Armagegeddeddon !?

Earthquakes in Mexico, a fusillade of hurricanes in the Caribbean, the unstoppable warming of the Earth, a Dr Strangelove President threatening total nuclear wipe-out, jackboot authority restored to Catalonia and an economy-crashing Brexit imminent as a shambolic government devours itself.

Oh, and Kezia resigns…

If this isn’t Armageddon, I don’t know what is. Why Trump missed out Kezia’s resignation from his address to the UN will be debate by historians. I can only assume his advisers thought it best avoided in case he was asked to endorse her replacement.

‘You mean it’s a contest between a Communist and a Muslim?’ You can see his dilemma…

Of all these global crises – Kezia apart – climate change is the most terrifying to me because it fits into a long-term worldview that mankind’s destiny is to ‘progress to destruction.’ In other words, we will develop science to the point where it wipes us out. We constantly create without weighing up the downside. So we discover nuclear fission and create a super efficient power source from it, nuclear energy. But we still haven’t worked out what to do with the dangerous waste it generates, therefore we pretend it isn’t really a problem.

We produce a mass means of water distribution – plastic bottles instead of cans, glass bottles or animal skins – but don’t know how to destroy the empties. The result is that millions of tons of tiny plastic particles are now in drinking water and in the sea. We don’t know what impact it will have on human health. But it’s definitely killing life in the oceans.

We invented what our ancestors would regard as time travel – airplanes that whiz us around to view the dazzling panorama of life of Earth yet those same planes are killing wildlife. Sixty seven per cent of all wild animals will have been wiped out in three years time.

Eighty per cent of rain forest in Ivory Coast has been destroyed to make way for cocoa because of our love for chocolate.

Sperm count in western males has halved probably due to lifestyle – mobile phones, smoking and diet – while science allows women to have children later when the risks are higher. Combined, the two trends point long term to human extinction.

As Ruth Davidson might say: ‘What is the First Minister going to do about it?’

Measured against the scale of issues confronting us, Scottish politics can seem miniscule and irrelevant. It isn’t of course, because the only hope we have is that every one and every group do whatever they can to support life. And no one will do anything without leadership.

The way to change the world, as it were, is to change the culture of thought. You may remember the days before seatbelts in cars when there was an agonised outcry at such breach of civil liberties in demanding that ‘perfectly safe’ drivers would be forced by law to buckle up. That quickly changed with rational debate about the dangers – and, of course, cheeky Jimmy Savile.

Smoking indoors was another No Go area that the public would simply defy. Who was going to tell a pubful of boozed up blokes to stub it out? And yet…

The only way I can see of making effective progress is through political partnership. That means agreeing on areas where it is possible and being prepared to compromise in these areas for a common good. Where there is a principle at stake, the agreement is to disagree.

For example I never understood, apart from hubris, what prompted the disastrous decision by Ming Campbell, Tavish Scott and Nicol Stephen to refuse coalition with the SNP in 2007. Sure, they gambled the Nats would fail but what blinkered them to the possibilities of a combined programme for government with a red line clause on an independent referendum? They could have withdrawn from government if the SNP tried to legislate for it. They put self-interest and personal bias before national interest and have never recovered.

Mostly, of course, when it comes to the vote, there is compromise and mostly the government gets its policy enacted because, in truth, there is little between the parties on the bulk of domestic policy. Labour and Liberals dance to the same Nationalist piper and have to look for ways to differentiate themselves from the SNP. (There shouldn’t be a national police force and tampons should be free to ALL women).

Most uneasy of all is Davidson who is canny enough to know the Scots have a soft spot for centre left ideas while her own hardcore voters are as right wing as UKIP and would happily wave in Trump to nuke Holyrood if the fallout didn’t reach Morningside.

There is a centrifugal force which drives the parties together and often the only brake is tribal resentment and personal animosities (although these are, in my experience, rarely as toxic as the pantomime behaviour in the chamber would lead you to believe).

Which is why I’m bemused by the rejectionist approach of the Labour contenders who are both bitten by the same bug and infected by the delirium that Labour folk hate the SNP and don’t want to work with them. Quite how they square a refusal to work with the party of government on matters of shared interest with a passion for progressive policies, I can’t for the life of me see. I also don’t believe it’s true because the pressures to do the right thing can’t be ignored for long – as the idiotic Tories are discovering over Brexit. Learn the lesson of Canute. So I assume all the No Deals, No Alliances talk of Sarwar and Leonard is for the Labour loyalists who are the electorate in this case and have found they need to reject the SNP in order to conform to Corbyn’s One Britain agenda.

That’s fine as in-house posturing but it will look limp when the brothers and sisters vote with the SNP anyway. It also stores up a serious problem for the new branch office manager because a united front for Scotland is going to be needed to resist the Tories’ power grab of devolved responsibilities. It’s one thing for Labour in Westminster to moan about it but it’s in Holyrood where should-to-shoulder work will be required to resist the onslaught. That implies joint agreement, private talks, public shows of solidarity and a sense of 1999 cross-party unity that sits at odds with the current leadership narrative. Scots admire those who appear to put their country above party and it was failure to do so that led to McConnell’s demise in 2007. Labour voters should hope the No Pact emissions are just that – hot air.

I think the leadership contest this time points to a real split in Labour affiliations in a way that Kezia and Ken McIntosh simply didn’t two years ago. The old Labour pragmatists are facing a Militant-style insurgency (albeit more polite in tone). The Corbynistas are as shameless in approach as any Blairite machine – witness the windy rhetoric over equal pay AFTER it is addressed by the incoming SNP in Glasgow having been resisted for decades by Labour and subsidised by taxpayers. It is a familiar trick true to type – forget reality, just deliver the message. It says there is only one way and it’s our way. We start at Year Zero – the politics of Pol Pot.

Yet the overarching message chimes with the times in seeking to overturn the privileges of the few in favour of the many. As a message that works but it looks like it’s all Jeremy has got, that slogan, as his silence over Catalonia and the Spanish state authoritarianism resonates and confusion reigns on his true position on Brexit.

Leonard will struggle though against the party machinery which favours Sarwar. His family tentacles and patronage run right through Labour in Glasgow and he is clearly a driven man, of a sort Kezia simply isn’t. (I honestly thought we were told she was in this for the long term, that she was the new generation). Sarwar may be motivated by social justice but he has the look of a son put on a gilded path and expected to match the father’s achievement. The only thing he does have is staying power – no amount of rejection will deter him. He failed in 2007 when no Labour candidate made it through on the list and lost the Westminster seat in 2015. So he keeps on coming back which means he isn’t a quitter.

A lifelong Labour member told me she voted for Murphy in 2014 despite disliking him and what he stood for because the party needed a known quantity in charge, someone with experience, not a rookie.

The same looks likely to happen this time when known entity Anas Sarwar can lay claim to the experience and background of an old hand not in the pay of the unions, someone who, along with Jackie Baillie, will wind up the Nats remorselessly and give the entrenched Labourites something to cheer and chuckle about.

Shared platforms for progressive policies? You can them two a penny at the cash and carry.

Labour has still not resolved its dilemma over Corbyn – witness Sarwar sucking up having denounced him previously. The vein of antipathy will still run after the leadership vote and we will thrill to the sight of Anas bending history to claim he is a Corbynista too.

But none of this will get us near a new kind of politics in which we confront together the gathering clouds of the inevitable crises buffeting Scotland. No Pacts. No Referendum. No Alternative. That isn’t going to do it.

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18 thoughts on “Armagegeddeddon !?

  1. Leaving aside the comments on Scottish politics, which are informed and interesting as always, I want to ask this question: where do you get your information from that the world is doomed? That the oceans are contaminated, the forest destroyed, the wild life going extinct? Is this the same media that you right condemn for inaccurate reporting on things political and social in Scotland, the UK and further afield? What makes you think the news reports you read on environmental issues are any more accurate than those you read on politics?

    I’ve got to the point where I don’t know what sources I can trust anymore so don’t have a clue what is actually happening because so many of the sources of information are ideologically driven rather fact driven. I’ve got a degree in environmental studies and am most of the way through another in a branch of human health sciences and I can tell you right now that ‘the science’ does not say what the papers tell you it says. The science, in both areas, debates and postulates and predicts but often uses very limited information to reach very bold conclusions because many of the scientists themselves have agendas and ideologies which they are trying to push forward. They may genuinely believe what they are saying, but so very often their data does not support their conclusions. For example, I used to be a firm believer in global warming but just don’t know anymore as when you start delving down into the data, it just isn’t that clear cut.

    Be careful what you believe unless you complete trust the source.

    That was a lesson I learned in 2014 and have taken with me to other areas of my life.

    • With 97% of scientists supporting man-made climate change, and the other 3% of publications shown to be fatally flawed, I’m curious as to where your peer-reviewed evidence is for doubting climate change (note that it is no longer referred to as “global warming”).

      Aside from that, absolutely be careful but also ask about motives – what does an environmental researcher achieve by highlighting contamination of the environment by plastics? Little, other than a paycheck. And what does the industry achieve by playing it down? Avoiding responsibility and financial penalties, etc.

      Equally, what does the SNP gain by pursuing independence? Likely the splintering of their own party, amongst other achievements. What does the British establishment gain by holding onto a supposed subsidy junkie? £300 billion worth of oil alone in the past 40 years, and no doubt a similar amount in the next 30-40 years.

      • That “97%” is precisely the sort of thing I am talking about. Have you read the actual report that 97% is quoted from and have you analysed the data that leads to that 97% figure? If not, you don’t know what you are talking about I am afraid.

        But it is the number the media and some ‘environmental organisations’ do love to quote…

        • p.s. Don’t underestimate the impact of a simple pay cheque. Or, perhaps even more importantly in academic circles, the status one acquires by publishing within the realms of the scientific status quo.

          • p.p.s. I don’t actually care what anyone here thinks they know about environmental issues; I am simply asking people – in fact, really Mr Bateman – to consider if they really understand the sources of the stories they willingly repeat.

            We have all learned to distrust the media or ‘the experts’ who talk down Scottish independence but, all too often, people happily trot equally ideas from other ‘experts’ and the media as if they were gospel truth without apparently being critical of those sources in the way they are about politics.

            If that doesn’t give you pause for thought you are not as smart as you think you are.

          • By all means be sceptical – be an ‘alert reader’ – on climate change and indeed all issues of importance.

            However, if really interested in climate change as an issue and unaware of this, it may be of relevance to you: procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (http://ipcc.ch/organization/organization.shtml )

          • I’ll refer you to my first post: I studied this stuff long enough to get a degree in the subject. Which doesn’t make an expert but does lend a certain expertise. The IPCC is one of those vested interest, poor science organisations I was mentioning…

        • I am not a scientist and I am not capable of analysing this kind of data for myself, so I have to trust the judgement of those who are scientists. I prefer to trust the judgement of scientists as opposed to politicians or random guys on the internet who have the discourtesy to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about!

          I also have the evidence of my own eyes and ears which tells me that extreme weather events are occurring more commonly, that the Arctic sea-ice is melting more rapidly than at any other time in history and that climate change is now happening so rapidly that species do not have time to change their habits (evolve) to meet the challenge.

          If you know better then I suggest you tell the world at once … we could all benefit from your wisdom.

  2. “It’s one thing for Labour in Westminster to moan about it but it’s in Holyrood where should-to-shoulder work will be required to resist the onslaught.”

    In theory Labour in Scotland should want to resist the power-grab onslaught by Westminster. In practice, recent Labour history has shown they have grudgingly acceded the minimal of powers they could get away with. Even during the Smith Commission it was Labour who wanted the least number of powers devolved, not the Tories.

    I fully expect Labour (and the LibDems) to side with the Tories when the UK gov seizes what power it can, with the gradual removal of existing powers from Holyrood until it’s toothless and despised as a waste of money by the tax payer At which point it will be disbanded to prevent another pesky referendum vote the British establishment may very likely lose.

  3. Hugh Wallace:

    The science of the effects of man on the climate, and on our environment as a whole, is irrefutable. The 3% of ‘scientists’ who scoff are the ones more concerned with continuing to get the fat cheques from their paymasters than with telling the world the truth.

    With a little hard work you can find the reports themselves – not the MSM representations of them – on the internet. “The truth is out there …”

  4. Alasdair Macdonald

    Labour in Scotland exists for Labour in Scotland and Labour in Scotland is the self preserving clique promoting Mr Sarwar. They will not ally with the SNP to promote socially distributive policies, because the SNP have ‘usurped’ the place where Labour in Scotland sees as its own. They see no contradiction in supporting Tory policies because they too are supporting a narrow sectional interest, and the Tories know that allowing a few baubles to be distributed to a few cocks on top of the midden will keep them from rousing the masses.

    There are many decent, humane, fair minded people in Labour in Scotland but not many of them get near the ‘plums’ of being an MP, MSP, MEP, senior councillor, senior TU post and even becoming a member of the House of Lords or getting a place on a Quango or on Health Boards.

    Whether it is Mr Sarwar or Mr Leonard who is elected the ‘natural order’ of things will not change.

  5. A strange beast this labour office in scotland , while labour in Wales can work perfectly easily and closely with the snp as they have a common aim , namely Protection from the Brexit fallout thats on its way ,

    This simple workaround defies labour in scotland it totally eludes them , this through total hatred of the snp for stealing their place at the top table, a continued sulk thats went on since the snp took away their toys .

    This hatred was evident in last nights debate in Holyrood re tax office closures ,Labour couldn’t resist linking the snp with tory austerity policies , anyone with half a brain would know the limitations placed on Holyrood to defend against tory cuts , but yet again labour choose the wrong target for their distain , a lost cause they are a confused bunch .

  6. Welcome back Derek…I have missed you

  7. Both these Labour candidates in Scotland are British nationalists, just like their boss, Corbyn.

  8. Armagegeddeddoniogogogoch?

  9. No you’re right, it wont do which is why the status quo is gonna continue.

    I struggle to see any meaningful debate coming from these Scottish branches. In fact, call them what they really are….useless twigs! Lightweight and unnecessary.

  10. Without complete autonomy, the branch offices of the British Nationalist parties in Holyrood will never serve the interests of Scotland or democracy. Never absolutely means never. The road to greatness in British politics demands total subservience.

  11. A standing ovation at their conference when labour announces they would end PFI contracts , .
    god you couldnt make this junk up , lets hope this dramatic news filters through to Labour in scotland ,
    Remember trusty jack with his only game in town PFI deal , the same deal that is presently costing One Billion pounds in annual interest , this news totally eludes the media in scotland , as has the investigation on the edinburgh tram fiasco , it didn’t happen , and it definatly never included any labour involvement .
    A truly baffling parallel universe .

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