Thursday, 17 December 2015

Taking over Scottish Labour

In May, Scottish Labour are set for another shattering defeat, their second in a year. In May past, they were utterly trounced in elections to their beloved Westminster, losing every constituency bar the seething masses of workers that is Morningside. 

Their entire Scottish leadership was decapitated, with their most important members being thrown out of parliament by a furious electorate. Every big hitter in the Scottish branch of Labour became irrelevant has-beens in one night: Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander, Maggie Curran, all were swept out of public life. Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown chose to flee in advance rather than face the wrath of the voters. 

They got less than a quarter of the vote and lost 328.831 votes from the last election, scoring just seven hundred thousand. 

The flower of the Scottish Labour party was lost. 

The party's credibility died in one night. Its image as an inviolable behemoth, bestriding Scottish politics now, then and forever, was shattered. The veneer of invincibility was chipped away, leaving it exposed as an Easter Egg party - a shell made up of parliamentarians and councillors, but with nothing inside. 

It must have been devastating for its remaining few thousand members (there are just under 1000 active Scottish Labour members, with fewer than 100 in Glasgow). To have won the referendum, but at the cost of sacrificing their party, must have stung. 

Imagine what it's going to be like come May next, where they're forecast to lose all of their constituency seats in Holyrood? To summon up the energy to get the shoes and jacket on and head out into the rain to chap doors, knowing that in their best areas, one household in ten will welcome them? To pin the rosette on, knowing that it means hostile stares on the bus and in the streets, and doors slammed in their faces? To trudge the streets night after hostile, unwelcoming night for weeks on end, trying desperately to sell the idea of Kezia Dugdale as first minister? To be met by cold indifference at best and betrayed anger at worst?

And then, after all that, the reward: to lose every constituency. Having already lost your top teams in successive Holyrood and Westminster elections (the only serving Labour parliamentarians - in either parliament - to have government experience are Malcolm Chisholm and Hugh Henry, who are standing down, and Patricia Ferguson, who is extremely unlikely to rank highly enough on the List to be re-elected), to then be utterly humiliated by the electorate again, to be kicked while you're already down. 

There were times in the May 2015 election where Labour could only muster tiny teams of three or four paid "volunteers" to canvass. Doubtless in May 2016's, the pattern will be writ larger - but with fewer resources, and fewer bodies. 

The activists, sick of defeat after humiliation after annihilation, will fade away.

And that's where we step in to help. 

It would not be at all difficult for a small, well-organised team to take over Scottish Labour with relative ease. At most Constituency Labour Party AGMs, a group of between ten and twenty people would be able to secure the election to office of its candidates. And it's CLPs which send delegates to Slabberfest to make policy. 

By taking over CLPs, we would have a major say in the policies of the Scottish Labour party, as well as its national office bearers. 

Scottish Labour is so small and so weak now that a co-ordinated campaign by just a couple of hundred people could take over half of its organisation - putting our own people in senior positions in the branch office, and - if not able to change their policy on independence - would be able to make them ungovernable and descend into civil war. 

Scottish Labour is the single reason the referendum was lost. If we are to win in 2021, Scottish Labour must be neutralised. We have already destroyed them in their Westminster power base. We are about to destroy the 2nd XI in Holyrood. And in 2017, they will see their last bastion - local authorities - fall. All that is now required is to move into their capital - their CLPs - and capture their flag. 

As Shelley wrote in The Masque of Anarchy: Rise like Lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few!

Or if you prefer your poetry from Cato: Slabbers Delenda Est.

This campaign should begin in earnest now, but we should infiltrate the Scottish Labour party at this time, yet not show our hand until they are at their weakest and most dispirited after the 2017 local elections.


A short note on Rise, which is definitely not a political party, and has demonstrated this by, er, registering with the Electoral Commission as a political party. 

Every single person in the Rise leadership who has not come from the SSP found their way into politics through the Socialist Workers' Party. What they are doing is not dissimilar to what I suggest we do with Scottish Labour. They are all interconnected: whether it's a prospective Rise candidate in Glasgow whose internal election will be conducted and counted by a partner whose commitment to independence is so total that they previously stood on George Galloway's list for Holyrood. These relationships have provoked crisis talks between the SSP leadership and the SWP cadres. 

A very senior office bearer in Rise is related to the treasurer of a local branch and further related to the leader of a local branch, who is also standing to be considered for a place on the List. 

The panic within the SSP over Rise - and the SSP leadership now know the gerrymandered affiliation was a catastrophic mistake which may now prove fatal for Scotland's most successful Socialist party - is such that the leadership have now resorted to sending out e-mails to SSP members pleading with them to engage with the candidate selection process. This involved the party e-mailing members in Glasgow telling them that no SSP member in Glasgow is good enough to top the List there, and that they should vote for an SWP/Rise person instead (in return, the SSP has been given a free run in Lothian which, you may notice, is generally not referred to as the Leningrad of the West). This is a nonsense - I know all of the SSP members in Glasgow, and there are many talented, bright people there who would be a credit to the Scottish Parliament, and tough, doughty fighters for their communities. The SSP leadership has sold out Glasgow to the SWP.

This is borne out of snobbery: the SSP membership in Glasgow is overwhelmingly working-class people who seek nothing other than to help their own communities in the likes of Pollok, Govan, Shettleston, and so on. In contrast, the SWP/Rise types from Glasgow tend to be excruciatingly middle-class, white-collar, intellectual blow-ins and property owners from the West End and Merchant City.

The SSP membership in Glasgow reflects the working-class communities from which they emerged and in which they work. It is a disappointment that they have been betrayed by their leadership. 

Should Glaswegians - and Scots in general - fail to fall for the lecturers, civil servants and Glasgow University student politicians who make up SWP/Rise, the Radical Left will have been the only side of the Yes campaign to have failed to benefit from the referendum. The SSP leadership, having sold out its members and its class, may then face a day of reckoning. 

1 comment:

  1. Re take-over: Get stuck in and eviscerate them - long over-due.

    As an aside but linked - whatever happened to Labour for Independence?

    Lastly, as to RISE/SSP leadership/SWP shenanigans - zero surprise there; but their collective arse will get thoroughly tanned at the Holyrood and council elections. I'd put money on it, and I don't bet.

    Excellent analysis and political battlefield tactic suggestions, too.

    PS I suspect the Unionist rump of whatever hue are simply projecting their abject terror of the future via Project Fear Mk II currently being inflicted on the citizenry of Scotland.