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'?


Richard T said...

You might have a point Sub Rosa. Notionally we have 4 parties in Scotland competing for the non conservative vote and the Conservative party left alone in right field but having what the commentators call a toxic brand. There is in my view a vacuum in the centre/moderate right of Scottish politics. Rule out the Greens and Labour and discount the Lib Dems, as things stand presently, and you have voters to be mobilised. In Ireland Fianna Fail occupied this ground for the best part of eighty years. OK there was the schism from the Troubles to account for it but look poat referendum and I'd guess that's where the SNP are looking.

Moridura said...

"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'."

Given that the term 'socialist' is considered by most as more extreme that 'left-wing', and is widely used as a term of denigration by conservatives with big or small 'c's, such a strategy would have zero chance of success.

The SNP positions itself as a social democratic party with a high commitment to public services. Such a positioning is undoubtedy left of centre, or centre-left, if you like. (I wouldn't support them if they weren't.)

I know of no Labour politicians who would not describe themselves as socialists - Ken Macintosh, during the Labour leadership contest, was happy to describe himself as such in a tv interview.

In reality, no Labour career politician has been socialist since New Labour - they are centre-right in the main, with a few being squarely on the right. They are Tories Mark II.



Conan the Librarian™ said...

Re Peter; perhaps a better term would have been social democrat?

subrosa said...

The SNP have played a clever game Richard. This area was staunchly tory until John Swinney won and the word socialist (or as Moridura says below social democrat) means left-wing here. That's not welcome in this area.

There is a vacuum in the centre but the SNP seem to be straddling the left and centre at present.

subrosa said...

It's funny how different areas use words Moridura. Socialist here tends to be more acceptable than left-wing these days but means the same.

As I said to Richard (above) in this area John Swinney definitely positions himself as a centrist - or he wouldn't get the tory votes, and there are a lot of them about!

subrosa said...

Now I'm becoming confused Conan. What's the difference between social democrat and socialist. Very little maybe?

Conan the Librarian™ said...

A couple of feathers less in the wing?

I suppose you can call a Marxist a socialist, but you can't call a Social democrat a Marxist.

subrosa said...

Good analogy Conan. Now I have to work out the definition of a facist. :)

Moridura said...

Socialism, amongst other things, requires at a minimum nationalisation of primary industries and public services. Social democracy doesn't, and the SNP certainly doesn't.

Socialsim was once an all-embracing political philosophy - it is now a meaningless lablel, vaguely archaic, but clung to by politicians who are so far from its values and objectives that they can align themselves with rich right-wing conservatives in an attack on working people and the vulnerable, while protecting the rich and getting quietly rich themselves. There was no place for Lords or elitist private schooling in socialism, but take a look at the thing that now calls itself the Labour Party.

Oldrightie said...

Labels are pointless. What we need is humanity in politics. All we get is selfish greed and personal ambition constantly squabbling over which tin has the most colourful and attractive label. Open the tin and every single one is full of hot air.

Anonymous said...

Where indeed does the SNP lie politically? They have successfully become the anti political establishment vote and the vote which also views independence as a means of achieving improvement, part of which will potentially be political change from the ground up.

The SNP vote seems to constitute a wide church of views and political affiliation, a means to an end. Will this throw up a significant questions following a successful YES vote. Will there be an SNP after YES and for how long?

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Oldrightie - add the word honest to humanity and I'll agree with every word and the substance of your post.

Politics in general has earned every pejorative term that has been thrown at it. To the extent the only true appreciation of centre is neither left -centre nor right but self centred.

Will the SNP break this mould. I for one hope they do. Just as I hope they appreciate and nurture the potency their commitment to this hope will bring them.

The Westminster model of democracy merely being transferred to Holyrood would not be independence, just a change of masters squabbling in the same toxic slurry pit.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

SR definition of a facist - a politician who calls him/her self a democrat while penalising the poor and supporting the rich.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

TT - a sovereign people will decide whether the SNP survives or fragments.

One certainty is Scotland will have a new broom to sweep with. How clean that brooms sweeps we will have to find out.

Demetrius said...

Could the SNP be politically foxtrotting, so to say, in this particular dance of the parties? Or has foxtrotting been banned from ballrooms?

RMcGeddon said...

I think left and right wing is redundant these days SR.
You couldn't put a cigarette paper between the parties nationally as they all support the same things with the most effect on the people ( EU, global warming scam and associated taxes, perpetual war and uncontrolled immigration etc).
The squabbles at PMQ's etc are just to give us the illusion of democracy whereas in truth they just take turns to run the shop every few years. We'll vote for anyone else 'as long as this lot are gone'..
Have you never wondered why it doesn't matter who you vote for nationally but the direction is always the same ?

As regards the SNP. Well they too support the EU, mass immigration with uncontrolled borders and the global warming scam so although we might have an 'independent' government it will make no difference.

Lots of bald men squabbling over a comb is the popular saying and it's correct.
You can substitute Labour for Democrat and Republican for Conservative or do the same anywhere in the world with their parties that claim to be 'democratic' countries.

Gedguy said...

I think the SNP see themselves as centre left but are happy to deal with big business and millionaires. That being the case it looks like the terms, 'left' and 'right' are meaningless with regards to the SNP. I think you [whoever said it] are right when you said that the SNP are grabbing the central ground. It's the obvious move to make. People are fed up of the old 'right' and 'left' wings following each other into power. I don't want to be ruled by a bunch of drunken lords or left wing union leaders. I just want to be represented by a political party that is looking out for the country's needs and not the needs of big business.

RMcGeddon said...

This is a good video that explains things well.
Edward Griffin's story of Collectivism ( left and right and their big govt) V individualism.

subrosa said...

Moridura, there are so many definitions of socialism - see Wiki.

subrosa said...

Well said OR.

subrosa said...

I doubt if it will survive as a major party TT as many will return to their 'natural' parties, which will have immediately reinvented themselves.

subrosa said...

Unfortunately it's tilting that way at the moment Crinkly.

Thank you for your definition of a facist. It fits with mine.

subrosa said...

Foxtrotting is still on the go Demetrius. It's a quickstep with a few complexities. Excellent comparison.

subrosa said...

I would say so too RM but the terms left and right wing are still bandied about.

You're spot on with your other points.

subrosa said...

Twas me Gedguy who suggested the SNP is claiming the centre.

It's a clever move because I think the left has had its day and made a total mess of it.

subrosa said...

Super link. Thank you RM. I owe you one.

Moridura said...

Far from being irrelevant, left and right as concepts are still of considerable value, especially in placing people on the left/right spectrum based on their expressed views. I am left wing, and happy to be identified - or 'labelled' - as such.

I don't have much difficulty classifying someone who is anti-EU, concerned about 'mass immigration' and borders, regards the global warming situation as a 'scam' and who deeply distrust all democratically elected politicians as right-wing.

Ring any bells, R.McGeddon?

Angry Exile said...

FWIW I'd describe fascists as socialists who are also nationalists. That's not to be taken as accusing the SNP of fascism as I don't see how a party that wants further integration with the EU qualifies as being nationalist in the first place.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"we all considered ourselves to be left-of-centre or centrist, because we all believed in a fair society"

There's the effortless (and bogus) moral superiority of the liberal left, right there in one sentence.

Moridura said...

We of the liberal left are indeed morally superior, Weekend Yachtsman, but it sure as hell isn't effortless - it takes a lot of hard work to care about people and marshall logical arguments and political action to achieve something.

Unlike firing out glib saloon bar Tory abuse, for example. Have a G&T on me ...

RMcGeddon said...


"Far from being irrelevant, left and right as concepts are still of considerable value, especially in placing people on the left/right spectrum based on their expressed views. I am left wing, and happy to be identified - or 'labelled' - as such."

Yes. you're right. They're useful labels.

"I don't have much difficulty classifying someone who is anti-EU, concerned about 'mass immigration' and borders, regards the global warming situation as a 'scam' and who deeply distrust all democratically elected politicians as right-wing.

Ring any bells, R.McGeddon?"

You've labelled me right wing. It's a handy label although I'm more middle ground in the labels game. I'd re nationalise all utilities and start criminal trials for bankers. Think that's your left wing agenda. Although your left wing party would never do it. Mmm wonder why that is ? The labels game usually fails when a full list of someone's views are known.
Believing that global warming is a scam isn't a political thought. Just common sense.

But you've missed the point of what I was saying.
Stalin and Hitler would be at the opposite ends of the left right labels game but they both believe in state control,big govt and the govt being in charge of people's rights. They will go to war with each other but only over dominance. Not over ideology.

cynicalHighlander said...

According to Political Compass the SNP are the most centrist of the lot I find the predominance of authoritarian parties most alarming.

Doing the test I am thinking of starting a 'Rebel Party'. ;)

Economic Left/Right: -7.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67

Moridura said...

My left of centre, social democratic party is the SNP, RMcGeddon. They are not a socialist party, and if you read my earlier post, you'll see the distinctions I make, including about nationalisation.

In the orginal model of left and right, it was a curve, and the extremes of the curve - far left and far right are closer to each other than anyone else.

Stalin and Hitler were both totalitarian, murderous dictators - neither ran their criminal enterprises with any regard to their supposed political philosophy. (The Nazis were the National Socialist Party)

Anyone denying global warming is ignoring the ovewhelming weight of evidence and the near-consensus of every reputanle scientic body. Virtually all of the minority of scientists arguing against it are funded by the oil industry, or one of the other polluting, despoliation_of_the_planet groupings. Since you seem inclined to conspiracy theories, there's one for you ...

But the sterile 'arguments' taking place here have taken up too much of my time. Bye!

Hamish said...

Sirely it is now irrelevant where the SNP lies withi the political spectrum.
Within a few years they will have extinguished themselves, having fulfilled their raison d'etre, namely independence.
It should go without saying that there is no place for a nationalist party in an independent country.
My hope is that we will take the opportuntiy that independence offers to introduce a better form of democracy. Anyone else care to join me in forming the Guy Mc Fawkes movement?

Allan said...

I wouldn't say they were socialist Subrosa - no socialist would back, say, the cut in Corporation Tax that Salmond & Swinney lobby Westminster for. What they are is the most left wing of the main parties and also a better re-interpritation of New Labour for a Scottish electorate than Scottish Labour ever managed.

In sharp contrast, i regard "Scottish" Labour as being right of centre - if you remember so many of their Law and order policies last year seemed to be lifted straight from a Michael Howard conference speech circa 1993. Does anyone agree?

Moridura - being anti EU is not the sole preserve of the Little Englanders in UKIP and the far right of the Tories, both Peter Shore & Tony Benn were euro sceptics and also put forward the ecconomic argument against the Euro.

RMcGeddon said...


You do confirm the stereotype of what is known as a left of centre person .
Attack anyone who dares to question.
Believes there is global warming when there's been none since 1998 ( and throw in big oil for good measure )
Go on hissy fits.
Maintain an air of righteous superiority.
And of course the main one. Run for the hills when challenged.
But your attempts at labelling is failing as people are waking up.
( I knew you would come back to peak you little devil lol)

RMcGeddon said...

"Super link. Thank you RM. I owe you one."

Can I come for my tea ? ;)

Moridura said...

I don't say that being anti-EU was confined to right-wingers, Allan, but it is one of their defining characteristics, whereas it isn't of the left. I've met left-wingers who were anti-EU, but I've never met a right-winger who was pro.

It's in the collection of shibboleths that the classification is made, a bit like medical diagnosis. If you have breathing difficulties, you may not have asthma, but if you have asthma, you certainly will have breathing difficulties.

The euro doesn't go with the EU like Laurel goes with Hardy - EU supporters have always been divided on the merits of the euro, especially in relation to economic factors at a specific point in time. The SNP position has been stay out till the time is right - if it ever is right.

But subtleties escape right-wingers - they operate by summoning up primitive emotions and working backwards to find a justification for them. As Billy Connolly once said of a heckler - "talkin' to them is like washin' a hanky in the sink ..."

Moridura said...

Your article has attracted some strange views today, subrosa. Be careful, it's the licht that's attractin' them ...



Billy said...

What a laugh Moridura - The Global Warming Scam acually comes from the oil industry - where do you think Al Gore comes from? He is from the oil industry owning oil companies himself.

It is the elite that has set up this scam to rob even more taxes from the hard-sufferng tax-payers. It is the same people that have set up the EU and are trying to do the same with North America, Asia etc in their quest for a World Government - The New World Order - not for the benefit of the people but for themselves.

It is these same people that are deliberately bringing down the economies of the US and EU countries in order to SAVE the world economy with a World Government. They control the banks and stock markets and thus control the countries - not the politicians many of whom they also control. It is these same people that are behind what is going on in the Middle East at the moment - all of these countries Libya, Syria, Iran etc are not under their control and do not have any DEBT unlike every other country which is what they use to keep people as slaves to their agenda.

Scotland will not be idependent unless they get rid of the present central bank monetary system.

Global Warming has well been proved to be a scam now - here is one example

subrosa said...

Mmm Moridura, so anyone who has concerns about the EU is left wing? Worrying.

subrosa said...

It's a difficult one AE, because we all can't be tick-boxed can we.

subrosa said...

Oh dear Weekend Yachtsman, I very much doubt if any of my friends would consider themselves liberal lefts. They wouldn't consider themselves morally superior either but just older and perhaps a little wiser.

subrosa said...

I did think the SNP had become more centrist recently CH, hence the post.

Now, would your party be left, rigt or centre? :)

subrosa said...

Hamish, I do hope we have a more progressive form of democracy but nothing has been mentioned so far. The Swiss system I like because it's close to the people but I'm sure there are others around of which I've no knowledge.

subrosa said...

Allan, most left wing? You may be right now that Labour doesn't know where it is or what it is.

subrosa said...

You can come for your tea RM. No cakes or scones though. Reduced calorie month - not that it makes a difference.

subrosa said...

Moridura, I respect all views and I don't consider anyone's view strange. What's strange is the way right, left and centre is defined by many.

I'm against the EU yet I'm not far right, although I know several tory voters who are for the EU. Then again I live in an area where tories are perhaps more numerous that most parts of Scotland.

It's good to have different opinions and keeps the mind from being closed.

subrosa said...

Good link Billy. I have hundreds more like it and yes, the AGW is a scam to fleece the hoi polloi. Shame on the likes of Gore and his followers.

RMcGeddon said...

Cheers. I'll bring the viscount biscuits :)

subrosa said...

I'd prefer Tunnocks teacakes RM. :)

RMcGeddon said...

Aye tunnocks tea cakes are excellent. Not as good as viscounts though.
That's a good deal at poundland. 14 viscounts for a £1. Bargain.
I get my bird food at poundland. At least half the price of anywhere else and the birds don't seem to mind. No champagne socialism for them lol

subrosa said...

Poundland is a 40 mile round trip for me RM, but we have an excellent veterinary supplier who gives a decent deal on bulk buys of birdfood.

RMcGeddon said...

That veterinary supplier will soon be a Poundland SR.
My local town is now 'Poundland' 'Bargain Stores', LIDL, 'Nickel & Dime' and when you've enjoyed your shopping experience go for a £5 roast dinner at 'Spoons'.
( via the numerous charity shops if you like wearing dead people's clothes)

subrosa said...

Oh RM, you're not in the Cotswolds then? ;)

subrosa said...

Not all clothes in charity shops are from dead folk RM. I give clothes to charity and last time I looked I wasn't dead.

RMcGeddon said...

SR. I did buy a nice suit from one of the charity shops that I want to be cremated in.
It's a nice suit that I wouldn't mind being seen dead in.

Observer said...

The SNP are social democrats but they are playing a dangerous game in my view by balancing policy positions which are essentially incompatible.

It's pretty hard to jusify support for public services with a Council Tax freeze. It's also hard to attack Osborne's economic policies whilst advocating a reduction in Corporation Tax.

But never mind with any luck we'll be independent soon then there will be a re-alignment of the parties, because apart from the Greens at the moment it's the SNP or nobody.

subrosa said...

Strangely enough RM, after I last replied to you, I remembered a friend (who works in a charity shop) saying most of the mens' clothing they receive are from the deceased.

Good for you. Less expense for your nearest and dearest. I like that.

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