During the independence campaign, the Yes Campaign was often accused of speaking mostly to itself - and there was probably some truth in that, although I don't think you can ever completely avoid it. Now though, Scottish Labour seems to be suffering similarly Neil Findlay -
|That would be me.|
- said when Nicola Sturgeon spoke this week in parliament; it was all rhetoric. He went on to back the claim up with - you'll never guess - some rhetoric. Much of what they say seems to be the result of focus group meetings stuffed mostly with Labour activists and staffers, their continuing mission is to boldly develop eye-catching policies that only make sense to Labour staffers and be rationalised by people like Duncan Hothersal.
While the SNP aren't perfect, one thing they've learned to do is listen; they try to be proactive. Occasionally they go off on an odd tangent (a good example is GIRFEC) but for the most part, they seem to know that leadership is conditional and the people who put them there aren't stupid. Scottish Labour are more used to setting the agenda for a disinterested electorate, they've held power without question for so long, they don't seem to know how to behave without it - ever since 2007 they've been flailing around helplessly and they're still doing it now.
I would feel sorry for Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack -
- but all three claim they'll plough their own furrow free from interference from London HQ - it is a lie no one believes. Although the notion of Ed Miliband leading anything is difficult to imagine, Scottish Labour will always be subordinate because Scotland itself is subordinate - how can it be any other way?
That's the problem with the union, and its why it never works for Scotland. It doesn't matter how often Westminster rent-a-gubs bang on about the pooling & sharing of resources or of the UK being 'one big family of nations' - when it comes to British politics, the main parties work for the maintenance of the British State. If it happens to benefit the electorate - who mostly live in the south of England - its mostly incidental. Westminster's interest in Scotland begins and ends with what it can get away with taking and how little it can get away with giving back.
The Tories fell by the way side in the 80's and 90's and they dragged the Lib Dems with them in the noughties. And after the huge clusterfuck of spin and death that was the trademark of Tony Blair and New Labour - in Scotland, voters are beginning to realise Westminster-based parties don't work for them at all.
Labour has set itself up for the most opprobrium; with the Tories; you know where you stand - they're a bunch of hard-hearted, flinty-eyed bastards and they don't mind who knows it - the Liberal Democrats have simply become Tory enablers whether they meant to or not. Labour on the other hand did something different - they managed to hoodwink people in Scotland in to thinking 'Scottish' Labour was different from 'UK' Labour and that it worked for them.
The truth is, it never did. The steel works stayed closed, electronic manufacturing still died on its arse and more recently big finance was allowed to rule the roost to disastrous effect.
Currently Labour north of the border via Jim, Neil, Sarah and the Daily Record are saying there are two reason why things are so shit: 1) they're not in power and 2) the SNP are. Meanwhile south of the border, Ed Miliband is pushing policies that would keep Labour out of office even if they weren't a bunch of daft gits. We're not supposed to know that though, we're supposed to be transfixed by Jim Murphy's baleful stare while continuing to not realise just how much of a shitbag he is.
We should probably talk about Jim Murphy.
Last night he said (with breathy urgency and incredulous eyes) he would 'like to see' income tax devolved, with it he said he'd reinstate the 50p tax rate. He said if Scotland wanted to spend more money it would have to raise it. What's the problem with that statement? Scotland already raises more tax than it spends. We'd end up paying twice; once for things we don't want (foisted on us by Westminster,) then again for the things we do need (free personal care for the elderly anyone?) Income tax accounts for a small part of Scotland's total tax take, it being devolved is nothing but a sop and we shouldn't fall for it.
I think its fair to say here embodied in one man is all that is wrong with politics in Britain today. A Blairite warmonger with an expenses fetish, a lying revisionist with a grasping sense of entitlement to high office in Scotland. He's a spineless Trident fan-boy who'll say anything if he thinks it'll garner a few votes. Jim doesn't give a shit about Scotland, he only cares about his place in the great British state machine.
Still, Jim is the anointed one, he's been touched by Ed Miliband. The serried ranks of Labour members - all 14 of them - some unions and most MSP's can vote with confidence knowing that Jim passed muster with Head Office in London.
He'll win this leadership contest, but in the long run Labour in its current form will lose Scotland.