Friday, 8 May 2015

SNP Put Tories Into Government Yet Again

In 1979, the SNP voted to bring down Jim Callaghan's Labour Government, which led to Maggie Thatcher taking office, and launched an eighteen year period of Tory devastation. In 2015, the SNP, by unleashing a wave of Scottish nationalism, have once again put a right-wing Tory Government into government. Its symbolic that on the 70th. Anniversary of V.E. Day, the consequence of the SNP unleashing a wave of nationalism in Scotland, was that it allowed the Tories to wrap themselves in the flag of St. George, and unleash a corresponding wave of English nationalism in response. What Labour, and other socialists like me, had been saying for months came true, a vote for the SNP in Scotland was effectively a vote for the Tories in England. The irony is that, just as the Liberals act, of putting the Tories into government, in 2010, has led to their annihilation, so the SNP putting the Tories into government on the back of a wave of English nationalism, means that the losers will be the Scottish people, as the Tories have to live up to the nationalist expectations they have themselves stirred up. The SNP unleashed a political war against England, and not surprisingly the much more politically powerful English nationalism defeated it.

Some time ago, against all of the received wisdom of the time, I argued that all of the talk about a new multi-party politics was nonsense, and that in the end the election would see a split once more between the two parties that reflect the two main class camps. So, it has been. At Christmas, I predicted that UKIP would get no seats, despite all the suggestions they would get a dozen or more. As things currently stand, it looks like they may get just one. At the same time, I argued that the Liberals would be wiped out getting no more than 6 seats. I have made the same point right up to the last few days, despite the polls suggesting they would get as many as 30, and the Liberals themselves deluding themselves into a belief they would get more. As things stand, they look likely to get ten. The main thing I got wrong at Christmas, was the prediction that Labour would win, and the reason that prediction was wrong is that it made the mistake that the Left has always made, it underestimated the powerful ideological role that nationalism plays within the consciousness of the working-class.

The Tartan Tories of the SNP were able to whip of nationalist fervour in Scotland, and that enabled the English Tories to whip up English nationalist fervour in response. Presented with an external threat in 1914, and in 1939, workers were led to ignore their class interests and throw in their lot with their own capitalist class. The SNP and the kitsch left in Scotland, encouraged the same thing. In 1982, when it looked like Thatcher's government was on its way, Galtieri's invasion of the Falkland's enabled the Tories to wrap themselves in the flag, and romp home in the 1983 election. I saw it at the time. I was teaching mining apprentices in 1982. They were the same miners who had already had to take on the Tories over pit closures, and who in 1984 would have to fight tooth and nail to defend their jobs and communities. But, in 1982, almost without exception those apprentices said, when we discussed it, that they would be happy to go to fight in the Falklands.

As I wrote some weeks ago, this cancer of nationalism has infected the Labour Movement for far too long, and social democracy is in no place to counter it. Social democracy has always functioned on the basis of a diplomatic arrangement between its national organisations. But, the statism of almost all of the left puts it in an equally poor place to deal with nationalism too. Its no wonder that the kitsch left in Scotland became bag carriers for the nationalists, just as elsewhere they have been bag carriers for all other sorts of reactionary nationalism. They have continually defined themselves by what they are against, rather than by what they are for, and on that basis ended up with a politics based upon “my enemy's enemy is my friend”.

It was clear for the last two weeks or so that the Tories message of the threat posed by the SNP was working.  It managed to consolidate their core vote around this reactionary nationalist message, pulling back large numbers of the UKIP vote in the process.  The extent to which my argument that the Liberals had been effectively merged with the Tories was proved correct was shown by the way that the Tories simply rolled over their Liberal wing, as those voters decided to vote for the real Tories rather than the pale imitation.  At the same time, as I wrote a few days ago, Labour faced the situation where it was being opposed by every other party in an alliance against it.  The various left sects disappeared even further up their own backsides, but will no doubt still manage to delude themselves that they are the true voice of the working class, which seems oblivious to their existence. On the other hand, although the Green surge was shown once again to be a phantom, in a number of seats, the Greens managed to get enough people to waste their votes in supporting them, so as to deny Labour a majority and let the Tories in.

None of that is to let Labour off the hook either.  The SNP was able to sink its reactionary nationalism into the Scottish working class, because of the particular failure of Labour in Scotland over many years.  But, it is also down to the concessions to nationalism that that social democratic diplomacy made over the years, for example, with devolution, rather than putting forward a UK, indeed EU wide working-class response to the conservative agenda.

The rise of nationalism in Scotland and England, mirrors the rise of nationalism in France and other parts of Europe.  It poses a serious threat to capital, most immediately in the shape of the demands that will now be raised for a withdrawal from the EU, not just in Britain, but by nationalists across the continent.  The battle between conservatism and social democracy, between nationalism and internationalism has just become serious.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems like the only people that didn't think of the consequences of destroying Labour in Scotland were all the SNP supporters but then they don't really think much at all. They are all just nationalist fanatics blinded by the poisonous racist rhetoric of people like Salmond. I have never witnessed such dangerous displays of nationalistic fervor as that shown during the general election. At a time when we should be working together as a nation and looking beyond borders instead of building new ones about a third of the people of Scotland want to throw caution to the wind and force independence at any price. I first encountered the SNP in the 1960s. They were nutters then and they are nutters now.