Deep in a dark cave, eroded away over the millennia, covered by thousands of years of lime deposits, are the very faintest traces of some of the oldest art work ever created, scratched into the rock by early humans. Those enigmatic engravings have a higher profile, are more accessible, and are more relevant to modern society than anything that ever comes out of the mouth of Labour’s shadow Scotland Secretary. Say the name Lesley Laird to your average punter and ask who she is, and at best you’ll get a vague look and a shrugged shoulders suggestion that she might possibly be a minor character in a soap opera. And that would be true.
To give her credit, Lesley Laird has realised one notable political achievement, and it’s something that is pretty considerable. It’s an incredible attainment that most neutral observers would not have thought possible, but Lesley has managed it. Go Lesley! No really, just go. The Shadow Scotland Secretary is even less effective and has less of a presence as a voice of Scotland in Westminster than Fluffy Mundell. Lesley’s voice for Scotland is an acoustic miracle, bats can’t detect it.
It’s quite remarkable that even those of us who follow Scottish politics obsessively hardly know who she is. Could you recognise her from a photie? I rest my case. That means either that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party doesn’t prioritise Scotland, or that Lesley is even less useful and more inept than a man who is widely likened to a stuffed toy. Or both, because those two options are not mutually exclusive. Her great contribution to the branch meeting of the Labour party’s Scottish franchise was to call for the Scottish Government and the British Government to release information that they’d already released. This doesn’t inspire confidence that she’s actually paying attention.
Lesley wasn’t the only remarkable politician of note to attend the conference. This was Richard Leonard’s first gig as branch office manager, and Richard is himself a remarkable man with a singular talent. Unfortunately that talent is that he doesn’t just make Iain Gray seem lively, witty, charismatic and charming, he also makes James Kelly seem lively, witty, charismatic and charming. Listening to Richard Leonard is the aural equivalent of mogadon, only without the attention to detail, finesse, and incisiveness that comes from being out of your tree on major tranquillisers. However because Richard is originally from England, criticising him is, at least in Richard’s book, anti-English racism and it’s wrong.
It’s safe to say that despite the expectations of the British nationalists of a Westminster parliamentary road to socialism persuasion, Labour’s Scottish branch office conference didn’t exactly set the heather alight, even though Scottish Labour peer Mike Watson, Baron of Invergowrie, is Jeremy Corbyn’s education spokesperson in the Lords and he’s an actual arsonist. That’s not to say that there was no fire at the conference, it’s just it was of the wrong sort. It started badly when the party confused its founder Keir Hardie with Oliver Hardy, which is an easy mistake to make when your branch manager at Furst Meenister’s Questions is difficult to distinguish from Stan Laurel. And it’s a very fine mess that you’ve got your party into, Richard.
There was plenty of fire and fury. It was mostly directed at the only people in politics that your average Labour party in Scotland politician hates more than the SNP. That’s other Labour politicians. The blue, or rather red, touchpaper setting much of it off was the Jezza himself. Admittedly the venue wasn’t exactly stowed to the rafters, more people have turned up at pro-indy events to see my dug than showed up to listen to Jeremy Corbyn in Dundee, and that’s not just because the dug is considerably more photogenic. If Richard Leonard is the Stan Laurel of Scottish politics, Jezza was channelling another meme from the 1930s, this time xenophobia and hatred of immigrants. According to Jeremy, immigration drives down wages and causes lower living standards and that’s why he’s against freedom of movement. It might have been dressed up in the language of socialism, but it was the exact same argument as you hear from Ukip. You can put a red dress on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
Ian Davidson and Kezia Dugdale both took to a fringe meeting to describe Jezza’s speech as the kind of thing that Nigel Farage would have been pleased with. Ian also had an argument with MEP Catherine Stihler with whom he had only recently launched a party group pressing for UK membership of the single market after Brexit after Ian accused her of publishing misleading information. Labour Hame editor Duncan Wossisname had a fall out on social media with MP Danielle Rowley after Danielle apparently told him that he was welcome to leave the party if he didn’t like the Jezzacult. Meanwhile Jeremy and his followers were accused of blocking debate and trying to shut down their critics within the party. There are fewer fall outs and fights on Big Brother. The periods of peace and internal agreement within the Labour party in Scotland are shorter in duration than the length of time that a Ukip party leader holds office, and that was previously recognised as the shortest measurable unit of political time.
Labour remains hopelessly divided over Brexit. The leadership is trying to ram through a hard Brexit policy which most party members and supporters don’t support, one which is particularly lacking in support in Scotland. Scotland needs migration, and most of us – especially those of us who are ourselves descended from migrants, from Ireland, or Poland, or indeed England – know that our families have heard the kind of language used by Jeremy Corbyn before, and it was language that was used to justify attacks and discrimination against us. Migrants benefit our economy and our society. They bring much needed skills and experience. They help to create a society that’s open to the world and they enrich us with their presence. Labour under Corbyn is betraying the principles of Keir Hardie. No wonder that they couldn’t even spell his name properly, they’ve lost all sight of what he stood for. Labour in Scotland is no longer the party of Hardie. It’s the party of Stan Laurel that’s got itself into a fine mess.
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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