Today Nicola Sturgeon resigns as the longest serving First Minister of Scotland after more than 8 years. Turning away from the speeches and the media circus, it is important for working people to ask – what is the real legacy of Sturgeon and the SNP for Scotland?
Sturgeon’s press conference focused mostly on her own feelings and motivations and the political fortunes and outlook for the SNP. After 8 years as First Minister and almost 16 years in government, you would have expected her to focus on a legacy. She essentially said she was “very proud of what has been achieved” with little more by way of detail.
And we look in detail at the legacy of the SNP in Scotland, we can see exactly why.
- Poverty in Scotland has increased under the SNP. More than a quarter of Scottish children grow up in poverty. Sturgeon’s own constituency has the highest rate of children living in poverty at nearly 70%.
- The SNP have happily passed on Tory cuts as well as implementing cuts of their own across local and central government. Public services are on their knees across Scotland which is plain to see for the working people that rely on them.
- These cuts have been implemented at the same time as the SNP have been running record budget underspends – the latest record being set just last year, with a £2 billion underspent. This puts paid to the myth that the SNP have no other choice or that their hands are completely tied by the Tories.
- At the same time as they’ve been cutting local government, they’ve been centralising power and stripping it away from councils, fatally undermining local democracy.
- Scotland’s NHS is in just as terrible a state as England’s – and even worse in some areas – with cuts and staff shortages endemic. Rather than properly funding the NHS, civil servants has talked behind closed doors about introducing charges and costs for medical care.
- Drug deaths have reached record levels under the SNP, with no plan of action or funding to address the problem.
- The SNP’s so-called ‘National Care Service’ is nothing more than a sham for cementing privatisation and centralising control.
- Indeed, Scottish Government have embraced Tory privatisation, with smarter marketing, across the board, from local services to national industries, most infamously the shambolic ScotRail.
- They’ve been happy to bail out private companies with public money when the going gets tough and at the same time have been content to let productive industries fail and jobs along with them – including the Caley, Bifab and many others – with the excuse of a slavish devotion to EU rules on state aid.
- Just like the Tories, the SNP are locked in battles with various trade unions over their refusal to offer pay that meets the spiralling cost of living.
- The SNP have parroted the same rhetoric and sabre-rattling on NATO and foreign policy as the UK government.
- Despite helping to host COP26 and having ‘Greens’ as their junior partner in government, Sturgeon and the SNP have taken no meaningful action on climate change and continue to support the oil and gas monopolies.
The list of consistent failures for working people in Scotland could go on.
Sturgeon acknowledged her resignation would be celebrated by many and lamented by many. This reflects the fact that she leaves behind a deeply polarised country.
But the divide doesn’t reflect the real division of society into classes, the working class and those who own and control, the ruling class.
Working people and our labour movement have been divided along separatist lines with ‘nation’ being used to obscure class.
Sturgeon also said she has “always been of the belief that no one individual should be dominant in any system for too long”. However, that is precisely what she and, more importantly, the SNP have been in Scottish politics for far too long. Centralising, anti-democratic and unaccountable.
For almost 16 years Scotland’s people have been short-changed by the SNP into accepting anything slightly less bad than the Tories is enough.
We deserve more.
So where next for working people?
Scotland’s left, labour movement and youth can’t accept the lesser of two evils anymore. We can’t put off the fight for social justice and Socialism today, for the promise of jam tomorrow.
Now is the time to build a movement against austerity, for democracy, peace and Socialism, uniting working people across Scotland – and across Britain. Only a movement of this type can effectively challenge the new SNP leadership and Sunak’s Tory government.
Scotland’s Communists are fighting for:
- The labour movement to win the battles over pay and for the right to strike being fought today.
- A new mass movement against cuts to councils and public services and for the return of local democracy.
- A progressive federal constitution for Britain and radical new powers for the Scottish government to intervene in the economy – and the pollical will to use them.
- A Scottish government committed to peace and cooperation not supporting NATO wars.
If you agree, join Scotland’s Communists today and join the struggle for Socialism in our lifetime.
Young Communist League