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Showing posts with label Gerry Hassan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gerry Hassan. Show all posts

Saturday, 11 May 2013

YES campaign becalmed or going backwards? Angus Macleod and Gerry Hassan on Good Morning Scotland

Angus Macleod: "The SNP and the YES Campaign have been unable to answer the questions the electorate are asking."

The SNP and the YES Campaign ARE answering the questions the electorate are asking, Angus - in policy papers, online, on the media, on the doorsteps, in leaflets and information sheets.
What they are not doing is answering the Unionist press version of what the electorate are asking, or more accurately, what you would like them to ask - negative questions with a closed agenda. And of course, your paper, The Times, and the others have no interest in publishing the real answers and facts given.

We are in a war of facts and ideals - I know what side you are on and what side I am on, and I and thousands like me are working tirelessly to get the real answers and the true facts out to the Scottish electorate, who, as you rightly say, are intelligent - and will listen and evaluate.

Gerry Hassan: "Basically, I think the SNP are in the wrong strategy, wrong question, wrong timescale."

Angus Macleod: "Gerry's absolutely right .."

Well, that was really helpful, Gerry - advanced the cause of independence no end ... acting as straight man, feeding lines to The Unionist Times correspondent.

Friday, 12 October 2012

I am an admirer of Gerry Hassan. I don’t agree with some of his analyses, but I have never read anything he has written that is not cogently argued and doesn't contains key insights that matter fundamentally for Scotland’s future, whatever it may be. He is, and will continue to be a serious voice in the critical years ahead of us. His commitment to Scotland’s independence is beyond question.

In a number of telling phrases, he captures what is wrong with Scottish Labour, but also sees another dimension to Scottish society, one that is little recognised, but vital.

For example – “Scotland is a social democracy for its middle-class professional interest groups. The system of government and public spending work best for those most entrenched in the system.”

By God, I recognise that reality, and fulminated against it as the Glasgow professional classes, blinded – and bought – by the glitz and glamour of Big Sport and the Commonwealth Games - and the Scottish Government - ignored and betrayed the vulnerable people and small business of old Dalmarnock, and the mothers of the disabled children of the Accord Centre, .

He refers to the “profound absence of responsibility” among Labour politicians as they “closed their eyes to the mediocre services the party offered” and to the “pronounced Scottish Labour entitlement culture” in Labour for the last half century.

But he also inveighs against a straw man, “the romanticising of our history” among a sector of nationalist support that denies the reality of the problems Scotland faces. Gerry is above making the tired old Braveheart taunt, but that’s what he means, and he must know that although this exists – and will continue to exist – among a minority of less informed nats (and a few well enough informed to know better), it has not been a defining characteristic of the party for many years now.

Like many intellectuals of the Left, Gerry is sometimes unaware of his own romanticisation of the potential of a new Scotland - a kind of Left-wing, cloth-capped Mel Gibson fantasy of a Scotland that will fearlessly condemn oppression across the globe, will turn away in disdain from the grubby business of trying to persuade amoral capitalists - and sometimes questionable regimes - to invest in or trade with Scotland, and will bring about the long-awaited collapse of capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

As one of my Barras soapbox orators of the 1940s used to say, fixing his admiring audience with a glittering, roving eye – “Aye, that day will come comrades, but it’ll no' come the morra, or even the day efter …”

Gerry, of course, can cloak all this when he chooses in dense prose and arcane economic theory, but the essence of the auld socialist cry is there – the Great Left Rapture, will assuredly come, when Scotland will be lifted to an ineffable state of social and economic morality. Unfortunately, for a century now, this has produced the Great Left Rupture, and the dream has turned to dust again and again, as economic reality, blatant careerism, money grubbing and realpolitik intruded, not to mention event, dear boy, events …

Gerry distrusts the pragmatism of Alex Salmond, and doesn’t like his economic vision. At this time of international economic and social turbulence, with the beast of neo-fascism, unbridled corporate power and religious intolerance slouching towards Bethlehem again, I think our only salvation is exactly Alex Salmond’s ebullient pragmatism, to secure jobs, futures and a life worth living for Scots young and old. But we need voices such as Gerry Hassan’s to balance that pragmatism with core values that still matter and are always, always under threat.

But we do not need the voice of Douglas Alexander, a career politician in the thing that the Labour Party has become, profoundly irrelevant to the future of Scotland – unless he and the Scottish Labour Party can shake off their obsession with the Union, abandon their fake internationalism, and embrace the independence of their truly internationalist country, where, in the immortal words of James Connolly - Séamas Ó Conghaile – that internationalism begins with nationalism.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Tories, Labour careerists and old–and young – Lefties and nationalists

ONCE A TORY, ALWAYS A TORY

When Iain Duncan Smith was leader of the Tory party, he seemed to me to combine in his person archetypal Toryism and LibDem ineffectual wimpishness: he was a kind of harbinger of Nick Clegg, the Labradoodles of politics. But when he lost the leadership, the ‘quiet man’ found a cause – Easterhouse in Glasgow, and was accepted by a man for whom I have unqualified admiration, community worker Bob Holman. In pursuing this new vocation, Duncan Smith seemed to exhibit genuine empathy with and concern for the poor and deprived.

But the nasty party sets the genes, and Tories always revert to type, in an atavistic lurch into their primitive prejudices and convictions. Iain Duncan Smith has  proved no exception. In a decade, he has moved from his great recognition of the plight of the poor to blaming them: the reflex action of Tories in trouble. It’s all their fault, caused by their excessive consumption of alcohol, their laziness – it’s the family again, the lack of traditional family structures and values and poor parenting skills. At a stroke, the Tory sonic screwdriver of blame – also much used by the Labour Party – absolves this benighted Coalition of any responsibility for the havoc they are wreaking on the lives of the vulnerable.

Dorian Gray is dead, and the picture in the attic has come to life and claimed its rightful place in the power structure – or hopes to …

ILL-MET BY MOONLIGHT – THE SCOTTISH LEFT?

Going in search of Scotland's identity

It is a strange little piece, set up as a dialogue – which it patently is not – and both Gerry Hassan and Douglas Alexander start with the mandatory parade of working class credentials to exhibit their backgrounds as humble men of the people. (There was a television comedy sketch some years ago where two men tried to outdo each other in itemising the horrors of their early life.)

As an old lefty, I can play this game expertly, with the edge of having lived through times that Gerry and Douglas can only imagine and reflect vicariously through their parents.

(My early life as a torn-ersed Glaswegian, soon to be a blockbuster movie of the unrelieved misery genre: born in the 1930s in a Dennistoun slum tenement, unemployed and tubercular father who died in 1940 at the start of a terrifying war: brought up by my mother, who spent her time trying to scrape up an income of sorts from low-paid cleaning work while nursing a sickly child in pre-NHS days, being bullied and patronised by the apparatchiks of the primitive social and benefits system of those days, and patronised by the families around us who had working fathers in exempt occupations – mainly munitions - and had avoided military service. My values and political awareness were formed from the brutal realities of grinding poverty and ill-health, and by the wonderful working class men and women of the Labour party of that era, especially the Barras soapbox orators. How’s that for misery, Gerry and Douglas.? Your move …)

From the perspective of my childhood, both Gerry and Douglas were privileged children: both had working parents, in Douglas’s case both professionals, both received an education that I could only dream of, and neither of them have ever experienced anything remotely like real poverty or deprivation. But that doesn’t deprive them of their right to speak, so what are their themes?

DOUGLAS ALEXANDER

Douglas refers to his “growing consciousness of the Scottish dimension” of his politics, Thatcherism, and says that “it felt like a struggle for Scotland’s soul”. Unfortunately for Scotland’s soul, Douglas’s epiphany was occurring at a time when the Labour Party was well on its way to losing its soul, culminating in the Blair/Brown governments who did more damage to the UK, Scotland and the world than Thatcher could ever have dreamed of.

He invokes the ghosts of Donald Dewar, John Smith and Robin Cook, probably the last Labour politicians of stature with any real values, but couples them with the living spectre of Gordon Brown (another son of the manse, but with a seriously defective moral compass), and has to go back to 1997 and the Scotland Act to find anything admirable in Labour. At the end of his first section, Douglas jumps speedily into one of the the two Labour boltholes – he is “more interested in abolishing poverty than abolishing Britain”, a glib unionist slogan that avoids the stark fact that it is the conspiracy of wealth, power, privilege and the concentration of power and wealth – of which he and Scottish Labour politicians are embedded tools – that creates and sustains poverty and deprivation in Scotland. (The other Labour bolthole is its phoney ‘internationalism’ which reached its bloody nadir in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

GERRY HASSAN

I am not a fan of Douglas Alexander (you’ve already guessed!) but I am an admirer of Gerry Hassan. I don’t agree with some of his analyses, but I have never read anything he has written that is not cogently argued and doesn't contains key insights that matter fundamentally for Scotland’s future, whatever it may be. He is, and will continue to be a serious voice in the critical years ahead of us. His commitment to Scotland’s independence is beyond question.

In a number of telling phrases, he captures what is wrong with Scottish Labour, but also sees another dimension to Scottish society, one that is little recognised, but vital.

For example – “Scotland is a social democracy for its middle-class professional interest groups. The system of government and public spending work best for those most entrenched in the system.”

By God, I recognise that reality, and fulminated against it as the Glasgow professional classes, blinded – and bought – by the glitz and glamour of Big Sport and the Commonwealth Games - and the Scottish Government - ignored and betrayed the vulnerable people and small business of old Dalmarnock, and the mothers of the disabled children of the Accord Centre, .

He refers to the “profound absence of responsibility” among Labour politicians as they “closed their eyes to the mediocre services the party offered” and to the “pronounced Scottish Labour entitlement culture” in Labour for the last half century.

But he also inveighs against a straw man, “the romanticising of our history” among a sector of nationalist support that denies the reality of the problems Scotland faces. Gerry is above making the tired old Braveheart taunt, but that’s what he means, and he must know that although this exists – and will continue to exist – among a minority of less informed nats (and a few well enough informed to know better), it has not been a defining characteristic of the party for many years now.

Like many intellectuals of the Left, Gerry is sometimes unaware of his own romanticisation of the potential of a new Scotland - a kind of Left-wing, cloth-capped Mel Gibson fantasy of a Scotland that will fearlessly condemn oppression across the globe, will turn away in disdain from the grubby business of trying to persuade amoral capitalists - and sometimes questionable regimes - to invest in or trade with Scotland, and will bring about the long-awaited collapse of capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

As one of my Barras soapbox orators of the 1940s used to say, fixing his admiring audience with a glittering, roving eye – “Aye, that day will come comrades, but it’ll no' come the morra, or even the day efter …”

Gerry, of course, can cloak all this when he chooses in dense prose and arcane economic theory, but the essence of the auld socialist cry is there – the Great Left Rapture, will assuredly come, when Scotland will be lifted to an ineffable state of social and economic morality. Unfortunately, for a century now, this has produced the Great Left Rupture, and the dream has turned to dust again and again, as economic reality, blatant careerism, money grubbing and realpolitik intruded, not to mention event, dear boy, events …

Gerry distrusts the pragmatism of Alex Salmond, and doesn’t like his economic vision. At this time of international economic and social turbulence, with the beast of neo-fascism, unbridled corporate power and religious intolerance slouching towards Bethlehem again, I think our only salvation is exactly Alex Salmond’s ebullient pragmatism, to secure jobs, futures and a life worth living for Scots young and old. But we need voices such as Gerry Hassan’s to balance that pragmatism with core values that still matter and are always, always under threat.

But we do not need the voice of Douglas Alexander, a career politician in the thing that the Labour Party has become, profoundly irrelevant to the future of Scotland – unless he and the Scottish Labour Party can shake off their obsession with the Union, abandon their fake internationalism, and embrace the independence of their truly internationalist country, where, in the immortal words of James Connolly - Séamas Ó Conghaile – that internationalism begins with nationalism.


Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Press, the FM and Murdoch

A few weeks ago I thought I detected a new dawn of balanced comment and objectivity in the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. I dismissed the sceptics on the nationalist side who questioned the durability of such a shift as ungenerous. If there are words to be eaten, I’m eating them over the last week in the press.

The panting eagerness with which the Scottish unionist print media – that is to say, all of them - seized upon what they saw as an opportunity to attack the man they fear will deliver Scotland’s independence was something to behold. A crumb of information from the Leveson Enquiry table was enough to set them scrabbling on the floor, ignoring the feast above them being consumed by the UK press and media – a scandal that struck at the very heart of the Cameron Coalition.

Kate Higgins has made trenchant comments on this, and her blog says it all -

Burdzeyeview - Scottish Labour grubbing ...

I expected the unionist press pack and Johann Lamont to seize on this. What I did not expect was that respected, normally objective and in some cases independence-supporting commentators would also join the pack, in an attempt to take a  high moral tone over the devil incarnate, Murdoch, while ignoring completely the realities of the present economic situation, the Scottish unemployment rate, the despair of the young unemployed, and the pragmatism required of senior politicians when faced with this most fundamental of problems.

Civic Scotland has gone to sleep

Salmond, Murdoch and crony capitalism

Iain Macwhirter loses cool on BBC

In fairness, Gerry Hassan did address big economic questions the following day Beginnings of an alternative Scotland and Gerry is a big thinker and paints on a broad canvas.

But to make the big changes tomorrow, a country has to survive today, and Scotland is fortunate in having a First Minister who combines pragmatism on the demands of quotidian survival with a big vision for Scotland.

A look across the Atlantic shows that an intellectual like Obama, with the first real vision for America in a long time, had to come to terms with the realities of power, influence and the survival of the US economy.

POSTSCRIPT

I had planned a larger blog on ‘Scotland Rebuilt’, but it will have to wait till tomorrow – or later.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The New Coalition – Labour Scots in league with the Tories against Scotland

Today’s Scotsman has decided the issue for me. Accepting that Alex Salmond being named Politician of the Year is a Herald award, the fact that the Scotsman gives it a meagre four column inches at the bottom right of an inside page says it all. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer is a maxim that can be applied to media, but the enemy has to matter. The Scotsman no longer does – I had as soon watch Fox News as read it - and I can pick up their token Nationalist articles online. The Scotsman no longer matters to Scotland and it no longer matters to me. After all, for 85p I can buy a newspaper …

THE NEW COALITION

As if the benighted and incompetent Tory/LibDem coalition wasn’t bad enough, we now have a New Coalition, one that is even more damaging to the people of Scotland – The Labour/Tory/LibDem anti-independence Coalition. Scottish Labour MPs, terrified of losing their jobs, their perks - and perhaps their Party - after Scotland secures its freedom from the UK, are engaged in a sordid alliance with their ancient class enemies, the Tories (the LibDems are irrelevant) to frustrate the aspirations of Scots to conduct a fair referendum on how they see their country’s future.

This contemptible, self-serving alliance is led from the Labour side by Margaret Curran MP and Willie Bain MP, who have now accepted Shadow posts as Colonial Government apparatchiks, (I’m trying desperately to avoid giving them the name they richly deserve) mirroring the Scotland Office, a body set up to preserve the Union and maintain the Scots in subservience. This is what the thing that was once the People’s Party has come to


From Drop Box

THE BENEFITS OF THE UNION ACCORDING TO MICHAEL MOORE

Scotland’s economic opportunities are larger

Scotland’s public finances are more robust

Scotland’s defence is stronger

Scotland’s influence on the international stage greater

Scotland’s welfare system more secure

Cultural and family ties (with the rest of the UK) are closer

(Michael Moore had to read from a crib sheet to offer even this meagre, self-serving little list at Scottish questions in the Commons on Wednesday: he referred to them as being just six of many reasons. Aye, right …)

I have the kind permission of Gerry Hassan to reproduce his eleven reasons for Scottish independence, quoted in a recent article by Gerry, a commentator who thinks deeply about Scotland, Scottish politics and Scotland’s place in the world.

Gerry Hassan's 11 reasons for Scottish independence.

  1. Britain, according to academic Danny Dorling, is the fourth most unequal country in the rich world. The only more unequal places are the United States, Portugal and Singapore. British economic growth is increasingly about a narrow segment of society – primarily concentrated around London and the south east.

    2. Britain, despite devolution, is one of the most centralised countries in western Europe. Then there is the travesty of Westminster governance, a critique of which was one of the main drivers behind Scottish devolution. Since the advent of the Scottish Parliament, Westminster has become even worse.

    3. The nature and direction of English public services: the current English NHS Bill opens up health to parasite American and foreign private companies eager to get their hands on public health monies. This is an extension of New Labour public sector reform.

    4. Then there is the character of British politics. There have been four periods of Labour government since 1945 and only one has succeeded in narrowing inequality: the Attlee government. The other three led by Wilson/Callaghan and Blair/Brown all presided over widening inequality.

    5. The scale of poverty, health inequalities and dislocation in Scotland requires fundamental change: one in four children living in hardship, the worst life expectancy levels in western Europe. Doesn’t the union have to take some responsibility for this? Isn’t there at least the possibility independence could aid the transformational change we need to address this?

    6. One wouldn’t argue for independence solely based on North Sea oil revenues, but a contrast between Norway and ourselves is salutary. The North Sea has oil reserves for the next 30 to 40 years; wouldn’t it be good to see some of its benefits directly benefit the Scottish people?

    7. Foreign policy and international affairs (without reference to Iraq). The British state has for decades become a problem child in the world, a troublemaker in Europe, slavishly pro-American, a hawk on foreign adventures.

    8. Defence: there is the controversy of the nuclearisation and militarisation of Scotland without the consent of its people.

    9. Europe: Britain’s Euroscepticism shrinks its influence in the corridors of Brussels. An independent Scotland would be seen by France and Germany as a Euro enthusiast, and allow us direct representation on key Scottish interests: farming, fisheries, the oil industry and much more.

    10. The Scottish public sphere has suffered in recent years with the atrophying of large parts of our mainstream media. Part of this is global economics and the internet, but part is the media regulatory framework. An independent Scotland would allow us to create an environment where our public broadcasting began to reflect and represent our culture.

    11. Tory governments: for as long as Scots vote Conservative in such small numbers, whenever we have majority Tory governments at Westminster, there will be a crisis of legitimacy. Devolution hasn’t sorted this; it can’t because it is a political, not constitutional issue.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Saturday thoughts - Davidson/Whiteford, Gordon Wilson,Gerry Hassan - and more

****

Some correspondents have asked what four-letter word I am signalling by using four asterisks – ****

I can reveal all – the word is heck, which clearly is not acceptable in public utterances. I sometime put an f in place of the first asterisk to throw people of the scent, e.g. f***, and I did contemplate putting ck on the end, e.g. **ck to give them a clue, but decided that this could be misleading. I don’t know why I bother – after all heck is accepted now on television, in film and even in informal conversation. Maybe I’m too ******* prudish

THE DAVIDSON WHITEFORD CONTROVERSY

All the word games being played by Ian Davidson and his supporters to try and throw a smokescreen up around his remark to Eilidh Whiteford remind me of a time when I had a minor factory PR responsibility in the old Goodyear tyre factory at Garscadden. A high-powered American PR guy had come across from Akron, Ohio to cover our families’ day event, and I commented to him on the difficulties of retreat from an unguarded remark.

He smiled and said “When you're in the shit, Pete, play around with time and tense – and if in deep trouble, get a lawyer to speak for you”. Davidson seems to have done all three, and he got Willie Bain MP, who is legally qualified and used to lecture in law, as his front man on Newsnight Scotland, rather than sit down opposite Eilidh Whiteford and offer his apology for an apology face to face. His supporters, including astonishingly, some women, have effortlessly picked up on the approach too.

GERRY HASSAN

As a committed SNP supporter, I have to regularly remind myself that the referendum is about Scotland’s independence, not the SNP as a political party. They are the only competent party on the UK scene, they are the only major party advocating the independence of Scotland and the end of the nuclear obscenity, but after independence, two of these three aspects may no longer represent a unique position, and I hope that the new Scottish Labour party, Scottish Centre Right party and Scottish LibDems will have achieved sanity on nuclear weapons and rejoined the human race by then.  The Greens and the Scottish Socialist parties have always favoured independence and taken an anti-nuclear stance, and may even get the chance to demonstrate competence.

Gerry Hassan’s superb article today’s Scotsman is a welcome reminder of the true reasons for seeking independence - as well as a welcome relief from the nonsense talked elsewhere in the paper – and it is a must read for anyone interested in their country at this crucial time.

 Gerry Hassan - Why the canon of Scottish independence will roar

 

UNSCIENTIFIC AMERICA

I was in W.H. Smith’s in the RIE yesterday, and bought New Scientist, mistakenly thinking I had bought the New Statesman. It proved to be a serendipitous choice. This issue contains a double-headed article by Shawn Lawrence Otto and Peter Aldhous under the title Decline and Fall about the dangerous retreat from scientific thought, rationality and respect for science and scientists by the American Republican Right. The concepts and statistics explored by this seminal article should be read by everybody who is concerned about the future of our world, and especially by politicians seeking to persuade those opposed to their views to shift their positions and their mindsets. I will explore this further in another blog – meanwhile, get out and buy the magazine.

GORDON WILSON

It is with deep regret that I have contemplated the actions and statements of Gordon Wilson, a highly respected elder statesman and former leader of the Scottish National Party over the gay marriage issue.

His comment over being ousted as a board member from the Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau have been seized upon by a delighted Scotsman

I fell victim to gay marriage lynch mob, claims ex-SNP leader – with the sub-header – accompanied by a bright coloured SNP logo – “They were intent on my removal” Gordon Wilson, ex-SNP chief.

The Scotsman is showing an increasing tendency to enter the territory of William Randolph Hearst, and this contemptible, sensationalist little piece is worthy of Citizen Kane. It is sad that Gordon Wilson should be associated with such a presentation.

The facts, as I see them, are these -

The CAB’s director, Mary Kininmonth says it all. Gordon Wilson’s stance on gay marriage called into question its commitment to equality of opportunity for all. Another board member said that Gordon Wilson had been “vocal and indeed vitriolic in voicing his opinion over gay marriage in Scotland”.

Gordon Wilson, a member of Dundee Free Church and a member of Christian faith group Solas, feels that he is being discriminated against for his religious views, and so does Gordon Macdonald, Parliamentary officer at CARE Scotland, a Christian public affairs charity. (Excerpt from Care for Scotland website – “CARE for Scotland and Evangelical Alliance Scotland are collaborating in a campaign to encourage Christians to stand as candidates in the Council elections in 2012. “)

He is not being discriminated against for his religious views. If anyone was challenging Gordon Wilson’s right to worship at Dundee Free Church, or be a member of Solas, or to resist attempts to force his church and his minister to marry gay couples if they didn’t want to, or any other of his civil and legal rights in Scotland and under human rights legislation, I would defend him vigorously.

What is indefensible, and certainly intolerable for an equal rights organisation is that he should attempt to impose his religious beliefs about homosexuality and the legitimacy of gay marriage on others, including the legislators and Parliament of our nation, in an attempt to influence and block legislation in a secular society. That is not free speech, it is an attempt to limit freedom and equality under the law.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

More from the Cold Fried Labour franchise?

What does a Scottish journalist or commentator do when real thoughts about Scotland’s exciting and demanding political scene desert him? Why, he writes a ‘What Labour Must Do’ article with one hand while flicking TV channels and playing with his iPhone with the other. Fire it off to Bill Jamieson at the Scotsman – he’ll print anything in that genre.

So has Gerry Hassan, a commentator of real perception and depth on Scottish affairs, joined the McTernan franchise, paid upfront for the secret recipe and embarked on a career in fast crap journalism? No, he hasn’t - appearances to the contrary - even though he offers us a new variant on the title - Scottish Labour owes us an exciting, new story  Read it – he has something relevant and useful to say.

But his closing paragraph asks Labour to recognise that Scotland has changed, the SNP bogeyman story won’t wash anymore and Labour must “reach out and tell a modern Labour story of Scotland”. Unfortunately, Gerry, that will require powers of invention far beyond the capacity of Scottish Labour or the UK Party. And to tell a real story, you must have a soul …

Sarah Boyack gave the game away in her car crash of an interview with Raymond Buchanan on Newsnight Scotland. In his introduction, Raymond Buchanan encapsulates the problem facing Scottish Labour -

Labour is used to being in power in Scotland, so some of its Scottish members are still coming to terms with not being in control of anything bigger than a council.” In the lead-in to the superb introductory video piece by David Allison, RB describes it as the dilemma facing “what used to be the People’s Party.” How I love that phrase, one I have used repeatedly since I started blogging …

Jim Murphy talks earnestly outside John Smith House (oh, how the greater Labour leaders of the past silently mock the thing their party has become) about reorganisation at grassroots level, changing constituency boundaries, plans for an elected leader “from all our parliamentarians” and he claims that this is “really putting energy into the party, totally transforming it and giving a kinna set of structures that kinna don’t belong to the era when they were built, which was in 1918, but bringing us right up to date so that we can not only strengthen our party, but stand up for Scotland and win a referendum when it comes.”

Despite the fractured Lord Prescott syntax, I know what you mean, Jim. If I may paraphrase – you don’t trust the Holyrood MSP group to deliver a leader, so MPs must be included, you’ll dump the antiquated 1918 structure and bring in a new one, and having failed to stand up for Scotland while in power and throughout the SNP period in government, you will now do so by “winning a referendum”, i.e. persuading Scots to stay in the Union.

A quibble – the referendum is not an election, it is an attempt to determine the wishes of the people on a single issue, the status of a union they entered into voluntarily (more or less). A referendum is not ‘won’ by a political party, but is a decision of the people to which political parties, among many others, contribute by rational, persuasive argument. If the Labour Party had any political values, vision or programme for Scotland beyond the preservation of the Union, they would understand that, but they don’t.

What would become of the Murphys, the Harrises, the Alexanders et al if the Union ended? Look for a safe seat in England? Take the long, hard, low road back to their native land? To be welcomed with open arms by MSPs who had stayed to fight the good fight in Scotland, willingly standing down to make way for the big boys from Westminster? Aye, right …

And so to Sarah Boyack, who spent the summer reflecting on the election in May. Let’s twist again like we did last summer – ah, that summer of 2011. How we reflected!

 Scottish Labour is now “totally focused on winning back in the future, and we think devolving ourselves, giving ourselves a stronger leader, giving support to that leader to make them able to do the job.” Something is sort of left hanging there – the ghost of Prestcott delivery – but we know what she means. Not a word about what Labour are for – it’s all structure. As Brian Taylor says, the Scottish people are many things – but they not daft …

In the interview that followed, Sarah Boyack walked straight into the elephant trap in her opening remarks by referring to “our vision of Scotland”, to be instantly challenged by Raymond Buchanan as to what exactly that vision was.

Sarah’s vision – “a fairer Scotland, a Scotland of solidarity ..,.” (an unfortunate choice of words Sarah – shades of a real socialist, Tommy Sheridan) “to make sure that we invest in the vital public services that people need …. big plans for creating jobs, modern apprenticeships …” While Labour was saying these things, Sarah, the SNP Government was actually doing them, while Labour’s obsession with the Union obstructed them at every turn. But do go on …

We’re now going to devolve our party …” Twelve years after devolution and the Scottish Parliament, the penny has finally dropped in the empty pinball machine that is Scottish Labour.

Raymond Buchanan is unimpressed by the talk of structures. He’s keen on the policy.

RB: You talk about Labour being a party of fairness, of solidarity, of public services … you could be describing the SNP. What’s the difference?

The Vulcan death grip. Sarah writhes. “Well, the SNP tried to camp on some of our historic territory …”

RB: And it’s worked, hasn’t it?

It’s all down hill for Sarah from there on in.

Now What I think Labour Must Do is … I’ll write an article in my sleep and submit it to the Scotsman. Or do I need to sign up under the McTernan Labour Cold Chicken franchise? Look what happened to a real McDonald when he challenged a giant franchise! Caution, caution …