SNP Socialists hold successful Pre-Conference fringe meeting

on Zoom Thursday November 27th 2020 Simon Barrow, Anne McLaughlin MP and Cllr Graham Campbell

SNP Socialists meet to ask “Is Covid 19 Changing Our Approach to Independence?”

Report by Graham Campbell
SNP Socialists Campaigns Organiser

November 27th 2020 – Glasgow

Twenty-five SNP Socialist conference delegates gathered on Thursday November 26th on Zoom to hear the panel debate Is Covid 19 Changing Our Apporach to Independence? Centred on the launch of the new collection published by Luath Press Scotland After the Virus co-edited by Ekklesia Scotland Director Simon Barrow and writer Gerry Hassan – SNP Socialists members discussed what the post-pandemic economy and society should look like.

Simon outlined four things the COVID 19 crisis has exposed 1) the dysfunctional nature of the UK state which has veen utterly incapable of dealing with the virus – alongside the world’s more despotic regimes; 2) an interlinked environmental crisis in which Scotland is well positioned with the upcoming COP26 summit to address but has yet to fully commit to; 3) the need for interdependence between nations to tackle the virus and provide a vaccine alongside full powers of independence for Scotland to pursue a different economic path; and 4) the importance of the political (the woder social context of inequality) also being personal – we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. 

The SNP NEC BAME Convener introduced the left-wing Zero Covid campaign which sets out to follow the Independence SAGE Advisory Panel’s advice to call on Scottish and UK Govts to pursue a Covid elimination (rather than a Covid suppression) strategy. While the Scottish Govt had broken ranks with the ‘herd immunity’ UK Govt argument long ago and had controlled the spread of the virus more effectively than down south, Scotland although having fewer new infections still has one of the highest death rates in Europe with 5000 lives lost.

Scotland could not be compared to New Zealand, Australia, Germany, South Korea and Vietnam – countries that implemented hard and fast lockdown and a Zero Covid elimination strategy – and which had successfully combatted Covid 19. Graham felt the Covid impact on the economy on top of the effects of the climate change emergency, Brexit and ongoing Tory austerity – exacerbated by technological developments which will lose thousands of jobs – potentially would see measures like a four day week, protection of workers rights come to the fore in a future independent Scotland.

Anne McLaughlin MP – SNP Spokesperson for Women and Equalities – said that no-one would have wanted it to have come about this way but no one shoudl want to return to the Old Normal. Maybe people hearing more birdsong, wearing less make-up – having the patience to stand in queues has helped people to stop and think of how different life could be? Mass consumerism had to take second place to looking after each other and showing collective spirit and solidarity. However she noted the massive ongoing mental health impact and how community covid resilience response meetings in her Glasgow North East constituency has helped break social isolation.

The wide ranging discussion saw International Carers day marked by an important intervention by SNP Socialists Vice Convener Chris McCusker – a candidate for NEC elections; and several points made about the need for Scotland and the SNP to embrace economic alternatives based on WellBeing and combatting Climate Change. SNP Socialists members welcomed the chance to debate and a Post Conference review meeting is scheduled for December and an AGM in January 2021.

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