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.Views: 4093
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