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Scotland gears up to finally reject SNP

Delay after delay: ferries under construction at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow. Photo Workers.

Britain needs unity, not division, not devolution. In Scotland the multiple failures of the ruling SNP separatists are coming home to roost…

Attempts by the Scottish National Party administration in Edinburgh to put forward its destructive vision for Britain have fallen on stony ground. A YouGov poll of over 18,000 people in early April suggested that the SNP would lose 29 of its 48 seats in Holyrood. Once again, people will use a vote as a tool to kick out division, incompetence and oppression by SNP, Scottish Greens and Conservatives.

But the Labour Party report A New Britain shows that it too embraces a federalist view. It wants more powers devolved to the parts of Britain. We should oppose such huge, divisive, wasteful and reactionary change.

It is capitalism that has inflicted devastation on Britain. To turn the country into fragmented and competing regions will only weaken our class to the benefit of capitalist power and increased EU influence and interference.

Rail potential denied

Examples of botched plans resulting from the separatist mindset and the drive for maximising capitalist profits are flooding the headlines.

A plan that could have borne fruit and played a big role in strengthening the unity of Britain and aiding re-industrialisation was to build high-speed rail lines like HS2.

The extension of the HS2 vision to link up to Glasgow, Edinburgh and eventually on to Inverness could have been a boon for industry, and have created the possibility of saving high-quality steel production in Britain. After all, it was the roll-out of railway connectivity which contributed towards creation of the concept of a British nation. The railway ran throughout the country from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.

But the HS2 extension was ditched.

Shipbuilding debacle

Another debacle was the failure of the plan by the SNP and Scottish Greens to provide the much-needed new ferries for services to the many islands on the west coast of Scotland. Before Brexit was achieved, the SNP administration was slavishly following EU diktats on putting such shipbuilding contracts out to tender throughout Europe. As a result some of the required ships are still under construction in Turkish shipyards.

‘Before Brexit was achieved, the SNP administration was slavishly following EU diktats…’

But it was the extreme delays to the construction of two ferry ships at Ferguson Marine yard on upper Clydeside at Port Glasgow that caused public outcry.  There had been a long campaign to save this last remaining commercial shipyard on the Clyde. As Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited it was saved from closure by private investment in 2014 (in time to save face for the SNP in the Scottish referendum year).

The SNP administration took the yard under its own control in 2019. Several years of delay ensued due to lack of investment and attempts to install hybrid engine systems. Finally, on 9 April, one ferry ship, the Glen Rosa, was launched. Work on the other ship, Glen Sannox, continues. Both are now some six years late and costing nearly three times the original price of £97 million.

Workers not at fault

The nay-sayers, putting the blame on the workforce, had predicted this to be the last commercial launch that the once world leading Clyde shipbuilding industry would see.

Representing the shipyard workers, Gary Cook, GMB Scotland senior organiser in engineering, said “The sight of such a ship being launched into the Clyde is a too rare reminder of this river’s proud shipbuilding heritage. No one, apart from the islanders, want these ferries finished more than the workers who have been blameless in this sorry process but been used as a political punchbag for far too long.”

He called for the contract for seven smaller ferries to be awarded to the yard urgently to reassure the workers and protect the skills that have been developed there.

The GMB convenor at the yard, Alex Logan, pointed out: “Given the chance, we have the skills, commitment and experience to make this a thriving business capable of building ships on the Clyde for years. The reputation of this yard and its workers has been battered through no fault of their own.” He demanded the opportunity to demonstrate that “this river can produce world-class ships, in the past, in the present and in the future.”

Major oil refinery to close

Capitalism and its political representatives are thus seen to be sabotaging rail and shipbuilding. And many other investment projects are failing too. Divisive regionalism and central government indifference allow multinational corporations to take advantage more freely.

A prime example is the failure to ensure British energy security, reinforced by the imposition of net zero policies. As a result we now have the spectre of the closure of the century-old Grangemouth oil refinery on the River Forth. This would have as bad an impact as the closure of Ravenscraig steelworks in 1992.

To add insult to injury, the British government is backing the offering of over half a billion pounds to support Petroineos Refining in its plans to open a new site at Antwerp in Belgium. The SNP and Scottish Greens, caught in the web of their own “net zero” arguments, shed some crocodile tears. But now they meekly accept the corporate plans and regard the whole episode as some kind of progress.

The workforce and its union, Unite, are opposing the planned closure and the conversion of the port to an oil and gas import terminal.

The Scottish TUC is taking on board the response to such port conversions and the broader issue of “freeports”. STUC general secretary Roz Foyer condemned the tax breaks handed out to corporate owners and said the STUC was poised to counter any company setting out to undermine workers’ wages and conditions.

She emphasised that “proper trade union recognition is the only way to ensure employment standards are protected and good quality jobs are delivered.”

And plans for re-industrialisation face ongoing difficulties. For example, in the North Sea area there is the potential to create a wind energy industry that could become a global hub for offshore wind expertise. But the infrastructure is lacking: there aren’t the ports and harbours large enough to cope.

While the difficulties in establishing energy sources based on solar, wind and wave power are becoming more apparent, the SNP and Scottish Greens remain adamant in their opposition to allowing the construction of any new nuclear energy facilities.

The GMB is protesting that this prohibition will prevent the creation of thousands of new jobs, mostly highly skilled. The union’s organiser for energy, Claire Greer, pointed out “the Scottish government has stated that nuclear energy takes a long time to build. However, so too do wind farms.” This is another instance of a Scottish administration steering a different course that disrupts a positive Britain-wide industrial development.

Common struggle

Workers in Scotland are not unique. They are subjected to the same slings and arrows fired by failing capitalism as workers throughout Britain.

Common problems – and fightbacks – can be seen across Britain, including lack of proper housing, growing use of drugs, cuts in council budgets, cuts in education funding, cuts to arts funding, problems in health and a growing drive to militarisation and war.

In Scotland as in the rest of Britain we see trade unions responding and recruiting, farmers defending their craft, youth taking on the challenge of opposing war and conscription, and a growing movement defending free speech.