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Not for the first time, I have read the increasingly desperate refrain, “Vote SNP for a Corbyn government.”
The absurdity of the statement should be obvious enough to any of us who have experienced that party’s record in government. If Thatcher once claimed that her greatest achievement was New Labour, then Blair’s is the SNP. Centrist to its core.
Here in Govan, the New Southern General Hospital is known locally as the “sufferin,’” sadly a nickname the SNP government have strived to live up to. First we had little or no effort to properly plan transport for the staff causing havoc with local residents, then years of panels falling off the building, chronic understaffing, and now the unforgiveable scandal of lethal infection.
They certainly talk a good game though. Even now, they claim to have halted use of PFI in Scotland, years after their replacement scheme, the Scottish Futures Trust, had been ruled by the EU, no less, as being a PFI model; and years after they had made use of its bastard son, the private-public partnership HUBCO compulsory for infrastructure provision in NHS Scotland.
The focus is so often diverted to what they claim they cannot do. When the Tory Bedroom Tax was on its way many of us from both local government and the housing sector warned what was about to happen, and what could be done to mitigate it. We were met with John Swinney’s now infamous response that he did not want to “let the Tories off the hook.” His inaction meant working-class people across Scotland spent a year running up arrears before he was finally embarrassed into action by Labour.
It is a similar story with universal credit. Labour’s manifesto pledges universal credit will be axed if we are voted into power. Importantly, too, Labour have promised to introduce a series of “emergency reforms” which will get rid of the five-week wait, in advance of scrapping universal credit altogether. Although the SNP claim they are hostile to universal credit, they decided to delay accepting welfare powers until 2024 which would have allowed them to mitigate some of its worst effects.
Two years ago,the SNP elected
a millionaire investment banker, unopposed, as their leader in Westminster; I have pledged
to takea workers’ wage if elected
Meanwhile, the SNP haven’t presented a dented shield so much as a hammer-blow to local services, with £400 million cut from Glasgow’s budget in the last decade. A Labour government will deliver £100 billion in spending in Scotland over the next parliament, and restore Scotland’s public services once more.
But of course this is an election to the UK parliament, so its only fair that we compare and contrast the respective Labour and SNP stances for that place.
Labour will repeal anti-trade union legislation, and institute a Workers’ Protection Agency; the SNP managed to fail to mention the phrase “trade union” anywhere in their manifesto at all. Not a little embarrassing for SNP candidates who trumpet their trade union background.
Labour will renationalise rail and energy, with commitments to do the same in the Royal Mail and in the Fibre Broadband network – matters close to my heart as a CWU member; SNP has meekly suggested that buses could be allowed to be taken into municipal ownership – empty spin worthy of Blair himself.
Labour will immediately act to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage of £10 an hour for all workers over 16; the SNP promise to break £10 “by the end of the parliament,” and that rates for 16 and 18 years old should rise in line with that – note, they will not end the age discrimination.
Labour will put £250bn investment into delivering a Green Industrial Revolution, delivering a just transition as we decarbonise our economy; SNP want to hypothecate oil revenues to do the same – UK oil revenues were £1.2bn last year, a drop in the ocean.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has pledged £58bn to settle a “debt of honour” to 3.8 million women affected by the Waspi scandal. Contrast that to the SNP’s response.
It would not back a proposal by Scottish Labour three years ago to use the new welfare powers that came to Scotland to create a top up specifically aimed at women who had suffered pension age changes. Around 100,000 Scottish women would have been eligible and the plan was to pay for it by reversing changes to the top rate of tax threshold.
Two years ago, the SNP elected a millionaire investment banker, unopposed, as their leader in Westminster; in contrast, I and many of my Labour comrades in this election have pledged to take a workers’ wage if elected.
We do this not because we are ladies and gentlemen of leisure, but because we believe in rising with our class and not out of it – all the more important to me as I stand for election in my community, a constituency with some of the busiest foodbanks in Scotland.
This election then, offers the most stark of choices for the road ahead, both locally and nationally.
Only one party can defeat not only the Tories, but defeat their vicious ideology too.
We must decisively turn left, not triangulate.
We must turn to Labour – accept no poor imitations, tartan or otherwise.
Matt Kerr is Labour candidate for Glasgow South West.
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