More than 100,000 Scots vote socialist

Issue 

More than 100,000 Scots vote socialist

Across Scotland, more than 100,000 people voted for the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party (SLP) in the party list vote, and a further 25,000 voted for expelled Labour left candidate Dennis Canavan. Similar numbers voted for the Scottish Green Party, taking the total anti-establishment vote to more than 250,000 — a 20-fold increase since the May 1997 general election.

It is a resounding slap in the face for Scotland's four big business parties, which grabbed 99.99% of media coverage. These parties agreed to limit their election budgets to £1.5 million. The SSP ran its campaign on £25,000.

In Glasgow, 18,581 people voted for the SSP list. Another 16,177 voted for SSP first-past-the post candidates. And in the council elections held simultaneously, 16,220 people (8% of the electorate) voted SSP. This compares with less than 8000 votes in Glasgow for the Scottish Socialist Alliance [precursor of the SSP] in the May 1997 general election. Labour's vote in Glasgow slumped from 181,000 in 1997 to 112,000 on the party list.

The SLP won some impressive votes in Scotland's smaller towns, where the SSP has less profile. In four constituencies with large numbers of ex-mining villages — Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley; Midlothian; Cunninghame South; and East Lothian — the SLP won 5%. Although the SLP barely exists in Scotland (many of its candidates were drafted in from England), the name Socialist Labour undoubtedly enticed a layer of older Labour voters to back it on the second ballot.

[Abridged from the forthcoming issue of Scottish Socialist Voice.]