Friday, 5 June 2015

They just haven't learned

"The definition of insanity", observed Albert Einstein, "is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". 

Just last month, the Scottish Labour party was transformed from a Scotland-wide political party to one which was reduced to Morningside. The main reason for their obliteration was the widely-held perception that the party cared more about a slavering, tribal hatred of the National party than fighting their erstwhile Better Together allies, the Conservatives. Even their leader lost his seat, the first time a London party had lost their leader or Scottish leader since Archibald Sinclair's defenestration by the good people of Caithness and Sutherland in 1945.

With the utter humiliation of Jim Murphy at the hands of his own party and the Trade Unions following, and what was left of the branch office plunging into civil war, the post-election period was a chance to show that the solemn-faced, trembling-lipped assurances after each successive defeat that "we've listened. And we've changed. And we've listened. And we're ready to rule serve. Because we've listened" are actually true, and that Scottish Labour is willing to fight the Tories on behalf of the common weal of Scotland.

Fat chance. 

There's a great old terracing chant in England, to the same tune of Tom Hark which is sung generally when a striker misses an open goal and is subsequently substituted with his team losing by a goal. The words are "You had your chance, but you fucked it up". 

That's what Scottish Labour has done this week. 

When George Osborne, the man who puts the "n" into "budget cut", unilaterally - and without notice to the Scottish Finance Ministry - decided to cut Scotland's budget by £177.000.000 (a capital budget cut of 25% for Scotland since the Tories came to power in 2010) despite his government being resoundingly rejected by Scots in last month's election and having no mandate to govern, Scottish Labour had an open goal.

We all know that austerity is not a necessity. It is, as the Finance Secretary John Swinney said yesterday, an ideological obsession. It is über-Thatcherism in action, likely to delay rather than augment any national economic recovery. 

So Scottish Labour were pushing at an open door. All they had to do was to join the National party, the Socialist party, the Green party, Plaid Cymru and their own, dwindling, progressive wing, and oppose Osborne's unilateral cut. 

Instead, they celebrated. They celebrated with wild abandon, almost akin to the unimaginable scenario of their winning two seats in an election. Social media exploded with jubilation, delight and glee. We were treated to the grotesque sight of the Labour party - the Labour party! - gloating over the cuts. 

Not because they particularly agreed with them - although, God knows, there are plenty in the Scottish Labour party - Tory entryists, really - who share the ideological obsession with austerity - but because it presented the Scottish Government with a problem of how to deal with the cuts. 

This is why Scottish Labour is dying. 

Their gut instinct wasn't to oppose cuts which have a direct and wounding impact on the people in Scotland they seek to represent, but to celebrate them. To celebrate damage to Scotland, no matter the depth of the harm it causes, on the grounds that it might allow them to indulge in the virulent, pathological, pointless hatred of the National party. Scottish Labour's sole MP drips with such hate of the National party that he couldn't even bring himself to oppose the Tory budget, abstaining - abstaining! - on a Nationalist anti-austerity amendment.

Their jubilation is based on their theory that Edinburgh will either have to raise taxes or cut services to pay for the Tory regime's cut to our budget. This is, for them, A Good Thing. They know it will harm Scotland, but they hope it will also harm the National party, and that is why they celebrate. 

It's also, partly, one of the tines of the Unionist trident for the independence debate. Too wee, too poor, too stupid. "Oh, we gave you us the responsibility to raise taxes and you we got poorer! Imagine how shit you'd we'd be if you we were independent!" 

They're happy to sabotage the Scottish economy within the Union in order to raise doubts about our ability to run 100% of our economy. They don't care that it's a scorched-earth tactic - because Scottish Labour have long since given up any hope of governing Scotland, or making us a fairer or more equitable society. 

Their only reason for existing now is their fanatical, unyielding, Unionism. It is literally all the modern Scottish Labour party stands for. They will trade anything and everything to maintain their Union. They are the Scottish equivalent of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging storming the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to maintain the status quo.

And does this dispel or cement the hypothesis nagging away at so many voters that Scottish Labour is much less concerned about fighting the Tories than it is about the National party - even if that latter crusade harms Scotland just as much? 

I think many people who didn't vote Labour last month will look at the exultation from Scottish Labour supporters, the sheer, unadulterated joy they took in the misery of those working-class Scots whose lives are now going to be made immeasurably worse as a direct result of the cuts in which Scottish Labour found so much cause for saturnalia, and they'll rule out a Scottish Labour vote in May's general election in favour of genuine anti-austerity parties (of which, incidentally, the National party isn't quite one: but it at least pretends to be one).

And as they have done at every Scottish General Election since the very first, their support will fall that little bit further and they'll lose just a few more seats. And as Tory rule bites harder and deeper, and as the pain and hunger of the poorest and most vulnerable who once looked to Scottish Labour to defend us from the Tories grows, Scots will remember this day for many, many years to come.

The day Scottish Labour celebrated their Tory friends cutting the equivalent of the entire annual education budget for 45.000 Scottish school students.

The day Scottish Labour rejoiced at George Osborne taking the equivalent of 1,5p out of every £1 of the Scottish Health Service budget. 

The day Scottish Labour took pleasure in an austerity-obsessed Chancellor stripping the equivalent of 16% from the budget of the Police Service of Scotland. 

Oh, we'll remember it alright. We'll remember it the way we remembered the Scottish Tories rejoicing at Thatcher's cuts, and we punished them for it - you'd have to be over 30 years old to really remember the last time Scotland elected more than a breeding pair of Scottish Tory MPs. 

This was the week where Scottish Labour's irrational, tribalistic and venomous hatred of the National party turned into something more sinister than that: a hatred of Scotland.

2 comments:

  1. Well said....and to quote someone far better than me "anyone who's not angry about it isn't paying attention...

    I am a left-wing voter....the only way I'll have a left leaning party to vote for is in an independent Scotland

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  2. Oh well said! It is jaw-dropping to realise that, after the horrific defeat Labour suffered in Scotland, they have not woken up to smell the political coffee. My suggestion is: vote out ALL Labour in Scotland next year (and the one quivering Tory) and then lets have some REAL political parties in Scotland after that, who seriously desire the changes that are best for the Scottish people.

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