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Showing posts with label Scottish Labour Conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scottish Labour Conference. Show all posts

Friday, 2 March 2012

Douglas Alexander’s speech to conference - takes refuge in the fiction of Labour internationalism

Douglas Alexander’s theme is simple – an independent Scotland would be narrowly nationalistic. The UK -  i.e. Labour in government or Labour influencing government in Westminster - is internationalist, not nationalistic.

The central theme is untrue, and therefore everything that flows from it is untrue. From the flawed premise, the flawed conclusions flow, in a gooey mix of sentimentality and nostalgia, an anecdotal, selective mix, posing as history.

The UK is a nation, behaves as a nation, but on occasion acts internationally from altruistic, internationalist motives. Scotland will be an independent nation, will behave as an independent nation, but on occasion, will act from altruistic, internationalist motives.

The other argument, that the UK can be more effectively internationalist because of its greater size than Scotland is an argument that can be honestly advanced, even though the facts of history do not support it.

Let’s take Alexander’s early examples -

Does he think that the Scots who were part of the International Brigade to fight fascism would not have done so had Scotland been an independent country in the 1930s?

Does he think that Scotland, never mind just the City of Glasgow would not have embraced Nelson Mandela in the 1980s? You have a short and selective memory, Douglas – I do not. The Glasgow decision was widely derided by the very nation he holds up for our admiration – the UK, still in the grip of its late Empire delusions and deeply confused about South Africa and Mandela. Of course an independent, internationalist, social democratic Scotland would have embraced Mandela.

Does he think that the morality of Gordon Brown in working to write off the debt of the world’s poorest countries – an admirable morality that regrettably was not matched by his or his government’s economic competence in their own country – would not be the same morality that will drive an independent Scotland, an inclusive Scotland that will embrace the very same Labour people that once had such values, and who will recover and reassert them in the new Scotland.

Does he think that an independent Scotland would not make the same demand that a Labour government made at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005? Of course it would, but more effectively than that Summit, when one considers what followed it – utter failure and near-global meltdown from 2008 onwards.

Alexander asserts, with justification, that he and his parent’s horizons – “like millions of their fellow Scots” – were never limited to one community or one country. Nor will they be after independence, Douglas, especially when freed from the suffocating jingoism and Little Englandism that is the UK.

And an independent Scotland will not express its wide international horizons by launching an illegal invasion and an illegal war that brought death and destruction to millions in Iraq, destabilised the Middle East and brought endemic terrorism and paranoia to the United Kingdom. Tony Blair’s immoral and destructive internationalism are carefully airbrushed out of Douglas Alexander’s high-minded and selective agenda.

From the Eurozone Crisis to the Environment, from Export Markets to Mass Migration, interdependence – not independence - is the hallmark of our age.”

So says Douglas – and he’s right. He has missed out the part that includes countries across the globe throwing off suffocating and corrupt regimes that stifle their instincts for a national independence allied to a recognition of true interdependence.

Alexander is part of a nation that is the rump of an empire that denied all of these freedoms, and imposed its exploitative will for centuries on large tracts of our world – a rump that currently has a Coalition Government that is deeply divided over Europe and that very interdependence that he extols. And his own party is not free from such insularity and euro paranoia either.

But Douglas Alexander does eventually drop the Labour –as-internationalist-party stuff, and gets to the nub of his real argument – bigger is better.

DA:If we want to advance international cooperation: Britain has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. A separate Scotland would not.”

Scotland at the moment has no influence at the moment as a result of that UN seat. It has had no influence under successive governments, and indeed it was the Labour Government of Blair and Brown that chose to ignore the UN and its mandate when they launched the Iraq War on a lie in conjunction with a right-wing American regime.

DA:If we want to strengthen our collective security: Britain has a permanent seat on the Council of NATO.”

The same arguments as above apply, Labour and Lord George Robertson notwithstanding. What has been delivered to Scotland by NATO? Defending it from a non-existent threat? Parking outmoded and strategically irrelevant WMDs in Scottish waters, making us a prime target for a nuclear exchange, and polluting our environment? Imposing a crippling financial burden on the UK as a whole and on  Scotland to support these weapons systems?

I have already said a fair amount about the internationalist fiction that drives – and has driven Labour – for most of its history. The nonsensical contradictions of Labour’s internationalist posturing were evident in the post-war period and during the Cold War. They reached their nadir in Iraq and Afghanistan.

See my blog of 10th January 2012 -

Labour's last redoubt - internationalism

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Conference deconstructed by a separatist - me!

I have just read the transcript of Ed Miliband’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party Conference. It reveals an interesting, but entirely predictable set of priorities of the London-based - and led - Labour Party.

Reluctantly summoning up my old work study and quality control techniques, I endured the utter tedium of counting the key word references in this speech, which revealed that, as far as Miliband Minor and his shadow Cabinet are concerned, the Scottish Parliamentary election on May 5th is simply a vehicle for getting London Labour re-elected at the next general election.

(For the masochists among you, I have appended at the end of this blog the word sequence as it emerged in time terms through the speech . I will understand if your eyes glaze over …)

Today’s Herald headline summarises the recent opinion poll results as follows -

Labour narrowly ahead of SNP in election poll

Even the giant amoebic brains of Iain Gray’s campaign managers can grasp the significance of this, with the SNP rapidly narrowing the gap, just 4 points behind Labour in the constituency vote and 3 points behind on the list vote. Allied to the fact that Alex Salmond is the most popular politician in Scotland by far, and Iain Gray is almost invisible, Scottish Labour know who they have to beat on May 5th. The Scottish Tories remain an endangered species in Scotland, at 12% constituency and 13% for the list votes, and represent no threat, except in terms of alliances in a minority government or even a hung Parliament.

But Ed Miliband clearly sees them as the enemy, because he mentions them no less than 25 times in his speech. The SNP, in contrast, are mentioned just four times and the LibDems get six mentions.

Little Ed isn’t fighting the Scottish election, he is fighting the next general election for London Labour, and the Scots are just cannon fodder for that battle.

It takes Ed quite some time to get to mentioning Scotland in his opening, because he is worried that David Cameron is strutting his Britain-as-a-global-player stuff on an international stage of sorts over Libya, and has given a pretty good imitation of a statesman. It just ain’t fair - Maggie had her war, Blair had his wars, and now Ed is being denied his war, and the PR and electoral edge that violence abroad gives to UK Prime Ministers.

So after a token “It’s a pleasure to be here at the Scottish conference”, he opens with Libya, and the topic centres go as follows -

Libya, internationalist party, overseas aid,the Balkans, international community, Colonel Gadaffi, armed forces, possible combat, Libya, Libya, Middle East, Middle East, Palestine, Israel, Palestinian people, then at last - Scottish election.

The agenda is clear. The UK - and the British Prime Minister - only haves real identities through foreign policy and their capacity to intervene anywhere across the globe in the affairs of other nations: Scotland is there to slavishly feed that identity by a disproportionate blood sacrifice of its young men and women, as it has done since the Union of 1707, and the faster they contribute to defeating the Tories and letting Ed occupy the role of Commander-in-Chief, the better.

Of course, given the annoying propensity of the Scots to want to run their own affairs, including their foreign policy, and to decide how and when they put their armed forces in harm’s way, Ed Miliband has to wrench himself back to his ostensible purpose for being in Scotland - to support his puppet Scottish party, and the man they unfortunately chose to lead them, Iain Gray.

(I have no doubt whatsoever that an independent Scotland would have played its full, voluntary part in supporting the UN against Gadaffi, as a sovereign country within Europe.)

The term independence dare not be used in the Scottish context, so Miliband uses separatism, in the fond unionist belief that it is pejorative. (I am more than happy to be called a separatist!)

Miliband  is also forced summon up a concept that is all but invisible to the Scottish electorate - Iain Gray’s leadership.

Iain Gray’s leadership is a kind of dark matter in the Scottish Labour Party - it ought to be there, it is difficult to explain his selection as leader if it is not there, but no one can find it. Perhaps if Iain Gray was passed at high speed though the Large Hadron Collider by Professor Brian Cox, a particle of that hitherto invisible leadership might fleetingly become visible - even a charisma particle - Gray’s Bosun -might flicker for a moment before it too vanished into the primeval soup of Holyrood Labour.

But the first mention of the Gray leadership particle is speedily followed by the following terms in quick succession - Tory Threat, Scotland, Poll Tax, Scotland, Thatcher, The Tories, Scotland, The Tories, The Tories, The Tories …

And so it goes on - and on - for some time, alternating Scotland and Iain Gray’s leadership as if they bore any connection to reality.

Then, way down the list and well into the speech, the SNP makes its fleeting appearance - four times only, in contrast to the Tories 25 mentions, with two reference to Alex Salmond. The tired old Arc of Prosperity argument is trotted out yet again, with gratuitous insults for Ireland and a great silence on Norway.

Labour heroes of the distant and more recent past - Keir Hardie, Donald Dewar and John Smith - are given a reverential mention, all of whom are spinning rapidly in their graves at the contemptible thing their beloved Party has become under the current crop of expedient nuclear warmongers.

Read the full speech if you can. But here is the list in sequence - judge for yourselves -

ED MILIBAND

It is a pleasure to be here at the Scottish Conference.

Libya

internationalist party

overseas aid

the Balkans

international community

Colonel Gaddafi

armed forces

possible combat

Libya

Libya

Middle East

Middle East

Palestinians

Israel

Palestinian people

Scottish election

Scotland

Westminster

Tories

Holyrood

Scottish people

Tories

Tories

Scottish Labour party

Iain Gray’s leadership

Tory Threat

Scotland

Poll Tax

Scotland

Thatcher

The Tories

Scotland

The Tories

The Tories

The Tories

Labour

Tories

Scotland

Iain as First Minister

Labour

Scotland

Iain as First Minister

Iain's leadership

Scotland

Labour

Iain's leadership

Scotland

Scotland

Britain’s

Scotland

Tories

SNP

SNP

Scotland

Tory threat

Scotland

Tories

United Kingdom

Conservative-led government

London

the Tories

Scotland alone

separatism

Europe

Scotland

Iceland

Ireland

Alex Salmond’s

Arc of Prosperity

Scotland

Britain

Tories

Westminster

Holyrood

Scotland

Tories

Tories

Tory Government

England’s

England

Tory manifesto

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg

Britain

Liberal democrats

Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat

UK

Tories

Scottish

Welsh Assembly

Westminster

Labour

Labour

the Tories

Labour

United Kingdom

Scotland

David Cameron

Liberal Democrats

SNP

Tories

Alex Salmond

separatism

Tories

Labour

Labour

Edinburgh

Scotland

UK

General Election

Oldham East

Barnsley Central

Paisley

SNP

Westminster

Liberal Democrats

Conservative

Scottish Labour

Keir Hardie

John Smith

Donald Dewar

Iain Gray

Scottish Labour

Wester Hailes

Scotland

Tories

Scotland

Iain Gray