Across the road from my flat, there a tree with a plastic bag caught in its branches, blown there in the high wind. The plastic bag is full of nothing but air, which makes it exactly like Richard Leonard delivering the latest party political broadcast for the Scottish branch office of the Labour party, although to be fair the plastic bag is considerably more animated than Richard could ever manage. Eventually the bag will work its way loose of the branch, it may even fly high, but Labour in Scotland will be stuck on a minor branch forever, flapping about uselessly in the breeze. Even those who still vote for the party have given up wishing that Labour in Scotland will ever get any better, they’re just hanging on in the vague hope that it might suck a little bit less. And they’re still constantly disappointed.
It would be churlish to doubt Richard’s personal commitment to redistribution, to social justice, to equality, to challenging deprivation. It’s just that he delivered his piece to camera with all the passion of a nodding dug on the parcel shelf of a car, and with remarkably similar gestures to one of those animatronic figures you find at the entrance to a ghost train ride in a tired seaside town and with an equally predictable lack of thrills. The only thing stopping him from nodding his head as he robotically moved his arms up and down was that there was a big red scarf wrapped several times around his neck, which had the unfortunate effect of making him look like he was in the process of being given birth to by a large wooden plank. Richard clearly lives in a house without mirrors.
It was so boring that all over Scotland people were wishing that he’d go and play with matches. It was so boring that we were longing for a David Torrance lookalike. Anything, anything to break the monotony. Even James Kelly doing an impression of that boring guy in the pub who pontificates at the end of the bar about the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act would have been a relief by this point.
For those of you who had switched over channels, gone off to make a cup of tea, or were banging your heads off the coffee table in frustration, the basic message of the broadcast was twofold. Vote for us because we did stuff seventy years ago, and vote for us because we promise to undo all the stuff that we did when we were in power the last time. Labour is apparently the champion of equal pay for women, even though it was Labour controlled councils which were the worst offenders in paying female council employees less than their male counterparts and which fought tooth and nail to prevent them getting redress. Labour is opposed to zero hours contracts even though they first mushroomed under the last Labour government. There’s also going to be lashings of jam, better public services, a higher living wage. It’s going to rain gold coins from the sky and everyone with an ironic beard and tattoos will get free avocados.
Oh, and they don’t want another referendum. Richard didn’t say why. Just because. I always thought that Iain Gray was the least exciting and least charismatic politician in Scotland, but even he could work up a bit of enthusiasm when it came to bashing Thatessempee. Richard can’t even manage that. He only won the branch office leadership because Labour MSPs hated him slightly less than they hate everyone else in the party.
Just like the Tory party broadcast the other week, Labour’s offering failed to mention the single most important issue facing Scotland and the rest of the UK. Brexit was notable solely for its absence. This is not unconnected to the fact that Richard voted along with the Tories in Holyrood for Scotland to suck Brexit up, but it has even more to do with the fact that Labour’s policy on Brexit manages to make that of the Conservatives appear principled and well-thought through. If you want an example of naked opportunism, you could do a lot worse than look at a Labour party leadership trying to attract support from people opposed to Brexit while at the same time pursuing Brexit as relentlessly as the Tories. Labour is so full of crap it makes a toilet jealous.
Under Jeremy Corbyn the Labour party has set up no less than eight policy commissions in order to consult with party members and help to determine party policy for the next general election. There’s a commission on the environment, one on the economy, one on justice and home affairs. There’s a commission for everyone, except there isn’t a commission that’s dealing with Brexit. When asked why Labour wasn’t developing a policy on the most important and pressing issue facing the UK today, the party replied sniffily that its international affairs commission was dealing with Brexit. Which would be fine, only the international affairs commission has made it clear that it’s not accepting submissions about Brexit. Brexit isn’t on the agenda for the commission’s next meeting. Just like their party political borecast, Labour wants to pretend that Brexit isn’t happening.
But Brexit is happening, and because of the economic damage that it’s going to inflict Labour won’t be able to afford all the jam that it promises in its party political broadcasts. What makes it even worse is that the Labour leadership can’t, or more likely won’t, tell us exactly what it is that they want Brexit for. At least the Tories can come up with some reasons for why they want Brexit, they might be stupid reasons, they might be lying reasons, they might be utterly unrealistic reasons, but they do have some reasons. All you get from Labour is the shuffling of feet and looking elsewhere in the hope there’s a cute wee kitten to act as a distraction.
Just like the Tories, Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard both want Brexit to happen, maybe if Richard had told us why then the party political borecast might have been marginally more watchable. But then that would have entailed Labour dealing with reality, and that’s the one thing that the Labour party in Scotland can never face up to.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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