This is another one of those newspaper stories where the headline is totally contradicted by the content. It is only the judicious use of the single quote punctuation that prevents the headline being an outright lie. Read on and it soon becomes clear that few take seriously the notion that Jeremy Corbyn can breathe life into the twitching remains of British Labour’s operation in Scotland.
The London-centric media perspective fails to convey the reality of Scottish politics. From that perspective, there is only British politics. And British politics is pretty much entirely about the faux rivalry of the two main British establishment parties – British Labour and the British Tories. But this divide is barely relevant in Scotland any more. Scottish politics ceased to be split along Labour/Tory lines some time ago. The Better Together/Project Fear alliance of British parties during the first independence referendum campaign pretty much eradicated any meaningful distinction between them.
If there was any remaining doubt that the old politics was dead than this was dispelled by the fact that the last Holyrood election featured an unedifying battle of the hard-line unionists as British Labour in Scotland and “Ruth Davidson Don’t Mention The Conservatives” vied for the affections of British nationalist fanatics.
The principal political divide in Scottish politics is now between pro-independence progressives (SNP, Greens) and anti-independence reactionaries (British Labour, British Conservatives) – with the latter in terminal decline.
Jeremy Corbyn probably isn’t aware of any of this. He is almost certainly not equipped to understand it. He sees Scottish politics through the two distorting lenses of the British media and the few people in the British Labour branch office in Scotland who speak to him. Neither is able or willing to give him an accurate picture. Which is why he embarrasses himself every time he ventures northward out of his metropolitan fastness, or dabbles in Scottish politics from the supportive confines of Westminster.
British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) is driven entirely by bitter resentment of the SNP. That, and only that, informs everything the pretendy wee party does. Their take on Scottish politics is that the voters are wrong. They must be wrong. Because they’re not voting for BLiS. Worse! They’re not voting for the British Tories instead! Voters’ behaviour is aberrant. It is only a matter of time before they come to their senses. And the British media echoes this perspective. The first prediction that the SNP’s “honeymoon period” was coming to an end appeared in the media about a week after the party came to power in 2007. Such doleful prognostications have been a regular feature throughout the intervening years as press and broadcasters regurgitate the increasingly desperate wishful thinking communicated by BLiS’s spin-quacks.
This is compounded by the delusional utterances of various figures in what they like to call “Scottish Labour” as they frantically try to generate some pro-Corbyn enthusiasm in Scotland by spuriously comparing his campaign with the still vibrant Yes movement. They utterly fail to see that, where Corbyn’s appeal in England is based on the (probably forlorn) hope that he can take British Labour back to the principles so egregiously abandoned by the Blairites, in Scotland he is only popular to the extent that he is mistakenly thought to be challenging an increasingly despised British establishment. Mistakenly because, of course, he is working within a party which is part of the British establishment.
Get past the delusions of BLiS and the lazily prejudiced misconceptions of the media and it is plain to see that the idea of Corbyn rebuilding British Labour in Scotland is ridiculous. It is ridiculous because the idea of BLiS being rebuilt is ridiculous. It is quite fantastical to imagine that BLiS can ever again be a significant force in Scottish politics. There is no niche for it. The ground to the left is unyieldingly held by the SNP and the Greens. Ruth Davidson has, with uncharacteristic political astuteness, cornered the market on jingoistic British nationalism, stealing enough BLiS voters in the process to push Dugdale’s hapless tribe into third place. There’s just nowhere for BLiS to go.
Which is why the ‘party’ that Jeremy Corbyn hopes to ‘rebuild’ is beyond redemption. It is totally moribund. Lacking either the talent or the scope to develop a distinctive identity and policy platform, BLiS has retreated into its pathologically offended sense of entitlement, an intellect-crippling hatred of the SNP, and ill-concealed contempt for the people whose favour they seek. People won’t vote for them because, other than residual unthinking loyalty, there is no reason to vote for them.Views: 1964
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