Polly Toynbee was in Maryhill! The fragrant Polly from the Guardian toured the streets with our excellent local MP Ann McKechin and she didn’t knock the door to say hello…imagine missing a visit to the Cybernat Bunker where I could have shown her the satellite control screens for my constituency drones monitoring activity from above and demonstrated my political laser maps pinpointing each stairwell where Labour votes are being lost. That’s a selfie opportunity I’ll never get back…
Polly is writing about the SNP conference http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/30/snp-confident-tories-want-scotland-gone and how she was blown away by the scale and excitement it generated but she doesn’t deviate from the Guardian script that this is identity politics and the SNP apes Labour policy while the Scots are no different from people in England – apparently it’s all the Tories’ fault.
She spoke to a taxi driver – a truly representative group – and a bloke up the road who blamed Poles for unemployment and then she reminded us of the British Attitudes Survey that found Scots not too different from Brits on a range of society issues including immigration.
Regular readers will know I’ve covered this shallow argument before and the response is simplicity itself. Forget the opinion surveys and look at what the Scots have voted for – free personal care, free OAP travel, free prescriptions, no tuition fees, living wage, early years investment, no public service redundancies, investment in renewables, NHS public ownership protected, council tax freeze, extra police while they’re cut in England, 25,000 apprentices – and then add in SNP policy positions like no nuclear weapons, opposition to UK detention of children as asylum seekers, open immigration and comprehensive childcare…the list goes on. That’s the difference between Scotland and England – here we have parties advocating progressive policies and a parliament that implements them. In England they have UKIP.
Now to be fair to Polly (because I secretly admire her), she has a point. If you examine policy positions from Ed Miliband and add in his party’s deficit reduction plan, you do end up with a totally different story from Cameron’s Tories. Labour will have more money to spend. They are producing ideas that are aimed at working families and are trying to restrict corporate profiteering. Good for them.
The problem is that nobody in Scotland is listening. After the referendum we pressed the mute button. Scots have had a bellyful of Labour promises that we swallowed whole and regretted when they failed to digest. It started arguably with Blair and Iraq (Clause Four, anyone?) and grew through the years of rightward drift and Brown bluster, culminating in the arrogance and duplicity of the No campaign and playing with the Tories. When the arch Blairite Murphy was elected – and wiped from his pages his support for Tory spending cuts – we couldn’t reach for the remote quick enough.
The result is we no longer trust Labour and we no longer hear them. Parties earn the respect of the voters first and then they can make their offer. The offer without the respect is just words. Until Labour take a beating and go through rehab, they will remain Scotland’s silent party – permanently stuck on mute.
(Next time, Polly, pop in for a cuppa. I’ve got bergamot and water lily tea bags waiting).