I’M writing in response to George Kerevan’s article “Real change won’t happen with a Corbyn government” (January 14), which I’m convinced misses out some important elements to the Corbyn-led Labour Party and leads Kerevan to take the wrong approach to it.

I value Kerevan’s political activity and articles. Whilst keeping his SNP membership card he has been vocally critical of the party on issues such as the equal pay strike, the Growth Commission and their weak position on Catalonia. He is one of the few prominent SNP figures who is explicitly left-wing.

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Unfortunately, in this article, Kerevan adopts an ultraleft approach where he dooms Corbyn’s Labour to failure before an election has even taken place. He states “Unfortunately, I predict that a Corbyn government would disappoint. By failing to deliver on its promises, it would shatter the Labour Party, disillusion English working-class voters, and open the door for the far-right reaction that ailing social democracy has provoked in continental Europe.”

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Much of Kerevan’s reasoning for this is legitimate. He makes correct criticisms of the limits of reformism and rightly makes the point that the banks must be nationalised. He also correctly highlights that the British state cannot be morphed into a socialist state, citing the example of the betrayal of Harold Wilson’s Labour government. I also completely agree Corbyn has made errors in not launching a campaign to de-select right-wing MPs who go against the democratic will of the predominately left-wing party membership.

However, Kerevan’s mistake is to forget that the party is not just one man or even a group of MPs but a party of more than 500,000, more than half of whom joined after Corbyn stood for election. The 2018 conference showed a raft of left-wing motions and speeches. At Constituency Labour Party levels, left-wing members throughout England and Wales are taking over. The Parliamentary Labour Party still has many Blairites but they are facing more and more resistance from the rank-and-file, hence the welcome resignations of Frank Field and John Woodcock last year. Amongst this rank-and-file there is also large support for policies that are important to workers in Scotland but aren’t currently Labour Party policy, including opposition to Trident and immigration controls. Many even sympathise with Scottish independence. For example, Tower Hamlets Momentum branch in East London recently passed a motion in favour of a new independence referendum.

My point is that although the Labour Party currently has weaknesses, the mass movement behind it provided a force that can potentially overcome these. I agree that if they stick to their current reformist policies in government and do not take on the capitalist system they will fail, but they will come under immense pressure to change their policy and move much further to the left. It is far from certain, but the battle is just beginning and Kerevan’s pessimism is inappropriate and counterproductive.

The approach of the SNP leadership is to relentlessely slam Corbyn over Brexit (whilst making little to no criticism of the crisis-ridden EU and its oppressive anti-worker and anti-refugee policies). In doing this they are doing the work of the British ruling class and are actually damaging the cause of independence. We must distance ourselves from this embarrassing charade and reach out to the Corbyn movement. Kerevan mentions that independence movement should not make the mistakes Corbyn is currently making. Agreed. However, we should also not make the mistake of thinking we can achieve a genuine independence and socialism without solidarity from the working class internationally, starting with our comrades in England and Wales.

Ross Walker
Co-editor of Revolution Scotland magazine