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By Jason Michael
Jackie Ballie can think all she wants that we’re quaking in our boots with the prospect of Anas Sarwar taking the Balliol throne in Scottish Labour. Fear is the last thing independentistas are feeling. We can’t wait to get stuck in.
Now that Kezia Dugdale has departed the chair, once again leaving Labour in Scotland leaderless and rudderless – a situation that has become the new normal for Scottish Labour, the race has started in earnest to elect the ninth branch office manager since devolution. That whoever wins will be number nine since the 1998 Scotland Act tells us pretty much all we need to know about the condition of what was once Scotland’s political party of choice. Labour in Scotland is a mess. It is an unmitigated disaster, and nothing can be done or said – with a new leader on average every two years – to make this look or sound any better. No one blames Kezia for pressing the eject button.
All eyes are on the deputy, now acting, leader Anas Sarwar as though he has something new to offer. Anas, as a coördinator of the Better Together campaign and yet another Scottish Blairite stooge, has little – if anything at all – to offer either Labour in Scotland or real Labour in London. Even in the decade before Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum – the event on which Labour in Scotland now blames all its failings – Labour was already in terminal decline. Far quicker than in other parts of the United Kingdom, Scottish voters saw through Blairism and New Labour, and yet – inexplicably – Scottish Labour has remained a weird museum of what Labour was for a brief moment in the late 1990s.
Jackie Baillie (@jackiebmsp) September 05, 2017
As soon as Anas’ name came up as a contender and as soon as he put his name in the pot independence supporters began making noise. Naturally, being want of anything approximating something that might pass for intelligence, Dumbarton MSP Jackie Ballie sounded off that this stirring on the Yes side of Scotland was fear – prompting her to suggest Sarwar was the candidate the SNP feared. Naw Jackie, we’ve been swatting off Blairites for too long. It’s too easy. The rumbling you’re feeling is us being fed up with the same old tosh.
Sarwar, for what it’s worth, is neither left nor consistent. He lacks even the moral fibre to vote for his own bills in the Holyrood parliament – when doing so would put him on the same side as the party in government. How can left-leaning Scottish voters get behind a man who proposed axing the Westminster imposed cap on public sector wages and then did a rapid volte-face when he discovered this won him the support of the actually left-leaning Scottish National Party? This has done nothing but put a serious dent in his credibility. There are scarce few in the UK – considering Corbyn’s Momentum’s rabble rousing for scrapping the cap in England – who will fail to see right through what he has done. Once again Labour in Scotland has put the union before principles.
Putting the interests of Britain before the people of Scotland is nothing new to Anas Sarwar. He was the backbone behind Better Together in Scotland, the campaign front for our imperial masters that brought about the single biggest loss in membership and support Labour has suffered in the history of the party. His work during that campaign – closely aligned as it was with Westminster and Edinburgh Tories – all but killed the Labour Party in Scotland, and now heid bangers like Jackie Ballie think we’re scared. Quite the opposite is true, so bring it on.
Here's Anas Sarwar doing the shell game with Ruth Davidson at a "David Cameron for UK PM" table in the indy ref. Mi… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Martin MacDonald (@Innealadair) September 04, 2017
But there is a greater fallacy in action here. Irrespective of the hype in the Scottish media around this current phase of the Scottish Labour crisis, it doesn’t matter who is elected head of the party. It can be a donkey. Not a donkey like Johann Lamont, or Jim Murphy, or even Kezia Dugdale, but a real ee-awing donkey. The “leadership” of Scottish Labour is and has always been meaningless. There is no leader of Scottish Labour. Scottish Labour is not a political party in its own right. It has no legal or political reality. Scottish Labour is the British Labour Party in Scotland and every decision of any importance is made by and for the benefit of the real party leadership at 105 Victoria Street in the City of Westminster, London.
Supposing he gets the job, even he knows this is a poison chalice. Given that the left in Scotland has long since abandoned Labour and that Labour has long since abandoned the left, the top job in Scotland is political suicide. The last thing we in the independence movement feel about the prospect of a Comrade Sarwar is fear. We pity the fool.
In terms of the real debate in Scotland, the constitutional question, Sarwar is no change. Labour’s “recovery” in Scotland has peaked. Sure, in the last general election – thanks to 500,000 pro-independence voters staying at home and some unionist tactical voting – it picked up a few more seats, but the true force of Scottish unionism is with the Conservatives on the right. Any careful analysis of voting patterns where Labour took seats will no doubt bear this out, showing right-leaning voters supporting it in constituencies where the Tories couldn’t win in order to deprive the SNP. This was good news for Corbyn, but whatever it was it wasn’t a recovery.
Labour’s political reality in Scotland is worse than dire. As it stands at the moment it is the shell of a Labourism that no longer exists elsewhere in UK politics, and it is trying hard to sell this to a Scottish electorate that had already rejected it a decade ago. Making this humiliation complete is the sorrowful fact that Labour in Scotland, existing as it does, can only hope to survive on the coattails of Ruth Davidson’s Conservative Party. Scottish Labour is a sham, nothing more than a sock puppet account for the true blue Scottish unionists.
If Labour members knew what was good for their party – and God only knows why I am offering them this advice – they would dispense with the idea of continuing the Blairist project forthwith and seek a genuine alternative. Scottish Labour, if it is to have a future at all, must make the break from London, ditch its outdated and obsolete corporatist-Thatcherite ideology, and get back to representing the true leftist values of Scotland. As long as it refuses to do this Labour in Scotland will remain where it is right now; right on the precipice of oblivion.
Empire strikes back as ‘imperial masters’ gather in Glasgow