The Party That Time Forgot

Some decent reads in our beloved Scottish Press this morning…the Herald redeeming itself with Ian Bell after my criticisms earlier this week. (Although quite what I learn about the new First Minister by reading where she buys her shoes and what colour her carpets are is beyond me).

But my Saturday morning entertainment was made complete with Brian Wilson’s latest homily in the Scotsman from his Hebridean croft. I gave up reading him during the campaign after concluding that there may be personal factors beyond journalism that informed his neurotic and splenetic outpourings and it was polite to look the other way.


Now, thinking it safe to return, I find him in customary dyspeptic mode, deflecting attention from the real story – the stunning success of post-referendum nationalist politics – in order to attack his own side. The comrades truly are revolting…

This is an object lesson in bilious propaganda and demonstrates better than Johann Lamont’s resignation fireworks why Labour is unfit to lead the working people of Scotland. The message, stripped down, is that they hate each other and will risk all in order to settle scores. Labour are happier running down each other than in running Scotland.

The headline alone is straight from the satirical handbook. Brian Wilson: Blast from the past hits Labour race. This is a reference to Unite’s Len McCluskey but applies so neatly to Wilson himself that you begin to wonder if this is a deliberate joke by mischievous sub editors.

Even the strapline is ripe with irony… ‘Being endorsed by a political dinosaur (like McCluskey) is something Jim Murphy can do without…’

Here is Labour cavorting in Jurassic Park with one tired old party fraud who sold out every socialist ideal he ever had berating another monster from the deep for bellowing his opinion about the Scottish leadership. Unreconstructed creatures from another age wrestling each other to the ground while all around them the landscape blossoms and a new age of enlightenment dawns.


The intended thrust of this piece of course is that a left-wing union leader has no business criticising a right-wing candidate like Jim Murphy because Brian wants Murphy to win. We can’t allow dialogue to intervene when personal promotion is at play – dialogue being exactly what should be happening long before broken-backed Labour start playing leadership personality politics.

Now if McCluskey had been endorsing Murphy instead of excoriating him, do you suppose the tribally prejudiced Wilson would complain? Indeed this morning’s Scotsman would have been treated to a ‘Wilson welcomes late conversion by McCluskey’ column on how the Labour family was pulling together.

The depth of Unionist hypocrisy also lives on here because of course we hear that (in times past): ‘…no London-based general secretary would have dreamt of treading on Scottish territory in this way’. Really? The leader of a UK union which funds Labour should butt out of the leadership race in Scotland because they’re based in London…?

I may have misunderstood the Better Together message but it seemed to me to imply we shouldn’t differentiate between England and Scotland and that we were one happy family with shared interests and pooling of resources and there were 800,000 Scots living in England who would become foreigners overnight and it was only narrow nationalists who wanted to separate and divide…

Yet here is arch-Unionist Wilson doing exactly that when it suits his own petty interests.

This most right-wing of former progressives who, I understand, brokered the £500,000 Ian Taylor (of Vitol) donation to Better Together – the single most morally repugnant act of a despicable campaign – declares airily this leadership contest should not be about ideology. Read that again…not about ideology – a political party lost in the wilderness, haemorrhaging votes, with no story to tell, dislocated from its core, trapped in age of austerity while families use food banks – and in the mind of millionaire Wilson this is no time for ideology.

On the contrary, this is the time for ideas, vision and reconnection starting with a brutal admission of what has gone wrong. Even this most basic of requirements is brushed aside with majestic contempt.

He calls to his aid the likes of Hugh Wyper and Mick McGahey (whom Labour disdained) to remind us of great trade unionists from the past who combined ‘principle with pragmatism, underpinned by loyalty to both class and movement’ as if today’s union leaders were made of lesser stuff.

But isn’t the truth that it is Labour itself that no longer has principle, loyalty and connection with the working people? Isn’t that exactly why they are struggling now – because self-seeking careerists like Wilson and his leader Blair abandoned every vestige of social solidarity to embrace the crudest of capitalism?

There are no principles left for Labour, only a wolverine hunger for winning – but to what end and to achieve what exactly? They can’t even tell us.

Wilson’s utter lack of self awareness and criticism exposes him as a deluded hypocrite, perfectly articulating everything that Labour now represents – Neanderthal argument and pointless self-promotion – a mere shell of a movement that is being deserting for a vibrant and meaningful alternative.


With this kind of naked disclosure – a sort of public post mortem in which we can all peer inside the cadaver – universities are rendered redundant. Why waste money on tuition fees at all in politics departments when all the explanations for failure are plucked out and offered to us for our perusal? I don’t believe Wilson knows what is happening in our country let alone inside his own party. He is writing of what he wants to believe is happening and has convinced himself is true rather than the utterly changed picture of modern Scotland.

It is too late for Labour to change in time for next year’s election or the Scottish one the year after. Their course is set and the idea that the spitting, hissing hatreds epitomised by Brian Wilson will dissipate is perhaps the biggest delusion of all.

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29 thoughts on “The Party That Time Forgot

  1. Pretty accurate description, having witnessed him performing as a panel member in a referendum debate in Largs.

  2. “no London-based general secretary would have dreamt of treading on Scottish territory in this way’


  3. I once heard Alex Salmond say that he had a treatise written by Brian Wilson when he was in the SNP which was so extreme that it would be his unhappy duty to expel him from the party if he’d still been a member. Sounds as if he’s always been a bit unstable.

    • Morag, now that AS is no longer FM, it would be interesting if he could let the Sunday Herald print this treatise which would surely shut Wilson up once and for all.

  4. Does he believe that we are interested or care what he has to say?

  5. I cannot see Labour changing now. great piece Derek.

    The Labour party will pander to the voters in middle England and are so far away in Scotland that i often think these guys are deluded.

    How blind are they that they cannot see whats in front of them.

    I’m delighted. To watch this party get wiped out in both the GE and SE will be a blessing for all Scots.

    Labour are bad for Scotland.

    Funny thing is , we lost the referendum . They should have been celebrating but instead turn on each other like the rats they are. While we grow stronger every day.

    Interesting times ahead D.

  6. As you say, they are destroying themselves, without any outside help from ourselves or Edgar Rice Burroughs. I think they are probably genetically engineered to eradicate family members – there’s probably a word for the evolutionary dynamic involved -but we should just sit back and enjoy the extinction of this sad species, the Labour Party in Scotland.
    It has evolved into a creature which bears no resemblance to it’s noble ancestors, and has no place in a modern Scotland.

  7. I actually think it is very sad that the Labour Party in Scotland is in such a state. They have completely lost their roots, their supporters, and their marbles. This is a time when all the parties who have the well being of the ordinary voter at heart should be pulling together to fend off the excesses of the out of control capitalist system. Instead, what we have is a civil war in the party and everything else is being pushed aside and trashed. Ideals which Labour once held are now needed more than ever. Wilson, Murphy, Brown, Blair and Darling are only some of those who have destroyed the ideals of the party for personal advancement and allowed the political system of the UK to mirror that of the US where all mainstream politics is to the right, and controlled media bias grooms the public into accepting that this is the norm. UKIP, the UK’s answer to the Tea Party, does not need to actually win anything. Like their US cousins they only have to steer the debate to the right, which is what they are doing very successfully.

    Scotland needs a strong Labour Party, but not this one.

    • Actually Scotland needs a strong political party or parties fighting for ALL Scottish citezins no matter our background, circumstance or aspiration. All the unionist parties forgot that decades ago in the pursuit of Westminster power, especially the Labour party, at the moment the SNP are the ones in our corner.

  8. For a party that was on the winning side in the referendum the nastiness, hatred and backstabbing is unbelievable — mind you it’s becoming a bit like that on Wings nowadays!

    How Labour has retained the membership it has (whatever it might be) is difficult to fathom. Surely people can see Labour has nothing to offer apart from Tory policies, grim faces and endless bile. No wonder people are turning to the SNP.

    • Labour being on the winning side is debatable. Many Labour supporters voted YES and Labour was tarred with the Tory brush which will be used against them for evermore. So hardly a great victory.

  9. So bad, they’re actually scary.

    No sense of self, irony, hypocrisy or morality. Completely and blindly unaware and uncaring of the carnage they cause in pursuit of their own wee tinpot agendas.

    They must not be allowed anywhere near positions of responsibility in parliament for the foreseeable future. Simply unfit to serve.

  10. All of the Westminster parties are driven by the politics of England because that is what gets them elected to power in London.
    People like Wilson have to deny that Scotland is a country in order to justify imposing economic and social policies which we do not want or vote for.
    The referendum result was not a vote of confidence in the continuation of this system but a doubt by many that we are ready to go it alone.
    Wilson and his fellow right wing Labour politicians are now irrelevant in Scotland since their treachery and self interest was exposed during the referendum campaign.

    • I listened to Billy Kay’s programme about literature/ culture and laughed as Alistair Greys voice boomed out ” Scotland is a nation of arselickers disguised under a surface” – a reading from his book.
      Unfortunately in many ways he is right.
      One of the many things the Referendum did was to enable ‘ordinary’ joe public a voice ( whether that be on a blog like yours Derek or campaigning) , yet at every turn , arselickers are given columns and space daily (that any advertising company would envy), to promote their views , while living by a completely different set of rules , to what they are promoting.
      I agree in a sense with Andy, Scotland needs a party that the diehard ‘ Labour ‘ voters can rally round , I’m just not sure, while arselicking to think tanks and spin doctors, middle England and big business the Labour Party is it?
      In Scotland in particular Labour have promoted on the surface their credentials of the working class, yet underneath the surface ( as explained by Johann Lamont re bedroom tax) their agenda has been very different.
      Thing is though, it’s a two way street. Throughout the campaign, I worked alongside and watched as ‘ Labour through and through’ voters were unable to explain their No stance. Perhaps more ordinary Labour voters need to stop arselicking to the elected elite and start questioning loudly is all this arselicking really what they want?

  11. I think labour has lost its way so much it would be as good being on that comet with that little craft ,only that little craft has a purpose.

  12. I think the reason Labour are tearing themselves apart is because they lost their soul many years ago and are now reduced to stabbing each other in the back.

    That much used phrase ‘absolute power….’ etc sums them up to a tee.

    If anyone ever gets their hands on the books in GCC, I think they will be shocked.

    They dropped real Labour folk like Dennis Canavan and replaced them with nodding dog careerists

  13. Steve Asaneilean

    And we have to put up with his bilious crap every week in the WHFP

  14. Mark Potter-Irwin

    I just need to add the comment that I made on the despicable Wilson article in the Scotsman as I think, from my personal experience, it totally endorses Mr Batemans opinions…

    .”Well… Wilson (not sure if I can give you the accolade of Mr, it only gives misters like me a bad name!) .
    I was in the Argyll function room in Lochgilphead in the early 80s when you addressed a local CND group and, at the time I thought you were wonderful. Not any more…you have consistently sold out the PEOPLE to the Neo-Liberal money men, as if they are gods. You, and the blessed Jim Murphy, are so alike in your mendacious, turncoat, self-serving behaviour that if either of you had a conscience you would be seeking therapy for your sociopathic symptoms. Curse you both for your ignorant traitorous behaviour to Scotland and the Labour movement in general.”

    The pair of them are like the Burk and Hare of modern New Labour politics!

  15. Derek, it is worrying me nonetheless that the Telegraph is showing a Yougov poll indicating a Labour majority of 40 in the GE in 2015. If this doesn’t include a large number of Scottish Labour seats (supposing SNP/Yes Alliance takes many Labour seats as we think they will) how does that leave Scotland?

    If Labour can win without us, and we turn away from them, why would they ever do anything for us?

    I remember a recent interview with Jack Straw just before the referendum where he was asked if Labour could win without Scotland, supposing Scotland voted Yes, and he said, yes they could. ‘We would just have to work a bit harder in England to shore up our vote. But we have enough constituencies which vote Labour or could vote Labour to secure a comfortable majority of about 40 without Scotland’.

    In fact this is quite true. On only TWO occasions since 1945 have Scottish seats and Scottish votes been necessary to secure a Labour majority, 1964 (Harold Wilson) and 1974 (Callaghan). Both were minority governments which were weak and unable to accomplish much anyway. They actually don’t need us electorally.

    We could see a head to head of SNP in Scotland v London Labour implementing the Tory cuts, and what could we do about it? Especially with the unionists controlling the media?

    It would mean a rather large confrontation in which bold moves on the part of the Scottish Government and much grass roots activism to gee up support for the SG would be essential.

  16. In the scenario I’ve just outlined above, the biggest threat from Murphy will not be what he manages to do to ‘improve’ the organisation of the slimmed down SLAB, rooting out the lefties like Findlay and completing the Blairite revolution, but in his command of the media, which will give him a powerful propaganda platform to get his ‘modernisation’ message across to Middle Scotland to convince them of the ‘fairness’ of austerity.

    We have seen that Middle Scotland exists as a constituency and is larger than we thought it was, and it will continue to vote and hear, Blairite.

    In such circumstances if will be clear what our role will be.

    We have an army of activists, and these must be deployed to get the counter-narrative out, to challenge austerity, and educate and agitate to challenge the Blairism that woll be blasted out through the MSM.

    Town hall meetings, leafleting, street stalls, events, all the panolpy of the Yes campaign to argue against austerity and against the sickness and blight that is London rule.

    Things are going to get tough. A mighty power struggle lies ahead.

    Are we ready?

  17. MBC, no we are not quite ready but we will be. The SNP are faced with unprecedented amounts of talent which they are now trying to develop, If what I saw this afternoon in Dunfermline is anything to go by, they will unleash a torrent of talent on an unsuspecting population before the General Election.

    • Let’s hope so, because after the GE I predict an almighty battle of wills for the heart and soul of the UK. They will foist austerity on us – but the worst of it will be – they will try to convince us to like it. Convince us that it is good.

      I worry about the complacent in Middle Scotland, I really do. They really are brainwashed, selfish, hypocrites.

      • Unfortunately there has always been this proportion of the complacent, the selfish etc., in any age, in any society. They are the ones co-opted by the true elite to see themselves as part of the establishment and throw in their lot with the powerful. ( The Romans, for instance would often use the tactic of moving Romanized natives as colonists among restless related tribes.)

        The co-opted don’t make invidious comparisons between themselves and the truly powerful but between themselves and those they consider beneath them. They feel like winners in comparison and their identity is with the winners. Margaret Thatcher, coming from that strata in society, understood them very well and understood also their intrinsic dislike of those they see as just beneath them.

        Their unease is based on unacknowledged fear that they might lose their hard won position by others seeming to catch up with them, which is why some of the most ferocious, pejorative attacks on the poor come from them and why they also attack those who would wish to level the playing field. ( The Daily Mail understands them very well, too, and knows which sensitive areas of their psyche to prod.)

        I worry about them, too, and feel that the ones who could be reached have already been reached. I don’t know what you do about those walled-in with selfishness mixed with resentment, who just don’t want to hear.

        • There’s also the fear element as well. I know for a fact (and I had this confirmed by a bank official) that the majority of people currently living in big houses, driving expensive BMW’S, Audis or Mercs are mortgaged up to the hilt, in debt up to their chin and virtually paralysed into not doing anything to rock the boat that could leave them drowning

        • In times past, they just had to be fought to extinction or surrender. Bruce fought a civil war in Scotland against the supporters of Edward II before he could even attempt to hold the country. In every freedom struggle there was always a stubborn element who did well out of siding with the coloniser against their own people. Like you said, fear was never far beneath the surface; fear that little stood between them and the colonised, and that fear kept them in place as under-managers. There would be efforts to win them over, but when this failed, they just had to be fought. I am not suggesting literally fighting them in this peaceful age. I just don’t know what you do when peaceful rational methods have failed.

  18. Brian Wilson’s article is a dog’s breakfast, utterly bereft of logic. Even I could do better than that.

  19. Thank you Derek for wading through the shite that is (in) The Scotsman so I don’t have to.

  20. I do think the 25-45 age group is going to be crucial though. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain from challenging the ‘loyal Kikuyu’. Most of what might be termed Middle Scotland is 45+, maybe 35+. They are the ones with the houses, the professional salaries, the big cars, who want the British system to continue, because their livlihoods and their solvency depend on it. They are employees, never self-employed. It’s another form of feudalism.

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