Stop Press Please

As if the near obliteration of Labour, Lib Dem and Tory parties wasn’t enough, we should remember the other big losers from May 7 – the Scottish media. The bulk of the Press was comprehensively trounced and had its vein-bulging nose rubbed in the dirt by the voters who scoffed at the wearisome fear creation and appeals to a dead British patriotism which was all the hollowed out mainstream could muster.

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The pitiful ‘political editors’ who are in reality the billposters for the Unionist parties running with their slogans and plastering them up for the lieges, went through the dawning realisation that their sources were bankrupt. The MPs and fixers who had provided the flow of copy, who phoned with a story on the QT or could be relied upon to magic up a damning quote on cue, were stripped of all potency and influence. Even the ‘we-know-what-you-want’ conspirators McDougall and McTernan lost all efficacy as their brand became contaminated not just by the defeat of the campaign they devised but by the contempt of Labour members.

The commentators who have soothed the Union’s path for years with sly smears on Nationalists while ignoring the failings of a dysfunctional ruling system were scattered by the voters’ preference – scattered and chased out of town by the mob. They have become figures of fun in the pages of our national Press, pontificating still on the meaning of it all without the courtesy of an apologia for being profoundly wrong. The Sunday Post should be suing for breach of the copyright – every Scottish paper now has its Merry Mac’s Fun Parade. It’s called Comment and Editorials.

The tortured logic of the tartan commentariat is awesome to behold. The first thing we learn from the geniuses in print is that the people didn’t vote of their own free will but were, by some mysterious mind-bending process, duped (all 1.45m of us) into supporting the SNP which is, without qualification, a Bad Thing. This way, it’s the voters (all 1.45m of us) who are wrong, not the commentators. Here the tricky thing called reality is warmed up and gently bent into a curve so it leans towards a journalist’s pre-conceived position.

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Second, they didn’t vote SNP for independence. Mercy me, no…that would never do. That’s what they have in places like Burundi and Yemen and even in Ireland. And look what happened to them. No it’s simply a protest, like UKIP and will pass. No need to worry.

Then we’re told they can’t succeed at Westminster because the Tories have a majority – therefore it was a waste of time voting for them. They’re already ineffectual and time will prove they’re a waste of space.

Lastly, it doesn’t really matter that they knocked Unionist politics out of the park – Westminster was never that important and their success can be dismissed…far better to focus on SNP policy failings at Holyrood – that’s where the real fight is going on. Concentrate on the nuts and bolts in Edinburgh and the fear of electoral oblivion can be pushed to the back of the mind.

Into this self-serving deluge of denial we can add dashes of despairing Unionist wishful thinking. Hence, a large SNP group fully participating in the Commons will become British and go native as they see for themselves the advantages of the UK. Nationalism will decline. (You read it here first).

The white-knuckle grip with which serious commentators cling to some out-dated vision of Ukania is the hallmark of an embedded Unionism that is quite simply incapable of visualising Scotland as a normal country. Of course, the individual journalist never sees it this way. The excuse is always that they are being objective and reporting what happens and they don’t take sides. Really? I can count on the fingers of one hand the journalists who were either relaxed about the idea of independence or openly supportive across 14 daily and Sunday papers. Dismissing the right wing rags of Mail and Express as propaganda and not really newspapers at all, there is the Telegraph whose editor admits he was recruiting for Better Together, fundraising for them, spiking stories at their behest and keeping readers in the dark about his activities. The Times didn’t use a single pro independence commentator throughout the entire campaign in a total failure to reflect opinion. And so it goes on…

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I’m all for plurality but where is it? The Sunday Herald stood alone and the National only emerged after the vote. How trailblazing that looks now as the discredited rest of the mainstream stumble about searching for a reason to believe and finding none. You get the sense that they know they need Labour because the Liberals are floating face down, the Tories are toxic, there aren’t enough readers of Green persuasion and they can never embrace the Nats. Expect much cheerleading and solemn approval of Murphy’s rescue plan and Kez’s leadership bid and systematic denial of what is known to the dogs in the street – Labour still hasn’t reached the bottom of this hole.

In case you think I’m not interested in criticism, I should point out that in the coming weeks I want us to stop constantly campaigning and to look at the development of policy and that means confronting SNP failings. They don’t get a free ride.

But whatever limitations there are in the Nationalist agenda, they can’t be used as an excuse to hide the searing truth…that Unionism is failed by its own champions. The myopia, tribalism, vitriol and mendacity of the Unionist side has been exposed by the election result and the Scottish media takes its share of the blame for never seriously challenging its assumptions while unfailingly flag-waving for its adherents.

In their desperation to curry favour and do their duty, too few of Scotland’s journalists even questioned whether Better Together was the right vehicle. (I read one recently suggesting Labour had no choice but to participate. Eh?) They never questioned if Darling was the right man to lead. They ignored his international itinerary to make £250,000 from corporate clients while vilifying Salmond for official hotel bills. Hardly ever did any of them consider the possibilities for Scotland that could be found in other countries.

Our media spend their life, like Labour, behind the curve bewailing rather than embracing SNP success. This is the new Scotland. We’re living it. Catch up. Keep criticising but at least try to sound less bewildered and afraid. Change happens. Here is half the population who voted, shaking the ground on which our government is built and all we get from those claiming the right to inform us is grudge and grievance. They’re no’ as left wing as they pretend…they’ve cut college places…they’ve no’ dualled the A96 yet…

Like Labour, they never accept their failings and the public know it. On May 7 the Scots gave two fingers to the newsroom spivs and manipulative commentators, ignored their message and threw away the dog-eared formbook. The media is failing Scotland just as much as Labour. And like their last-gasp party chums, they will find reform beyond them.

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We Did This

Mhairi Black will know how this feels…you wake up with a mouthful of sand, the Orange Order big drum is pounding, your stomach thinks you’ve eaten anchovy ice cream and you wonder if you’ve already died. After a moment or two, you wish you had. Aargh! The hangover. That’s what I get when I remember we have five years of a Tory government ahead– zealotry unplugged.

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So why can’t I suppress a feeling of optimism and release, a kind of heady excitement about where we now are and about the future? Everybody I meet says something along the lines of unbelievable result, but a Tory government…urgh, sentiments I share 100 per cent, except in my case the balance tips in favour of buoyancy. I guess I take all the questions and doubts, the what ifs and worries, ball them up and throw them in the bin. I do so because our country has changed. It doesn’t matter how you view it or which side you’re on, the amazing thing is that the Scots are different today from two years ago. A transformation that social anthropologists would identify as group change has occurred, altering our view of ourselves, the world around us and our direction of travel. It’s the realisation that we are united, sure and defiant. We stand for something. Isn’t there a hint of rebellion in those smiles of the MPs taking ownership of Westminster, a look of insubordination, of nonconformity? There is a touch of daring, a cockiness we admire and which formed the basis of the young Alex Salmond’s appeal. I see in their faces beamed back to Scotland the collective thrill of knowing we did it. Look. Here we are. This is where you sent us. We made it. I saw one tweet describing how some of them stopped on the way home to show respect at the William Wallace Memorial in Smithfield. It said Tommy Sheppard wept. I hope that’s true. The battles of the past belong there but we are all connected with our ancestors and take inspiration from them. And in that moment they seem to say: this is who we are. I’ve spent my life hating the cringe that tells us we somehow need approval to be ourselves – our vernacular culture, the way we talk – as if there was a higher being judging us. It is the very basis of the inferiority complex that stains our national character and leaves an opening to acceptance of failure as if second best was all we deserved. If you let them, others will judge you and for me my nationalism is a response to that. I went from blaming others to realising this is my life and my country and my decision. I choose Scotland.

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They said it couldn’t be done, the Scots would collapse when their bluff was called on  independence and in the end they were right but did they get a fright? Did they end up panicking and promising the world to save their skins? Oh yes, I think so. And now an election where even I thought it was beyond us, we did it again – rocked them back on their heels with a ground shaking result that still hasn’t been truly quantified for its long-term implications. We wiped the floor with them…all of them. Gordon Brown. Darling, Davidson, ‘my-family-will-be-foreigners’ Curran, McDougall, Murphy, the Alexanders, the Daily Mail, the Express, Cochrane, the online Union Nutters and every Brian Wilson-Michael Kelly Establishment apologist…can you hear me? You took one hell of a beating.

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And was it based on identity? Well, all national politics is. That’s why we have a Welsh Senned, Stormont and a Proud-to-British Prime Minister. It’s why Labour are now wondering why working people don’t identify with them. The important thing is that identity isn’t the sole purpose of your politics but a frame within you make politics work. That’s what we have been doing – framing a politics that suits us, the Scots, developing positions that broadly suit the people who live here and defining what kind of country we want to be. That’s precisely what Labour should have been doing instead of trimming to meet the aspirations of people who live elsewhere with different needs. I read that leadership candidate Yvette Cooper described our amazing result as based on ‘anger, fear and division’…what an ill-informed, arrogant and bigoted woman. I fear with that kind of dismissive ignorance of progressive politics, Labour will never again win Scotland. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/15/labour-history-leadership?CMP=share_btn_tw

Labour are making mistake after mistake in England and in Scotland – where I suspect a fudge will mean a list placing for Murphy (the best place to be next May, not a constituency) before he agrees to move aside. This is about Jim’s career, not Labour, and never about Scotland or democracy.

The Tories in seven days have unleashed the dogs of war which may provoke a reaction in the North and will certainly increase SNP support bringing forward the constitutional schism that sets Scotland free.

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I was in touch for the first time in 20 years this week with someone who has devoted his life to the cause and we expressed the elation of change brought about by people educating themselves, others joining up, door-knocking, arguing, some blogging but all believing…believing that only cowards are scared of change and that they will always tremble before the naysayers…believing that there is nothing – including huge majorities – that can’t be overcome if you work hard enough. That belief frightens the Unionists because to them it is irrational. But it is no more irrational than their belief in Britain, it’s ‘values’, its planned poverty, its nuclear weapons and its Tory class war. That’s their belief system.

The real triumph today is looking at the greatest election win in our history and knowing that enough of us came together, believed and would not be deterred – exactly the spirit we will need to make independence work. It is our preparation. Look at the electoral map from coast to coast and let it sink in…this is our country. We did this.

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Secret Formula

I’ll have to start taking my tablets at this rate or maybe go for a check-up – I find myself agreeing with both Peter Mandelson and Michael Forsyth…with qualifications. My condition is serious, nurse.

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Let me dispose of Forsyth first. When he says Scotland has undergone a revolution, he is right. When he calls for a white paper on a comprehensive devolution settlement, he is right. His tone strikes the right chord – one that Labour has notably failed to find – acknowledging that this is a catastrophe, not just for Unionist parties, but for Unionism and, unless it is met head on, its destruction draws nearer. The era of piecemeal powers is over…time now for the final play that has the best chance of avoiding Union disintegration. It’s the equivalent of conceding ground and materiel to the enemy in order to regroup further behind the lines – and hope he’s satisfied with his spoils enough to stop the pursuit.

It’s the first sensible thing he’s said in 18 years since he led the Tories to a worse debacle than even Murphy’s Mayhem when he lost every single Scottish Tory seat – and ended up in the Lords. Which is why I resent him being wheeled out by Jim Naughtie and others as some kind of sage on Scottish politics when he was a disastrous failure rejected by the electorate but rewarded by the Establishment. But then he has to be right once every generation…

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Mandelson reminds me of Kaa, the snake in Jungle Book (I have young kids!), his serpentine mind and hissing voice, calmly skewering opponents while slithering along studio sofas. He is the gatekeeper to the Legend of Blair and bestows the key to the chosen few – poor Chukka Ummuna with that hand creeping round his shoulder. The Mandelson mantra, repeated by David Miliband and most right wing and Labour voices so far, is that Ed didn’t build on New Labour. Instead he rolled back the years to tax-and-spend policies and anti-wealth rhetoric. That’s why he lost, the aspiring strivers left feeling ignored and disagreeing that bashing business was acceptable.

I think there was a lot more to it than that but I do agree that Miliband failed a basic test of having something to say to everyone. That was a Blair trick. He embodied radical youth for a new age emerging from Tory stagnation; he talked of caring for all people encompassing the stragglers; he courted business and wealth-creation and was tough on defence and security (maybe a little too tough at times…) The anoraks call it triangulation, adopting others’ policy positions or versions thereof placing you between different viewpoints in order to neutralise the opposition and insulate you from attack. In chess, it’s like castling. In marketing, it’s broadening appeal. In real life, it’s common sense. You’re trying to win as many votes as possible, right? Do you focus tightly on one group or do you expand your offer in the hope of capturing more votes?

And like Blair, the SNP has cracked this too. The secret of Blair’s electoral success is the same, more or less, as the SNP’s. They’ve captured the market. They started with a fundamental – Scotland. (Blair’s I think was modern social justice). It has to be something with a universal appeal, a powerful lure that is always associated with you and seems to underpin everything else you do. Nobody disagrees with Scotland (whatever that means to them). Nobody. With that central identity, you have the makings of success. Equally, this was an identity Labour previously held with distinctive Scottish polices, well known figures who also were big in the UK, strong-accented trade unionists, wholesale elected representation at all levels and a unrivalled place in working class history. Labour’s dream was the people’s dream, making the SNP look spindly and eccentric.

It’s often remarked how the SNP encapsulates different strands of opinion, some statist, some libertarian and even suggested that after independence it will split into factions – wishful thinking of Labour strategists like McTernan. But what is true is that it is simultaneously business-friendly and welfare-minded. It can reach the entrepreneur with a tax-cutting, less red tape approach and win the Left with fair pay and dignity level benefits. The SNP wins the shopkeeper in Forfar, the fund manger in Edinburgh, the binman in Glasgow. Look who the MPs are – a breast surgeon, a university professor, an international banker, a lawyer and actress, a trade union official, a female QC, a TV producer, a broadcaster, a business maverick, a former Labour official, a politics student.

This means compromise and trimming to meet all aspirations and not all of this hangs comfortably together but is sustained by the fundamental – Scotland first. When you add in believability (I prefer plausibility in the case of Blair) and professionalism, the winning formula is complete.

Labour failed partly because it’s leaders weren’t believable while the SNP’s are. Ed was always going to struggle. When broadcasters say ‘image problem’, the voters say ‘goofy’. He didn’t fit their idea of a Prime Minister. Balls brought the failure of Brown’s government centre stage to add to his own belligerent, eyeballing bluster. Murphy was memorably compared by Andy Kerr to your dad dancing in a night club.

Without a direct personality-based appeal, people turn off. They stop hearing you and if they think you may have deceived them or let them down, heaven help you. Labour’s failures have accumulated into a perceived hellish betrayal. It’s notable how tame the SNP’s actual promise was for this election – a stronger voice for Scotland. That is utterly meaningless in itself but it makes it difficult to challenge whatever they achieve or whatever they don’t. It’s another way of making a broad appeal and avoiding complaint.

There is a time in this political game when it all catches up. Unless you constantly review and renew – and they’ve been good at this so far – decisions can go stale and policies turn in on themselves. A prime example is university tuition fees where students pay nothing for the education but still end up in debt because the maintenance grant is too low. Another is Full Fiscal Autonomy where they sound querulous and unconvincing because of the deficit when I don’t think they need to at all.

But it remains important to stick to principles. Being anti nuclear is a no brainer and an absolute. Refusing to buy the British fetish of anti austerity budgeting is another. People will respect a dogged position even if they don’t agree with it and will give credit for clarity – the very opposite of Murphy’s scattergun strategy.

The problem now is that the SNP is so ascendant that an opposition is keenly needed. This is quite different from the howl of the bemused Unionists that we have become a one-party state. This argument fails because it was a free vote (are they saying it was rigged as in Uzbekistan?) There is no stifling of opposition. There are 58, I think, non-SNP members of the Scottish Parliament, 23 councils have no overall control, only two out of six MEPs are SNP. Oh, and we’re not a state.

But where is the opposition? Labour looks incapable of conducting the kind of fundamental reappraisal needed and simply can’t do that while Murphy and McTernan remain. There are risible kites flown by the loopy – among them Professor Neil Ferguson – that there will soon follow a Tory revival. I could wallpaper the bedroom with cuttings on that one. To be clear – No There Won’t.

Real opposition could soon emerge though from within the Yes movement if there is an alliance of Socialists, Radical Independence and Common Weal that could outflank the SNP on the left. Indeed, I suspect there will be a huge upsurge in Green votes for second preference. They could supplant Labour as the real opposition of the Left. The outcome could easily in the current mood mean that Labour drops off the radar for many voters as it struggles to redefine itself. And what if the party in the south follows Mandelson’s advice and returns to New Labour ideology with knobs on? What then for the raddled Scottish branch office? The comparison with the thriving and competent SNP with its all-people appeal is stark. This is the period of maximum danger for Labour when its remaining strength gets drawn down the plughole no matter what it does. Real leadership is needed to bring together the old heads who have deserted or gone into abeyance – Charlie Gray, John Mulvey, Alex Mosson, McLeish, McConnell and the unions with Labour academics and a huge public meeting and online consultation with the members. Question One: Do we need a Labour Party? If Yes, who’s it for and what does it do?

Only then can they begin finding the ideas and the language to re-engage with the Scots. And that won’t happen before next May.

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Duck and Dive, Dave

If anything showed up Scotland’s insignificant role in the family of nations it was this election result…a near clean-sweep for Nationalists and yet a Tory majority in the UK.

The old theme that they rule over us resounds as never before, a bitter reminder that only 20 years ago the SNP policy was to take a majority of Scottish MPs in an election as a mandate for independence. Sturgeon would be heading to New York and the UN this morning instead of London and a BBC studio sofa.

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Mind you, go back nearly 30 years and SNP policy was to stay out of Europe, yet staying in could be the breaker that leads to a second referendum in two years. So things change and, boy, how things have changed. I was wrong. Totally and embarrassingly wrong when I said I expected 30 plus seats to fall and that 40 would be an earthquake. I was categoric – 50 seats was a pipe dream with fairy wings. I foresaw Willie Bain with a 2000 majority, Charlie Kennedy with just enough personal support to inch over the line and a right wing Unionist alliance heaving Murphy back in. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I still look over the 10,000 majorities and wonder if they’re real. Did the sitting MPs know what was coming? They saw a serious challenge, sure, but how many forecast a tsunami or, as some are saying, an extinction level event? To those who did their constituency job well but still lost – like Ann McKechin in my seat – I say thanks and farewell. It is always the occupational hazard of the elected politician that one day it’s all over and that’s how it should be. If Labour suffered from anything in the long years of dominance it was complacency – now the fledgling enemy of the SNP.

Will Cameron and his crew play the enemy too? They still have no reason to play to Scotland for votes (and didn’t he ditch Ruth Davidson when he went anti-Scottish in the campaign?) and could let it fester as a way of frustrating and infuriating the SNP, turning them into the Feeble 56.

Yet his majority is small enough to be fragile and his party less than loyal, with a solid rump of anti Europeans still terrified of UKIP. There may well be times when he’ll be glad of support when the going gets tricky and antagonising needlessly the third biggest party will look petulant and self-harming.

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The SNP bloc won’t have much room for more than rhetorical opposition – indeed may have to play the key spokesman role defending social solidarity depending on Labour’s strategic response to defeat. But that will bring benefits in itself if Scots see them taking the case for social justice into the heart of the Commons and standing up for Scottish sensibilities. They won’t have Scottish Labour voices to do that and I suspect the sole survivor – Castaway Ian Murray – will begin to sound more like a semi detached Nat in the circumstances, when he gets a word in.

The big prize of course is more powers and if Cameron believes he has to keep stoking up English chauvinism by blocking the SNP, he can proceed to deliver only on Smith and still lose the argument. I don’t think the Tories have a stomach either for appeasing the Scots or for antagonising them but it can’t have escaped even the most dense and backward Jock bashers that there is a solution to this perennial problem and the chances to deal with it are running out. Sturgeon is right – you can’t look at this rebellion against Westminster without realising that Smith is dead. It was only ever a make-do and mend to get the Unionists out of a bind and no one who follows constitutional issues ever says they can be dealt with simply and quickly to an artificial timetable set by the tabloid press, never mind a demented Gordon Brown. (Can we now leave him in Jurassic Park and can the BBC stop bowing and scraping in front of the old panto dame?)

Inside Number 10, assuming there are smarter minds than Cameron’s, someone has to see the advantage of sealing the Union deal by filling in the Smith gaps with the full panoply of economic and welfare powers which any real Conservative would acknowledge as essential to a country being self-reliant. If the current funding is subsidised by England, why not change it and set Scotland free? What possible right- wing case is there for trying to nurse maid those who want autonomy when it is within the Union and when the real and present danger is a final cleavage.

As I’ve written before, Full Fiscal Autonomy is whatever Cameron and Sturgeon decide it is – with the public’s ultimate approval. What doesn’t suit London will have to be finessed until it does. What damages Scotland will need adjustment to fit. It’s called negotiation and it’s what the Civil Service is for.

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FFA does not mean an overnight transformation to a new funding formula and the end of all cross-border transfers. It will be designed to ensure a stable transition that doesn’t hurt either side with trigger points for subventions when income falls too low or rises too high on the principle of no disadvantage. It will take place over several years. It will be regularly reviewed. The objective is not to damage each other but to meet the aspiration of the voters who want Edinburgh to lead economic development and take care of welfare. Any failure to act on this clear agenda when the voice of Scots has resounded so clearly within a space of only eight months, would be a cruel and self-defeating act of provocation. With a Tory government hell-bent on slashing yet more from welfare in the most callous of deliberate policy acts, it isn’t just the SNP who will be demanding change. The conditions now prevail for street politics in opposition to a right wing government we didn’t vote for so that civil disobedience in Scotland could quickly spread to non-Tory England giving Cameron a headache (and possibly the SNP in Westminster). The days after an election are the time for action when there is an interregnum and the winner can do just about anything and get away with it. There can be boldness and imagination – and I don’t mean heading for the most expensive club in Mayfair to celebrate. If Cameron fails, he will be failing Britain.

By the way, the laugh of the post election party has been the dinosaur tendency in Labour to blame defeat on somebody else. Was it Friday night I caught Jackie Baillie, the Queen of Cant, describing how it was a deliberate plan of Sturgeon to keep going down to England to be seen by as many people as possible to provoke the English (try to keep up) into believing Cameron’s propaganda about SNP wreckers holding Labour to ransom so that (still with me?) English folk would change their vote to the Tories to stop a Labour government. Therefore – Labour’s defeat was the FAULT OF THE SNP.

And right there, ladies and gentlemen, is why Labour are f***ed. Jackie sums it all up – an articulate woman who finds self-analysis impossible, whose loathing for the SNP is so profound and her politics so corrupted by cronyism and careerism that even a cataclysmic defeat can be elided and finessed away. The somewhat repellent Blair McDougall whose personal star has blinked and blanked, is at the same game – the man who ran the whole calamitous train crash along with McTernan, taking the coward’s way out and blaming someone else. If there is any scrap of credibility in either of these political spivs and self-publicists, Labour is welcome to it. Their campaign was crap, a childrens’ playbook of gaffe, hyperbole and vitriol which veered from love bombing the Yes voters to branding them indy crazies hell bent on referendum two. Can they also now be consigned to the wheelie bin of failure or will they re-emerge as newspaper ‘columnists’ airbrushing their own inadequacy. Like Murphy, these tribal Neanderthals need to be flushed out of our politics.

Talking of Her Majesty’s Press, what are the media in Scotland going to do now? They have strained every sinew to gloss over Labour’s failings, bigged up on cue its personalities and its plans, excoriated the SNP and been force fed first by Paul Sinclair under Lamont (doesn’t seem to bad now, does she?) and then by McTernan. Will this force them to open their eyes to the consistent failure of the party most of them support? The MPs have gone, the Holyrood crop is a rump, the talent is gone, the old heads retired, the money spent, the resources and decision-making flitted to the Nats – it’s time to move on, guys. The old ways are finished. Just as Labour has to think differently, so do you. Maybe even BBC Scotland’s early evening love affair with Labour’s interpretation of any given event will ebb too and a balance that has been missing for too long, will assert itself. It is the ones who don’t adapt who lose in the end, eh, Labour?

And where, when you need them, are the Heroes of the Past? Where is Brown’s analysis of Labour reduced to dust? Where in the campaign was Darling? Has Brian Wilson emerged from the digital croft? These are the people whose hubris, arrogance and journey to the Right pulled out the props one by one which supported the People’s Party. Murphy is part of it along with Curran and the defeated 40 but it was Brown sucking up to the City, dictating policy to Scotland – even blocking Wendy’s referendum plea – which rotted the floor. The Stalinist regime of Brown and the party’s failure to confront it, is the single most damning internal influence that destroyed Labour. Cultural changes and historical shifts in society require to be adjusted to and weren’t but in terms of the party and its administration, it was the vainglorious blowhard Brown who downed Scottish Labour…the failed Prime Minister and failed leader who failed Scotland.

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Class War

And there it is – democracy in action confounding the pollsters, the parties and, judging by the surprised faces of Cameron and Osborne, even the Tories. Bloody hell, Sam…where did that come from?

The answer, in broad geographic terms, is southern England, an area that is home to the wealthy and sorted. There are spots of red there, notably in multi cultural London, but mostly it is a satisfying Royal blue. West and north there are great brushstrokes of, call it Blood red, before the monumental sweep of yellow…or is it a more piquant Mustard shade. Tory Britain has reasserted itself, bestowing on an old Etonian the distinction of an outright win to carry forth their hopes of (I’m checking the file here) self preservation. At least that’s how it appears in my desk index but in Central Office it goes under A for Austerity which translates as redistributing to the comfortable and making an example of the unqualified and the artisan. The former is Hard Working Family and the latter the Benefit-dependant. In the 21st century class war the Haves are winning hands down.

You can fob off the comparisons if you like but a union official told me today that the trades union comrades are planning their own Thatcher era resistance to the imminent onslaught they now expect. Leaving it to elected representatives – including an SNP anxious to play its role at Westminster in impeccable style – is ruled out. It’s Back to the Eighties – Tories Out.

The hard-to-grasp bit isn’t the SNP flood, but the abject failure of Labour and Left politics in general in England. The context of GE15 – crippling austerity, food banks, zero hours contracts, campaigns to help bankers, Trident renewal, child poverty, the slowest recovery on record – was like a script crafted by the Webbs – Beatrice and Sydney – directed by Marx and edited by Keir Hardie. You could foment a revolution based on that lot. But, through faint hearts, fear of the very machinery of authority the party was born to contest, and febrile leadership devoid of charisma, they bungled the chance to rescue the hopes of working class Britain. They stuck to numbers and arid economics insisting on parroting the neo liberal claptrap of the City and their friends the Conservatives who will always sound better at it than Labour. A poor leader, hamstrung by cruel public perception, and a finance minister who never really tried to remove his fingerprints from the Brown economic farce, were the public face of a confused campaign.

In some ways, thank God the SNP don’t have to prop them up. That could have been embarrassing. At least Miliband was decisive in defeat and walked. That’s leadership – but it doesn’t apply to the branch manager whose wheedling about not enough time and it’s somebody else’s fault fits perfectly the careerist we’ve come to know. I hope he does stay. There can be few better weapons than a confirmed loser leading the opposition.

If Cameron had any imagination or humility he would have taken Nicola Sturgeon aside quietly in a Whitehall Office after the Cenotaph today and said: We need to talk. The messages are already mixed – first it’s One Nation Toryism and then it’s Smith implemented in full. Oh good. Cameron’s really in touch then…

Here we have the perfect storm – a No vote close enough to be a warning – and now an avalanche of votes for the champions of Home Rule. The message is screaming – Scotland wants Devo Max – without the trickery, the Treasury memos and the Labour Party vetoes. Only the most myopic diehard could fail to hear the message because behind it is the clear warning…if not, it’s independence round two. I believe Cameron failed the test of leadership on becoming PM and should have met with Salmond to find common ground on devolution. I fear he will fail again with Sturgeon, lacking the imagination as he does, lounging feet up on the desk as hero of the hour. If he values the UK, he must see it is now in more ‘danger’ than ever.

Watch out too for the media to turn to the Barnett Formula as a means of punishing Scots. For voting SNP, we will be told that England pays the bills, so be very careful, Jock. Start getting your evidence together now for the storm will break all over again.

And well done the people who played their part in the greatest election victory in our history. I now imagine any part of Scotland from Coatbridge, East Kilbride, Edinburgh, Glenrothes, Sutherland, Perth, Ayrshire or Skye and know they voted SNP. The parade of faces who have been swept away swim into view and my sympathy for their rejection is tempered by memories of how much I wanted them removed. There will be two new clubs formed – one for the three who won against the SNP and one for the three sad Nationalists who didn’t win May 7. You can’t win ‘em all.

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