If devolution is a journey, can Dougie Alexander please tell us the destination? Otherwise we’re on a mystery tour. I went on a mystery tour once. It was all very exciting. We got on the coach and were taken to a mock historical tourist trap to be fleeced by vendors of overpriced tat, before being taken back to where we started and being dumped at a bus stop after the last privatised bus of the day had already gone. And then I had to walk home in the rain, poorer, pissed off, exhausted, and considerably more cynical than I had been at the beginning. Which anyone who knows me will tell you is quite an achievement. So exactly like Dougie’s devolution journey then.
Dougie’s been taking the Proud Scot pills again. He loves all sorts of stuff about Scotland that’s not going to change whether we’re independent or not, like the scenery, and things that happened 200-odd years ago. He cites a pair of Scottish Enlightenment philosophers, and their contrasting views on the human condition.
Francis Hutchison’s [sic] argument that humanity finds its contentment in the contribution we each make to the well-being of our neighbour contrasting with Lord Kaimes’s [sic] view that our human condition is to crave what the other owns, and the structures, and so the peace, of society are built on the laws we create to protect what we possess.
Dougie prefers Hutcheson’s Better Together caring and sharing over the implied selfish materialism of the Lord Kames nats. It’s the lookit my ProudScotBut intellectual credentials intro into the main gig. Which would have been more convincing if Dougie had spelled their names right, but still, points for trying. The wee sowel’s been making one of his plaintive pleas for solidarity again. He does that because half the Labour party hates him, and the other half is his sister.
Mind you, Hutcheson was born in Ireland, and is buried in Dublin where he spent much of his life. His work was influential to the later foundation of the Society of United Irishmen, an early forerunner of the Irish republican movement, which sought to unite Catholic and Protestant in the goal of an Irish state for the benefit of all. Kames was yer actual diehard Unionist who had Benjamin Franklin as a penpal. He tried to persuade Franklin of the benefits of Union, but Franklin was unconvinced. Perhaps Dougie ought to have thought his examples through a bit more carefully before citing them like IQ baubles. It’s Wendy that’s the one with the galactic intelligence, isn’t it?
The Scotsman helpfully illustrated the piece with a photie of Dougie in a Christ-like pose with the Squinty Bridge forming his halo. He’s a martyr for the Union, offering himself for sacrifice to the vinegar tipped spears of the cybernat centurions. He’s the saviour of devo and will redeem Scotland’s sinful worship of the devil of independence. He’s the walker on the waters of Better Together’s effluent. Yea, verily, he is the forgiving son of the vengeful Gord. And he will die a death, but will rise again, and again, as often as the Scotsman keeps printing his solidarity sales pitch. Which appears to be weekly from now until September.
But at least he’s trying to pitch a positive case. It’s just a shame he’s got such poor material to work with. He’s reduced to saying that no is positive, and getting anyone to believe that is a bigger miracle than entertaining a wedding party in Canna when all you’ve got is the bitter water of crocodile tears.
Dougie, what with him being an expert on solidarity and everything because he likes Irish philosophers, tells us:
Solidarity, if it is anything, is about never giving in or simply giving up. There’s nothing positive or progressive about walking away from the ideal or the practice of solidarity.
Only no one is suggesting that, cept maybe in Dougie’s head. Solidarity, if it is anything, is about doing more than making meaningless gestures, it’s about more than being the moral compass that Gordie lost. Scotland remaining within the union is meaningless gestural solidarity. It cannot protect the poor and marginalised of the rest of the UK from Conservative rule, and it subjects Scotland to decades long bouts of Tory governments that we didn’t vote for.
No one, least of all supporters of Scottish independence, is proposing to “give up” on the struggle for social equality, for the fair distribution of wealth, for opportunities for all. Solidarity, if it means anything, means recognising that some strategies are not working, have not worked for a long time, and show no signs that they’ll start working within the lifetime of anyone alive today. The British Parliamentary Road to socialism was crucified a long time ago, but it will take more than a miracle to bring it back from the dead. And looking at the front bench of the Labour party it’s difficult to discern anyone with godlike powers. It sure as hell isn’t Dougie.
Scotland, as Dougie points out, contributes 10% of the UK’s income with just 8% of its population. He tells us that this is something to be proud of, and it is. He tells us solidarity dictates that we should share our good fortune, because he has the moral authority of Christ by a Squinty Bridge. It’s just a terrible shame who we’re sharing it with. If we were sharing our good fortune with the poor and the marginalised in the rest of the UK that would indeed be just fine and dandy and supersolidaritocious. But we’re not sharing it with them though, are we. Dougie’s not the Messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy. Which I only wrote because a Life of Brian reference is obligatory in this sort of context.
We’re sharing our good fortune with London transport infrastructure, with bank bailouts, with tax cuts for millionaires, with defence contractors, with ATOS and G4S, with Trident and with the Westminster gravy train. And for those people, Scotland, along with Northern England, Wales, and just about everywhere outside boardrooms in the south east and the corridors of Westminster, are the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve been giving so long they now see it as an entitlement, and they take a bigger slice of the pie with every passing year. The UK is now one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. Social and economic inequality in the UK is now worse than at any time since WW2. The UK only got less equal during Labour’s 13 years in office, when Dougie held various cabinet posts.
It probably counts as monstering to point out that Dougie and the Parliamentary Labour party are amongst the recipients in this deal. Calling upon others to make a meaningless gesture which keeps you in a job at great cost to those making the gesture is the exact opposite of solidarity. It’s the liquidisation of hope.
I don’t think that’s what Jesus would do Dougie. Unlike Dougie, I’m not a Christian, but I seem to recall the teaching that Jesus died for our sins. Dougie wants Scotland to die for the Labour party’s.