What with the coronavirus, a certain trial, the ongoing omnigarbage that is the Boris Johnson government, and the fact that you really need to get around to cleaning the oven, it’s easy to forget the Labour party is currently in the middle of a leadership contest. Actually, that last sentence would also work if the full stop came immediately after ‘Labour party’. It would also work without the list of all the other topics that came before. In fact, it’s fair to say that most people have forgotten the Labour party, which over the past few months had had a lower public profile than Boris Johnson’s second favourite fridge.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn no longer gives even his previous semi-detached from reality contribution to the debate. He knows that no one, least of all any of the MPs from his own party, is interested in what he has to say, and increasingly he no longer bothers to pretend that he’s interested either. Meanwhile the three remaining candidates for the leadership, Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, and The Other One, battle it out in a contest that’s as exciting as being dragged around a drapery shop with yer maw when you’re six, being forced to wait while she examines a series of beige curtains for the spare room.
It is widely predicted that Keir Starmer will win the contest. Keir’s position on another Scottish independence referendum is basically to draw the beige curtains and pretend that nothing is happening in the hope that the whole issue will go away by itself. This more or less sums up the attitude of the Labour party in Scotland to just about everything that the Tories are doing. They are far more interested in opposing the SNP, who they can never forgive for having ‘stolen’ their voters in working class communities across Scotland.
Ian Murray, the MP for Red Morningside, is in the running for the party’s deputy leader position. That is, he is in the running in the same way that a guy who dresses up as Olaf the snowman from Frozen is in the running for a marathon, although the Olaf lookalike is rather more likely to get over the finish line. This comparison is unfair to the Olaf lookalike, since he’s probably doing it for charity, or at least for a laugh, both of which are reasons which contribute rather more to the sum total of human happiness than anything Ian Murray has ever done. Ian wears the permanent expression of a man who’s just realised that there is cat crap in his shoe, after he’s been wearing it for an hour.
Today Ian has complained that the beige curtain competition risks being upset by nasty and vile Scottish independence supporters. Although he’s not actually referring to the 40% or so of Labour voters in Scotland who express support for independence in opinion polls. Ian would very much prefer to pretend that none of those people existed. The problem with the Labour party in Scotland, in Ian’s estimation, is that it’s not opposing independence with enough union jackery and saying no. This is apparently confusing people who may be led to believe that the Labour party in Scotland is listening to voters.
What’s really got Ian’s goat is the possibility that the deputy leadership contest might be, in his words, hijacked by SNP and Green party supporters. Ian is worried that SNP and Green party supporters and members who are members of a trade union could have a vote in Labour’s leadership contest as members of an affiliated body. Ian says he’s a committed trade unionist, and as such believes in solidarity and democracy, just not where it concerns people who have a different opinion on Scottish independence. Ian is polling far behind the other contenders for the deputy leadership, but it helps to get your excuses in early.
Meanwhile the office manager of Labour’s branch office in Scotland, Rameses Lookasquirrell, has penned an opinion piece for the Scotsman in which he claims that the SNP has developed a sense of entitlement. This is something of a specialist topic for Roscoe Lostsupport, as the Labour party in Scotland knows a lot about having a sense of entitlement. Even though Labour has, much to Rigoberto Lumpsqueezer’s intense chagrin, been out of power in Scotland for 13 years now, it still believes that it can win its way back into the affections of voters by doing absolutely nothing at all to change and waiting for the voters to fall out with the SNP. Deep down in its soul, the Labour party in Scotland still believes that voters in Scotland owe it a natural allegience, and they’re just supporting a pro-independence party because they’ve temporarily lost their senses.
What the Labour party is incapable of facing up to is the lesson that hundreds of thousands of voters in Scotland have taken to heart. All the way through the 80s and for most of the 90s we trusted in the Labour party to save us from the Conservatives, only to get Tony Blair. Because the problem is that the Labour party can only save Scotland from the Conservatives when voters in England elect it into power, and voters in England will only vote for the Labour party when the Labour party dresses in Tory drag. And even then, in the next turn of the electoral wheel the electorate in England will merely return to the Conservatives, who will undo everything that Labour did in its period in office. Many of us in Scotland seek independence because we wish to break this sorry and depressing cycle.
Labour in Scotland, or elsewhere in the UK, has no solution to this damaging and destructive pattern. Instead they tell us to vote Labour while Labour apes the Conservatives in order to make itself electable in the rest of the UK, so it can be in office for a few years to mitigate the damage that the Tories have done and will do again once Labour falls from grace in Westminster – as it most assuredly will a few years down the line. Then the Labour party will ape the Conservatives all over again in order to get back into power. We’re already seeing it in the positions of the leadership contenders. Labour is now a Brexit party.
Meanwhile Scotland is trapped in Labour’s cycle of despair. That’s the truth that Labour in Scotland is unable to recognise. It will remain in the wilderness until it does, and until it becomes a proper Scottish Labour Party. We’ll achieve independence before that happens. Independence is the only way to break the cycle of despair.
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