It’s like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Observing Labour grapple with the awful truth that we’ve all seen coming is like watching the asylum inmates queuing up for their pills. Maybe we’ll have to revisit our approach to the constitution. The people won’t listen to us until we do. We’ve been slow to understand…
Poor buggers, the rest of us think. Imagine being so out of touch and so deep in denial. Labour activist Scott Arthur tweets: As SNP enter their 10th year of Gov, what have they achieved? 1. Divided Scotland.2. Moved Scots to right.3. Boosted the Tories.
As Alan Bissett points out, nowhere does he take responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault. This is classic denial and deflection which has afflicted Labour for a decade. They’re like an amateur boxer getting skelped rigid, telling himself after every punch that he’s still standing and it’ll stop soon. But it doesn’t, until he’s carted off to the infirmary. The stupidity is staggering. They haven’t even learned to duck. When you combine it with their disbelief and resentment at others, it fuels a poisonous gas that the whole of Scotland can smell. We shut our windows and call the children in.
Here’s Jamie Kinlochan in Labour Hame: I don’t believe that constitutional politics gets many Labour members out of bed in the morning. It is clear now, however, that we can’t just lie in because we don’t want to have the conversation. So we might need to set our alarms half an hour earlier. As long as independence is the single issue that dominates Scottish politics, social justice will not be. Kez’s plan to challenge that and continue to fight for those who are being ignored is the right one. We will rebuild and we will restore our party in the pursuit of equality.
Again, Jamie needs to take his tablets. He totally misses what Yes was about – realizing that self-determination for the Scots is the platform from which equality and social justice can be attained. It’s true there are old Nats like me with a deeper, more historical yearning for independence but I too believe that Scots governing Scots will always trump the efforts of the British state. Look at the inequality the British have wreaked on this country yet Jamie and Scott blame the Nats! How much easier would it be to win in Scotland and nudge left-leaning Scots to more radical policies than trying to convince the essentially right-wing English electorate and the public school neo liberal Brit establishment? (Which the two of them campaigned to keep in control with Better Together).
It’s Labour’s failure to present a coherent programme that has encouraged anti-Nats to vote Tory. Blaming the SNP for winning, convincing Scots and raising expectations is psychotic in the circumstances. (Sorry, getting caught up in the Cuckoo’s Nest analogy).
You might as well say it’s a pity Scotland had it’s political reawakening. We should have stayed cowed and unengaged. We should have shut up and voted for woodentop Labour backbenchers with limited ability, no power and a sense of entitlement that makes them think socialists and democrats have a natural home in the Lords.
The more you hear this stuff, the more you realize that it isn’t Nats who are locked into nationalistic thinking but the Unionists themselves. Even when Scotland is shouting in their face to wake up, they check their watch and turn away. Today Anas Sarwar talks of revisiting powers for Holyrood yet, as Michael Stewart reminds us, they’ve just finished telling us we already have the most powerful devolved government in the world. Which is it?
My only conclusion is that Labour aren’t really radicals, or socialists, or proud Scots at all, although some will be. Essentially they are what we said two years ago – Britnats who can see no future outside their beloved Union and whose self-loathing transfers to fellow Scots who want to move on.
Too many Labour voices now sound like grudge and grievance – the very charge they laid at the SNP who at least had a plan. What’s Labour’s plan now? Their dismal failure has lost them even opposition status, trapped between the bogeyman Tories and the bogle they themselves made of the SNP. Yet they will now have to choose every week whose side they are on, stumbling on for a year until the final cataclysm – local government wipe out.
On which point can I go against the grain and say I don’t think Kezia is a good leader. I know there is sympathy for her and I feel it myself. I know she’s attractive in a presentational sense. I’m sure she’s intellectually honest…heart in the right place and all that. But her few months in office have been appalling. Her attempts at reforming the party to get rid of the duds is mocked by the return of Sarwar, Gray, Baillie and the others who are themselves responsible for lack of vision and wider voter appeal.
Her policy positions have been patchwork and reversible. Her commitments have been elastic and her messages the equivalent of political morse code. She can’t sell an idea or a policy. The lack of any capacity to punch through the effect of limited resources and still command respect rather than acquire a general likeability has been glaring. You can reasonably argue she had little chance but what she can’t do is go backwards which is what has dramatically happened on her watch. First impressions count. The view I heard in Glasgow – from an older Labour woman – ‘Is that lassie really running Labour?’ sums it up. The answer is Yes, she is and she’s the best they’ve got. The sad part is she is now a diminished presence in a beleaguered group, carrying the burden of ridicule as the Labour leader who lost to the Tories. Personally, I don’t think that’s sustainable. Nor is it good for her self-esteem and dignity.
Am I right that the normally voluble Blair MacDougall, the brain behind Scottish Labour’s last few years of triumph, is remarkably quiet? Why would that be? And where is the ever sneery Lord George Foulkes, never knowingly undersold? Kezia will be on the front line taking the flak while those with the real responsibility take the Gordon Brown route of impersonating Macavity the Cat and disappearing. Isn’t that the truth?
In Cuckoo’s Nest the patients are divided into Acutes who can be cured and Chronics who can’t. In Labour’s case, you decide.by