SNP’s Sil­lars warns party must shift to left to stay in power

The Herald on Sunday - - POLITICS - BY AN­DREW WHI­TAKER

FOR­MER SNP deputy leader Jim Sil­lars has warned his party it must shift to the left to re­tain power. The vet­eran in­de­pen­dence cam­paigner be­lieves the SNP could lose power be­cause of sup­port for Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn’s poli­cies, par­tic­u­larly in Scot­land’s cen­tral belt.

Sil­lars is­sued the stark warn­ing to his party ahead of the start of the SNP con­fer­ence in Glas­gow to­day. In an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Her­ald to mark his 80th birth­day he said work­ing-class ar­eas in the cen­tral belt would be a key bat­tle­ground be­tween Labour and the SNP – and if left-winger Richard Leonard was Scot­tish Labour leader SNP MSPs there would be vul­ner­a­ble. When asked if the SNP could lose its ma­jor­ity at Holy­rood, Sil­lars said: “I be­lieve they could.”

Sil­lars be­lieves the SNP lead­er­ship has failed to grasp the threat Cor­byn poses to its grip on of­fice. He said that “what Cor­byn’s been punt­ing is a dis­tinc­tive so­cial­ist an­swer to the aus­ter­ity cre­ated by mod­ern cap­i­tal­ism. That will be a mas­sive fac­tor in Labour’s favour across the cen­tral belt. That so­cial­ist ap­proach has at­trac­tion and Labour has re­gained be­lief in Scot­land. The SNP now faces a for­mi­da­ble foe at West­min­ster. Un­less the SNP comes up with more left-wing poli­cies it will find it­self in dif­fi­culty.”

Sil­lars said Cor­byn left-wing agenda was at­tract­ing in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers in cen­tral Scot­land.

The SNP lost six West­min­ster seats to Labour in the elec­tion in June. But Sil­lars warned that the party faced losses to Labour on a much greater scale at the 2021

Holy­rood elec­tion. Sil­lars served as a Labour MP for South Ayr­shire and later as the SNP MP for Glas­gow Go­van, but he said Cor­byn’s op­po­si­tion to in­de­pen­dence meant he could not leave the SNP to re­join Labour.

How­ever, he warned that Cor­byn’s plans for re­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion and wealth re­dis­tri­bu­tion were pop­u­lar with work­ing-class Yes vot­ers.

He said mem­bers of his own fam­ily who were “se­ri­ous” in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers had voted for Cor­byn on June 8.

“I read the Labour Party man­i­festo and I found very lit­tle to dis­agree with,” he said. “I don’t know whether peo­ple are aware of the Cor­byn threat. They don’t un­der­stand what’s at the heart of Cor­byn’s pro­gramme. It’s not a Marx­ist anal­y­sis of cap­i­tal­ism. But ev­ery­body knows that the idea that we live and die by the mar­ket is a bla­tant lie.”

Sil­lars sug­gested that Leonard could be swept to power on a Cor­bynite plat­form in 2021 even with Scot­tish Labour cur­rently the third party at Holy­rood.

For­mer SNP deputy leader Jim Sil­lars

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