Corbyn is the antidote to Scottish independence

scotland_2715100bScotland has been the glaring and conspicuous omission in the predictions of doom and disaster being offered by a parade of New Labour voices in the event that Jeremy Corbyn ‘dares’ win the Labour leadership election. In fact so glaring is this omission you would think that Scotland had vanished from the map.

The reason Scotland has been so conspicuously absent from the shared analysis of doom being proffered is of course because Labour’s dire predicament north of the border utterly refutes it.

For it is in Scotland, specifically in former Labour heartlands, that the appellation Red Tories is now firmly attached to the party and its members and supporters. From once holding a position north of the border so dominant it was said that Labour’s vote was weighed rather than counted, it is now a brave Labour canvasser who dares chap a door in a typically Scottish working class community, knowing they are more likely to receive verbal abuse than a smile.

And little wonder, as Labour in Scotland is currently a pale shadow of the party it was, a consequence of Blair and his New Labour project driving a stake through the heart of its founding principles in an abject surrender to Thatcherite free market nostrums. Welfare reform, PFI, a minimum wage which became entrenched as a de facto maximum wage, deregulation of the banks, failure to deal with the housing crisis, and crippling inequality – this is New Labour’s legacy in Scotland, and this is without even mentioning Iraq.

The consequence in 2014 was a referendum on independence that came perilously close to ending the union, followed by a general election in May of this year that saw Labour decimated, leaving them with just one MP at Westminster where just five years earlier they had 41. With the SNP taking 56 out of Scotland’s total of 59 constituency seats, the over-used word ‘historic’ not only applied to Labour’s decline in fortunes and the SNP’s corresponding surge in support, it was an understatement.

Ed Miliband found himself caught between two competing nationalisms as a result of the Tories’ successful ploy of whipping up fear in England of Sturgeon and the SNP pulling the strings at Westminster in the event of a Labour minority government coming to pass.

A rise in English nationalist sentiment followed, benefiting the Tories and also UKIP, both of whom took votes from Labour south of the border. This is why the idea that Labour’s defeat under Miliband was due to it being too left wing is completely fallacious.

On the contrary in ceding ground to the Tories on the causes of the financial crash, Ed Miliband found himself struggling to combat their attacks on Labour’s economic record, forced to emphasise the importance of bringing down the deficit via cuts, albeit less draconian than those of his opponent, while to his left he came under pressure to resist the rise in support in Scotland for the SNP with their astute positioning on anti austerity, forcing him here to emphasise more progressive policies on tax, investment, and wealth redistribution.

A mixed message and the lack of a clear and convincing direction of travel was the result, leaving Labour mired in the worst of both worlds with the disastrous denoument there for all to see.

Jim Murphy’s leadership of Scottish Labour was an additional factor in its demise. The party had already made the terrible decision to join with the Tories in the Better Together campaign against independence and afterwards desperately needed a leader who could restore a semblance of credibility among thousands of former Labour supporters who had voted Yes in order to break from Westminster.

That leader was not Jim Murphy, who at once embarked on a woeful rebranding of Scottish Labour as Scottish first and Labour second, completely or conveniently misreading the support for independence as a resurgence of Scottish nationalism as an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

This is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in. He is real Labour in the 21st century, leading a movement committed to shifting the priority of the party and a future Labour government away from the rich, big business, and the City of London over to the needs of ordinary working people, those who’ve been forced to pay the price of an economic crisis caused by the greed and excess of the banks and financial sector and not by the spending of the last Labour government on welfare and public services.

Corbyn also calls for the scrapping of Trident, with the billions saved to be spent on investment in manufacturing, housing, and improving public services. In addition he advocates an end to the scourge of poverty pay, foodbanks, and an exploitative private rental housing market. And he stands for a foreign policy underpinned by diplomacy and the universal application of international law rather than might is right.

In so doing he will reverse the trend of separating working people across the UK on the basis of nationality and instead unite them on the basis of class, making a Labour Party led by him the antidote to Scottish independence.

Socialism or barbarism. Too many people and communities across the UK already know what barbarism looks like. Given the growing and unstoppable momentum of Corbyn’s campaign, they are more than ready for a little socialism.

 

 

 

33 comments on “Corbyn is the antidote to Scottish independence

  1. I don’t really disagree with the above. But I do wonder about the parallels being made about the current nature and success of the SNP and Labour under a Corbyn leadership. The SNP as a nationalist party, not a party wedded to a particular constituency, was able, is able, to appeal to all parts of the Scottish electorate – to its people, nationalisms are about peoples. Therefore, it’s been unashamedly ‘pro-business’ whilst simultaneously presenting a genuine alternative to Tory style austerity. It therefore combines, if you like, Old and New Labour.

    By contrast, it’s difficult to see – and I am sure most here would welcome this – how Labour under Corbyn could span these contradictions. Put it this way. I can see Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a Scottish trade union conference one week and the Scottish CBI the next. It is difficult to see Jeremy Corbyn doing the same. Once leader he may talk about the importance of stimulating small business, there may be a case for doing so – but Labour under Corbyn would necessarily be seen to be set against big business in a way which isn’t the case with the SNP in Scotland. Or think of this way. It’s impossible to envisage Labour under Corbyn winning the backing of Murdoch’s English based newspapers. The Daily Record backed the SNP in the last election.

  2. Rashida Islam on said:

    The only link for this article is for the homepage. Can you please correct this as I want to share it on social media. Thanks.

  3. We could end up with a left wing Labour leader for Britain, and in Scotland two managerial stooges – Dugdale and Macintosh who are unlikely to lay a glove on the SNP. But agreed a Corbyn victory changes the independence dynamic. In fact some sections of the pro-independence left – Sheridan springs to mind, and his series of rallies in Freedom Square, look thoroughly preposterous. The left of the left in Scotland are now more nationalistic than the nationalists!

  4. Corbyn spoke to a packed out Edinburgh Conference Centre at lunctime today and tonight he just appeared in front of over 1000 in Glasgow.

    He is going down a blinder everywhere. The dam has burst to the point that all the smears and attacks are only increasing support for him. At last we have a candidate who has lit the fuse and given direction to the years of growing alienation, anti politics, anger and sense of disempowerment that followed the defeat of the working class and progressive politics in the 80s. The left has regrouped and how, with socialist ideas given new life, power, and reach by thousands of young people yet to experience defeat and the sectarian in-fighting that follows defeat.

    What happens the day after the election, regardless of the result, is key. I believe Corbyn will win. Then the real struggle begins.

  5. I’m pleased that Corbyn is winning but the idea that ‘the left’ has regrouped is projecting your own wishes onto a complex reality. There are still many thousands of leftists in the SNP, and many more not in any party. Serious thinking is required about how Corbyn maintains power after a victory, assuming he wins. And he has not won yet!

    From a Scottish perspective, it’s interesting how neither of the candidates for Scottish leader have caught the public’s imagination. Dugdale, should have supported Corbyn, and positioned herself as a genuine left threat to the SNP, but she has missed a trick on this one.

  6. In the New Labour rag ‘The Guardian’ today more anti-Corbyn sniping, including the gobsmackingly hilarious assertion from certain individuals in Scottish Labour that he’s unelectable! Perhaps they slept through May, have just woken up and no-one’s told them how successful they were under Murphy.

    Not specifically related to Scotland but in the same paper Steve Coogan makes snide references to Corbyn being a bearded comrade in a piece supporting Burnham, who apparently has a radical left vision. Presumably this vision includes not defending people claiming benefits when it comes to voting in Parliament, sucking up to business and stating that his first act as Labour leader will be to visit Tel Aviv. Wow, that’s radical leftism! Or perhaps I have Mr Coogan wrong and his article was written with Armando Iannucci as a parody of drivel churned out by a celebrity prat.

  7. #7 To be honest, I can’t see Jeremy Corbyn getting the support of either Alan Partridge or Paul Calf.

    And I find it difficult to imagine Coogan as anything other than one of his characters, and therefore to take him very seriously.

    As for Armando Iannucci, I can’t imagine JC as a character in The Thick of it. Which is probably a reflection on why he’s so popular.

  8. Vanya: I can’t imagine JC as a character in The Thick of it. Which is probably a reflection on why he’s so popular.

    That is precisely why JC is so popular. It’s something the other candidates and their supporters simply don’t get.

  9. jim mclean on said:

    Kezia Dugdale has been elected Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and Alex Rowley has been elected as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
    The results were as follows:
    Leader
    Kezia Dugdale – 72.1% of the total vote
    Ken Macintosh – 27.9% of the total vote
    Deputy Leader
    Round 1
    Richard Baker – 30.4% of the total vote
    Gordon Matheson – 32.2% of the total vote
    Alex Rowley – 37.4% of the total vote
    Richard Baker was eliminated having received the least number of votes.
    Round 2 after transferrals
    Gordon Matheson – 44.5% of the total vote
    Alex Rowley – 55.5% of the total vote
    – See more at: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/blog/entry/leadership-results-2015#sthash.UipPtILd.dpuf

  10. Karl Stewart on said:

    So, just watched Gordon Brown walking backwards and forwards for an hour while delivering a lecture on the history of the Labour Party – (will this ‘rambling’ style catch on?)

  11. Kezia Dugdale is a gift to the SNP. She has disaster written all over her. Dugdale’s campaign for Labour leadership has gone virtually unnoticed. She should have aligned herself with Corbyn, creating the space to attack the SNP from the left. But she has dithered and just does not look like a credible figure.

    If Scottish Labour is to be revived there will need to be a wipe out of most of the parliamentary party in Scotland. Most are unreconstructed Blairites. Last year Scottish Labour put forward a left candidate – Neil Findlay, but he was as dull as dishwater and failed to capture the public’s imagination. It’s interesting how Corby standing on a similar set of policies has re-galvanised the Labour left. But there is a national dymanic at play here. Corbynism has become for the English left, what Scottish independence has become for the Scottish left – a cause to believe in.

    I hope he wins.

  12. jim mclean on said:

    Frank,

    Keza Dugdale is superb at Holyrood and she earned her place as leader, free of SLAB’s tribalism, from a non Labour WC background, she can rejuvanate the Party as she has no baggage. The fact that her 1st statement as leader is that Scottish Labour will not rule out an open and democratic debate in relation to Trident looks good. Trident, rejected at the SLAB conference, in October, would be brilliant. If Labour as a whole reject Trident, superb.

  13. jim mclean on said:

    Frank: what Scottish independence has become for the Scottish left – a cause to believe in.

    Independence from what? NATO, no, EC, no, TTIP, no, Left Nationalism is irrelevant as it is dealing with irrelevances.

  14. As I understand it, Brown delivered his speech and then left refusing to answer any questions. Such behaviour would not be surprising but it needs to be understood as profoundly undemocratic.

    By contrast, in 2008 Robert Gates gave a speech at the Pentagon and said he would take some questions afterwards. The first question concerned the nuclear test ban treaty. He gave qualified and cautious support for U S ratification which set him apart from the official position of the Bush administration.

    On the subject of nuclear weapons, Andy Burnham has made it clear that he opposes their elimination.

    When it was pointed out to Mr Burnham that only nine countries out of around 200 had nuclear weapons, Mr Burnham replied:

    “Their history is different, isn’t it? In respect of their involvement in conflicts past and our membership of the security council gives us a leadership position on these matters.”

  15. jim mclean,

    I’m not sure I understand your point. Any cause – socialism, national independence, are littered with a thousand problematics. The point is that they galvanise populations, and become a material force in and of themselves. Understanding this dynamic is key to Labour’s success, not wishing it away, or explaining it as irrelevant because it does not conform to some pre-ordained script.

  16. Karl Stewart on said:

    Tony,
    The nuclear disarmament issue and the more general subject of military defence are going to be major debating points in the next election and the period leading up to it.

    I’d like to hear more of a focus on the need for us to leave NATO and winning the argument for withdrawal, as it is only by doing this that we can then decide independently on our future military defence needs.

    I think one thing that has made unilateral nuclear disarmament very difficult to argue for was squaring this with continued NATO membership.

    The counter-arguments that this would mean us ‘benefitting’ from NATO’s nuclear protection while not contributing to it, or that we would be taking a ‘selfish’ position within a ‘collective military defence’ organisation are strong ones, as evidenced by the experiences of the SNP last year and Labour in both 1983 and 1987.

    But by withdrawing from NATO, we can then put forward a solid and convincing case for adapting the UK’s military orientation purely for the defence of the UK.

  17. BigTam on said:

    #14 – Jim, the zeal of your late conversion is impressive, but not convincing. Kezia Dugdale is the epitome of ScotLab tribalism, as filtered through New Labour elitism. Her only life experience outwith University and student politics is as bag-carrier, bottle-washer and SPAD to Baron (!) George Foulkes during the time that he topped up his pension with a stint at Holyrood. Having succeeded to his list seat, she was then hand-picked by Jim Murphy as a pliable deputy. If you’re enthralled by her clockwork performances in the Scottish Parliament, I guess you could have a riveting debate with a speak-your-weight machine.

    Of greater interest than the statistics you gave for the Scottish Labour leadership election are those you omitted. Labour now claims 21,000 members in Scotland, 3,000 of these joining since the General Election. Of these, Dugdale won 5,217 in a 35% turnout – an average of about 89 per Scottish constituency. There are words to describe getting a quarter of the available electorate on a one-third turnout, but “rejuvenation” ain’t one of them.

    Whatever effects Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has had in Scotland, it’s not been reflected in the rise in Labour membership – across the UK some 200%; in Scotland only 17% to a figure still below the SNP’s prior to its quadruple expansion post-referendum.

    A Corbyn victory will bring many good things for the left in Scotland, his promised unification of the anti-Tory resistance being only the most obvious. A move to reject Trident would be another. But both would be positive responses to challenges already set by the SNP, and Kezia Dugdale will be no willing or reliable ally in either.

  18. jim mclean on said:

    BigTam: Jim, the zeal of your late conversion is impressive, but not convincing.

    Was reading the Herald report at the time, plus I’m not too used to people taking me seriously, the truth is she sees which way the wind is blowing and does not want to be left behind. I’m such a cynic at times but it pays too watch which people are jumping and which way they jump. Nothing will convert me to nationalism, just cannot equate with it. The slow trickle of BAME’s away from the SNP due to being made to feel ill at ease, to be polite, shows what is at the core. The de-selection of English SNP MSP
    Nigel Don is just another nod in that direction perhaps.
    Je Suis Ian Smart

  19. Jim, in all honesty, whether Kezia sees the wind changing or not is irrelevant. She is unlikely to lay a glove on Sturgeon or the SNP and is probably unlikely to last as leader after 2016.

    A Corbyn victory, whilst welcome, will not resolve Labour’s problems in Scotland. Most of their MSPs are Blairites, whilst their councillor/branch base is moribund. After almost two decades of Blairism, the idea that Scottish Labour can be turned into a grassroots movement, alighting 1970s style class politics, is mere wishful thinking I’m afraid.

  20. #22 What’s so different about Labour in England?

    Look at the vote on the Welfare and Work Bill.- only 48 Labour MPs voted against, some of whom are not Corbyn supporters.

    Look at the lack of any resistance to cuts or even the failure to do anything about the bedroom tax (which Labour in Holyrood allied with the SNP effectively to abolish using DHP).

    I think you can safely say just as easily, “Most of their MPs are Blairites, whilst their councillor/branch base is moribund. After almost two decades of Blairism…”

    If that was the yardstick, Corbyn would never have bothered standing at all.

  21. Vanya,
    The difference in Scotland is the referendum which has transformed Scottish politics from top to bottom. Even Scottish ‘unionists’ a term I dislike, are beginning to filter politics through the prism of the Scottish context.

    If Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour leadership – and I hope he does – Labour will nonetheless go into civil war with the Blairites undermining him at every opportunity. Given that context, I think the SNP’s hegemony will continue.

  22. John,

    As a Weegie and a natural Labour supporter (working class, left-wing, TU member, etc), born in 1984, who has never voted Labour: I’d support a Corbyn-led, left-wing Labour Party all the way. I’d vote for it, join it, and contribute my time, money, and effort to it.

    Now that’s not what Cooper, Kendall, Dugdale, Blair, Brown, Campbell, etc, etc, want.

    The questions are: what is the Labour Party? Who does it represent? What is it’s purpose?

    The right-wing can vote Tory or UKIP. The Labour Party should represent the left and the interests of the working class. If it doesn’t do that, it has literally no reason to exist.

  23. A genuinely left-wing Labour Party that has the guts to actually oppose the Tories (rather than supporting or abstaining, for whatever reason) pretty much negates the case for Scottish independence, unless you’re a hardcore Scottish nationalist who supports independence for it’s own sake.

  24. “So it is past time that Labour apologised to the British people for taking them into the Iraq War on the basis of deception, and to the Iraqi people for the suffering we have helped cause. Under our Labour, we will make this apology.

     “We also need to think of our members – those who left, or drifted away; and those who stayed but felt let down.“Let us say we will never again unnecessarily put our troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear tuhhat Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law.”

  25. Karl Stewart on said:

    This morning’s Daily Mail reports that Prime Minister David Cameron has now intervened in Labour’s leadership contest, attacking Corbyn for his policy of withdrawal from NATO.

    So I guess the other three candidates are acceptable to Cameron? What an endorsement!

  26. UncleAlbert on said:

    A major concern must be the purge of Corbyn voters now taking place.

    Kate Hoey reports that former Labour Leader of Lambeth Council Joan Twelves, who opposed the Poll Tax and Gulf war, has been vetted and is now unable to vote in the leadership election. Twelves campaigned for Labour in the 2012 general election.

    Jason Cobb, writing for Brixton Buzz, declares that he has “been purged by the Progress group that controls Lambeth Labour.”

    Others across the country have reported similar experiences.

    No doubt Labour’s elite will continue with the purge until voting figures add up to the ‘right’ result. And if anyone initiates a legal challenge the elite will use that as an excuse to cancel the leadership election and then rewrite the rules in order to produce a Blairite winner.

  27. BigTam on said:

    #31 – bang on the money, Uncle Albert. The press leaks today indicate Labour insiders intend to purge 25,000-35,000 – enough, they hope to force Corbyn to a second round in which the ABC vote nudges him out. It’s the Westmoreland Doctrine applied to the Labour leadership election – “It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.”. This combines with attempts to provoke a legal challenge in order to derail the ballot. These people come from a decades-long history of stitching up selections and fitting up constituencies – just about Mandelson’s full-time occupation until he managed to install himself as a beneficiary (courtesy of the GMB). They are long since past recognising that they will block an “unelectable” Corbyn by means which will invest a puppet leader with no authority and precipitate the destruction of the Labour Party, What they did in Scotland, they’re now doing UK-wide. One other thought – what will happen to a legal challenge AFTER the rigged result?