Protempore – Issue 95

Posted by in July's Magazine

For anyone who was still reeling from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s train wreck policy speech – where she demanded an end to the “something for nothing culture” in Scotland – Ed Balls’ announcement that the Labour party down south would be adopting the economic nightmare dreamt up by George Osborne must have been like being hit by a bus when you’ve just had a dull slap from Mike Tyson. Although there have been distant rumblings heralding the end of the Labour party as we know it, these two announcements finally saw the handing over of it’s soul to the Devil. The party founded on socialist principles in 1900 has now become a desperate, power-hungry at all costs gang of morally repugnant and intellectually deficient middle managers.

The party in Scotland has spent the last six years in a whingeing, arms folded huff that would make a hormone-crazed teenager blush and would be hysterically funny if it wasn’t so, so sad. Unable to get over the fact that the SNP have been running political rings round them, and rather than looking inwards to unearth the talent required to challenge and compete with the Government, the party has reverted to good old, west coast, nepotism and tried to moan its way back to power. It is lazy, embarrassing, and they will learn, once again, to their cost, that it simply won’t work.



Going back to Lamont’s speech, the policy implications – ending universal benefits, raising tuition fees, cutting free prescriptions and removing free bus passes from pensioners – were bad enough. The tawdry, vitriolic sound bites, demanding an end to ‘something for nothing’ culture, which followed were worse. All delivered in a stewed procession of clichés and with no conviction whatsoever. It’s no wonder – because she doesn’t actually believe what she’s saying.

The words come tumbling out of her mouth when all she really wants to say is “This isn’t me speaking, it’s London calling.” Because make no mistake, Lamont has been told in no uncertain terms, most notably on an almost weekly basis by Anas Sarwar MP, who is never far away from the Scottish Parliament building, that the project is now all about UK Labour winning the next general election and in order to do so, they have to appeal to, you’ve guessed it, the squeezed middle. Forget about the weak, the old, the vulnerable and the dispossessed because they won’t vote anyway. As one commentator said, outside of Scotland, this policy would merely be a gift to the Tories, by corroborating their arguments for welfare cuts. In Scotland, it reminds ex-Labour voters why they defected to the SNP: as a defensive shield against such policies.

What makes Lamont’s chuntering even more bizarre is that in practical policy terms, the Labour party has few real differences with the SNP, with the major exception of independence. And even there, Labour would favour a ‘devo max’ solution, that is, devolving all powers to Scotland barring perhaps, foreign and defence policy. Labour’s hatred is poisonous simply because of the threat that the SNP represents to their long-held control of working-class communities across Scotland. Whereas the SNP preserved some of the reforms made by the previous Labour-Liberal coalition in the Scottish Parliament, the Labour party consistently makes an ass of itself by adopting the most ridiculous and ill thought out anti-SNP postures. Its collapse into nonsensical, uncompromising unionist flag waving would have the Colonel Blimps in the Tory heartlands of the rural Home Counties falling over each other to cheer them on.

Scottish Labour is caught in a vicious circle. The more the SNP heaps embarrassment upon it, both strategically and intellectually, the more infantile and hostile Scottish Labour becomes, and the less rationally it responds to its self-perpetuating crisis. The more it loses its working-class base and becomes dependent on an active middle-class membership, and the more the unreconstructed Blairites under Ed Miliband gain control, the less it seems interested in regaining its lost, spiritual base. It won’t be long until this self-imposed vicious circle becomes an unstoppable death spiral.
And as the referendum on independence looms on the horizon, even the trade unions in Scotland are beginning to ask serious questions of where the Labour Party is heading with this new found zeal for conservative economics and are actively consulting their members on how to approach the independence question. The Scottish National Party, the wider Yes campaign movement in Scotland and the Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Common Weal project, currently under discussion throughout the country, are gathering a momentum which will, in all likelihood, condemn Labour to a long, cold stint in the political wilderness and may even lead to the formation of an independent and socially just Scotland.

– Protempore

2 responses to “Protempore – Issue 95”

  1. Anon says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    Whilst I agree with some of the above – I was concerned that you didn't take the SNP to task for their policies.
    Slashing corporation tax for big business: slashing airport passenger duty for big airlines; lobbying on behalf of Rupert Murdoch; abolishing the BBC in Scotland; proposing to abolish the agricultural wages board and no members of a trade union amongst any of their Cabinet members over the last 7 years in power.
    It would be good if you took up the laffer-curve economic madness of Salmond & Swinney as well as challenging Labour.

  2. Alan says:

    Who lobbied for Murdoch? Salmond certainly did not. He spoke up for the workers in Scotland who stood to gain job security. Your comment about abolishing the BBC in Scotland is news to me, can you provide more details?

    Cutting corporation tax isn't necessarily a bad thing as it can bring in far more investment. Tax avoidance is a far bigger issue and London has been happy to turn a blind eye to it for long enough. When I say London I do of course mean Labour and the Tories. They allow the tax system to be abused as companies saw fit.

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