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By Jason Michael
Super socialist Owen Jones thinks he can teach us in Scotland how to suck eggs. Apparently we need him to tell us all about the joys of socialism and a more equal society under the divine gaze of comrade Corbyn.
We need thinkers and writers like Owen Jones. What he has to say is important, and many on the left – let’s be honest – would be stuck for words if it wasn’t for his contribution. Yet admitting that we are fans of his doesn’t mean that he is always right. In fact when it comes to Scotland Jones is almost always wrong, and he is always wrong when it comes to his rose tinted assessment of Scottish Labour. As he has decided to pipe up on this subject again on Twitter it is time that the Scottish left – the real Scottish left – gives him an education on Scotland and Scottish Labour.
When it comes to addressing London-centric English voices on Scotland I am of the opinion that the best response we can give is our indifference. Given that independence is merely the political realisation of the national and social independence we are already living, I lean towards the thinking that we simply are not ready for independence so long as we are caught in this loop of giving a damn what English politicians and politicos think or say about us. If we are independent then, no matter how close we are as family, friends, and neighbours, England is a foreign country, and these voices are foreign voices. Yet, as he is a socialist speaking to a deeply socialist Scotland, we can make some accommodation to Owen. We owe him that much.
Doesn't matter how angry an unrepresentative minority of SNP members gets. I'm still campaigning for a Corbynite Scottish Labour candidate.—
Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) June 21, 2017
His sense of compassion for the working class from which he comes is welcome and sorely needed – especially in the austerity Britain created by Blair, Brown, Cameron, and May – and his trust in old Labour values; embodied now in England’s Corbynite revolution, as a vehicle for justice is refreshing. In Scotland we understand this, but we have completely rejected Labour – New Labour and Scottish Labour – and it is our reasons for this rejection Jones singularly fails to grasp. He doesn’t get our distaste for Labour precisely because he is not Scottish and thus he wholly lacks any real and meaningful insight into Scotland’s political experience.
Scottish Labour is not the British Labour Party he holds so dear. It is a completely different political animal, and one we have seen for what it is – a neoliberal, imperialist, and neo-Thatcherite party of Scotland’s old guard establishment. In terms he may understand better: The Scottish Labour Party is or was the principal force of unionist political reaction in our country. Labour, as Jones always appears to miss, is not a one-size-fits-all political label. Had any leader of the British Labour Party said in reference to Brussels, for example, that the English were “not genetically programmed… to make political decisions,” there would be uproar south of the border – and rightly so. But this is exactly what unionism in Scottish Labour produced.
Labour in Scotland has run consistently against the grain of Scotland’s cherished sense of socialism and democracy. It has been one Labour government after another that has imposed the presence of nuclear weapons on us when we have overwhelmingly expressed our national desire that these nightmarish things be removed from our country. While his idol Jeremy Corbyn may express his want for Trident to be disbanded, it was still his party that voted for both its £205-plus billion renewal and its continued imposition on Scotland. There is a word for inserting things without consent and it is neither “socialism” nor “democracy.”
Scotland wants nothing to do with Britain’s warmongering and arms dealing; things the British Labour Party has always led the charge on. In the aftermath of the 2014 independence referendum Scottish Labour installed Jim Murphy as leader – a man who was “fundilymundily” devoured by the Scottish electorate for his particular take on socialism and democracy.
Owen Jones wants the whole of London out on the streets demanding the end of Theresa May’s government’s dalliance with the sectarian DUP. This is admirable, and on this we can say that the entire Scottish independence movement is in agreement. We would all rather see the end of this insanity. No one wants the political representatives of the bigoted Orange Order in such a position of power at Westminster – well, everyone apart from the Conservative right and the Scottish Labour Party. That is something Owen would know if he had any real experience of Labour in the Scottish political context, but he doesn’t. Jones is blind to what Scottish Labour is.
It was socialism in Scotland and not some half-baked and propagandistic construct of “nationalism” that destroyed the Labour Party here. Scotland, as the record shows, is socialist to the core. An independent Scotland can be nothing but a more socially just wee country than its southern neighbour. That is Scotland. We have to think that Jones imagines that somehow the idea of independence made us all less socialist than we were before the IndyRef campaign. The reality is – as we all know – that the thought of independence made us more socialist than we have ever been. But by denying this Owen Jones is unwittingly supporting rightist reaction in our country. He has become the chav of the establishment.
Owen Jones meets Angus Robertson