Every time you think that the Labour party in Scotland might just possibly see that there’s a glimmer of a path to redemption, it ties a red white and blue flag over its eyes as a blindfold and preaches to Scotland about solidarity with people who never manage to demonstrate any solidarity with Scotland. Which would be bad enough, but the only solidarity that Labour in Scotland actually demonstrates itself is solidarity with the Conservatives. Despite the fact that Labour’s solidarity with the Tories in the Better Together campaign resulted in the near destruction on the party and the annihilation of its Westminster contingent, they’re about to repeat the same trick in a future independence referendum. As a party Labour has become addicted to self-harm.
During the last independence referendum, Labour vilified those of its supporters and members who came out in favour of independence. Labour for Independence was publicly accused of being an SNP front organisation despite being set up and run by long standing Labour members who had no connection with the SNP. The smears of the party hierarchy were repeated in the media, and Labour for Independence was given no chance to defend itself. After the referendum, it was made very clear to those independence supporting members by the triumphalist Unionists that there was no place in the Labour party for them. Now there’s the prospect of another independence referendum, and Labour is repeating the same narrow minded mistake.
Kezia Dugdale has been on a course in the USA over the past few weeks, where she seemingly learned that it is in fact possible for her party to make its impossibly bad situation even worse. Returning from her trip, she’s tripped into the Brexit debate with a trippy intervention. Whereas the Scottish government wants to explore all the possible options which allow Scotland to maintain its EU membership, Labour has already decided to rule out the option which has the best chance of securing it. Brexit, says Kezia, is not a reason for independence.
Mind you, Labour, or at least the part of it that Kezia represents, doesn’t think anything at all is a reason for independence. Kezia wants Scotland to snap on the dog collar and be dragged out of the EU against our will with Westminster holding the leash, because solidarity, and because reasons, and because isn’t Owen Smith a great leadership candidate. Although in this analogy it’s Westminster which is the bad puppy who craps on Scotland’s pavement, and Scotland who has to live with the mess. Yet again, Labour in Scotland shows itself to be not a party of Scotland, not a party of defending Scottish interests, but a party which wants to complain on the sidelines about the SNP while allowing the Tories to get on with the business of destroying working class opposition to their rule.
After all, says Kezia, not everyone in Scotland voted to remain in the EU, showing an amazing degree of concern for the rights of a minority which Labour failed to show to the far larger minority which voted for independence in 2014. Some minorities are more important than others, and the minorities that permit a veneer of justification for the maintenance of Westminster rule are the most important minorities of all. In fact they’re so important that they’re even more important than the majority.
Interestingly this major new policy announcement wasn’t made by Kezia along with her deputy leader Alex Rowley. It was made by Kezia alongside Jackie Baillie. That’s the Jackie Baillie who supports Trident renewal on the basis that it creates a bazillion jobs in the Helensburgh area. According to Jackie, Trident isn’t really a weapon of mass destruction, it’s a means of ensuring that there are more jobs in Helensburgh than there are people in Helensburgh. But then as far as Jackie is concerned arithmetic is one of the creative arts.
Just a short while ago the deputy leader had said that he thought that it was perfectly justified of the SNP to hold another independence referendum given the circumstances. He also said a couple of days ago that he wanted the party in Scotland to unite behind Jeremy Corbyn, and released a statement to that effect on the same day that Kezia called on Jezza to quit. Kezia’s bid to stamp down on anything independencey amongst her party colleagues is yet another instance of the infighting in the party leadership. The fighting and disputes which characterise the Westminster party are fully evident in the party in Scotland too, not that the Unionist media in Scotland has bothered to question the party leader in Scotland about them.
Effectively what the Kezia/Jackie faction of the Labour leadership in Scotland have done is to rule out any serious attempt to resist the Tory Brexit. Faced with a choice between an independent Scotland that’s a part of the EU, and a Scotland outside the EU that’s a part of the UK, they choose dependency. They choose submission. They choose to deny the majority which voted to remain a part of the EU.
Instead of resisting the Tory Brexit, Labour wants us to accept it, and demands that Scotland spends yet more of its limited budget in an attempt to ameliorate the damage that the loss of EU funding is going to cause to investment in our communities and infrastructure. Labour wants the Scottish government to use its borrowing powers to borrow the money, but when you borrow money you’ve got to pay it back with interest. Naturally they don’t say where the money to repay the loans is going to come from, but you can bet your bottom euro that if such a fund was to be established that Labour would be the first to complain about the supposed SNP cuts in other areas of the Scottish government’s expenditure that would be required in order to pay for it.
Labour does this while denying Scotland the ability to grow its own economy, because that can only be done by a Holyrood which has control over all the levers of tax and spend – in other words the parliament of an independent country.
Meanwhile we can see the dire effects on Scotland of remaining a part of this mismanaged and misbegotten Union. For all that the Unionists shriek that Scotland would be poorer than Greece if it went independent, a report issued this week shows that wages in the UK have fallen by an extent matched only by near-bankrupt Greece. The income of the richest in the UK has continued to increase at the expense of the poorest. So much for those broad shoulders. So much for pooling and sharing. So much for the best of both worlds.
This is the UK that Labour wants Scotland to remain a part of. This is a UK where the Conservatives enjoy a 16% lead in the polls, tearing apart what remains of the tattered fabric of social cohesion while Labour tears itself apart. This is a UK where the chances are that we’ll have Conservative governments for years and years to come, doing untold damage and completing the conversion of the UK into a low-wage low-rights authoritarian tax haven for the rich. And Labour’s solution to this is to squeak like a mouse and offer a sticking plaster on an amputation while blaming those who seek an escape from the mad Tory axemen and women. Scotland has no use for a Labour party that prioritises the interests of the British state above the interests of Scotland. We’ve already got such a party, they’re called the Tories. Kezia Dugdale’s announcement on ruling out an indyref is a solidarity pact with the Tories, and a suicide pact for her party.
Labour can vote for its own demise if it wants, but the rest of Scotland won’t be following suit.
Audio link to this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984, https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/labours-suicide-pact-wee-ginger-dug-27th-july-2016
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