The SWP in Scotland adopted a distinctly sniffy attitude towards the Corbyn campaign.
According to an SWP leaflet distributed at a Corbyn rally in Glasgow, “while we should wish Jeremy Corbyn well [thanks!], we urgently need a socialist alternative to Labour.”
Corbyn’s victory was dismissed by the SWP as a matter of little account for Scotland: “Scottish Labour has elected an uninspiring new leader in Kezia Dugdale. Corbynmania hasn’t passed it by, but it looks set to suffer another crushing defeat next May.”
The focus, again, had to be on overcoming “divisions on the Scottish left” in order to create a “united electoral challenge to the SNP and the Labour Party” in 2016. But as the SWP itself knows, its calls for a “united electoral challenge” are dead in the water. Sheridan-Solidarity will be standing its own candidates. And the newly launched RISE — “Respect, Independence, Socialism, Environmentalism”, a continuation of the ISG-RIC “tradition” — will not ally with Sheridan. In fact, RISE will not ally with the SWP or the Socialist Party either. Both were banned from its founding conference. All that the SWP can look forward to as a “united electoral challenge” is an “alliance” with the Socialist Party under the TUSC banner and an even more lamentable electoral performance in 2016 than in 2015.
This is no more than what the SWP deserves. The SWP’s attitude towards the Labour Party (and the broader labour movement) has consistently been one rooted in build-the-revolutionary-party sectarianism. Corbyn’s victory has now put that sectarianism into the limelight. In the run-up to last year’s referendum the SWP ditched its longstanding opposition to Scottish independence. Instead, it sought to ingratiate itself with independence-supporters by adopting a vicarious Scottish nationalism.
The sole beneficiary of that accommodation was the SNP. While the SWP boasted of recruiting “dozens of people”, the SNP recruited tens of thousands. While SWP candidates struggled to achieve even a triple-digit vote in the general election, the SNP won 56 seats. When it comes to organisations that “the left in Scotland can’t look to for a way forward”, the SWP is truly in a league of its own.
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