A genuine plea to those on the left of the Labour Party.

This is not an independence related post, but, I feel, an important one in the context of the current political turmoil currently consuming the Labour Party.

I do support independence for Scotland, and indeed for anywhere in which it can make a real and positive difference to the democracy therein – I always will. And it’s that fundamental belief in democracy that’s making me so frustrated about what’s happening within Labour. You don’t have to be a Labour-supporting unionist to feel angered by that. You just have to support decent, principled politics.

I’m not a Labour supporter. I was, briefly, a long time ago, back when I thought I could trust that they held genuinely left of centre principles.

I turned 18 in 1994, so my first opportunity to vote in a General Election came when Labour finally wrestled back power from the Tories in 1997. I helped to do that by voting for them, and I literally shed a tear when the results came in. I’m sure a great many people did.

But my relief was all too short lived. The work of Blair and his shadow puppets put that trust which I had invested in their party to bed very swiftly. Perhaps that was my fault, as a politically naive youngster, foolishly expecting that a party which I had previously believed to have decent, socially-conscious principles would not abandon them at the first sniff of power. But if that was my fault, a hell of a lot of other voters share the blame with me.

Over the thirteen years which followed that historic election, I watched as the top tier of the Parliamentary Labour Party attempted to redefine what it was to be Labour. They even came up with a name for it, ‘New Labour’, as if this rebranding somehow provided justification or legitimate cover for their attempts to drag the whole party to the right. It didn’t then and it doesn’t now. What they did to the party was change it to suit their own desires – not allow their supporters to shape the party.

And that’s exactly what we’re seeing today. We’re seeing the selfish desires of a few near the top of the party trying to seal the deal on the leadership election. Not allowing the party’s supporters to shape the party. Not allowing the absolutely fundamental political principle of democracy to take place within their own allegedly democratic party.

This should be ringing alarm bells so loudly in the ears of those who forgave them the Blair years. It should be deafening. This is the New Labour moment mk2 – and this time they’re trying to seal the deal forever.

Labour have always had members and supporters across a reasonably wide field of the political spectrum, and that is, I believe, quite healthy. But this current shutting-out of politically intelligent and vocal left-wingers, such as Mark Steel, is changing that. Those on the right of the party are trying to claim the party for themselves alone. They’re literally cutting off those on the real left by denying them a voice in the current leadership election. This, so Labour insist, is their most democratic leadership election ever. But if they’re hand-picking those who can and can’t vote, there is nothing democratic about it in the slightest. It’s an affront to democracy, just as New Labour was an affront to the principles of old Labour.

This HAS to be the left’s clarion call. They must not allow the hijacking of their shared party to be completed. But neither should they continue to attempt to share the party – they’ve tried too long to do that now, and it’s clearer than ever that the two sides have to shake hands and go their separate ways.

Painful in the short-term, electorally speaking? Yes, of course. But without it, the left of the party will continue to be squeezed out until they have no say at all, and the credibility that they have for standing by their principles will be shot to pieces.

Whether Corbyn wins or not, the time has come to separate these two divergent winds of the party. I personally don’t care what happens to the Blairites – they’re power obsessed and lost to the world of principles and ideologies. But I do care that those who hold genuinely left-wing beliefs, those who really believe in a state which has a social conscience and actually does something to achieve true equality – those people I do care about, no matter what party they set their stall out from.

Cut yourselves free – for your own good and for the good of our political environment. Do it. Please.

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Sooo sick of hearing it…

Aside

It’s just a stab in the dark this, but I’m guessing that most other independence supporters are getting a bit sick of the “if you leave, you condemn rUK to generations of Tory governments” line trotted out by Labour unionists?

It’s getting rather tired, isn’t it? We KNOW that of the eighteen UK General Elections since 1945, only TWO would have seen a very slim Labour majority become a very slim Tory majority (1964 and 1974), had Scotland been out of the equation. We know this to be true because we have such things as written records of the results.

But written facts aside, what is even more frustrating about these nonsensical claims is that those who make them seem to be trying to guilt-trip the people of Scotland into thinking that we are somehow the ethical guardians of our southern neighbours, and that it is we who are the UK’s social conscience – some sort of ‘Jimmy McCricket’.

Frankly, if the rest of the UK want to keep on voting for the self-centred Tories, they’ll keep on doing it. If Labour are struggling to get a decent foothold, perhaps rather than blaming a Scotland that wants to start afresh, they should be looking at themselves and why the voters of rUK seem unwilling to return to them. Just possibly, they should take a long hard look at THEMSELVES and what it is they actually stand for, rather than still trying to entice the middle-England vote at the expense of traditional Labour values. Simply saying “I’m a socialist”, doesn’t make it so.

But fundamentally, it is not Scotland’s place or job to dilute the impact of the Tories in rUK. We have our own country to run, and we’re making it pretty clear that we want to take Scotland in a new, fairer, more socially democratic direction than we have been coerced into taking by being in the union. If the majority of votes in rUK continue to go to the Tories, the Tories will win – that’s rUK’s lookout! A lot of left-wing independence supporters, from both inside and outside Scotland, actually see Scottish independence as an opportunity for real left-wing politics to start building up within rUK, not the opposite.

What Labour are trying to do here is tell the Scottish electorate that if they vote for independence, they’re selfish: “How dare you seek to improve democracy for yourselves! How very dare you!”

The Tories will continue in rUK. Labour will continue in rUK. The Lib Dem’s… well, let’s keep that fiver firmly tucked in the wallet for now! But our leaving will have no sizeable impact on who runs the rUK Government, and that’s a demonstrable, undeniable, provable fact.

And this thing about us ‘looking out’ for rUK… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if Labour are really so concerned with their ‘borders are coming down, not going up’ line that they come out with, let’s see their proposals for anything like political unification with France, Angola, Denmark, China, Sudan, Ecuador, Somalia, etc. They’re just fantasy emotional blackmail lines which play absolutely no role in actual Labour policy.

We don’t need to share a parliament to care about or help other people around the world. Don’t fall for such meaningless drivel.

From Poisonous Little Acorns…

It’s been a few months now since Johann Lamont, Labour’s leader in the Scottish Parliament, raised eyebrows with a speech in the chamber in which she outlined her ‘fear’ of Scotland voting for independence and the inevitable side-effect of the ‘foreignisation’ of her friends and relatives in rUK.

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Many of us ridiculed her comments at the time, pointing out that the idea of someone being foreign presented us with no problem whatsoever. At the ‘United with Labour’ launch recently, she revisited this when she said “In simple terms, why make Alex Ferguson a foreigner?”. She evidently didn’t get the memo.

Then today on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’ show, Margaret Curran MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, made similar remarks. After talking briefly about the number of Scots living elsewhere in the UK, the interviewer asked Curran how a vote for independence would affect relationships across the borders:

Curran: “Well, I think people do actually feel that that would break up the family, and I think that’s why it affects it…”

Interviewer: “…if Scotland became a separate, independent state, what difference would that make to those relationships”

Curran: “Because I people… I think people do feel that the big thing would be… my son, for example who went to university in England – i think I’d be uncomfortable with the thought that he’s now a foreigner. Y’know, he lives in a different country. Y’know I do think he’s living in Eng… Scotland and England are certainly different nations, but I think we’re still… we still have that partnership, and I think it speaks to that, but I think…”

Interviewer: “But are you honestly saying your son would become a foreigner to you?”

Curran: “Well, they live in a foreign country, and I don’t think that…”

Interviewer: “Well(!)… but does that… the point is so what if they live in a foreign country!”””

The interview is available on YouTube (http://tinyurl.com/nqp95bt) or the whole show can be listened to on BBC iPlayer (http://tinyurl.com/o24jb8s) – starts about 14 minutes in.
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The question is, why would the thought of her son being a foreigner be a problem to her? Or, as I suspect, why is she pretending that it would be?

If we take Curran at her word, are we to conclude that she has some sort of issue with foreigners? If she was telling the truth, that is the logical conclusion.

And with Lamont revealing the same emotions earlier, should we conclude that Scottish Labour – those defenders of equality, solidarity and ‘one nation’ society – have a deep-seated issue with xenophobia?

It would be cynical to believe that, and no matter what I think of Lamont and Curran, I don’t believe that they are xenophobes.

But if we discount that reason, that leaves one other option: they’re lying. And what a lie it is.

If they’re not revealing their own small-mindedness on the issue of foreigners, what are they doing? They’re attempting to plant the seeds of it, or grow it on, in others. They are CREATING a new, artificial xenophobia, with quite deliberate, calculated intent – to nurture fear of independence through fear of ‘foreignisation’.

Frankly, I believe this outranks any of the other ‘better together’ tactics in terms of ‘how low can they go?’.

To ACTIVELY SEEK to drum up fear of the idea and word ‘foreigner’ is, in the short-term, pathetic and callous. In the long-term, it’s nothing short of despicable and outright dangerous.

What happens with the people they fool into thinking of foreigners as somehow lesser? Let’s not beat about the bush, that is what they are doing. Have the Labour Party considered that? Or are they so short-sighted and wounded that they simply don’t care about the potential ramifications?

What we are increasingly seeing, in England particularly, is the rise of right-wing extremist groups. Call them the EDL, the BNP, UKIP, whatever – they’re all sides of the same vile racist, xenophobic hate-plated coin. THAT is what Labour are contributing to with this line – not directly today, but in the years to come when these seeds have grown and warped those that swallowed them.

This has to stop, and it has to stop now. How dare Labour attempt this kind of politicking  – anywhere, not just in Scotland.