different contexts. This can be seen by examining the very different voting patterns in the Westminster, Holyrood and local elections; and also by comparing these to polls showing the levels of support for Scottish independence (however this is understood). Continue reading “what can we tell from the scottish local election?”

holyrood and councils brandish the cuts knife

Allan Armstrong reports on the cuts in Scotland and the incipient resistance

The ConDem government is cutting back the Westminster block grant to Scotland by over £1 billion. A Holyrood general election will take place on May 5th and the signs are that the SNP will lose out to Labour. Just as in the run-up to last May’s Westminster vote, the governing party here is being very coy about announcing exactly how the full cuts would pan out.

Of course there have already been many cuts, but so far only very piecemeal and partial fightbacks. In the SNP/Lib-Dem controlled Edinburgh Council, the 216-year old Blindcraft workshop for disabled people was closed down in January. The council cultivated division amongst their employees by suggesting moving to a three day week, with no longer term guarantees. Individuals were asked to sign up to this ‘deal’. The able-bodied staff saw this as a method to cut redundancy pay. Many of the disabled staff, with virtually no prospect of future work, felt they had little option but to agree. The 53 employees were divided between three unions, and the council was able to get away with a closure that hit the most disadvantaged workers particularly hard. Continue reading “holyrood and councils brandish the cuts knife”

crown powers and scottish independence

The Republican Communist Network’s Allan Armstrong spoke at the 13th February Republican Socialist Convention

Allan Armstrong (SSP) welcomed the participation of the veteran campaigner, Peter Tatchell, a ‘republican in spirit’, to the Republican Socialist Convention. However, there was a formalism about the republican principles Peter advocated. This was because Peter had not analysed the real nature of the British unionist and imperialist state we were up against, and the anti-democratic Crown Powers it had its disposal to crush any serious opposition. Nor did Peter outline where the social and political forces existed to bring about his new republic.

Back in the late 1960s, socialists (e.g. Desmond Greaves of the CP and those involved in Peoples Democracy) had been to the forefront of the campaign for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland – equal access to housing and jobs, and a reformed Stormont. The particular Unionist/Loyalist nature of this local statelet, and its relationship with the UK state, was largely ignored or downplayed, in an otherwise militant and vibrant campaign. Every repressive institution used by the UK state is prefixed by ‘royal’, e.g. the RUC, ‘her majesty’s, e.g. the prisons, whilst ‘loyalists’ is the name given to those prepared to undertake the more unsavoury tasks the UK state doesn’t want to own up to in public. Continue reading “crown powers and scottish independence”

scotland – the ruling class division over defending the british union

by Allan Armstrong

The latest talk amongst Scotland’s ‘chattering classes’ is that the SNP Scottish Government’s proposed bill for a referendum on Scottish independence, announced on September 3rd, is doomed. Why? – because a closed-door debate held by the Lib-Dems, last weekend in Dunfermline, finally agreed to uphold their former UK leader, Menzies Campbell’s and current Scottish leader, Tavish Scott’s earlier decision to oppose any such referendum.


There had been considerable opposition amongst the ranks of the federalist Lib-Dems to this stance. The party is committed to constitutional referenda on European Union and on electoral reform in the UK, so opposition to a referendum in Scotland seems somewhat hypocritical to many party members. Furthermore, back in 2007, immediately after the Holyrood election, there had been every likelihood that the Lib-Dems could have joined a coalition government with the SNP. They could have made the inclusion of their favoured federal option for the UK, in any future referendum, a condition of their support. However, as with Labour and the Conservatives, commitment to the Union is far more important for Lib-Dem leaders than any notion of democracy. Continue reading “scotland – the ruling class division over defending the british union”

political report from the land of the haggis-eating surrender monkeys

by Allan Armstrong, Republican Communist Network

Political developments in Scotland are hotting-up in the aftermath of the decision by Kenny MacAskill, the SNP’s Justice Minister in the current Scottish government, to release Abdelbaset Ali-Mohamed al-Megrabhi, the so-called Libyan bomber, on compassionate grounds.


Whatever the undisclosed background negotiations behind this move, involving New Labour at Westminster and SNP at Holyrood, the political fallout has been considerable. Earlier negotiations between the British and Libyan government, involving Tony Blair and Jack Straw, had strongly implied a prisoner transfer agreement. Megrabhi would finish his sentence in Libya, in return for BP oil concessions. The Scottish government thwarted this. It denied any right to the British government to interfere with the decision taken by the Scottish judiciary, which had been given original responsibility for Megrabhi’s trial, held at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, in 2000-1. Continue reading “political report from the land of the haggis-eating surrender monkeys”