Who won? Seems strange to be asking but even the Unionists are worrying that victory in the referendum was pyrrhic and that in the long run they are the losers.
I came across two new versions of this dreadful awakening, one from the increasingly strident John McTernan who is assuming territorial rights over Scottish Labour, and the other in Labour List by Peter Russell.
They argue that Labour has failed to press home the win and take command of Scotland again. This apparently is down to miserable leadership and must be corrected to stop Yessers striding around with grins on their faces while Labour quietly put away the banners.
But surely they miss the point – they DID lose. They lost the argument, they lost their soul and they lost their credibility. Now they’re losing their support.
Since the vote went their way, why aren’t they celebrating and bragging? Could it be that they didn’t know what the prize was? They didn’t understand what they were fighting for because they don’t really believe in Britain either, at least not its Tory government every 10 years and the rise of UKIP and dodgy wars and hopeless productivity and dismissive treatment of unions, not Ed’s creepy appeal to southern middle classes nor Balls’ lust for austerity. They were fighting against the SNP – that bit they understand – and the supposed prize of the Union holds only the grim knowledge that they keep their MPs at Westminster. It doesn’t deliver the joy of triumph because the reward is threadbare, broken old Britain and its intolerant right wing ascendancy.
Instead of celebrations on the streets, we had the Save Our NHS marches, pathetic in the counterpoint they provided to the lies told during the campaign. Labour folk know their side betrayed principle – wasn’t the grasping by Darling of Ian Taylor’s £500,000 donation from Vitol early proof that morality would play no part?
The cavorting with Tories –Darling at their conference getting a standing ovation – the threat from Balls over the pound (their Scottish pound) and the incessant insults about Scotland’s inability to run its own affairs, crushed many Labour voters and turned up to 40 per cent of them into voting Yes. This was a disaster for Labour and already the internal campaigning has begun to resurrect some kind of genuine working class movement…at the same time as McTernan (and Murphy) are pulling in the opposite Blairite direction of no universal benefits and keeping Trident. Celebrations? More like rats in a sack.
Labour people were also forced to see close up just how talentless their leadership is both in Scotland and London and they were embarrassed.
The trouble with victory is you need to know what to do with it. What was winning for? What policies, what new approaches, will now flow from it? How will Scotland be changed by Labour? Do their voters know their position on extra powers (sort of, and pretty weak they look), will they now implement some ground-breaking policy ideas and begin a massive recruitment drive and build towards winning the 2016 Holyrood election? Of course not. There is no prize. Even the departure of Salmond produced the even more popular Sturgeon…and the SNP is now massively bigger and more powerful than Labour as a party. In theory, no Labour seat is now safe.
The next few years could be dog days in which the failure to create a new invigorated democracy in Scotland will follow in their shadow. They are identified with hard right Conservatism (their partners when it suits them) in anti-European, anti-worker Britain. That is what they fought for and what they won. Not much to celebrate, is it?by