‘It’s getting hot in here’: the @SNPYouth v @Rise_Scotland burger battle

The next 5 weeks are the deep fat fryer of Scottish politics. There’s an election. Power, egos, and Scotland’s future are all on the line.

One fascinating tension is between the SNP and left-wing pro-independence parties the Scottish Greens and new kids ‘Rise’, the later representing a new socialist coalition.

The competition between these three groups pits pro-indy pals, who worked together since 2013, on a new political divide. Today it took the form of a burger battle through the passive aggressive medium of twitter.

Here’s a timeline.

So Rise activists, pre-election, were bringing their campaign to the tills and tables of fast food chains. This is inspired by the successful ‘Fight for $15’ movement in the US, which seeks to engage low paid workers in trade unions to campaign for better pay and conditions.

Yet Rise’s pro-independence radicalism doesn’t sit well with many in the SNP – who are due to deliver another landslide on claims it’s their party that can tackle social inequality.

Tensions flared over the past month as the SNP ditched left-wing promises to scrap the council tax and support a higher top rate of income tax, leading to media criticism and disquiet from socialists within the party. SNP Students vice-convener Morgan Horn, for instance, resigned over the party’s tax plans.

Critics warn that the SNP is repeating the same mistakes as ‘New Labour’, who despite a wave of popular support clung to the centre ground rather than confront the scale of UK social inequality.

Following the burger spat, Rise activists were deriding the SNP as “professional politicians” and “careerists” for mocking campaigning tactics used by the trade union movement for centuries.

SNP loyalists dismiss such critics as unrealistic. They claim socialist policies are unworkable, uncosted – or they simply don’t have confidence that the individuals involved in Rise have the ability to win public support and deliver policy changes.

Dismissing both sides, campaigner Alistair Davidson said it was: “SNP yoof against protesting vs people who think party political stunts can substitute for workers self organisation.”

The original ‘debate’ included dozens of established political campaigners attacking each other on political tactics and party loyalties. It was a million miles away from the relative harmony of the ‘Yes Alliance’ that won the backing of 1.6m people, and was most successful in working class communities.

But all was not lost to election bickering.

As twitter anger boiled, a few kind hearted SNPers extended a hand of friendship and welcomed “protest politics”.

Whether Rise will sink or swim in the Scottish election remains to be seen.

But with lead candidate Cat Boyd promising the new coalition is a “project for the next 50 years”, the left-wing challenge to the SNP isn’t set to disappear any time soon.

The challenge for the SNP, now a mass movement of 110,000 members built on a call for a different politics and economic system, is can its leadership ditch electoral caution for policies that will meet wider expectations?

Michael Gray

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