Few things are better designed to arouse in me a sense of profound ennui than further accounts of factional squabbling within the far from serried ranks of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). So Kezia Dugdale is gone. So what? What, if anything, does this imply for the pretendy wee party, for Scottish politics, and for what we may choose to generously characterise as a political career.
The most obvious thing to note is that, were they able to organise, there may now be enough BLiS ex-leaders to rank them among the largest of British Labour’s proliferating cliques. Which, sadly, may be sufficient to start rumours of an impending coup attempt.
On a more serious, if no less depressing note, what we can expect is that BLiS will replace Dugdale with someone even better qualified to lead them into into the political wilderness. Anas Sarwar comes immediately to mind. Few people better personify the ugly, bitter, hateful thing that BLiS has become. If not him, then someone who combines all the most reprehensible, and therefore most sought-after, qualities of Dugdale’s predecessors in the post. Vacuous. Disingenuous. Dissembling. Inept. Evasive. Unprincipled. Self-serving. Self-regarding. Self-aggrandising. Consumed with intellect crippling hatred of the SNP. Corrupted by resentment at assumed entitlement unjustly denied. Convinced that the electorate are at fault. The ideal candidate.
So! Pretty much no change as far as BLiS is concerned. Will the ground shake under Scottish politics as Dugdale stomps off? Why would it? What did she ever do? What did she achieve – for her ‘party’ or her country?
To be fair, she wasn’t in a position to achieve much. Being the ‘Scottish Labour Leader’ involves more constraints than capacities. At present, and for some time now, it mostly involves being Ruth Davidson’s sidekick. It means taking cues from the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS). It means letting the Tories set the agenda. It means competing with the other British parties at Holyrood only in terms of who can be the most mindlessly anti-SNP and/or the most rabidly British nationalist.
All of which leaves little scope for ‘personal growth’. But we’ll come to that in a moment. For Scottish politics it will be more of the same. Only the names and faces change. The rhetoric remains the same. The script was written during the first referendum campaign. The British parties in Scotland have never strayed far from, and barely adapted or updated, the ‘smears and fears’ tactics of Project Fear. Whoever is appointed as the new North British office manager for Labour, they will be expected to drop smoothly into a role that is already strictly defined.
The only possibility of something vaguely interesting happening as a result of Dugdale’s resignation would be if Jeremy Corbyn chose to interfere. Sorry! I should say, intervene. He is the REAL party leader, of course. He is perfectly entitled to try and influence who represents HIS party in its former northern fastness.
It’s not clear how much Corbyn cares about what happens in Scotland, beyond basic electoral arithmetic. If awareness and knowledge of Scottish politics is evidence of concern then it’s clear he doesn’t give a toss. But he may be persuaded of the benefits of having a more totally tractable and obedient functionary in place. Not that Kezia was ever much of a nuisance to him. But having one of his own as BLiS leaderette might be useful.
Cue more factional squabbling. And more tedium for those of us who’ve seen it all before. But it’d give the British media a new toy to play with. Trying to light a spark of sensationalism in the damp ashes of an old-fashioned British party political leadership contest might even interrupt the flow of stories disparaging everything that looks, sounds or tastes in the slightest bit Scottish. For such brief but blessed relief, we might all be profoundly thankful.
And what about Kezia Dugdale? What is to become of her? I can’t quite see her doing a Fringe show. Although she’ll doubtless be guaranteed a nice we earner as a regular ‘political commentator’ on BBC Scotland. To the trammelled delight of licence fee payers, as you can surely imagine.
But is there a political role for her? I think there might be. I was recently asked what Kezia Dugdale might do to retrieve her political career. My answer was that,
[S]he should stop taking her cues from Ruth Davidson. She should accept that Davidson has seized the crown and is immovably entrenched as Queen of the Britnats. She should stop being Davidson’s handmaiden and seek a position that distinguishes her from the increasingly rabid British nationalists.
“More specifically, Dugdale should abandon her intractable opposition to a new independence referendum. So long as she holds to this, she looks like nothing more than a pale reflection of Davidson. She sounds like she is just parroting Davidson’s line. It’s not a good look. It’s not something that voters want or need to hear.
Now that really would be an interesting development!Views: 2723
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