Monday, 29 August 2016

The Poison Pen

Almost everyone I know who knows, or has met, "Kez" Dugdale reports that the common perception of her as a fundamentally decent person who's in politics for all the right reasons, but has, through no fault of her own, found herself in a position she is intellectually and emotionally unequipped for, is wrong.

"Spiteful","unpleasant" and "bitter" are but a few of the adjectives I've heard. One Slabber remarked that the more one gets to know "Kez", the less likeable she becomes. It is well-known that she begged a senior Nationalist MSP for a job with the National party, and has nurtured a well-stoked jealous rage ever since being rejected.

One always takes these reports with a pinch of salt. Some of them are from people on the opposite side of politics (Dugdale is an extreme-Right wing Loyalist; most people I know would be on the nationalist Left); some on the rival wing of her party (a rivalry almost more bitter than the inter-party one). 

But the latest slither in her descent came today when she appointed the political editor of the extreme Right-wing Daily Mail newspaper as her new communications chief. 

The editor in question, one Alan Roden, has carved himself out a spot as the most hysterically SNPbad voice in the Scottish media - quite an allocade in a Scottish press corps not entirely short of anti-"Nat" voices. 

Now, it's up to "Kez" to appoint her team. One cannot help but wonder, however, the thought processes that led to Scottish Labour being prodded into its state of near extinction by the perception that it is indistinguishable from orthodox hard-line Conservatism, and come to the conclusion that the best way to combat that is to hire arguably the furthest-Right parliamentary correspondent in Scotland, from a newspaper which has sung the praise of the Conservative party in Scotland since time immemorial (like, apart from the time it supporter your actual fucking Hitler), recommending a Tory vote in May's election. 

(It is an ironic twist that Roden's vocal support of the Conservatives in his piss-poor editorial shriekings would almost certainly leave him barred from membership of the Scottish Labour party - their membership is dealt with in London and they have no say in the matter - for which he now works).

The Mail has long been associated with stridently racist editorialising, with its Scottish edition being only slightly weaker fare. It is, of course, a matter for what is left of Scottish Labour to select its own staff, and one mustn't interrupt one's enemy (and make no mistake, despite its weakened position, the Scottish Labour party remains the most virulent and implacable enemy of Scotland) when they are making a mistake, but to imagine that an individual who had a fit of hysterics at even the milksop social democracy that a barely-embarrassed Dugdale tried to punt in May can be seen as credible when he, in turn, tries to spin it, is so far fetched as to imagine that Dugdale might one day be a minister. 

But catastrophic staffing appointments are hardly new for Scottish Labour, and are - in the main - to be welcomed. 

However, the appointment of the repulsive Roden to the top of Scottish Labour is an exception to the rule. 

His violently homophobic editorials and articles are not just sickening and wrong - they are dangerous. 

Roden's new-found fans in Scottish Labour were at pains today to point out that Roden himself isn't a homophobe, or a racist, but that he only wrote all of those homophobic and racist articles because it's the Daily Mail that's bad (as if a newspaper is some sort of sentient being, and not the sum of its journalists). 

In a way, that's worse. To know that racism and homophobia is dangerous and wrong, but to do it anyway is more vile, on an exponential scale, than to rant bigotry in ignorance. To use the dog whistle to sell papers and increase your profile, heedless of the expense of human suffering, is disgusting. 

When people like Alan Roden write dog-whistle gay-bashing articles, gay people get hurt. Gay kids at school get bullied. They get beaten up.

Mr Roden, when you write your gay-bashing articles, they embolden the bigots. The thugs think (perhaps, in fact, they realise that they're backed up by the great and good in life), and the result of your articles are that gay people die in homophobic attacks. 

Kezia Dugdale is soon due to take advantage of the Scottish government's welcome, if overdue, legislation giving gay people full equality in every sphere of public life to marry her partner. I wish them every happiness.

Her communications chief campaigned against her right to do so. He ran a hate-filled homophobic campaign in a top-selling newspaper in the hope of curtailing people's rights on the ground of their sexual orientation. 

Perhaps it would be a fine sign that Scottish Labour isn't the emotionless, rudderless Right-wing husk people believe it is if Dugdale's new communications chief made it a priority in his first days in the job to acknowledge the evil, discriminatory agenda of the Daily Mail, acknowledge and apologise for his part in it, and make it his life's work to reposition Scottish Labour as a defender of those who are discriminated against on the grounds of class, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Young People and Scottish Labour

For some time, what's left of the Scottish Labour party has been bitter, old, white, middle-class men. Scots have deserted the party in their droves, with a humiliating third-place finish in May the latest sign of the moribundity of the once-mighty party. 

The main problem for Scottish Labour is that they aren't attracting anyone new. Old men don't tend to be energetic activists. It's young people who they need to pound the streets and deliver leaflets and chap doors. 

And in Scotland, young people aren't looking at Labour any more. Ambitious careerist types gravitate towards the National party. The enthusiastic lefties look towards the Greens. Scottish Labour can't even rely on its traditional constituency of racists and Ulster loyalists any more, with the rise of Ukip leaving them fighting for a share of the former, and the Ruth Davidson List firmly planting its fleg in the latter. 

And the lack of young people is what will kill Scottish Labour (my guess is that the party will fight the 2021 Holyrood election, be reduced to single-figures, and dissolve during that Parliament). The struggling party has fewer than a hundred activists left in Glasgow and were consequently unable to canvass the city effectively in May's election, during which they lost all of their elected MSPs. 

In any event, I always found the sight of young people canvassing for Scottish Labour rather bizarre, and pity-inducing. 

One was always unable to understand the thought processes of someone who looked at the carnage of Iraq:

The million corpses. 

The children dying of cancer caused by the depleted Uranium shells fired at them. 

The destroyed hospitals and devastated cities and towns. 

The sectarian civil war. The complete collapse of the country's economic and industrial output.

The savagery of Isis, glorying in the blood-drenched butchery of men, women and children, moving into the power vacuum and controlling large parts of what was once a secular republic. 

The pain and misery, economic and societal collapse. Bombings - unheard of until 2003 - regularly killing hundreds of innocents in the street. 

Suicide bombings. Bus bombings. Beheadings, mutiliation and torture. 

And their first thought was: "I like this. I want to join the party that did this. I want to join Scottish Labour". 

Baffling.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Anatomy of a smear

1. Flag up that a nationalist [sic] newspaper (there are no Unionist newspapers - only nationalist newspapers and studiously neutral newspapers) has "named" the partner of a prominent, notably greeting-faced politician. 

2. Express concern the the culture of "abuse" in Scottish politics means that this is A Bad Idea.

3. Hope that said partner is "abused".

4. Presto! You can now run a whining story about "abuse" (no evidence needs be provided, nor must the "abuse" even take place).

Probably best, right enough, not to make a howling arse of carefully laying your ground for the smear at the very first hurdle.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

How Unionism works

1. We must privatise the National Health Service because choice is A Good Thing and leads to a better service. 

2. We must privatise and deregulate the transport network because choice is A Good Thing and leads to a better service. 

3. We must privatise our school and hospital buildings because choice is A Good Thing and leads to a better service. 

4. If there is a choice of businesses to patronise when you are considering purchasing a particular service, you must use the Unionist business or you are a fascist. 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Accepting the result

1. 1 March 1979. A devolution referendum takes place in Scotland. Scots narrowly vote for a measure of internal self-government. The result is overturned by the Scottish Labour party, which refuses to accept the result.

2. 7 March 1979. The Scottish National party officially launches a campaign for the result of the referendum to be accepted by the British parliament. Scottish Labour continues its refusal to accept the result, even to the extent of sacrificing its government to Margaret Thatcher. 

3. 11 September 1997. The new British government promises devolution in its manifesto. Scottish Labour refuses to accept the result of the general election and demands a referendum is held instead. Fearful that it may have to accept the result, it demands an unprecedented secondary referendum to try to prevent devolution including tax-varying fiscal powers. 

4. 3 May 2007. Scottish Labour loses the general election. Its leader, Jack McConnell, refuses to accept the result. It attempts to overturn the results in Cunninghame North and in Glasgow. McConnell refuses to accept the result of the election for ten days before resigning.

4. 6 May 2010. Labour loses the general election and is swept from power. Its leader, Scottish Labour's Gordon Brown, refuses to accept the result for almost a week, squatting in 10 Downing Street. 

5. 18 September 2014. There is an independence referendum. Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond campaign in favour of a Yes vote. In the face of the most sustained terror campaign in British political history, with the entire forces of the British state, big business, and the entire broadcast and newspaper media (with the exception of one low-circulation, Scotland-only, newspaper) ranged against the Yes campaign, Scots narrowly vote No. Scottish Labour swings the referendum by promising a federal United Kingdom, with complete, Irish Free State-style, Home Rule, and by promising that a No vote would protect Scotland's place in the European Union.

6. 19 September 2014. Alex Salmond interprets the result as a no confidence vote, and resigns. On 20th November, Nicola Sturgeon succeeds him as First Minister. The Scottish Government accepts the result of the referendum and does not declare independence. 

7. 27 November 2014. The Smith Commission reports. The cast-iron commitment to full federalism is gone. Scottish Labour opposes devolution of almost every legislative competency with the exception of the design of road signs. 

8. 23 June 2016. Scotland overwhelmingly votes in favour of remaining in the European Union as promised by Scottish Labour 21 months previously. The Remain vote was 12 points higher than the No vote. 

Scottish Labour refused to accept the result, and has demanded that Scotland leave the European Union despite the settled will of the people being made clear in the referendum.