Unite’s Len McCluskey deserves great credit for his support of the working class in these islands. However, his threat to move support from Scottish Labour to the SNP can’t be classed as part of that.
To understand his folly, Mr McCluskey need look no further than UNISON’s “The Cuts Don’t Work” report. It outlines how the SNP have cut £2.5b from public sector funding via the Council Tax freeze. This attack on the services councils provide has disproportionately benefitted the wealthy – Scots in Band H homes save on average £441 per year while those in the cheapest homes save only £147 a year. Those on welfare don’t benefit at all, but see the services they use cut.
In addition to this, the SNP worked hand in glove with the Tories to block a pay rise for low paid staff in public contracts – they voted against the living wage five times.
The SNP is also not helping the working class get the education they need to demand a good wage in the workplace. Under the SNP Scotland is playing catch-up in early years education, literacy is falling, we have 4000 fewer teachers, college places have been cut and the grant for the poorest students slashed.
Under the SNP, Scotland has seen real terms cuts to both health and education, whilst at the same time the Tories, despite all of their flaws, have increased spending on these key public services in England. Furthermore, the SNP has dramatically increased private sector involvement in the NHS.
The private sector is growing elsewhere – on the 1st of June the Scottish Government will move the Forth Road Bridge out of democratic control and into the hands of an Oxford based company. Jobs are threatened.
Furthermore, Mr McCluskey should remember that it was Labour and Unite that together demanded that the SNP undertake an inquiry into worker blacklisting in Scotland. Not only did the SNP block the request, they awarded contracts to some of the companies involved.
These attacks on the working class and the public services they rely on have been opposed by the Labour movement in Scotland. One could argue about the effectiveness of that resistance, but it will not be improved if Mr McCluskey gives up the fight and joins the opposition.