John McTernan, king of the What Labour Must Do? franchise, has accepted a post as director of communications to the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard. Julia, a Labour Prime Minister has just turned fifty years of age. It would be ungallant to speculate on what the half century does to a woman’s judgement, so we must assume that she was either impressed by his former role as Tony Blair’s spin doctor, or she wants an antipodean version of McTernan’s franchise, What Australian Labour Must do?
But it’s nice to think of John sunning his bronzed body on an Australian beach, munching a Vegemite sandwich – a kind of Scottish Adonis. I wish you well, John. But then a dissonant note sounds – what if he plans to do the job from Scotland? After all, one can write a What Labour Must Do article anywhere in the world …
And perhaps Julia should take a long hard look at what has happened to the party that John devoted his communication and strategic skills to for so many years.
WHAT THE UK OWES SCOTLAND
The Nationalist Government of Scotland – nationalist means a government committed to the nation of Scotland - have been taking a long, hard look at the UK’s asset base, sending cold shivers down unionist spines. After all, given our significant contribution to the UK for over 300 years in technology, science, innovation, tax and oil revenue - and blood - and the less than significant return, it is only fair that Scots tot up what is owed to them. In addition to the assets that are based in Scotland, we own a fair chunk of assets based in England. Since the unionists insist on using the analogy of a marriage (a shotgun marriage) a divorce and a separation to describe the Union and Scotland’s imminent independence, we may safely say that that divvying up the assets will be as protracted a negotiation after independence as many other aspects. But the break-up comes first …
The outraged squeals of vested interest groups over John Swinney’s budget, with the Scotsman conducting the cries in a kind a hellish choir, was followed rapidly by what we hoped might be objective third party analysis. Surely Glasgow University’s Centre for Public Policy and Regions would provided such a cool, objective look at the figures? The analysis by the CPPR’s John McLaren, described by Robin Dinwoodie in the Herald as “Ex-Labour special adviser and CPPR economist John McLaren” claimed that the budget would take an extra £849m in business taxes over the next three years. John Swinney, in a detailed rebuttal in a letter in yesterday’s Herald, says that this is misleading and is the result of double counting.
John Swinney’s trump card is of course that undeniable fact that Scotland is the only part of the UK where unemployment is falling and employment has increased. Union members like that, but union officials – and the Labour Party - don’t, masking their annoyance by attacks on the interpretation of the figures. I wonder why that should be? It could be something to do with the fact that the greater the degree of independence, the better Scotland works, and it could have something to do with four and a half years of competent SNP government, with a real economist at the helm.
But the Scottish Secretary has lurched on to the scene, demanding explanations. Michael Moore is “ … alarmed at the reaction that the Scottish Government’s Spending Review has provoked from the business community.” By the business community, he means the Big Business community - the one’s who extravagantly reward their directors with obscene amounts of money for pushing cheap booze and cancer sticks at the poorer sections of the community - and the ever-critical Iain MacMillan of the CBI.
The small to medium business community welcomed the budget, and the valuable check it places on Big Business to roll over small businesses, destroy competition and inflict near lethal blows on our once vibrant public houses. The Scottish Secretary, especially after the warm glow of the LibDem party conference, labours under the delusion that he, his party and his Coalition partners – the Tories - matter to Scotland, when in fact they are regarded as an irrelevancy, and inimical to Scotland’s best interest.
THE PEOPLE’S PARTY AND ITS TROUBLES
As what was once upon a time the People’s Party staggers into its conference, they are accompanied by Scottish headlines that must give them cause for alarm.
Can Britain learn to like Ed Miliband? (Scotland on Sunday) with the sub-header Seven out of ten people think the Labour Party are not fit for Government.
Labour told to forget about Thatcher – Alexander criticises party’s Holyrood election campaign strategy (Herald)
McAveety is held off Labour list amid probe (Herald)
Harris fear party could ‘stop being relevant’ (Herald)
This last one heads a report by Tom Peterkin and Eddie Barnes that also quote Harris as saying “Labour’s complacency could kill the Union.” Tom Harris’s analysis is accurate of course, and he sees clearly what his party – and most metropolitan commentators have only glimpsed fleetingly, and in a glass darkly.
“We are on the brink of the biggest constitutional upheaval this country has ever seen.” (By country, he means the UK.)
“The idea that it’s business as usual in the Labour Party is going to kill us, and it’s going to kill the Union”
“I’m talking about standing up for Scotland. It’s Scotland first, the Union second, the Labour Party third.”
Nobody in Scotland – or the UK – is fooled by that last statement, Tom. You can’t hedge your bets- it’s too late to lay off the risk.
The scale of priorities has always been the careers of Labour politicians and trades union officials first and Scotland and its people a poor second. The Union is simply the necessary context for the Labour Party to pursue that naked self-interest. and your career, and those of every Labour MP, Labour Lord and Labour apparatchik depend on the continuance of this Union.
It has been ever thus in empires that exploit the people, and oligarchies masquerading as democracies. In their death throes, the politicians that depend on them will defend them to the death against the force of the ordinary people, as we have seen in the Arab Spring. They have no choice but to go down with the thing they have supported.