NB See disclaimer at foot of this article!
Shock and rumours as Greens and RISE hold balance of power
In the wake of the collapse in the SNP’s vote in the Scottish parliamentary elections, an outcome that has left shocked psephologists struggling to explain how they got it so wrong – again – a seismic shift is under way in Scottish politics.
Powerbrokers: RISE and the Greens
With most voters spoiling their constituency papers by writing ‘No to neoliberalism!’ on them, the constituency vote was split evenly between the SNP, Labour and the Conservative Party (the Liberal Democrats being wiped out as expected). This has put government-making power into the hands of the Green Party and the RISE coalition, the only two entities to win more than a handful of votes in the regional lists.
Rumours are flying, but BioWrite has been approached by a number of independent sources whose stories corroborate each other and we believe that the picture we present below is broadly correct.
RISE and the Greens to mergeThat RISE and the Greens are likely to merge is no surprise, given that over the last three days many of the leading figures in these organisations have been seen entering and leaving a hotel in central Glasgow, where they are reported to have hired a small conference suite. Cat Boyd (RISE) and Maggie Chapman (Scottish Green Party) are apparently taking the lead in drafting a joint statement, of which BioWrite has seen an early version. It says:
‘It was pure daft not to have joined forces a long time ago. There isn’t a fag paper between our policies, and we risked dividing the progressive vote and consequently causing a disastrous loss of seats. We are ashamed of our former divisions.
‘We also regret not making a more explicit connection between societal problems and the underlying malevolent doctrine – or dogma – we are all seeking to combat: neoliberalism. We presented what could have seemed a gallimaufry of policies rather than a coherent series of specific remedies and preventatives for the ills caused by this pernicious ideology.
‘Most importantly, we should have explained in detail what this ideology is, with its five key elements of the rule of the market, cutting public expenditure for social services, deregulation, privatisation and eliminating the concept of ‘public good’ or ‘community’, and called out all those who openly or tacitly support it, or whose policies further its aims, even if supposedly not intended to.
‘We underestimated the intelligence of the Scottish public – its ability and willingness to get to grips with the roots of problems. We apologise, and we pledge never to make this mistake again.
‘Fortunately, we were saved by the viral social media phenomenon of 4 May, when the messages that we should have been putting out reached hundreds of thousands of citizens.
‘We shall soon be in negotiation with other parties and communities, and we hope, in due course, to announce a radical transitional programme for Scotland.’
SNP in disarray, likely to split
Like RISE and the Greens, the SNP has holed up in a Glasgow hotel conference suite, but our sources relate that the party is tearing itself apart. With the SNP having been accused in the now famous/notorious viral essay of being a ‘neoliberalism-lite fence-sitter at best’, and most of its candidates as ‘neoliberalism-complicit blandidates’, the party is apparently in a state of ‘ideological warfare’, according to one source, and ‘painful soul-searching’, according to another.
Distraught Sturgeon sobs
BioWrite has a recording of an address given to her distressed party by an equally distraught Nicola Sturgeon. Omitting her sobs, we transcribe some key points:
‘Friends, we have come far together. Several days ago, I was planning to start my post-election address to you with those same words, and I would have gone on to say, “And we shall go much further”.
Time to go our separate ways
‘Alas, I fear that the time has now come for us to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. It has been fun while it lasted, but we can no longer ignore our fundamental divisions, our lack of shared values.
‘We cannot stick together purely for the sake of power, which is, if we are honest, what we have been doing recently.
‘Those of us who really understand economics, and I make no apologies for the implied criticism in this statement, can no longer pretend to go along with the neoliberal sh_ that the wealthy create jobs and that it is necessary to attract them with tax incentives. In fact, the people who are attracted by not having to contribute their share to our country are exactly the sort of people we should be discouraging from coming here: selfish, short-sighted and economically ignorant.
‘Basic common sense, and hard facts, show that businesses thrive – and will come in – where people have the means to buy goods and services, and this means redistribution. I recommend that all of you spend an hour or two on the Equality Trust website to see how damaging inequality is in so many ways, and therefore why we must combat it.
‘Businesses also thrive, and will invest in countries, where there are excellent public services, standards of education, etc., and these depend on decent levels of taxation.
‘Those unwilling to contribute their share are generally the biggest businesses, and they are also the ones that provide the fewest jobs. For every two jobs created by Walmart (which owns Asda), three are lost. And so it is with virtually all large, so-called ‘efficient’ companies. ‘Efficient’ for whom? They may be big nett employers (and be able to concentrate wealth and therefore donate to our party), but if their unfair tax-avoiding strategies were banned, smaller businesses would outcompete them and provide more jobs.
‘Instead of taking money from and championing large businesses, we should have done far more to support small businesses, community projects, etc.
‘The environment is another huge, and related issue, on which we took the corporate bribe. Beavers, TTIP, fracking… all issues on which we shamefully sat on the fence, rather than offend the big bully boys, our funders.
‘If not worse was our championing of big oil, our policy on lowering air passenger duty (rightly called out as ‘a condescending sop to voters, treating them as selfish and short-sighted consumers’) and our failings on land reform.
‘Need I go on to talk about our backtracking on council tax reform? I think you all know what we did there.
‘Similarly, our drugs policy was not evidence-based and served the interests of the criminal fraternity. We should have decriminalised drugs a long time ago, and admitted that the underlying cause of harmful addiction is psychosocial dislocation, which has its roots in neoliberal economics.
Risked sinking the cause of independence
‘All these policies, and others – tailored to suit, or watered down so as not to offend, our neoliberal backers – progressively alienated our natural supporters and made independence under us less and less appealing. They risked sinking the cause altogether. Thank goodness for the Greens and RISE. I am glad they now hold the balance of power.
‘Friends, the time has come to be honest about our past, our accommodations with big businesses.
‘I, for one, can pretend that we are a progressive party no longer. I am leaving the SNP, and I may find a home elsewhere. I urge the party to give back what money it can to organisations such as Hydracrat Limited, and to turn over a new leaf.’
Latest news is that Ms Sturgeon has been reported as entering the hotel where the Greens and RISE are meeting, and that two other prominent SNP members (initials FE and MR) have supposedly been seen in a café with Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
Labour in disarray, likely to split
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Scottish Labour Party is in a crisis similar to that of the SNP. However, the issue of support for neoliberalism is complicated by divisions over Scottish independence.
Some members are, we believe, arguing that Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive policies are unlikely to prevail in the overwhelmingly neoliberal rUK, and that the SLP should align itself with RISE and the Greens.
Sarah Boyack, a noted ‘green’ voice within the SLP, is rumoured to be in this camp, and is apparently also proposing a Scotland-wide Truth and Reconciliation Commission so that those (of any party or none) who supported neoliberalism, whether openly or covertly, can ‘come clean’.
Voices around the country provide evidence that the dramatic election results are indeed attributable to a massive rise in awareness of neoliberalism and what it has been doing.
‘It’s that neoliberalism sh_!’
In Craigmillar, a working class area in the east of Edinburgh heavily canvassed by the Radical Independence Campaign in the run-up to the independence referendum, a good 80% of those approached said that they had spoiled their constituency vote and supported RISE on the list vote.
When asked why he had voted this way, Steven, 19, said, ‘It’s that neoliberalism sh_, ken? It’s making the rich richer and the poor poorer, and I winnae staun for it.’
SNP not trying
In Glasgow’s Possilpark, Julie, 33, said, ‘I’m a single mother, and I want the best for my children, but things are just so expensive. It’s hard getting decent food for the kids – fresh veg and fruit.
‘When I learnt about neoliberalism I started to join the dots and it all made sense. It’s greed and stupidity, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
‘I am really disappointed that the SNP weren’t more honest. They weren’t really trying. I spoiled my constituency vote and voted Green on the list.’
DISCLAIMER: This article is entirely a work of fiction and does not purport to represent the views of any of the people mentioned in it. None of the quotes is real.