Saturday, 18 April 2015

Playing catchup

Yesterday Jim Murphy launched Labour's Scottish manifesto, claiming that it was a reversion to old-school Labour.  He also made a rousing speech to party activists.  Must have been a fairly small venue then, since Labour are rather short of manpower on that front.  But I digress.

One of his major arguments was that Full Fiscal Autonomy(FFA) would be bad for Scotland.  People should
[t]hink about these new sources of income, the mansion tax, the bankers bonus tax. Full fiscal autonomy would stop all that money coming across the border.

That 50p top rate of tax - there are 16,000 people that would apply to in Scotland, but there are 300,000 people across the whole of the UK. Again that money would be stopped at the border.
 I think this shows how badly Mr Murphy and his campaign team have misread the mood in Scotland.

One of the epithets that was hurled with tedious regularity at Scots during the referendum campaign was that of 'subsidy junkies'.  It encapsulated Scotland as a nation of beggars sitting with their hands out for Westminster charity, as if as a nation we do nothing, pay no taxes and have no income of our own.  It's something that is still brought up in many a comment during the current election campaign.  And yet here we have Mr Murphy telling us that we should all be rubbing our hands with glee at the thought of all this extra tax money raised in England and being sent to Scotland.

It seems that Mr Murphy and his team think that Scottish nationalism is all about sticking it to the English, specifically the English upper classes.  That being the case, telling us that we will be taking money from them is bound to be a vote winner.

Except that's not what Scottish nationalism is about.  It may have been in the past, but not now.  Irvine Welsh has an interesting take on it.  He says
When I was growing up, [Scots’ consciousness] was that childish one: it’s the English’s fault. Then it changed in the 80s and 90s to the Renton thing: it’s our fault, the self-flagellating thing. Now it seems to have evolved into a healthy pragmatism that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is; the point is to get on with it and make it better. That’s been the evolution in my lifetime and it’s made it easier for people like me to get involved. Twenty years ago I would have been very anti-independence.
Sadly Mr Murphy seems to be stuck in the 70s and hasn't noticed the changes that have taken place while he has been away in Westminster.  We've moved on, but he and the Labour party in Scotland have not.

According to the latest polls Mr Murphy looks likely to lose his seat in East Renfrewshire in this election.  If that happens all he will have left is to try for First Minister in next year's Scottish general election.  Perhaps his new leisure time might allow him to catch up on developments in the past 30 years in Scotland.

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