Love Labour Lost

There’s no question – it’s desperately funny, watching the power-mad becoming afraid to take power. It happens sometimes in a nation’s history, usually – as now – during a crisis, when those people who long for all that lovely control over everyone else understand, with the instinct of a common, feral rat, that becoming King (or Queen) Rat will not do them any favours long-term.

Imagine being so close to something you’ve sought obsessively for decades, and knowing that it will now – only now – turn you into a human biohazard to touch it. That the chalice is so deeply poisoned, even the word “chalice” is toxic. Imagine knowing that a large swathe of the population wants you to take that chalice and be destroyed and will delight in your demise, and will then invite your nearest and most hated rivals to do exactly the same thing, with exactly the same result. If Scottish Labour’s front bench weren’t already slavering with insanity, practically, days such as these would surely be driving them mad. As it is, Scottish Labour’s future can only get madder and madder. Their competition for leadership is looking less a race than an exercise in narcissistic Pass the Parcel, where the parcel is awash with ebola-ridden snottery hankies. Nobody wants it, but nobody wants anybody else to have it either.

Johann Lamont is already scrambling furiously back from the edge of the precipice she helped to create. Westminster, apparently, has too much control over Scotland and Scottish things. We should hope it’s a genuine realisation, just one more No voter for whom the penny has finally dropped. If it is, we ought to greet her like a long-lost sister, for she would then be a lost sheep who’s suddenly remembered she’s a lion. It’s a sign of the times, though, that it’s difficult to believe it’s anything other than a cynical attempt to begin to re-brand Labour in Scotland, with cosmetic changes – a tart(an)ing-up of the red rose – masking the deeper paralysis, all designed from Oxbridge and Westminster, and given the personal seal of approval by all the heads and both the Eds, from Balls to Miliband.

Iain Gray doesn’t want it. Gordon Brown doesn’t want it. Kezia Dugdale doesn’t want it. Jackie Baillie doesn’t want it. Anas Sarwar doesn’t want it. Alistair Darling doesn’t want it. Who’d imagine that being Labour leader in Scotland would be such an undesirable job? It wasn’t supposed to be that way, was it? You know, in the past decades when careering through the Labour Party meant a reasonable career in anonymous politics? It’s as if we actually expect something of our politicians all of a sudden, and not a single one of them wants to step into the spotlight.

Then there are the Children of the Damned options. At the time of writing, they haven’t said anything. Douglas Alexander. Margaret Curran. The ones who… well, let’s just say questions have been asked in pubs and online as to how far they’ll go, even with loved ones, to get to where they feel they should be. Jim Murphy. The Egg-man. People that you know are intelligent, that you know are very intelligent, but who somehow seem to slither.

It’s to be expected that nobody, but nobody, has asked Edinburgher-by-birth Tony Blair to lead Scottish Labour, just in case he says Yes.

Scottish Labour’s high heid yins seem to consider themselves already unelectable. That they know they are going to be given a swift hard kick out of the country in barely seven months time – and each of these career politicians is holding back in an effort to win the reins after 2015, maybe even after 2016, when they think they can slowly re-build the trust of the Scottish people… well, that tells you everything you need to know about the depth of imagination of the average – and average is the right word – career Labour politician.

To consider Scottish Labour as dead ducks… it’s almost inconceivable. The party of the poor and downtrodden have been circumvented in one swift move, entirely replaced among the left-wing of Scotland by a Not-Empowered-by-Westminster Socialism, a society-based socialism, the socialism of the SSP and the SNP and the Scottish Greens. It’s astonishing that Labour, of all people, didn’t realise how contagious standing shoulder to shoulder with members of the Conservative Party actually is.

My enemy’s enemy might not be my friend, but my enemy’s friend is realistically likely to be my enemy. Once you see Ruth Davidson and Margaret Curran high-fiving, metaphorically if not actually viscerally, sorry, visually, it’s hard not to wonder who the bigger enemy is – the one who denies poverty, or the one who promotes it.

One’s already been rejected. It’s time for us to lose the other.

For too long now, Scotland’s been crushed between familiarity and contempt – the familiarity of the Labour movement, the contempt of the Tories. Neither has – or has had, for a long time – any motive to actually change things here. The one breeds the other. They’re two sides of the same old and bitter coin. Tony Blair relied on our belief. Margaret Thatcher depended on our loyalty. There was no gain, no intentional advance, from either. Is there any to be had from Cameron or Osborne, Farage or Johnson or – as if – Miliband?

The campaign for Scottish self-determination isn’t an entirely socialist campaign, but it certainly understands the benefits and desirability of a united society much more than these descendants of Thatcher do, and it understands why being social beats being anti-social. It explains why we’re all working together. It explains why they’re all working apart.

Better Together was their slogan barely a month ago.  Bit unTogether has been their slogan ever since.

In 1987, when Margaret Thatcher swept once again to UK power, lots of Scottish Tory MPs lost their jobs: Gerry Malone, Peter Fraser (later Baron Fraser), John McKay (later Baron Mackay), Albert McQuarrie (Sir Albert, now), John Corrie, (Sir) Alexander MacPherson Fletcher, Barry Henderson, Alexander Pollack, Anna McCurley, (Sir) Michael Hirst and Michael Ancram (Baron Kerr of Monteviot, don’t you know) all became unemployed. Faceless career politicians. You’ve got to think each of them done ok out of it, though. No wonder they think everyone else can do the same.

Looking into the future, there’s no reason why, next year, we can’t consign a larger number of equally instantly-forgettable career politicians into the dustbin of OBEs and self-centred honours: Danny and Douglas, the Alexander Brothers, Willie Bain, Banks, Begg, the Browns, Clarke, Curran, Davidson… the list looks like a turkey-shoot of obviousness.

They’ll be ok. Ladyships and knighthoods keep a person warm, as past form shows. Particularly a certain kind of person. It’s near-embarrassing as a socialist to accept that that sort of person is a Labour politician, but there you go. That’s what Scottish Labour’s become.

They think we’re to blame.

– Loxia Scotica