Yesterday, May 1st, was International Workers’ Day. In an ideal world it would make perfect sense for the leader of the UK Labour Party to be giving a speech at a rally in Glasgow, and talking about things like social justice, solidarity and improving conditions for working families. In an ideal world the UK Labour Party would have a genuine interest in such things. In an ideal world Labour would have a genuine interest in ending the grinding poverty experienced by so many across Scotland, ending the need for foodbanks, making sure the nation’s wealth and resources were shared equally among all… in an ideal world. In reality however such a Labour Party does not exist. What we got instead, when Ed Miliband, Party leader, and Jim Murphy branch manager of UK Labour in Scotland, both speechified in Tollcross last night was a sort of tarted up, distorted, history lesson. A parodying of the past which was also practised across the Party’s social media presence today:
International Workers’ Day is, in a lot of ways about history. It marks the Haymarket Affair. This tragic event took place in Chicago on May 4 1886 when both police and civilians were killed and wounded at a workers demonstration. Workers were calling for an 8 hour day and protesting the killings of several workers days before. Perhaps this is why Jim and Ed thought it would somehow fly if they too attempted a kind of pseudo commemoration of Scotland’s proud and effective socialist history. They were sadly mistaken, what we got instead was a boak-inducing attempt at failed political necromancy:
Imagine all the people you know who have built Labour in Scotland – your grandparents who fought for their rights in the shipyards and mines across this country; your mums and dads, many of whom delivered leaflets for Labour… remember our great leaders. From Keir Hardie to Jennie Lee. John Smith to Donald Dewar. What would they want today?
The most important thing we all need to know about Keir Hardie right now is he’s dead.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to James Keir Hardie, who grew up in Govan and started work aged seven. He was a union leader, an Independent Labour election candidate and founder member of the Scottish Labour Party, not to be confused with the current incarnation of UK Labour in Scotland. He will be dead one hundred years this September. We owe him our thanks. As we likewise owe thanks to Hardie’s colleague and collaborator Robert B C Graham, the first ever socialist MP and first president of the Scottish National Party. However, we owe it to ourselves, our neighbours, our communities and our children, all living, to live in the present.
Isn’t it odd that the only people banging on about last September are the Scottish branch of UK Labour? Isn’t it odd that the only people trying to add soothsaying to the necromancy in attempting to predict future events regarding our nation’s independence, are the Scottish branch of UK Labour? Their new found love of self serving perversions of history has them skipping back and forth in time like Malcom Tucker in a tardis. The labour party’s transparent attempts to misrepresent the events of the past in order to shore up their rapidly crumbling defences in Scotland is nowhere more blindingly obvious than in today’s new billboard campaign.
So what’s next for the Scottish branch of UK Labour with less than a week to go? Well we have already had Gordon Brown dragged up and paraded about again back in March. Campaigning in his former constituency he described this as a “Social Justice” election. Brown was however keeping a seriously low profile today, despite the gracious visit of Ed up from the London Head Office.
In his speech in Glasgow last night Miliband made the classic UK Labour tactical move of a will-o’-the -wisp hint at more devolved powers for our parliament, by conjuring up the spirits of Smith and Dewar. After we are done gagging on the sweet sickly stench of yet more Tomorrow Jam™ we can ask, what kind of Devo would this be then? Devo Monstro Mega Super Maxi Max?
Ed Miliband attempted to convince the people of Scotland that on a “matter of principle” he would ignore the will of the Scottish people, and refuse to cooperate with the nation’s democratically elected representatives, if they did anything but vote for his Party. Here at Butterfly Rebellion we are having a hard time seeing any principles in that. Proud Edward has declaimed again and again “no deal, no pact, no coalition, no tie-in”, this might well end up etched on the graves of both UK Labour’s Scottish Branch, and Miliband’s political career.
Right now it is 2015, not 2014 not 2016, not 1979, not 1888, and not May 4th 1886. Right here, right now, this time, this coming week, this election the people of Scotland will choose. We will choose not based on a misty-eyed hazy nostalgia for better days, and frankly better politicians, and not a year hence, but for a better Scotland, now.