Monday, 6 February 2012
Is The SNP Left-Wing?
I've never been too keen on political allegiances being described as right, centre or left wing, but last week an interesting discussion with friends developed.
Seven of us were present and we all considered ourselves to be left-of-centre or centrist, because we all believed in a fair society; one which would ensure that the vulnerable had a good standard of living. The vulnerable were defined as those unable to work and/or needed assistance to live their daily lives.
After talk about how the latest Westminster welfare proposals could impact on the disabled and the elderly, the conversation moved on to what changes would be needed, in an independent Scotland, to encourage the younger generations to aim higher. The consensus was that although higher education is far more accessible to young people than it was 40 years ago, achievement levels in the industrial world haven't increased radically.
The SNP government was given credit for ensuring students would not pay tuition fees and keeping to their left-wing agenda. Then the fun began. Four of the group protested saying they voted SNP - although two admitted to being tories with a desire for independence - but insisted the SNP was a centrist party.
Their argument was that the council tax freeze didn't help those who had least, because they didn't pay it. The same point was made about 'free' prescriptions and 'free' bus passes - they were policies aimed at the majority. The 'free care for the elderly' policy was the one which caused the most heat and genuine anger, because it is not 'free' but means-tested. However, compared with the provision made for the elderly in England, the Scots were slightly better protected.
It's my view that the SNP are now trying hard to portray themselves as socialists rather than left-wing, thus encompassing those hundreds of thousands who consider themselves to be conservative with a small 'c'. Certainly here, in John Swinney's constituency, left-wing means the Labour party and in the past few years they haven't bothered to canvass the area.
Certainly the Scottish government's popular policies appeal to a wide electorate, so could the SNP be subtly moving to 'the right'?