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Response to Ironing Man (Reply #5)

Tue Nov 3, 2015, 02:55 PM

7. There is no "plan to seperate Scottish Labour from UK Labour".

I give you all credit for making an honest effort to understand some of the dynamics at play in Scottish politics nowadays.

But such a separation as you mention can't be achieved as the structure of the party stands, and there's no evidence at all of any serious ambition by Shadow First Minister Kezia Dugdale or her shadow cabinet to do so, nor does Jeremy Corbyn show any sign of envisaging or sanctioning this - he's very much a unionist where Scotland's concerned, in contrast to his stance on Irish issues.

The tail of Scottish Labour will always be wagged by the dog of the UK Labour Party. Any politician who tries to tell you different is plain lying. All you're seeing right now is public scrutiny of tensions and conflicts that have been part of what Labour is for a long, long time, probably since its inception, just more glaringly obvious nowadays. It's always been a broad church. That's been a strength and a fatal weakness at different times.

Just look at the rapid pushback from Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle on the Trident successor if you want proof of what I'm saying: https://www.politicshome.com/foreign-and-defence/articles/story/maria-eagle-slaps-down-scottish-labour-trident

Even the Scottish Labour vote by around 70 per cent to 30 against the Trident replacement at the weekend was presaged the previous day by a vote that included the stipulation that "renewing Trident would support the steel industry". That's just opportunist politicking, and meaningless in real terms.

Today the Scottish Parliament voted 96-17 to oppose the successor to Trident. These MSPs voted in support of the successor:

Conservative MSPs

Ruth Davidson (Glasgow)

Jackson Carlaw (West Scotland)

Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries)

Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland)

John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Annabel Goldie (West Scotland)

Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife)

John Scott (Ayr)

Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands)

Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland)

Nanette Milne (North East Scotland)

Liberal Democrat MSPs

Jim Hume (South Scotland)

Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Alison McInnes (North East Scotland)

Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Labour MSPs

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton)


Just one Labour MSP supported it publicly - Jackie Baillie, whose constituency includes the Faslane and Coulport bases (and where I happen to live), and who will make up any ridiculous porkies she feels she needs to about the number of jobs at stake (official figures released under FOI legislation put it at 500-600 direct jobs, Baillie's burbled on the record about anything between 9,000 jobs and 13,000 and counting, and never clarifies where she gets these figures or what they're actually measuring - Faslane services a whole lot more than Trident) in order to try to hang on to her seat at Holyrood, as that's the only argument she has - "Morality aside", she declared at a Hiroshima Day commemoration I attended one year, "it creates jobs." Oh, how we laughed.

Baillie's in the Scottish shadow cabinet. Even her party leader, Dugdale, a declared multilateralist, voted against the Trident replacement today. Scotland's lone MP, Ian Murray, although to the right of the party on a number of issues, is also solid on this, and there's been discussion of how his place in the UK shadow cabinet can stand if he were to defy the whip at Westminster on a Trident successor vote (the expectation is that he would tactically abstain).

The only way such a separation as you mentioned could be achieved is to abandon the formal and financial links between the UK Party and its Scottish subsidiary and set up a whole new party in Scotland, with lip service to fraternal co-operation on common priorities, as exists between other parties. Otherwise it's always going to result in the sort of ugly fudge we're seeing now on key issues, which actually just makes Labour look as chaotic and divided as it really is, and isn't going to win any votes of confidence from people who support one or the other view among the electorate either in Scotland or the rest of the UK.

As for Corbyn himself, I know the guy of old. He spoke eloquently at a fringe meeting at a Manchester CND Conference I attended back in the 1980s on the issue of nuclear disarmament, and I give him credit for consistency over the years. I know where he stands, and I also know he's never been a weathervane on this, always a signpost.

I can't say the same about the Scottish Labour Party (despite today's vote), nor the UK one.

I used to be a Labour activist, CLP delegate, the lot. I lived through the transition to Kinnock, whose scorched-earth disdainful policy towards those of us who campaigned on the ground (on the basis that we had nowhere else to go and weren't needed any more as there were other ways to reach the electorate) was completed by Blair, and whose legacy is at the root of the Labour Party's current unappealing schizophrenia on so many issues.

Once you abandon principles on such key issues as nuclear weaponry for electoral gain (bear in mind this whole issue is more pressing for people in Scotland as we actually host the missiles and submarines - they sail past my front window!), you open the door to a situation where what's next? Clause 4. Public ownership. You don't seek to persuade others to accept your currently unpopular moral stands, you make yourself a slave to focus groups, and the fickle and often distracted and contradictory mishmash of opinions that a random bunch of people will come out with when fed leading questions by a pollster with receptive ear.

Scottish Labour needs to forget trying to vie with the SNP for votes all the time and look for some bloody principles and stick to them consistently for a considerable period, and stop doing what US Republican campaign strategists are so fond of by focusing only on winning each day's news cycle (people may be distracted by everyday concerns at times, but they're generally not stupid, and they can grow to deeply resent those who make it blatantly obvious that they assume they are for political gain). Then it may regain some ground in Scotland.

Unfortunately for Scottish Labour, I don't think this is possible under the current - and only recently elected - Scottish leadership. And I see nobody in the wings who could do better for them.

Basically, if it's ever to hold power in the UK again, Labour needs to focus on the rest of the UK beyond Scotland. It can't be all things to all people. It should stop trying to be. There are votes out there to be had among people who have been so disillusioned that they've disenfranchised themselves. Chasing Tory voters or Lib Dem voters or UKIP voters is a fool's errand. They'll maybe become Labour voters if they can figure out what the hell the party stands for, and feel like they can trust that this isn't going to change tomorrow or next week or when the next media onslaught or opinion poll shifts the goalposts.

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Jeneral2885 Nov 2015 OP
2naSalit Nov 2015 #1
T_i_B Nov 2015 #2
Ironing Man Nov 2015 #3
T_i_B Nov 2015 #4
Ironing Man Nov 2015 #5
muriel_volestrangler Nov 2015 #6
LineLineLineLineLineNew Reply There is no "plan to seperate Scottish Labour from UK Labour".
Denzil_DC Nov 2015 #7
Ironing Man Nov 2015 #8
Denzil_DC Nov 2015 #9
Nihil Nov 2015 #10
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