Scotland Goes to the Polls

Damn.

There’s an election in Scotland, so naturally, being an Australian, I’m gonna blog about it.

I dunno much about Scotland apart from the fact that Scots eat haggis, play the bagpipes, and wear kilts:–which fact probably explains, in turn, why a number of my ancestors fled the place to seek political asylum in Australia, thus ensuring my ability to eat vegan pies, play truant, and wear kilts.

Anyway, one of the more remarkable features of the election–apart from its domination by the SNP, whose members now enjoy sitting in 69 of the 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament (and the fact that only half the registered voters bothered to go the ballot box)–is the collapse in the left vote.* Solidarity and the SSP both done bad; the worst result of the election, however, seems to have been reserved for the SEP. Despite the fact that “The Socialist Equality Party is the leadership workers in Britain need”, according to the BBC, out of a possible 282,371 votes, the SEP candidate in West Scotland has received…

0.

(Of course, the BBC website is trying to be tricky: the SEP done put 0 candidates up. See also : Liberal Democrats hammered in UK elections, Chris Marsden, wsws.org, May 7, 2011.)

*Well, apart from Arthur Scargill’s SLP: “With results still incomplete at time of going to press, it seems likely that the Socialist Labour Party will easily be the main electoral force on the left of Scottish politics. It looks likely that we will also outpoll both the BNP and UKIP even with their high profile media coverage and big business backing – no small achievement!”

International Socialist Group (Scotland)

Cool.

Splitters! from the Socialist Workers Party franchise in Scotland have formed a NEW! party called — with typically imaginative flair — the ‘International Socialist Group (Scotland)’. The ‘International Socialist Group (Scotland)’ is to be confused with the ‘International Socialist Group’ (now part of ‘Socialist Resistance’, the British Section of the Fourth International, to be confused with the British Section of the International Committee of the Fourth International) and will be joining the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Party Scotland and Solidarity (Scotland’s Socialist Movement) in the struggle for sand, surf, socialism, and Scotland.

Or something.

Otherwise, the BNP has fared poorly in council elections: “Extreme rightwing party has so far lost seven of 11 council seats it was defending and has been wiped out in key target areas” (BNP suffers election meltdown, Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, May 6, 2011).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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8 Responses to Scotland Goes to the Polls

  1. Sacha says:

    The boo-hiss “Tartan Tories” jibes are already being thrown at the SNP, but Salmond has played a blinder here. At least they booted out the repulsive Orange Books Toryism of the Liberal Democrats. Amused to see that George Galloway didn’t gain an MSP place on the list – the Gorgeous One tried to play the sectarian (pro-Celtic) card to no avail. No doubt he’ll be on his radio show blaming Mossad, the CIA, the House of Saud, the mascot of Glasgow Rangers FC, Elvis Presley, C Montgomery Burns etc for his defeat. He needs his indefatigability to be saluted.

  2. Foot Soldier says:

    Any well run political party would be able to take on the anti-racists. The BNP has failed because of bad leadership. A bad leadership that has made bad decisions. I wonder what Darrin Hodges and the Australian Protectionist Party thinks of the BNP failure. The BNP failure does not discredit racial nationalism but discredits civic nationalism and trying to be a satellite of the Tory parties. It discredits Hodges and his APP. Jim Saleam has been proven correct after nearly a decade of warning Australian nationalists about going down the Griffin road. Tyndall knew the truth about Griffin as far back as the 1990s. This has nothing to do with nationalism but about one man’s greed and selfishness.

  3. @ndy says:

    G’day Peter,

    I don’t think it’s that simple.

    So, of course a fascist party such as the BNP should, ideally, “be able to take on the anti-racists”. In fact, given widespread public revulsion at its racism and fascism, and the existence of an organised political opposition to it, the BNP in particular simply has to: it has no choice. But the BNP’s success–and that of fascist or populist right-wing parties generally–in confronting or ‘taking on’ this opposition doesn’t depend simply on how “well run” they are. Thus a fascist party can be very well run, and still fail on this count.

    I’d suggest that the BNP’s lack of success is attributable, at least in part, to the opposition it has faced from groups such as ‘Hope Note Hate’ (among others: groups which, it should be noted, embrace a range of political viewpoints, ranging from the more liberal to the overtly revolutionary). The ‘Hope’ campaign in particular seeks to mobilise, as part of a more general counter-propaganda campaign, political opposition to the BNP at the ballot box. It seems to me that this campaign deserves some credit–or blame, depending on one’s perspective–for the party’s electoral decline.

    Keep in mind that in its earlier incarnations, the BNP sought to dominate the streets, a strategy which failed on account of the opposition it encountered, and which in turn lead to Griffin’s espousing, in the mid-1990s, the party’s need to swap ‘boots for suits’. This electoral about-face experienced some success–Griffin is one of two BNP Euro MPs, and until recently the party enjoyed a relatively large number of seats on various local councils–but appears to have been failing of late. As noted, this is partly explicable by way of the campaign against it; it also appears to be due to Griffin’s own incompetence and/or corruption and widespread cronyism, two matters which are intimately related.

    Currently, Griffin loyalists dominate the party’s executive. This has produced ongoing difficulties as it has resulted in important positions being occupied by his mates rather than the ‘best-qualified’ candidates. (Of course, an autocratic leadership is part and parcel of almost any fascist organising project of any size or stature, and is surely ironic given more general political commitments to authoritarianism.) In the case of the most recent electoral failures, part of the reason can be found in the fact that the party has far less resources available, both financial and human, to devote to campaigning. This is because Griffin has made a number of very unwise and quite expensive (possibly even disastrous) decisions on various legal matters, decisions which have resulted in the party hemorrhaging funds which might otherwise be devoted to party propaganda and organisation. Griffin’s lack of accountability has also meant that there is widespread demoralisation among the party’s rank and file, resulting in numerous resignations, schisms and splits.

    The other factor which must be taken into account with regards the BNP’s apparent lack of success relates to the objective circumstances in which the party finds itself, in particular its failure to capitalise upon widespread resentment and mounting opposition to the Government’s austerity program.

    But that’s another story. So too, whatever lessons the BNP might hold for local fascists.

  4. Foot Soldier says:

    If the BNP was ever fascist, it is no longer so. The BNP is little more than a fan club of Griffin and a piggy bank. Its politics are just ways for Griffin to get money out of people. John Tyndall, on the other hand, did not run the Party as a dictatorship nor did he seek to “mainstream” the Party. The BNP won its first seat on a council six years before Griffin took over. Back than, the Party still took a hardline approach on policy matters. Tyndall pointed out earlier last decade that the success of the BNP at the beginning of the 2000s had nothing to do with Griffin. The 2001 race riots, war on terrorism and the failure of multiculturalism/racialism contributed to the success of the BNP. There was no “widespread public revulsion at its racism and fascism”. The BNP has been around since 1982. There has been many media reports about its links to [boneheads] and neo-Nazis. The Cook Report on ITV back in the late 1990s “exposed” Griffin and the BNP as a “bunch of racists”. But clearly one million people didn’t care. Regardless of the reports dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, people in the 2000s and 2010s have given the BNP enough votes to keep on winning seats on councils and even in the European Parliament. As noted by the British Guardian, the BNP has been mainly losing votes because of internal fighting, bad leadership and management. You can’t run any political party like that. Just look at what happened to the Australian Democrats, CPA, One Nation and the Democratic Labor Party. 23% of Queensland voted for One Nation in 1998 because of what the Party stood for. But the Party “mainstreamed” itself and started to purge people. Once that happened, the reason why so many people voted for the Party was lost. One Nation kept a numbers of seats at the 2001, 2004 and 2006 elections. But it finally lost its last seat at the 2009 election. Same with the Australian Democrats. The BNP, if things are not changed, will go the same way. That is the fate of most minor parties that are successful in the short term regardless of their politics.

  5. Sacha says:

    @FootSoldier: “John Tyndall, on the other hand, did not run the Party as a dictatorship nor did he seek to “mainstream” the Party”. Have to disagree with this – one of the reasons that Tyndall left/was booted out of the National Front was that he wanted to “reform” the NF Directorate (run on “democratic” lines) so that all actual and de-facto authority would be transferred to him. He didn’t get his wish, hence the booting out/flouncing. This info comes not from the usual Searchlight etc sources, but from people actually on the Directorate at the time – ask Andrew Brons, for example.

    After the disaster-fest that was the New National Front, Tyndall co-founded the BNP in 1982, with a constitution to ensure that all powers and influence would reside with him. The BNP put in the bits and bobs in the constitution about elections to the chairmanship, but he always assumed that he would remain unchallenged, due to his status, history, principles, conviction etc. Big mistake, as it was ironically Councillor Beackon’s (somewhat short-lived) election to the Millward ward in 1993 that galvanised the “reformers” (Eddy Butler, Tony Lecomber et al) to push for electoral success rather than the “fists and boots” strategy. Tyndall, a man forever looking towards Moseley and the “Fuhrer Prinzip”, wasn’t convinced, and only adopted these tactics after a near-mutiny within the BNP about the “march and grow” failure. It was because Tyndall was seen as yesterday’s man that Griffin was persuaded (by Tony Lecomber in particular) to stand against Tyndall in 1999. The rest, of course, is history.

  6. Foot Soldier says:

    Yes, Tyndall was one of the strong men of politics. An Australian example would be Peter Symon in the Australian Communist Party. But Tyndall, unlike Peter Symon, had success. Membership of the BNP grew in the 1980s and 1990s. They won a seat on a council as you said in 1993. The fact that they won an elected position goes to show in some way that Tyndall’s method work[ed]. Tyndall did not make the legal mistakes that Griffin made. The BNP would have made the same gains in the early 2000s regardless of whether or not Griffin would have taken over. Griffin, Butler and others have all been dickheads. Tyndall wasn’t a dickhead. The fact is that, if [the] BNP is to recover, Griffin must be removed and [the Party] handed over to someone like John Tyndall. Of course he is dead [!] so someone in his faction. Someone born after probably 1970[!]. But still, I believe the future of nationalism in Britain rests with the British National Front. Eddy Morrison and his mates are doing a great job.

  7. @ndy says:

    Conclusion

    What is of interest here is how anyone given Morrison’s history would actually follow or support him in the NF? He has been a member of dozens of factions and parties, been accused of grassing, has a history of disruption and a serious drink problem: his apparent untrustworthiness is exceptional even for the most extreme fascist loser. The situation is down to both ego and the numbers game as well as a social desperation. To be the ‘Führer’ of a party, however tiny, gives people a sense of purpose in an otherwise bleak and marginalised existence. These obscure fascist groups are stuck for numbers and rather than opting for quality they go for quantity, taking on anyone who shows a vague interest despite their questionable history. With inevitable results. As they hold views that the vast majority of people think are either repulsive or demented, they can only congregate with likeminded people and remain socially ostracised. The membership of an obscure fascist clique helps remedy this isolation. And characters like Morrison will continue to thrive there. We can maybe take solace in this fact, that alcohol and egomania have done more to damage fascism than anything else.

  8. Lumpen says:

    Tyndall wasn’t a dickhead. The fact is that, if [the] BNP is to recover, Griffin must be removed and [the Party] handed over to someone like John Tyndall. Of course he is dead [!] so someone in his faction. Someone born after probably 1970[!].

    Still seems like Tyndall is in the lead as the most qualified man to run the BNP.

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