Make Mine an Espresso

You know it’s bad when even Professor John Curtice is saying: ‘Hey guys. Wake up and smell the coffee.’*


I suspect though, that in the Murphy bunker, the Better Together refugees are sniffing the Ashcroft polls and filling their nostrils with the stench of corruption. ‘This one’s dead, boss…and this one. She’s a gonner…so is he. Phew, what a stink.’

Gloomy polls can either motivate the hopeful to even greater effort or they can confirm the worst fears of all involved and cause a collective slump of the shoulders.


They won’t admit it but all the signs are there of a party morale suffering from a kick in the stomach. The success of the Yes campaign in defeat, the relentless continuation of effort, the all-Scotland nationalist momentum in the polls, the mass expressions of support in the Nicola national rock tour…now the detail of selected constituencies reveals the aching truth – that on the streets of working class Scotland the people Labour has taken for granted for generations have turned on them.

The ones who know this best are the party folk on the ground who have the thankless task of confronting the voters’ disillusion and disgust. How do you explain the mess the Scottish party is in? Why can’t you make your mind up on devolution? How did you come to pick Miliband as leader? Who is this Murphy, where did he come from? Behind all of this is the knowledge of family and friends whose employment has become unpredictable, low paid, perhaps zero hours, non-unionised and with no pension. Costs have risen – the energy bills alone – but incomes are low. Benefits are cut, frozen or disappearing for disabled neighbours…people they know cut off without money for not getting to an interview on time. What is your solution? Where is the Labour message that rallies communities to fight back? What do you stand for?


The anecdotal evidence – and the unpublished Labour membership figures – appear to show a drift away, a quiet melting into the night. But the astonishing SNP membership rise and the Ashcroft number seat-by-seat also indicate for many a straight leap from one camp to the other. It isn’t just desertion, it’s defection.

All this renders redundant the old Labour hysteria about leaving the class war field to the enemy and seeking answers in nationalism (equals UKIP, NF, BNP etc). Torquil Crichton, sounding scarily reminiscent of Brian Wilson on Radio Scotland, made that very assertion as if not voting Labour was giving up on social justice – a total misreading and misrepresentation of both parties’ positions. Who favours universal benefits and who called them something for nothing? Who bailed out the bankers and didn’t stop their benefits? Who opposed intervention in Iraq and who spent £30bn waging that war and the one in Afghanistan? (Source Royal United Services Institute).Who voted to continue austerity and who voted against? Who voted for the benefits cap and who voted against?

This depiction of the SNP – and presumably fellow Yes travellers like Socialists and Greens – as small-minded right-wingers isn’t just a misreading. It is part of their problem. Look at those opinion poll figures. Check out the 1.6 million Yessers. Are all of these people against progressive policies? Who wants rid of nuclear weapons and who wheedles about it but quietly plans to upgrade them? Whose MPs are taking hospitality from arms dealers and joining them at trade fairs?

What Crichton and Labour apologists are doing is living in the same denial the party has been in throughout the devolution years. In 2007 a defeated Labour minister said to me: ‘It will get worse before it gets better.’ In 2011, another one told me: ‘We just have to wait for the wheel to turn back to us.’ We are still waiting. Labour have convinced themselves that all this is an aberration, a kind of psephological hiccup that will cure it self in time when the people come back to the senses.

While they waited, the people moved on. They didn’t see this nasty nationalism. They didn’t see a cosying-up to business and personal deals. They didn’t see a government bending the knee to London demands. Instead they had their council tax frozen, nurses and firemen paid their pay rises, old folk given free care and travel, no forced public sector redundancies, prescriptions paid for when they hit £8 in England and ministers only too willing to tell a Tory government where to get off.


When they bothered to look, they found on the other side duffers with red rose badges opposing simple social measures like a minimum alcohol price. In the indyref they saw their representatives grinning beside Tory ministers and triumphantly announcing the pound wasn’t Scotland’s. They heard their Scotland talked down and belittled. They might not believe in independence but they did believe in Scotland. And they thought Labour did too. But any party that preferred any government in London to one in Scotland was betraying their roots.

I said recently that Labour had resorted to deceit and misinformation of a kind I hadn’t seen. It is now on an industrial scale. Even the attempt to refine the Vote SNP, Get Tories message resulted in an untruth – that the largest party gets to form the government – FACT!

It is endemic. It is unstoppable. I wonder if the SNP momentum might not be the same, as Labour constantly try to outbid the Nats and in doing so, play into their hands.

There was a time when Labour could have just thrown in the towel and declared that Sturgeon can have everything and anything she wants short of independence. But in a general election that won’t wash in England where Labour have successfully stoked up anti Scottish resentment but presenting their incoherent plans as a form of Devo Max and have never killed the myth that England subsidises us.

They are left with one hope – that hatred of the Tories turns back the doubters. After all voting for Labour in Scotland has always stopped us getting a Tory-led government, hasn’t it? That is, except in 79, 83, 87, 92 and 2010!

It looks now as if Scots realise that the way to get a strong Scottish voice and progressive policies is just to vote SNP regardless – and why not? Labour are falling over themselves to appease them already and we haven’t even voted yet.

*The Guardian


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34 thoughts on “Make Mine an Espresso

  1. That’s quite one of your best Derek.

  2. The cliff is nearing, step by step. They keep walking, as if in defiance, of impending death. Mark my word, if the SNP win 35 seats at Westminster. Scottish Labour if there is such a thing will disintegrate, like the Scottish Socialists did for different reasons. The Mp’s are now on their 3 month statutory redundancy and none of them are looking for alternative work. Why? Because like most headless chickens they can’t see or won’t see or are too damn thick to see. The cosy £100k salaries they earned for not turning up at the Trident vote or the Fracking vote. Are now coming to an end. Welcome to unemployment. Perhaps humility will be the gift they need, to save themselves from absolute corruption.

    • Will they receive life-long pensions when they are ousted? Will they need to find employment? I don’tknow and I’d be glad if someone told me.

      • Yes. they will if they are booted out at this time.

        The pension arrangements are changing in future (not sure what to?).

        So now is the best time to go – I am sure the more senior ones will also get a HOL seat to cushion the blow.

        • I believe the last of the Final Salary Scheme, hence the Departure of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, ironic in the case of Brown after he destroyed them for so many.

  3. This was really enjoyable to read Derek I think also that people in the street are starting to wake to the fact that they have been sold a (PUP) by labour, and if they do not take all the power they can grasp and bring it home to Holyrood they are in for more of the same AUSTERITY BIGTIME with the second round of cuts .

  4. People are grasping that loyalty gets you nowhere. Decades of loyalty to the Labour Party have done nothing for Scotland. Loyalty to Labour has failed to stop de-industrialisation or privatisation or given us control over the Scottish economy. All that loyalty results in is in being taken for granted. Disloyalty, defiance, that gets you much further than compliance.

    People are starting to realise they can put their mitts up and that it gets results.

    Deference and paternalism are dead.

  5. Keep the tories out and Vote labour to keep tory policies. eh naw

  6. I think the image of a Labour ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer being applauded at a Tory party conference, essentially saying we are too, too wee; too, too poor and so obviously very, very stupid tells one all one needs to know why (S)Labour have collapsed utterly.

  7. Katrine Paterson

    Thanks Derek.
    Good to see Prof. Curtise suffering as he covers the polls. I just love how labour bigshots have swallowed a ‘humble pill.’
    To brash statements. No more SNP bashing. They are afraid, Very afraid.

  8. Derek I wish I had your wordsmith capabilities an excellent column you expressed everything that I feel thank you.

  9. Great post Derek and a must read. I certainly hope some of your newly acquired SLAB media followers are reading this.

    If any are? I’d only change one thing in Derek’s first class post. We didn’t turn on you, you turned on us. This is what happens when you don’t listen, when you act without conscience, when you refuse to apologise for those actions, when you project your poison onto others, when you betray those whom you were created to represent and when you falsely accuse and blame others for your failures.

    You demonised half of Scotland deliberately, maliciously and with cruelty. You traded our identity and right to govern ourselves for a party political power base and self interest. You continue to lie and distort for these reasons today.

    If the results in May are anywhere near what I hope them to be, Labour will still have gotten off light in my view.

    • That was pretty much the feeling of the All Back to Bowie’s event held during August’s Edinburgh Festival which discussed the Union.

      The audience and panel, which included Neal Ascherson, who spoke of his positive feeling of Britishness during the time when he was a young navy serviceman, concluded that it wasn’t so much that we had left Britain, but rather that the Britain of the post-war consensus that we had all known and loved, had left us.

      I can remember there being political and intellectual debates during the 1970s about the future of Britain, about our role in the world now that we no longer had an empire, and before we had joined the EU. This focused on ‘where are we going now: what direction: what is Britain and Britishness’. But that discussion just seemed to close after Thatcher came into power in 1979, and suddenly Britain became England and England’s adoption of neoliberal economics, privatisation, loss of industry, and everything in fact that remained of what we had built together as a United Kingdom. Only they never asked us. We were just dragged along into this trajectory which has felt deeply foreign, and, in an ironic way, profoundly un-British.

      • Eloquently put and yes it was around 79 when my eyes were opened to how our politics and our democracy had been subverted. How in fact what we thought was going to be a bright new era in devolved partnership, a consensual new politics for the UK and the upcoming new century turned out to be grudged, bitter and sabotaged by those we trusted.

        Thatcher and the conservative plan to shift the base of our economy and society became the capper to the whole sorry period. That time heralded decades of disenfranchisement, apathy and drift between the people and their politics.

        But I’m a great believer in Karma and what goes round will come round.

    • Where are the thumbs up tags when you need them?
      btw (seriously) did anyone else smell coffee reading this?
      invested in smellovision Mr Bateman?

      • Supping mine now, with a hint of cinnamon, but then we woke up and smelt the coffee a good while back. Labour and their media are still sound asleep near as I can tell.

  10. Steve Asaneilean

    Thanks once again Derek – keep ’em coming.

    I was appalled by TC’s behaviour on GMS this morning. He supposed to be a journalist yet clearly has no sense of neutrality in the pursuit of genuinely informing. Instead he made one unverifiable assertion after another in support of his beloved Labour. He even tried to claim that not voting Labour was not voting for socialism and social justice when quite the reverse is true. A blind man in a dark room with sunglasses on can see that Labour long ago ditched any real notion of socialism and social justice in their pursuit of power and the Yes movement has picked up that baton and has sprinted off round the bend with it.

    You are right about TC sounding a lot like Brian Wilson – they have clearly both read the same “How To Be Odious and Get Away With It Time and Again” users manual.

    Sadly my gut instinct is that this risible excuse for a Labour party will not lose as many seats as the polls and some pundits are suggesting. But do you know what? Even if they just lost one of them it would like some kind of moral victory to me. And what would I not give for it to be East Renfrewshire…

  11. Congratulations Derek on a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful piece. Will be using the material and some of your phrases on my canvassing rounds if you’re agreeable.

  12. What I really dislike about Labour is their authoritarian sense of entitlement. The fact that, notwithstanding the SNP has been around since 1934, and a political force since the 1970s, that they persist in seeing it as some kind of temporary aberration that is going to disappear, and not as a credible force that has a valid point, even if they don’t agree with it.

    I mean, we’ve been pushing for Home Rule in Scotland since 1888 when the Scottish Home Rule Association was formed, and Keir Hardie stood on a home rule platform in Lanarkshire. In the 1950s over two million signed John MacCormack’s National Covenant.

    At almost any point in the last 130 years that Scottish opinion has been asked, there has been a sizeable number in favour of Home Rule, independence, and a Scottish Parliament. Constitutional issues have not always been No. 1 in terms of voters’ priorities, but nonetheless a large number – a majority, in fact – have been in favour of Home Rule, if not full independence.

    What part of this voter preference have Labour been unable to get? Why so deaf?

    It just seems perverse and absurd to me to completely write off the basis of a consistent 30% (now 45%) of voter opinion in Scotland.

    • If I was to attempt to answer my own question it would be that this touchiness about the SNP is because the issue of Scottish nationalism and independence hits a raw nerve.

      Labour sense that deep down the SNP is the true party of Scotland. That Labour represents British interests not Scottish interests and that they, ‘Scottish Labour’ are a sham. They are colluding with the subjugation of the very people they claim to defend. Clientage. They create clients, dependents, not free people.

      Perhaps for some this collusion is more a matter of cognitive dissonance. But deep down, most must sense it, and it makes them deeply uncomfortable.

  13. Why would Margaret Curran be a guest of a large Defence contractor? Does Raytheon have a plant in Glasgow East that I don’t know about? I know that I am new to this politics lark, but I really do not understand why all these MP’s would be attending as guests of defence contractors…doesn’t seem ethical to me……………………………..but what would I know?

    • Michael Greenwell posted a video from a German journalist who spelled out how politicians and journalists are bought and paid for by US corporations and the intelligence service. Basically, Margaret will be invited to dinner and chat with arms dealers. Then she will be invited to visit the US, all expenses paid. She may join a trans Atlantic organisation. By the time she is feeling like one of the family, the request to vote for an arms contract will seem to be only common sense.
      If she has a column in the press, the occasional helpful background piece justifying armed intervention somewhere will be supplied so she can publish it under her byline etc etc.

      • That explains a lot. For some time now I have thought that politicians don’t control anything anymore but are just the puppets of unseen but powerful forces. That things are generally out of control and acting to the detriment of democracy and of ordinary people. It is happenning across Europe and not just Britain though. I think there needs to be a pan-European movement of democratic revival aimed at pulling down these oligarchies and the corrupt and venal politicians who serve them.

        Derek wrote the other day of Podemos and Syriza and linking them to the SNP and wider Yes movement in Scotland and I have been thinking the same thing for some time.

  14. I accept that there are masses of criticisms that can be ladled at the major UK parties, their policies, and the media that supports them, but it always strikes me as odd that, whichever party is in power, despite the fact that a) people want to work, produce, and consume, b) they want transport, and c) they want housing, and d) the necessary elements to satisfy all these demands exist, they continually vote for parties who adhere to an economic philosophy that places abstract (and often unverifiable) notions before people – even to the extent of producing 50% unemployment in under 25s in Greece.
    Something is clearly wrong here and I trust that the political awareness that has developed in Scotland over the past year or so (and in Greece, Spain and elsewhere for a variety of reasons, mostly associated with the major flaws in neo-liberalism) will lead to a complete reappraisal of the notion that plays such a large part in General Elections i.e. It’s the economy, stupid.
    There’s always an alternative, so let’s find it. Continue to question the powers that be. The economy is what people make it, it isn’t a God that needs to be worshipped.
    I trust therefore the faith that will be placed in the SNP post 7th May will be justified, not simply by upholding the status quo and resisting Westminster’s austerity programme, but also by doing its best to show there are ways and means of developing a social and economic structure for Scotland that puts people and their needs before corporations and their profits.

  15. What a marvellously literate, erudite, insightful and perceptive series of comments. The political equivalent of an energy saving lightbulb – more light than heat.

    The outstanding contribution from macart763:

    “We didn’t turn on you, you turned on us.”


    “You demonised half of Scotland deliberately, maliciously and with cruelty. You traded our identity and right to govern ourselves for a party political power base and self interest. You continue to lie and distort for these reasons today.”

    But these are just two of the thoughtful remarks prompted by Derek’s excellent article. I sincerely hope that intelligent life-long Labour supporters are reading this, and thinking – I have been loyal to Labour all my life, but the party and the post-war consensus have gone, so there is no disloyalty in evaluating anew this fresh political landscape. Perhaps they might discover that the values of social justice and fairness they supported are what they must remain loyal to – not a party or a brand. And those qualities may no longer be represented by the team formerly known as Labour.

    So stick to principles, not party. And reassess your voting intentions with a clear conscience.

  16. Your getting better each month Derek.

    Spot on . You covered everything nicely and the pity is we have to wait till May to verify what we all know.

    Scotland is a great place to be at the moment. times are changing and the “Referendum Buzz” is alive and well and sprouting Wings . the optimism is still there, no matter how hard the Others try to quench it.

    I don’t get angry at the headlines any more… coz we know whats coming.

    Labour will be confined to the wheely bin. Straight into a landfill , no hope of recycling :).

    Roll on the summer.

  17. John G. Mitchell


  18. “After all voting for Labour in Scotland has always stopped us getting a Tory-led government, hasn’t it? That is, except in 79, 83, 87, 92 and 2010!”

    There’s no ‘except’ about this. The reason Scotland didn’t get a Tory government in 1997, 2001 and 2005 was NOT because we voted Labour but because England decided to vote labour. Our contingent of Labour MPs formed only a fraction of Blair’s Majority. they weren’t the CAUSE of us not getting a Tory government during these years. Even when there is a Labour government they are irrelevant.

  19. Yesterday we had this in The National, byline Jim Murphy:

    ‘Scottish Labour is offering radical change for Scotland. We will use a Mansion Tax on homes worth more than £2 million across the UK, mainly in London and the south east to find 1,000 extra NHS nurses in Scotland. We will also tax the bonuses of the bankers in the City of London to get young unemployed Scots back to work.’

    In other words, Mr Murphy and his cohorts believe the Yes vote was all about ‘sticking it to the English’ and are designing policies accordingly. They have not even the most superficial understanding of the motives, hopes and desires of the Yes movement. It exposes Mr Murphy’s current tartan outfit as simply an expediency, and one that can be easily shed the moment it ceases to be useful.

    The voters aren’t stupid and can see through this, hence Labour’s current standing in the polls.

  20. In case anyone hasn’t read this! It means there is no point in listening to or complaining about the BBC. It is a Labour media office:

    Remember I asked how deep the wormhole went!

  21. smiling vulture

    Glasgow voting YES ,changed everything

  22. I remember the outrage when people heard themselves and their country being dismissed and talked down by the Labour party. When they saw Labour politicians rubbing shoulders with their brand new mates in the Tory party. When they heard themselves being described as Nazis, or mindless idiots, or any other spiteful, insulting name. This wasn’t only a Labour street campaigners here and there running Scotland down – this was people – Labour MPs and MSPs – that had been voted into represent their constituents. So this was how the loyalty of Scottish Labour voters was being repaid, after years of giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    The proud, strong Labour voters of Scotland deserved better than that. The whole of Scotland deserved better than that. What they saw was a Labour party that no longer deserved to be called the Labour party – not with the long, proud history that the name represented. That’s why the voters of Scotland have defected: the Labour party is now just a name. It’s been scrubbed clean inside of all those fine, worthy principles on which it was founded. A new dog moved into the old kennel – but kept the name over the front door.

  23. Great reading Derek,
    As is are the comments, shows just how involved we all have become, I’ve have wanted independence for over 60yrs!, but never had a group where I could join/participate untill the S.N.P. rose to prominence.
    I think Scotland will find themselves in “the last chance saloon” in May, we were denied last September, so this is our last chance I think, if we miss this one, Westminster would regain all control again, and our chance will never come our way again, certainly not in our lifetime.

  24. Labour are aware that they face a serious problem but like a driver on black ice they appear to have the wheels locked the wrong way. That is, they are not addressing the actual problem but instead seem to think we are thick and that if they just tell the same lies more loudly we will understand. They have become the Basil Fawlty of politics and are treating us like Manuel…not realising we are, in fact, paying guests.

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