I had a wee look at the Labour Hame site the other day. At a time when Scotland is engaged in a debate about an upcoming referendum which could change our country forever, you’d think it would be a buzzing hive of activity. An outside observer might imagine it would be full of thousands of party activists and the myriad supporters of the self-described largest political party in Scotland exchanging ideas about the opportunities that the referendum presents for the Labour party in Scotland. And let us remind ourselves, this is a campaign which they keep saying they’re winning. They ought to be buzzing with excitement and anticipation.
Even though the Labour leadership is viscerally opposed to a yes vote, the referendum campaign gives the party the opportunity to present a positive and progressive vision of a Scotland in partnership with the rest of the UK, to air its proposals for a new devolution settlement, and discuss the means of attaining a prosperous Scotland which can provide for all her children. It could have seized the moment as the perfect opportunity to re-engage with the Scottish electorate. But there’s nothing on Labour Hame except a cold wind whistling down an empty corridor in an empty and abandoned building. If you stand perfectly still and listen very carefully, legend says that you can hear the ghost of Keir Hardie, weeping.
Labour may very well be discussing exciting and radical ideas which will reinvigorate the party north of the border, but if they are they’re being very quiet about it. Their devo proposals will be unveiled at the party conference, but in the meantime no one in the Labour party has any opinions that they’re willing to share with the public, or indeed with anyone else. The last post on Labour Hame was almost 3 months ago – and that consisted of the risible claim that independence would unleash the inner racist lurking in the hearts of many Scots. A positive and progressive vision it wasn’t.
See me. I’m just a punter. A naebdy. Not a member of any political party and never have been – if you don’t count the three weeks I was a member of the Socialist Workers Party in the early 80s in a doomed attempt to get off with its Lesbian and Gay organiser. I’m not paid to do this. I’m not seeking election. I have nothing to sell. I don’t want a public profile or personal publicity. I don’t seek donations and don’t want any. I do this because I am an opinionated and lippy Weegie who enjoys a spot of mockery. And let’s face it, we have so much to mock. It’s one of the few things the Union has provided us with an abundance of and I’m taking advantage while stocks last. It’s looking like it’s a time limited offer.
The point being that there’s only the one of me, and I’m not supported by any organisation. There is no one helpfully providing me with a party line to follow – making it easier to write stuff as you don’t need to bother thinking it up for yourself. My career does not depend on me getting my message across. Yet I can manage to churn out a blog article most days. Sometimes they even make sense. And that’s in between dealing with far more pressing and urgent domestic issues. So what the feck is the problem for Labour Hame?
It can’t be that they have nothing to say. Certain Labour figures are rarely off our telly screens, often providing the comedy turn. Michael Kelly’s always good for a laugh. Anas Sarwar is rapidly developing an avid following of anti-fans and hopes to replace Roddy Piper as the new Rowdy Scot and the evilest villain in wrestling.
Meanwhile Alistair Darling has become a national treasure, like River City with a more implausible script, worse acting, and a less cheerful disposition. And the lovely Johann Lamont has created a unique space for herself in Scottish political discourse. She’s our Lady Gaga, without the lady bit, but she tries hard to cultivate an image of enigmatic inaccessibility and is often seen covered in dead meat – every week at FMQs.
They have plenty to say, and some of it is true – that would be the words “a”, “the”, and “and”. But Labour only wants to say things privately behind closed doors, or in public spaces where they will not be challenged or contradicted, preferably in a BBC interview with a tame and respectful Naughtie. Which is, probably not coincidentally, exactly how BetterTogether has run its campaign to date.
Labour Hame is supposed to be a space for Labour’s grassroots, but the party’s leadership has spent the past couple of decades dousing the grassroots in paraquat. Last week Ed Balls saw fit to stand shoulder to shoulder with George Osborne and Danny Alexander, and another patch of Labour grass shrivelled and died. All that’s left is plastic astroturf.
There’s only one grassroots campaign in this independence referendum, and it’s not the one touting for a no vote. No promises nothing but the infertile and sterile wasteland of an artificial turf belonging to a uninterested and absentee owner.
That’s why yes is going to win in September. We are the people, there are more of us. We have the energy, we have the vision. We’re planting seeds, we’re growing. We are alive. And we’ve hardly got warmed up. Project Fear is very afraid.