Campaigners warn of “cynical tactic” to accrue more power for Tories
SCOTTISH activists, trade unionists and grassroots campaigners have spoken out over Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of snap General Election on 8 June 2017.
CommonSpace looks at views from grassroots Scotland at a time of historic upheaval.
Scottish Independence Convention
Scottish Independence Convention Convener (SIC) Elaine C Smith said: “Once again Scots are being dragged into a Westminster dog-fight that is not of our making and doesn’t fit Scottish political priorities.
“But members of the SIC are ready to mobilise all networks and members to ensure this election creates the opportunity to show Westminster that Scots insist on the right to consider independence again in light of the vast constitutional change set in train by Brexit and the explicit commitments we hope the SNP and Greens will make in their manifestos. As Scotland’s First Minister has repeatedly said that second referendum vote should not happen now but once the shape of the Brexit deal is clear.”
Vice Convener and journalist Lesley Riddoch said: “For every Scot who wants to stay in Europe and have the option of a second independence referendum, this snap election must mean the return of an independence supporting MP in every Scottish seat. Scots must also have an input into the Brexit debate because Theresa May approval ratings are like a mirror image – positive and negative on either side of the border.
“We call on broadcast media to reflect that political reality in the next weeks of the election campaign. Victory for the Conservatives means the prospect of Tory control at Westminster for the next decade or even the next 20 years as Theresa May cashes in on Labour’s weakness. That will change the perspective of many Scots and the SIC believes we must have the same chance to reassess our political priorities that Theresa May has just grabbed for herself.”
Robin McAlpine, director of the Common Weal think tank said: “Scotland’s future inside the UK became clear this morning. It’s total Brexit, total Tory. It’s not about Scotland, it’s not about the political issues Scotland cares about, it’s all about transforming Britain into a right-wing fantasy nation. You could reasonably argue that when the Thatcher era began, people didn’t realise properly what was about to happen.
“People do not have that excuse when it comes to the hyper-Brexit era. Three things now appear to be pretty certain – Labour will be crushed, the right wing of the Tory Party will unstoppable and Scotland will have very good reason to be afraid. Scotland now has only one solution to this, one future different from the nasty isolationism an unstoppable Tory majority at Westminster ensures. I desperately hope that this will wake up the remaining progressive unionists.”
Scottish Trades Union Congress
Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary, said: “The prime minister’s reasons for calling an election are bewildering. If she thinks the country is ‘coming together’ following the Brexit vote she is deluded. It is quite clear that the country is deeply divided on Brexit.
“Holding a General Election after firing the starting gun on the Brexit negotiations is a cynical tactic designed to legitimise the hard Brexit approach already decided by her Government. It will have no impact on this approach and will simply serve to shut down genuine debate on what Brexit could and should mean.
“This election smacks of political manoeuvring rather than democracy.”
Castlemilk Against Austerity
A spokesperson for grassroots campaign group Castlemilk Against Austerty (CAA) said: “The snap election is a surprise to us but given that the past few elections have achieved nothing in combating the policies of austerity we will continue to do what we have always set out to do: form a real resistance in our community to challenge the establishment and its lack of regard for our plight, and it’s only by people pulling together that real change be made. Theresa Mays agenda is not ours.”
Better than Zero
A spokesperson for the Better than Zero campaign against the exploitation of workers in under-unionised industries said: “Upon being anointed as Prime Minister, Theresa May promised she would look after ‘ordinary working class families’, however sin the number of zero-hours contracts has increased by tens of thousands in recent years. We would call upon Theresa May and all parties standing in the General Election to put their money where their mouth is and put precarious workers at the heart of their employment manifestos.
“Living wage and minimum hour contracts for hospitality workers, equal-pay for young workers aged 16-24 and legislating to ensure that 100 per cent of tips go direct to staff. These are all commitments that will improve the lives of millions of workers barely able to make ends meet.”
The Unite union acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The prime minister has gone back on her word regarding an early General Election and the electorate will remember that.
“The country now has a choice between whether to vote for a Conservative party which is determined to pursue a hard, disastrous Brexit and is wedded to continuing with miserable austerity and destroying the rights and living standards of working people, or a Labour party which is presenting real, positive change based on a fairer economy and determined to ensure that on leaving the EU, jobs and communities can thrive.
“Labour has the policy platform that voters want. Now it is time to take it to the country and win the change working people so urgently need. During this upcoming electoral period Unite’s work to support members at their workplaces will continue unimpeded.”
Business for Scotland
Business for Scotland CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “Theresa May doesn’t have a mandate for the hard Brexit her government is pursuing, so she is now seemingly asking for one. This is the worst case scenario for Scotland and our economy, an emboldened London-centric majority Conservative Government will push through with a hard Brexit which will be deeply damaging to Scotland’s economy and bring more and deeper cuts to vital capital investment, costing jobs and slowing Scotland’s economic growth through its British isolationist policies.
“The Prime Minister has clearly taken a contradictory stance, claiming now is not the time for a second independence referendum as the full terms of Brexit are not yet clear, however she is now calling for a General Election on June 8 when we will know absolutely nothing.
“The Tory’s council election campaign is entirely based on an anti-Scottish independence referendum position, and they are now positioning the General Election effectively as a second referendum to claim a mandate for hard Brexit.
“Once again, the Westminster government is showing political opportunism and not thinking about the economic impact.”
Picture courtesy of Captain Roger Fenton
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