The Outsider

If you didn’t know who it was, you’d still think the man speaking must be leader of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn did his voters the justice of sounding like a reformer with socialist zeal in his acceptance speech and was a reminder of the last leader who displayed rhetorical passion – before sliding into Westminster compromise – Neil Kinnock.

Here at last was someone speaking to and for the working people, the weak and the vulnerable, those being ‘cleansed’ from London by sky high rents and property prices and speaking to and for the trades unions, those eternal funders of a party which abuses its relationship by sidelining them in power.

While Corbyn spoke the onscreen tickertape announced the resignation of a shadow minister I’d never heard of. Against the pulsing feel-good factor in the hall, it was a small and stagey act which told you that, whoever he is, he is no democrat. Corbyn won the biggest majority of any leader, utterly shredding the opposition on the first ballot. The people have spoken…60 per cent of the Labour electorate. If any Blairite zealot objects under these circumstances , they must be in the wrong party.

Even Kezia was there beaming – transformed from cavilling critic to wide-eyed adherent, no doubt thrilled at her personal mention. Oh, the effect of a winner.

Great chasms of policy difference will now open up – indeed were opened as the new leader spoke – anti-austerity, pro-refugee, against union reform. Here was a real alternative that the Blair-Brown years had expunged. The most used word was passion, the very thing he has injected into a cynical and jaded culture that has failed to find a way of tackling the Tories. The sheer scale of his victory destroys the myth of the Blair hegemony – it may indeed still exist among the greasy pole climbers of Whitehall but out there on the streets of Britain, it is as dead as the Empire. Corbyn has an unimagined mandate to change Labour and the debate, perhaps ultimately too the country and woe betide those who resist by threat or subterfuge.

The chance that he will only employ trusties in Cabinet is as silly as saying that he won’t allow dissent. A more open and collegiate platform is exactly what he is about with open disagreement permitted. On the face of it, he is returning the Labour Party to its radical and outspoken roots.

He has too given a green light to Scotland through his election to find its own version of a radical agenda. Kezia Dugdale clearly is no radical and certainly no socialist but she may be a manager who can rebuild a Scottish machine and inject it with Corbyn adrenaline. She has no excuse for flunking the Left case now. Indeed she has a chance to match and outflank the SNP on key issues. Corbyn has removed any security blanket she may have had as the whole policy panorama opens up before her, including anti-Trident. It is a test and it has come early. But it must be answered. So far Corbyn has nothing to say on Scotland vis a vis the constitution which does not interest him. He is leaving the territory to her and what momentum there is (pretty patchy in Scotland) must be harnessed soon. Alternatively he could seriously beef up campaigning in Scotland by breaking with tradition and using his authority of appointment to make Neil Findlay, his Scottish lieutenant, shadow Scottish Secretary – a purely honorary position. He would still need someone at Westminster to do perfunctory duties – ‘holding Scotland Office to account’, Scottish Questions etc – but why should any radical be concerned about that 19th century nonsense when they have been wiped out in the North? Findlay would command media coverage here in Scotland where it matters and to an extent offer an alternative viewpoint when necessary. That really would be taking Scotland seriously. (Ian Murray sounds a very lukewarm convert to Corbymania).

With Tom Watson also elected deputy there is room for a Tom and Jerry joke or two but the intriguing point here is that both deputies in Scotland and the UK are politically close to the brooding Brown in Fife. It was Watson who worked with Brown to orchestrate the coup against Blair and in Scotland Alex Rowley is Brown’s man. When will the baleful influence of Brown be removed from our politics?

Corbyn is a welcome protagonist with an excoriating line of media put down. His open contempt for ‘certain media’ and their intrusive and mendacious output is a promising sign of distance between power and Press – no more kowtowing to the right wing bigots in the Mail, the Express and Telegraph.

He has already moved the debate leftwards, leaving the Tories looking exposed and isolated as cruel, uncaring, selfish extremists and if the swathes of Labour folk who deserted the polling booths altogether during the Blair years can be won back, the idea of a Labour government in 2020 becomes….well…not necessarily impossible.

London looks like solid ground for a party doing alternative politics with its young and multi cultural constituency but a difficulty may be winning over those in the English North and Midlands who now regard UKIP as their home. Will they respond to a message favouring foreign settlement, be it immigration, asylum or refugee shelter?

It’s also unlikely given entrenched patterns that Corby will do much damage in the short term to the SNP – there simply isn’t the same craving here for Corbyn policies and talk of hope – if anything he’s copied that from the anti-Establishment politics of the Nationalists themselves. But here at last is a message from Labour. There is now no denying the anti-Tory tone. If Dugdale is up to it, she could harness this and return respect and dignity to a movement that has been drifting on the tides.

Corbyn is a shock to the system – look out for manufactured scandals which may have intelligence fingerprints on them – and is to be welcomed for that alone and for returning Labour to harbour. At least there may now be something for the SNP to worry about and plan for. Maybe.

 

 

 

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17 thoughts on “The Outsider

  1. Beyond encouraging more people to think about independence I fail to see how the election of Corbyn at Westminster will do anything to “help” Scotland or (Not) Labour here.

    Corbyn appears to be singing from the anti-austerity, pro-equality song sheet but he has no powers to do anything about these things in Scotland.

    Instead in Scotland we have a leader of (Not) Labour who was initially deputy to a (Not) Labour right winger and never publicly disagreed with him or his neo-con agenda.

    She then dissed Corbyn publicly before now pretending she was rooting for him all along. If that’s the case why didn’t she just say when asked on Radio 4 who she was voting for?

    Sorry, but there you have in Scotland a leader of (Not) Labour who clearly has no principles – one of Tony Benn’s weathervanes as Mhairi Black put it.

    Corbyn has clear anti-austerity views – Dugdale has never expressed them; he is opposed to Trident renewal and wants to see unilateral disarmament – Dugdale has never done either. And so on.

    If she suddenly starts supporting these things she will have little to whinge about at FMQs anymore but who is actually going to believe her volte face?

    More to the point how can Corbyn be good for Scotland when he has openly voiced his opposition to any future referendum or even further devolution of tax raising powers? This is the man so passionate in his support for a united and independent Ireland.

    Sorry, but in my book that is simply hypocrisy and it will bring no benefit to Scotland whatsoever.

    • Maybe he likes islands to united, so a united Ireland and a united Britain? However I agree with your sentiments, not holding my breath with Ms Dugdale flipping, maybe not happily but flipping nonetheless.

  2. I don’t buy that Labour voters in the North of England have jumped ship for UKIP. The only reason they jumped to UKIP was that UKIP was the only party remotely interested in the ordinary low wage working man or woman and their economic woes. OK, this UKIP concern was filtered and fanned via immigration, but immigration was only an issue for northerners because of the poor economy.

  3. You keep having hopes for Kezia Derek, which are sadly dashed each time she has an opportunity to make her mark. She’s a mediocrity who lacks passion, principle or commitment. She is not going to amount to anything, no matter what chances she is given. She has already been promoted way beyond her ability. Labour can only wither further under her leadership.

  4. Scottish Labour are dead. UK Labour are in the wilderness. SNP have nothing to fear from them. Corbyn knows nothing about Scotland, much like Murphy and Milliband.

    Epic fail coming for the Labour party in England. Corbyn cannot unite the left in England. It’s simple maths. There aren’t enough of them. England is a right wing country. That was established at the last election. That’s why Scotland and England can never unite again. The gap is widening between our two cultures.

  5. it will be a challenging task for the mainstream media. Jeremy could breathe new life into Scottish Labour with or without help from KEZ. Trouble is the same unionist commentariat that want to kill all things SNP also want to strangle at birth the only political leadership that has an arse of a chance of helping them achieve their SNP armageddon dreams. Interesting times ahead.

  6. “Corbyn is a shock to the system”?

    How immuno-compromised is this “system”, then?

    The more I read such WM bubble fixated tripe, the more inclined I become to abrogate the faux Union Treaty should the SNP harvest a thumping majority at the next Holyrood elections to complement its overwhelming WM representation as well as its growing local authorities one.

    Corbyn couldn’t give my Great Aunty Dolina a fright even if you bribed her long dead cadaver (and she would have mocked anyone asserting otherwise given the likes of MacLean, etc, who were in her political DNA).

    May he, Mr Corbyn, shake/rattle and roll our good neighbours south of the border, but he ain’t no Tom Paine.

    Lord God in Govan, we’d have more insightful commentary into the current “State of the Union” if some site simply re-published the comments of Muir, MacLean, and countless other Scots radicals pre-dating much of the bloodless “analysis” published today.

  7. I like JC…interesting fellow.

    But I suspect that he will realise on which side his bread is buttered, in other words, the ongoing need to finance UK plc with Scotland on board.

    Of all the candidates for Labour leader, this is the one who could wrestle with the SNP. Who says he’s not a Westminster plant?

  8. Kez(ia) for a knave – the unscrupulous, dishonest Labour Party in Scotland. Couple of weeks ago she viewed the election of Corbyn as leaving her “carping from the sidelines” for years. This morning on GMS she is “excited” to be working with him.

    The euphoria on the left of Conservatives voters is understandable but foolish. The Establishment runs England (and through WM much of Scotland) and will have their revenge.

  9. I hope Mr Corbyn can ‘start’ something within England’s progressive left, they need ideological balance which is sadly lacking in the body politic at the moment. Indeed on many policy issues he could even count on SNP Westminster cooperation.

    How and ever on the subject of Scotland, the constitution and the unions inherent democratic deficit, Mr Corbyn a. is clearly uninterested and b. clearly lacking a working knowledge

    He is who he is, a London socialist Labour MP. His world is at his front door and unless he can absolutely guarantee that no Conservative government will ever again come to pass, heal the huge ideological rift within parliamentary Labour, or that he can and will address the democratic deficit inherent within the current partnership, overhaul the outdated and entrenched system of establishment government that is the Westminster parliament, then frankly he is of no use to Scotland’s electorate.

    There is a media shit storm headed Mr Corbyn’s way. One that as supporters of independence, we are only too familiar with. If he needs any help in coping mechanisms…

  10. The shock to the system was really a shock to the English system and long overdue. The electorate there have a real alternative to the austerity mince that is being served up daily by the tories and had been endorsed by New labour’s silence. The rise of the SNP was a shock to the Scottish system and was long overdue. It broke the hegemony of a party that had dined out to long on anti-tory rhetoric. A party that then thought it could sell a conservative manifesto, while at the same time saying (without the slightest trace of irony) that they and only they could stop the tories.

    The rehabilitation of Scottish labour is going to long and painful – there are too many blairite and brownite dead-enders hanging about. There is too much of a whiff of the mendacity that brought them down with a crash. There are still too many faces in that front bench that drove so many away from the party.

    Corbyn might be the cover they need to dash for the comfort blanket of anti-tory dogma – but is anyone really listening or prepared to believe them? A recent poll shows that only 16% of Scots thought that the labour party was effective in opposition to the SNP.

    Corbyn is but one man. He has a mandate for sure. But he also has a reactionary and backwards looking baggage of careerists and opportunists looking to stab him in the back at the first opportunity. They did it to Callaghan back in the 70’s – I’d can see them do it again to Corbyn. If that does happen we all know that Kezia would re-embrace the right in a heartbeat.

    For the UK party survive and reach out to those lost votes in Scotland, then perhaps maybe Scottish labour has to die?

  11. Is there anything ‘new’ in this World? This is Labour and the West Minster Elites’ dusting down of “Lets get rid of Thatcher and create the impression of a change of Government”. Except this time it sidelines issues like Chilcott, The Vow and TTIP and creates the impression of a New, ‘New Labour’ with no baggage. Fact is Labour is still the centralised organisation of self interested elitists doing the bidding of the Funders who own them, created by Blair to guarantee no intereference from ordinary members. Ironically it was Milliband’s attempt to curb the influence of the Unions as to who got the top spots within the elte that gave the grass roots back some influence, all be it temporary.

  12. Alasdair Macdonald

    Sadly, there is a fair degree of tribalism and cynicism on display in a majority of comments. Derek is attempting to indicate ways of creating a broader alliance, which might oppose effectively the Tories’ nasty ‘welfare’, anti-trade Union, pro-war, economy-destroying austerity. Mr Corbyn has attracted many thousands of people in England back into politics, and that must be a good thing. In Scotland, we had the SNP, and effective Green politicians, but, In England, for many, the only alternative was UKIP, which was making the right kind of noises, but, nastily, tied to immigration. We are in a fluid situation – in Scotland, in the rest of the UK,in Europe, and in the Middle East – and so parties have to adapt to changing circumstances and to make ad hoc alliances on common causes.

    • I am not sure it’s tribalism Alasdair – Corbyn is on record as saying no further indy refs and no further devolution of substantial powers to Scotland.

      As I said above I don’t see how his appointment will help Scotland.

      • Alasdair Macdonald

        Steve, thank for responding. I re- read your comment, and it is not ‘tribalism’. You are being cautious and sceptical, which is always a wise thing to do.
        Mr Corbyn has a difficult task, because the reasons for disaffection in Scotland and England are different, partly because we had a plausible alternative. He is, at heart, an internationalist, and many of these see ‘nationalism’ as its antithesis. They are wrong. I consider myself an internationalist, but I had no hesitation about voting ‘Yes’. I think Mr Corbyn has been influenced by the straw man caricaturing of the independence movement of SCOTTISH Labour and the msm. He is a politician, and I have a fair amount of time for many politicians of most parties, and he has to make his pitch towards where he can get support.
        He is going to face the nastiest shitstorm of abuse from the msm, the Blairites, the Tories, business, etc. It has already begun. I think his election is important for UK politics, of which, sadly, Scotland is still part. So, I think we need to look for wYs of working with him.

  13. I listened to J McD new shadow chancellor during the welfare bill and liked his style He said he would swim through vomit, and thought after hearing some of the speeches felt he might need to, to vote against the bill, unlike those other” true” labour MPs who abstained

  14. Derek your Labour roots seem to have re-awakened. You are getting carried away by the Corbyn hype. And your support for the chief typist at Scottish Labour HQ is baffling.

    Listened to Corbyn’s acceptance speech. It was long winded waffle. Inspiring it was not. And he’s already made a few hypocritical U turns and it is only day two. It should also be remembered that Corbyn gained the leadership of the Labour PARTY by means of the votes of a few thousand *Labour Members* not 60% of English Labour supporters. His mandate in the country is very limited and narrow based.

    However he together with the SNP now has the ammunition to make the Tory Government properly accountable. I wish him well but only if he makes Labour at WM a proper Opposition, and only if he carries through on his opposition to austerity and Trident, and takes up the cudgel on behalf of Labour policies to help the poor and disadvantaged. We’ll soon find out if he’s Real Labour or just another career time server.

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