Not for Scotland

Let’s be clear about what’s behind Kezia Dugdale’s new-found enthusiasm for federalism. Let’s not imagine for one moment that this has anything remotely or vaguely to do with resolving the crashing anomalies and democracy-denying asymmetry of an archaic and dysfunctional political union. Let’s not suppose for one moment that Dugdale is motivated by concern for the good governance of Scotland.

Let’s immediately disabuse ourselves of any notion that Dugdale set out to devise a constitutional arrangement that would better serve the people of Scotland.

Dugdale’s flirtation with federalism is motivated solely by panic as British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) haemorrhages support. It was bad enough when all they had to be concerned about was the disaffection brought about by the New Labour project and growing disenchantment with Jeremy Corbyn. The old line about voting Labour to stop the Tories stopped being effective when people came to the realisation, first that it wasn’t true, and then that it it wouldn’t make any difference even if it was true.

Things got worse as voters, including many of those that BLiS traditionally relied on, started to see the SNP as a viable left-of-centre, progressive alternative.

But the clincher was when Dugdale’s old Better Together/Project Fear ally, Ruth Davidson, started to lure the hard-line unionist vote away from BLiS by successfully presenting herself as the true champion of British nationalism.

Dugdale’s problem is that BLiS is trapped between two great forces. On the one hand, there is the SNP with its massively popular leader; its record of quiet competence in government; its neat balancing of radicalism and pragmatism; its dauntingly effective campaigning machine; and its huge membership, augmented by an enormous grass-roots Yes movement. On the other is the Ruth Davidson Don’t Mention The Tories Party with its established status as a bastion of British nationalism and its access to the resources of a British state desperate to defend its structures of power, privilege and patronage against a tide of democratic dissent risen in Scotland but already lapping at the shores of ‘Little England’.

You can see Dugdale’s problem. She appears to be on the very pointy horns of an irksomely intractable dilemma. And so she would be – but for one thing. Kezia Dugdale is a British politician who has made her career in a British political party. She, and the party she serves, are deeply embedded in the British establishment. They are part of, and entirely dependent upon, the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

For Dugdale, there is no dilemma at all. She will always put the British state first. She will always put the interests of the British ruling elites ahead of the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people. Barring some barely imaginable epiphany, Dugdale will continue to adhere to the dogma of ‘The Union At Any Cost’. It’s just who she is.

The resort to waffling about a “new Act of Union” is Dugdale’s clumsy and inept attempt to fend off the two electoral threats posed by Ruth Davidson’s increasingly shrill appeal to fundamentalist British nationalism and the growing demand for genuine, meaningful constitutional reform. The former by wrapping herself in an even bigger and brighter union flag. The latter by the promise to have yet more talks about yet more of the kind of ill-thought constitutional tinkering by which the British state has sought to justify withholding powers from the Scottish Parliament.

It won’t work. It doesn’t deserve to work. Frankly, Ruth Davidson is much more convincing than Dugdale in the role of ‘Queen of the British Nationalists’. And Nicola Sturgeon is infinitely more convincing as Scotland’s champion. Scottish politics is now a straight fight between the SNP and the Tories – with BLiS reduced to running interference for the latter in the hope of some reward from the British state.

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9 thoughts on “Not for Scotland

  1. David S. Briggs

    The new ‘Act of Union’ is a plan to hamstring any further attempts at Independence should we fail to vote ‘Yes’ yet again. The horse has already bolted clean through the stable door Kezia.

  2. bringiton

    These people like to hide behind the edifice of the British state.
    “Foreigners” refer to the British state as England and not being a resident of that country,so do I.
    Thatcher destroyed the last pretence of Scotland having a say in how the union operates and more importantly exposed who it truly operates for.
    This final debacle of European exit,must surely inform Scots that we have little or no say in terms of what is best for our country and those who continue to support that arrangement,no interest.
    Many will have to return to the day job soon,if they have one.

  3. Cuilean

    The British Labour Party in Scotland is a political irrelevance.

    It is becoming increasingly irrelevant in England too. The two upcoming English MP constituency by-elections will be watched closely to gauge Labour’s slump.

    If the slump is shown to be truly dire, pressure will mount for Labour to split into two left and right wing British Labour parties.

    Scots labour voters will look on England askance and turn more & more to SNP for salvation.

  4. Sandy

    Wings over Scotland held a Twitter poll and decided to keep posting news of the Scottish Labour party as it had comedy value (but little else). With polls at the weekend showing Labour support in Scotland dropping to 10%, maybe its time to just start ignoring their feeble, desperate calls? Who could possibly take anything Kezia Dugdale has to say about the UK or Scottish constitutional arrangements serioulsy?

  5. Dorothy Bruce

    Too late now for federalism. The Labour party should have run with that decades ago and, if they were serious about it, certainly shouldn’t have vetoed much of the Smith proposals or connived with the Tories to vote down amendments to the Scotland Act. Federalism is Dugdale’s fig leaf. It gives her something to bray about and covers her party’s lack of policies and ambition for Scotland.

    Nor is any kind of federalism wanted in England which sees being split into regions as tantamount to attacking and lessening the English identity. That was the case before the Brexit vote and it’s certainly the case now when England drools about being a major force in the world again despite drawing the cloak of isolationism around itself.

    Federalism is a dead duck long past revival.

  6. alasdairB

    Federalism is now, if it ever was, a definite non starter next time round. If the Unionist parties had taken their chance directly after the September 14 vote we could have reached a compromise proposal negotiated and agreed around Federalim. They did not and in its place railroaded the existing far from satisfactory Scotland Act where in effect Holyrood has little more say than a regional authority.

    They’ve had their chance. Scotland is going for Independence . This time we’ll win and thereafter to will have full fiscal control over our, SNHS & social services & care for our disadvantage & needy, a complete overhaul of the State pension system where our senior citizens are valued both monetarily & with respect, personal & corporate taxation, vat receipts, oil & gas receipts & control of fishing & agricultural and our own tailor made inward migration policy. The Unionist parties cannot come close to offering Scotland any settlement which might come remotely close to making Scotland the most devolved Parliament in the world.

    Federalism is dead and buried

  7. Robert Graham

    Good assessment of Kezia’s position in your post , and i believe she couldn’t argue with one word of it if she was truthful , and right there is the nub of it ,Truth , how many times have we listened to her say i listened very carefully to this or that then went on to totally LIE about what was being discussed , she seems to believe we all have short term memory loss , well never again will we fall for your pish dear now go and find a useful occupation where you can’t do any harm .

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