Elections for Scottish and Welsh Assembly

When former Militant member and Labour MP Dave Nellist was elected a councillor in the local elections last year our editorial posed a question: The last of the Socialists? At first glance Tommy Sheridan's election to the Scottish Assembly from Pollock in Glasgow might seem to disprove the thesis that socialism, ie. the collection of failed recipes through which the Left has identified for at least half a century, is dead. Perhaps working class rule can be achieved without a serious revision of theory, practice, strategy and tactics. Perhaps socialism's demise has been exaggerated. Perhaps all 'isms' are not 'wasisms'. Perhaps as one SWP commented: 'There has never been a better time to be a socialist!' Hardly.

Despite the low turnout which should favour fringe parties, the SWP, the biggest party on the Left who stood candidates in Scotland and Wales never came close. Or even made a fight of it. Their best result was under 3.5%. Against that Sheridan polled 5,611 and 21.51% in Pollock However the Scottish Socialist Party vote across Glasgow was a mere 7.25% and the total vote nationally 1.99%. Yet that Scotland is different is proved by the 13,887 votes for Scargill's SLP in Scotland South where the SLP did not even manage to field a candidate! The SLP vote in this former mining area was a personal testimony to Scargill, in the same way the victory in Pollock was a personal vote for Sheridan. He would have won had he stood as an independent, because the work in Pollock has been put in. At the polling station it was all, thanks for fixing that stuff with the house Tommy', and the like. Sheridan won because he deserved to. He did the work on the ground. It was not a vote for socialism much less Trotskyism and clenched fists. Immediate class interests, the core programme. Hard work the secret ingredient. .

BIG ISSUE PREDICTION: The exceptions prove the rule.

Reproduced from RA vol 4, Issue 1, June/July '99