Saturday, 7 March 2015

Please, please (me)

Today Ed Miliband is making a speech to the special Labour in Scotland's party conference in Edinburgh.  In it he will say the following:
The Tories can wreak havoc in Scotland without winning a majority,
They can do it simply by being in government as the largest party. It would mean a Tory decade for Scotland: 10 years of David Cameron in Downing Street; 10 years of injustice; 10 years of unfairness; 10 years of attacking everything we hold dear in our country.
My, the recent Ashcroft poll really has got them wetting their knickers.  And what is their response?
'Vote SNP, get Tory.'  Nary a mention of policy, or reasons to vote Labour, just threats and misdirection.

The misdirection has been expertly debunked over at Wings over Scotland, who have demonstrated that the line about 'the biggest party gets to form the next government' is true if the Tories win a majority (in which case how Scotland votes is irrelevant) and not true if they don't.  The threat is kind of diluted by the fact that Labour endorse most of the Tories pro-austerity policies, so cuts are likely regardless of whether it's a red or blue government.

So, why isn't Mr Miliband's speech giving us a preview of their manifesto policies, thus giving us a reason to vote for them?  I think Johann Lamont's parting shot about Labour in Scotland simply being a branch office is at the root of this.  It's noticeable that the many policy initiatives that Jim Murphy has been spraying around can only be implemented by Holyrood, not Westminster.  More nurses?  Devolved to the Scottish parliament.  Drinking at football matches?  Devolved to the Scottish parliament.  Tuition fees?  Devolved to the Scottish parliament.

In other words, Mr Murphy is not permitted to set different policies for Labour in Scotland for a UK General Election.  This makes sense, as we are voting for the Westminster government.  However, Labour in Scotland want to avoid any appearance that they are given their orders from London, and Mr Miliband coming up to Edinburgh and announcing policy would give exactly that impression.  Thus they are reduced to bleating 'Vote SNP, get Tory'.  As a reason to vote for any party, that's a poor one.

Really Mr Miliband's speech appears to boil down to begging the Scots to vote for him so he can fulfil his lifetime ambition to be Prime Minister.  You can practically hear the tears as he sees his support melting away in Scotland and there seems to be nothing he can do about it. 

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