Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I have not pressed the button on joining the SNP

As I write the membership of the SNP stands at 57,243 - up from 31,601 before the referendum. People are still signing up in their hundreds every hour, but so far I have resisted the urge. Why? because I don't think their policies are enough to make enough of a difference to real life in Scotland. What we need is system change not regime change. And that means no more of the neoliberal consensus that the SNP is part of.

Even though the outcome of the referendum, and the way the Better Together campaign conducted themselves sent my socialist nerves jangling, I don't think that committing to more-of-the-same at Holyrood is the way forward. I don't think that many of the Yes activists do either. The SNP at Holyrood is a very disciplined political machine and it remains to be seen how that will change with an influx of new members and a change of leader.

The SNP is not a progressive party. Here are some examples of their non progressive policies:

  • The number of university students from low income households has dropped over the past ten years. Funding cuts to further education colleges has further reduced access to higher education for young people from low income families.
  • The SNP does not support a reinstatement of the 50p rate of tax for high earners.
  • Proposing to reduce corporation tax, when this is a tax already being avoided by many multinationals.
  • The council tax freeze has caused local authorities to cut funding to voluntary organisations providing care services to the elderly and others.
  • Wanting to get rid of Trident while maintaining a nuclear cover through NATO membership.
  • The SNP do not believe in redistribution of wealth and want to tackle poverty through economic growth. Much of that initial growth seems reliant on the oil industry. Yet, if we burn that oil we submit our planet to the effects of climate change, which will make the world's poorest countries poorer still.

These are all fairly intractible problems for me and explain why, for now, I am not lining up to join the SNP.