Ross Walker discusses the events of the recent SNP annual party conference, where leader Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Beneath the apparent party unity surrounding independence, however, it is clear that strong class contradictions are developing within the SNP.

On Wednesday 2nd November the last inhabitants of the so-called Calais “Jungle” were moved from the site, drawing the operation to demolish the refugee camp to a close. The camp itself has been reduced to a pile of rubble and ash. The thousands of men, women and children who had endured its unimaginable squalor in the desperate hope of a better life now face the prospect of further fear, indignity, and suffering, including deportation if their applications for asylum are unsuccessful.

The recent hardening of Tory rhetoric over Brexit and the status of migrant workers in Britain has shocked many, prompting some on the left to wonder if we too should advocate immigration controls and others, such as Owen Jones, to fall into a spirit of impotent despair. But aside from being a return to form for Britain’s traditional “Nasty Party”, May’s hard talk reflects a deepening divide within her own party and, if anything, a position of weakness rather than strength.

Having seen off the miserable challenge of Owen Smith and the Blairites, both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell gave emboldened speeches to this year’s Labour Party conference. These were the speeches that the right wing did not want. Rather than trying to imitate the Tories, as previous Labour leaders have done, both Corbyn and McDonnell set out their vision for a Britain transformed. They even dared to use the “s” word – socialism.

Labour Party conferences have become very interesting all of a sudden. For years they have been notoriously stage-managed, and the few decisions that were taken were routinely ignored by the party leadership, which was in total control. Now things look very different. Without question, the left of the party have reason to celebrate, following the resounding second victory of Corbyn. But this year’s conference has served as a stark reminder and warning that the battle is very far from over and there remains a great deal of work to be done.

The sense of shock amongst the Labour right wing was evident from the look on their faces as they streamed out of the Party Conference on Saturday. Their dreams of an Owen Smith victory, the so-called “unity” candidate, were dashed. This has created a sense of turmoil and disarray within Labour’s right wing. Although many had conceded defeat for their candidate, they still hoped they could reduce Corbyn’s margin of victory. Despite everything, they failed miserably.

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