Kezia Dugdale’s proposal for a People’s Constitutional Convention is interesting. But not for the reasons she might have hoped. It is interesting that there is so little enthusiasm for her big new idea even within her own party. This is understandable when one recognises that the idea is neither big nor new. I suspect most of us will struggle to recall exactly how many constitutional talking shops have been convened in the last twenty or thirty years. It would almost certainly be easier to maintain a tally of the positive outcomes from all these discussions . Or to keep count of the claims that an ‘enduring settlement’ had at last been found. Each of which tended to be quickly followed by the announcement of another gathering of the great and good to try and patch up the faults and failings in the latest ‘enduring settlement’ – often before it had even been implemented.
It is interesting in that Kezia Dugdale seems to genuinely suppose her ‘convention’ might succeed where all previous attempts have failed. Although she no more provides reasons for believing this than she does an explanation of why it should even be attempted. She doesn’t tell us why she wants to preserve the archaic and anachronistic political union. There are some glittering generalities about ‘solidarity’ and the like. But what is lacking is any attempt to provide a detailed account of the benefits of the union. That ‘positive case’ is as elusive as ever.
It is interesting in that, while even its enemies allow that the extraordinary popularity of the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon is, in a very general sense, down to the fact that they are seen to be standing up for Scottish interests and putting Scotland first, Kezia Dugdale comes out with the ‘big new idea’ of equating the nation of Scotland with the regions of England.
It is interesting because, on consideration, it is evident that this is not an attempt by Dugdale to present herself and British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) as a viable alternative to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in terms of standing up for Scotland. It is, rather, an attempt by Dugdale to position herself and BLiS against Ruth Davidson and the British Conservatives in Scotland as the true defenders of the British state.
Even as she acknowledges that the union is so abominably broken as to require what, for a British nationalist, is drastic surgery, Dugdale’s only message is that she is more mindlessly dedicated to preserving it than her rival for the title ‘Queen of the Britnats’.
Dugdale’s speech is interesting also in that it offers further confirmation that the British parties in Scotland have abandoned any pretence of trying to win over Yes voters – who are, in electoral terms at least, now almost universally committed to the SNP. It also indicates that BLiS no longer hopes for support from even those ‘righteous radicals’ who disdain to compromise their ineffectual idealism by voting for the SNP even at the cost of undermining the independence campaign.
What Kezia Dugdale’s speech tells us is that she and Ruth Davidson are locked in battle over which has the better claim to the hard-line unionist vote. They are fighting over that marginal 10% of the electorate which adheres to the dogma of ‘The Union At Any Cost’ and which represents the difference between second and third place.
And what of the other 90%? Well, you’d have to ask Dugdale and Davidson about that. I’m sure their response would be very interesting.Views: 1971
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