Both the Labour movement and the Labour parliamentary party have been the greatest let down for the working class in the entire history of industrialisation and its aftermath, and – as far as we are concerned in Scotland – it can remain what it has become. The left in Scotland has shifted to the Scottish National Party and the independence movement. We have begun to waken up to the fact that if we are to make things better for ourselves then we have to do it for ourselves.
Gerry Hassan demands, following an editorial trend in much of Scotland’s supposedly pro-independence new media, that independence must be the answer to an as yet unknown question. This is not an episode of Jeopardy! The progress of a nation through time need answer no questions. It moves by its own accord, under the steam of its own initiative, following the complex calculus written out by the thousands of expressed and unexpressed desires of its people.
When the British media turns its attention to the “nationalists,” nothing can appear worse. Everything the Scottish government – “the SNP government” – has done to make rail travel in Scotland the best performing rail network in the United Kingdom, well that’s a “crisis.” There’s an NHS crisis in Scotland too, an oil crisis, and an employment crisis, and any other flavour of crisis you may care to imagine. Scotland, thanks to the SNP, has become one big crisis.
Kezia Dugdale is in herself a perfect example of what is wrong with the Scottish Labour Party. Back in the day, when so many in Scotland voted for Tony Blair in the 1997 general election that delivered a Labour landslide, we didn’t know we were voting for “Blairism.” We were duped. Few could see that New Labour was nothing but a re-branding of Thatcherism. No one new he’d be the beast he’d become. We didn’t see the illegal wars, and the groundwork of austerity.
We can be as gentle, as meek, as fair, and as mild-mannered as we like. We do not have the luxury of mass media to get our point across. We can be civil and well spoken, reasonable, and well behaved. Their cameras and microphone booms will come nowhere near us. No one will hear how nice we are. All the while the airwaves and the news reports and column inches will be jammers with vile BritNat manipulation and half-truths, and we will “lose the argument.”
No one can deny, not after the crowds chanting his name at the Glastonbury festival, that Jeremy Corbyn – the Chippenham commissar – is a sensation. As Britain’s answer to Bernie Sanders he has rocked the small world of British politics. So powerful was his unexpected surge during the last general election he even had movers and shakers in the Scottish independence movement fawning after him. So when his stage management team declared he would be coming to Scotland we were right to be nervous.
Comrade Corbyn is marching north to Scotland with his wee pokey army to “win back” seats from the SNP because he wants to be Prime Minister of a united Britain. He appears to have gotten it into his head, no doubt emboldened by Cat Boyd and her like, that Scotland is right on the verge of turning back to Labour and embracing Corbynism; this wonderful new brand of socialism.
I suppose it is quite apt that all this should remind us of the Tower of Babel. At once we have this afternoon’s ridiculousness and the haunting shadow of Grenfell’s burnt out husk. In many respects they are twin aspects of the same colossal hubris, the glorification and worship of power and the nightmare reality of the consequences of this idolatry.