Never the twain…

I have considerable respect for Alyn Smith. Which is why I’m surprised and perturbed to find him apparently taking seriously suggestions of a coalition involving the SNP and Scottish Labour. Something which is definitively unthinkable.

For a start, Scottish Labour isn’t a political party. It is more correctly known as British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). It is no more than the British Labour Party’s operations in Scotland. A regional office labelled so as to dupe people into imagining it to be a real political party with the authority to independently decide policy. And to enter into coalitions with other parties.

It’s all a charade. A deception perpetrated by British Labour and perpetuated by the British media. Because both are part of the British establishment. Both are totally embedded in the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The British parties are a tag team. For all the diverting theatre of Westminster, both (all, if we include the token third party) are ultimately committed to the preservation of the established order.

The British media serves the same established order. It is not a massive oversimplification to say that they are all in it together. Its a closed system. Its not a conspiracy. It’s just the nature of established power.

It is impossible for Scottish Labour to enter into, or even formally discuss, a coalition with the SNP because only the latter has the necessary competence. Comparisons with councils are spurious because politics operates in a markedly different way at the local level; just as it does at the level of the European Parliament. With all due respect to Alyn Smith, he should know this.

I also have some respect for David Martin. But, for all his undoubted qualities, he is a British politician. So it is not surprising to find that he simply doesn’t understand the constitutional issue. If he did, he would know that a coalition between the SNP and Scottish Labour is truly unthinkable – for reasons even more compelling than the fact that the latter isn’t even a real political party.

The constitutional issue in Scotland is a contest between two totally incompatible and irreconcilable concepts. The British concept of parliamentary sovereignty. And the Scottish concept of popular sovereignty.

Parliamentary sovereignty is really just the ancient idea of absolute monarchy – rule by divine right – given a lick of democracy-coloured paint. It holds that the ultimate authority is the Crown in Parliament. Effectively, this means the executive of the British government exercising monarchical powers.

The accretion of power by the executive is an accelerating process which is now approaching the point at which it can no longer be disguised. Or, more ominously, the point at which the ruling elite no longer feels the need to try and conceal it. The point at which established power is explicitly associated with the absolute monarchy of Henry VIII.

Parliamentary sovereignty is the antithesis of popular sovereignty. It is a denial of the principle that ultimate authority is vested in the people. There is an irresolvable conflict between the belief that political power derives from the monarchy by way of the British parliament, and the principle that the people are the only legitimate source of political authority.

British Labour in Scotland stands for parliamentary sovereignty. As a party of the British establishment, it cannot do other than maintain that the people (and particularly the people of Scotland) are subordinate to the British parliament.

The SNP stands for popular sovereignty. As a truly democratic party, it cannot do other than insist that the people must always decide.

There is no common ground here. No compromise. The concepts of parliamentary sovereignty and popular sovereignty are mutually exclusive, in a manner and to a degree that is not adequately described by the term ‘mutually exclusive’. They are anathema to one another.

Which is not to say that there is no possibility of cooperation between the SNP and BLiS on specific matters of policy. But it must be understood that the hate referred to by David Martin is only obliquely connected to the conflicting concepts of political authority described above. It has far more to do with the corrosively bitter resentment felt by British Labour politicians in Scotland – and elsewhere – at being deprived of the status which they regard as their due.

There is no possibility of an SNP/BLiS coalition, for the reasons given. But if others in British Labour can follow David Martin’s lead and get over their irrational, intellect-crippling hatred of the SNP, then their is just a chance of some fruitful cooperation at a time when Scotland needs to stand united.

I don’t hold out much hope. Because, much as I would wish for such unity, I cannot put from my mind the realisation that what we are being called upon to unite in defence of is a democratic principle which British Labour rejects. And what we must stand against is a British state of which British Labour is a part.

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11 thoughts on “Never the twain…

  1. bringiton

    “parliamentary sovereignty” is now a historical concept at Westminster.
    What we now have is The Queen of England and her politburo exercising absolute power over people.
    All that is now required is for an annual conference where delegates turn up to rubber stamp everything already decided by the executive.
    The idiots in the Westminster parliament voted for this situation believing that they will be allowed to hold the politburo to account at some future date.
    Dream on!

  2. Hugh Wallace

    I fear that too many politicians, even the decent ones like Alyn Smith, are too deeply embedded within the political bubble that they can’t see the ramifications of what they do. It partly comes of acting with the best of intentions, being incredibly busy doing stuff (so that they never get time to ponder & question their actions & those of their colleagues) & a belief in the rightness of their cause. It is the tendency of power to corrupt & losing sight of the bigger picture is the first corruption.

    It is also perfectly normal & typical of human behaviour but it is why we need checks & balances such as the democratic process that requires politicians to be reelected periodically. But it also requires an enquiring media who continually bursts the political bubble and we all know how well that is working here in Scotland at the moment…

  3. Proud Cybernat

    All challenges to the established authority will be quashed. They do this by buying potential challengers (DUP) or stealing their clothes (UKIP).

    The BritNats are beginning to realise that the SNP cannot be bought, nor can they steal their clothes. A coalition with BLiS would be like inviting a parasite into your body that may totally overwhelm you.

    They really must think the SNP is like SLabour – being led by a bunch of dafties.

  4. Jason Smoothpiece

    There are I’m sure decent sensible people in the a British Nationalist Labour party in Scotland.

    Many have been members for many years and must mourn what has become of a once great movement.

    As many have said I did not leave the Labour party it left me.

    Partnership with the now disgraceful Scottish Labour cannot be an option.

    We can and should welcome those decent sensible folk from Scottish Labour to our side where many really know they truly belong.

  5. Robert Graham

    A unstoppable force meeting an immovable object ,

    Wholeheartedly agree with Peter Bells summation of this ridiculous concept , doomed to failure from the very start

    Nicola Sturgeon offered Ed the pillock the Olive branch in order to help him , not the SNP so much , As stated both main parties in england are and always will put the union first .

    The tag team comment was priceless , exactly whats going on, The Good Cop Bad Cop pantomime has so far fooled a lot of people , study the voting record of labour at westminster since the tory party gained power, working in unison just as they do in a lot of councils .
    So Tag Team fits exactly .

  6. Pogo

    I think it is more that moderate labour types in Scotland are more open minded to Indy then the hard liners.

    It is more about them trying to redefine themselves than the SNP.

    The SNP don’t need to do any deals with Labour. I don’t use the Scottish part, they are labour …..

    SNP need to focus on talking up independence, calling out the unionist lies and shouting about the good governance they have overall delivered…. they have no friends other than the Greens.

  7. manandboy

    Labour is Unionist to its core.

    Oh sure, Labour in Scotland might embrace the SNP, but only to then stab it in the back.

    Tory&Labour – together they form our colonial masters, and are bound together in their resolve to destroy the Scottish Independence movement.

    And yet it will be forever true that you can fool some of the people all of the time.

    In Scotland, since 2014, we know that better than most.

  8. Clapper57

    Of course in recent years coalitions have proved so so so very successful………….well at least for one party !

    Sorry but IMHO now is not the time, in fact at NO time would it be acceptable to even consider any type of coalition with a British Nationalist party such as Labour.

    Mr Smith’s sentiments may be sincere but I fear his faith is misplaced .

    Have we not learned the lesson from previous coalition outcomes where there can only be one ‘winner’ who takes all the kudos and resulting political gains……and we know who the media will crown as the winner and driving force in this coalition…….sorry but we voted remain in Scotland….and it is very much thanks to Labour and their efforts in 2014 that we find ourselves in this position , so on that basis why on earth would anyone in the SNP even consider this !

    This so called coalition will not progress Independence or guarantee our place in the EU as an independent state……..in fact I foresee it as being a coalition that will be riddled with compromises….and we all know what the biggest compromise will be and who will be expected to concede………and no it won’t be the Red Tories……….. for sure.

  9. ScotsCanuck

    …. enjoyed reading your article and it is “right on the money”.

    The Scottish sub-division of the British Labour Party have been shown time and again to have no authority to make policy without London HQ approval …. so why on earth would the SNP even consider attempting such a venture ?

    I totally agree with your analysis of the Sovereignty of Westminster (an English concept originating pre-Union) V’s the Ancient Scottish concept of Sovereignty of the People, which could be arguably traced back to the Declaration of Arbroath 1320.

    As you say, the key players in the Labour (including the Scottish satellite) will always pledge allegiance to Westminster & the Union, any threat to the Established order will be suppressed by any and all means possible, be they fair or foul.

    Taken in that context the SNP should in no shape, manner or form have any formal pact with Labour at a UK or Branch office level.
    I concur with you that if there is common ground or purpose where it is in the Common good for the SNP and Labour (in Scotland) to act in unison, then so be it because the People are the ones to be served.

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