Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Slow Slow Death Of Scotish Labour



Act in haste, repent at leisure” – proverb

Why, It's The Man Who Saved The Union
If I’m honest, one of the reasons I voted the way I did on Thursday was the speeches given by Gordon Brown in the final 10 days re-iterating the promise of more powers for Holyrood.  With all the, on the face of it, impressive talk of timetables and motions and the liberal sprinkling of touchstone Scottish dates…  I wasn’t alone here in thinking that this was Grade A horseshit from Brown was I?

Well apparently I was, because enough people bought it for to keep their vote firmly in the “no” camp.  Those people will, I suspect, be looking out the receipts for their votes as I type this.  Even more so in the coming months if Cameron’s speech at just after 7am on Friday morning (below) is anything to go by.  Essentially Cameron tied the whole devolution question to the Tories own bugbear – English votes for English People.  It is of course designed to trap Labour, but watching them during the referendum debates willfully walking into bear traps has become something of a forte for Labour politicians and Scottish Labour in particular.

All through 2013 when the Spare Room subsidy was brought in, representatives of the Better Together campaign who were Labour politicians for their day jobs were with stunning regularity ambushed on Scottish current affairs shows by supporters of Independence.  Labour, you see, had no position on the Bedroom Tax so when they were attacked for being in favour of the Bedroom Tax, they couldn’t respond without couching their responses in the terms of being their personal opinion.  Of course when Miliband removed the member of the shadow cabinet who thought there was no economic case to scrapping the bedroom tax (Liam Byrne), he could then change his policy.  By which time the damage had been done and Labour were shown up as being too obsessed about pandering to the swing seats than be genuinely interested in a key supporter group of theirs.

That’s Scottish Labour’s problem in a nutshell.  Since they ousted Wendy Alexander as leader…  no scratch that, since Henry McLeish’s ousting as the leader of Scottish Labour group on the Mound, Scottish Labour have been more focused on the concerns of “Middle Scotland” and not rocking the boat with their Westminster colleagues and have abandoned their raison d’être.  What will have shocked so many people – about 35% of Labour voters if Michael Ashcroft’s polling is correct about those that voted for Independence – is the comfort that Labour politicians felt in spouting Conservative attack lines.

“Too wee, too poor” is the SNP characterization of Scottish Labour’s rebuttal of Independence – something Better Together distanced themselves from which in itself was a tacit confession that the slogan was untruthful.  What was interesting about the whole “Project Fear” episode was that, save for a few tweaks here an there, most of it will be re-run next year by Cameron & the Conservatives trying to repel Milliband from power.  Indeed one wonders what Ian Murray’s thoughts will be if the power companies come out and describe Milliband as some sort of mad Stalinist for having the temerity to stick his oar into the power market – given he thought that companies who advised employees to vote against Independence were indulging in their democratic duty to flag up their concerns.

Cameron, about to put a large spanner in The Brown Plan
Sorry to disappoint Mr Murray and the rest of the “Scottish” Labour mafia, but if that happens I’ll just be laughing at hapless ineptitude and inability to see it a coming around the mountain.

What the Independence referendum showed was that Scottish Labour has become something that it only defines itself in terms of what it is against.  It is against separation and is against the SNP.  That’s about your lot, which for a party who’s biggest success is recasting Thatcher’s three governments as the Bogeyman made flesh says it all.  Fear keeps the troops in line and keeps them voting Labour.  Lamont keeps saying that the SNP have put government on hold, so hopefully now that the referendum is over we will see what policy initiatives Scottish Labour have for both next year’s Westminster Election and the battle for Holyrood in 20 months time.  And that’s the problem.

There are no policy initiatives.  There are no fresh ideas.  Lamont has positioned Scottish Labour to the right of the SNP, so she talks about targeted help but uses crude methods that will only put off those who need aid and assistance from the help they need.  She also falls into the trap of repeating a Daily Mail agenda – hence why the “Something For Nothing” speech was so offensive to many people.  Lamont is a lame duck leader and Scottish Labour is tottering on the precipice on her watch.

I’m not even sure that if Labour actually fulfil their promise to enact their (pitiful) devolution proposals to the Brown timetable that this would save them.  If they didn’t though, it would exacerbate things greatly.  After all only 1,617,989 people voted for Independence.  I’m sure those people can be easily ignored…  er…  So for Milliband to play politics with the Scottish people is disgraceful.

Since the demise of the SSP there has been a vacuum on the left in Scottish Politics.  The SNP occupy a sort of centre ground/MacNew Labour position but both the Lib Dem’s and Scottish Labour have vacated the centre left ground.  For Labour, this move has proved disastrous and will prove even more disastrous as the pro-Independence groups look to fill that ready made ground.  At least events like an Independence referendum only happen once in a lifetime…

Except as I’ve already said, I think there will be another referendum.  Cameron’s tying of devolution powers to reform of the House of Commons under the UKIP friendly banner of “English votes for English laws” has made it even more difficult to push through the Brown plan.  Cameron’s speech has I think sown the seeds of discontent that will lead to another referendum within 10 years.  Next years General Election will be another flashpoint – as we see how hopeless Milliband is.  Those people looking to punish New Labour for Thursday really should be formulating a sort of decapitation strategy for next May – target key constituencies - rather than spread resources over 40 odd Labour seats.  Then there’s Holyrood 2016 where the lame duck get’s roasted.

Scottish Labour is in all sorts of trouble.  Not even fighting a referendum covered that particular fig leaf.  I’m not even sure that had we voted for Independence that would have saved Labour – as has been claimed.  All that would have happened is that the Murphy’s, the Alexander’s and the other members of the Compass Group wing that are Scottish would have decamped north.  The Emperor has no clothes and it is our duty to let everyone know about it.

1 comment:

mujerlibre said...

Spot on - and in particular "What was interesting about the whole “Project Fear” episode was that, save for a few tweaks here an there, most of it will be re-run next year by Cameron & the Conservatives trying to repel Milliband from power." Yip. For me that was the most galling experience. To be battered and despised and ridiculed by former Labour comrades intent on clubbing Yes (and me) to death with the economic-Armageddon-to-come arguments; with articles from The Telegraph and Daily Mail and even Breitbart.
Just as surely as I know I'll never ever be able to vote Tory, I know I'll never put a X against Labour's man or wummin again.
I'm done with Fear.