Monday, 10 November 2014

All your fault

In yesterday's Scotsman there was an article by Brian Monteith explaining how Labour could yet win the day at the forthcoming General Election.  It was characterised by the kind of wilful blindness we have come to expect from Labour.  For example:
The departure of Johann Lamont has put Labour into a tailspin from which it cannot begin to pull out of until it elects her replacement. Unfortunately for Labour that will take some time, and until then the SNP is able to dominate the Scottish political scene untested – except for sallies by the Scottish Conservatives, who for all the merit of their new discussion paper on education will not figure in the dialectic between Scotland’s two left-of-centre parties.
 Two left-of-centre parties?   The SNP are cetrainly left-of-centre now, but Labour?  They are trying to compete with the Tories and UKIP in southern England, and to do this they have lurched ever further rightwards, to the point where they are promising to continue some of the policies of the Tories if Labour should win the GE in 2015.  They were a left-wing party in the past, but they cannot be described as that now, except as a term used relative to the Tories and UKIP.

It gets worse.
I would offer four reasons why Labour politicians should hold their nerve. Firstly, once Scottish Labour elects its leader it can turn to fight its real enemy, the SNP, and expect some degree of recovery. Secondly, the publication of the Smith Commission proposals will move along the debate about the delivery of those panicky pledges, giving Labour the opportunity to come off the back foot. Thirdly, the alternatives to Miliband make no difference to the polling outcomes. It would be extremely difficult to try and change to another Labour politician this late in the election cycle. It’s not as if there’s a popular Labour figure waiting in the wings. Many are tainted with the causes of the economic catastrophe we are still trying to pull out of and others have no profile and not enough time left to develop one. Fourthly, voting SNP risks creating a Tory government. This will concentrate the minds of Scots who want Labour back in Downing Street.
Let's take this point by point.
  1. Labour in Scotland are still fixated on the SNP, who they have never forgiven for 'stealing' what they regarded as their fiefdom.  And here they are, not coming up with any new policy ideas or painting a picture of how things could be different, but instead simply declaring that, whatever the SNP is for, they're against it. 
  2. The Smith Commission proposals are not likely to to help Labour, since they are unlikely to satisfy any side, being too radical for some and too conservative for others.  Labour's proposals were by far the weakest, so I suspect the outcome will be on the radical side for them, and any attempt to water them down by Labour is not likely to be received well in Scotland.
  3.  Labour is in disarray over both their leaders, and papering over the cracks isn't going to make them electable at the the GE.  'Swing' voters are not going to vote for a party displaying about as much stability as a jelly on a rollercoaster.
  4. 'Voting SNP risks creating a Tory government'.  If all else fails, Labour will try and guilt the Scots into voting for them, despite the fact that it was comprehensively proved by Wings over Scotland that Scotland's votes rarely make any difference to what colour of government the UK gets.  In general, what England votes for, the UK gets.  Two things annoy me about this.  Firstly Labour still feels a sense of entitlement to the Scottish vote.  Effectively they are telling Scots to shut up and get back in their box.  Well, there's a reason why this blog is named as it is - not going to happen post-indyref.  Secondly it shows huge laziness on the part of Labour.  Never mind coming up with some policies that will appeal to the electorate then trying to persuade people of their merits.  Just tell them that if they don't vote for Labour and the Tories get in, it will be all the Scots' fault.  Do I want a Tory government?  No, I think they will wreak further havoc if they get back in with a majority, which seems unlikely.  However, voting Labour isn't the only answer.  A vote for the SNP is looking quite likely to be a vote for the party that will hold the balance of power, which can only benefit Scotland.
Scotland's politics are evolving, and unless Labour can also evolve they are doomed to extinction.  2/10 must try harder.

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