Only one way to win

I may have been wrong.

We’ll take a short pause here while those so inclined get the sarcastic comments off their chests.

Better now? Shall we proceed?

I have always maintained that, at UK level, the British Conservatives tend to beat their British Labour rivals for a very simple reason. It has nothing whatever to do with the Tories’ entirely mythical economic competence. It’s because the Tories get stronger under stress. Where British Labour is fragile even at the best of times – like now! – nothing unites and inspires the Tories like adversity. The greater the adversity, the more their support pulls together. British Labour is in a constant state of impending disintegration under the pressure of self-destructive factionalism.

There are always internal power struggles within political parties. It’s only a question of how damaging these power struggles are allowed to be. The people with the real power in the Conservative Party – people you will never see nor ever hear mentioned by name – don’t allow the internal politics to get out of hand. If it ever gets to the point where it looks like jeopardising the party’s grip on real political power, somebody gets quietly and coldly stabbed in the back.

Similar tensions exist within British Labour. But they don’t deal with them nearly so effectively. They can easily get out of control. This is largely due to the customary internal power struggles being exacerbated by the existence factions so utterly persuaded of their righteousness that they will gladly sacrifice electoral success, and more besides, in the name of ideological purity.

The Tories have only one overriding ideological imperative and that is power. When push comes to shove, the entire party coalesces around that core aim. The Tories will not allow a party leader to jeopardise their grip on power. To the extent that British Labour coalesces at all it tends to be around a leader, with the consequence that unity crucially depends on that leader rather than on some ‘higher purpose’.

Until recently, I’ve been convinced that the Tories would win the election because, whatever circumstances arose, ultimately they would be able to call on resources massive enough to overcome. Whether by manipulating public perceptions of their own record and proposals or by setting the hounds of spin on their opponents, they would win.

While there is still time for this to happen, and we should not be at all surprised to see some very dramatic developments over the next few days, it now seems possible that Theresa May is just so appallingly dire that even the colossal propaganda machinery available to the Tories might not be enough. The Tories could actually lose this election.

Not that I think they will lose power. Even if Jeremy Corbyn were to become the new British Prime Minister he will not be permitted to govern. The machine that was ineffective in compensating for the crushing awfulness of Theresa May will immediately be turned against Corbyn. That machine knows exactly where to place the wedges that will open the splits in British Labour. It has the capacity to drive those wedges home. British Labour has no defence against this onslaught. Corbyn will be forced into one compromise after another. Each compromise will be sold to the public as an embarrassing climb-down, and to those factions within the party as a betrayal. Corbyn’s enemies will not subordinate their hatred of the man to the demands of effective political power. They will be just another component in the machine set upon bringing him down.

Should he actually win, I give Corbyn two years at most. Probably less. All the apparatus that was geared to portraying the inevitable disaster of Brexit as a triumph for the Tories will be diverted to presenting the whole process as the shambles it was always going to be – and putting the blame firmly on Corbyn’s shoulders. He will be destroyed.

For the rest of us, nothing much will change. Little, if any, of British Labour’s ‘radical’ manifesto will be implemented. It will all be dropped or watered down. We will continue to live with the unrelieved grimness of an austerity agenda which, we will belatedly discover, is not a Conservative Party agenda, but a British state agenda.

And that is the nub of it. The Tories are the ‘natural’ party of government in the UK because the British state is a Tory state. A temporary switch between the two main British parties won’t change anything. It won’t alter the fundamental nature of the British state. The Tories didn’t turn the UK into the intolerant, repressive, elitist entity that we have seen emerge over the last couple of years. The Tories are merely reflecting the British state as it really is.

Meaningful progressive change, however that may be defined, cannot happen until the British state is broken. And the British state will not be broken by voting for a British Labour Party which, regardless of occasionally throwing up a fairly convincing leader, is nonetheless firmly embedded in the British establishment. However superficially appealing Jeremy Corbyn may be, and however alluring his siren promises of reform, he really is no more than a marketing device for a party which is embedded in and dependent upon and beholden to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

I’ve never subscribed to the ‘Red Tory’ epithet commonly applied to British Labour. They are not the same as the Tories. But they are part of a the same system. a system that will ultimately assert itself regardless of which party currently enjoys the trappings of power.

Scotland has a way out of this system. We don’t have to be part of this British state. We have the means to follow our own path. It’s possible that I could be wrong about the Tories winning this election. But I’m certainly not wrong about the fact that a British Labour win will change nothing. So long as Scotland is part of the British state the change we hope for cannot happen.

So long as we are part of the British state, Scotland can only be adequately represented by people who acknowledge the true nature of that state. Whatever the outcome of the unedifying contest between British Labour and British Tories, the closest Scotland can get to a win is by putting the full weight of our democratic power behind the SNP.

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11 thoughts on “Only one way to win

  1. billy

    you are right about the british state and the scottish unionist parties know it which is why ruth can say she will not recognize a snp mandate no matter how many seats they or the greens win because the british state will back her up.
    so the question is will the britsh state allow us to have a referendum this time as it was so close the last time?

    1. bringiton

      What they may try to do is hang it out until the next Scottish elections and try to form a government (executive) of “national” unionist unity i.e. a labour/Tory/Limo Chaser alliance at Holyrood.

      1. Peter A Bell Post author

        I think that is almost certainly being discussed. The British parties are already collaborating in this election. The kind of ‘grand alliance’ you describe would seem to be the next stage in a process that started with Better Together/Project Fear. We already have what is effectively a single British Nationalist pseudo-Party. Might as well make it official.

        1. Gerry Coogan

          The Unionist parties should just amalgamate and be done with it because their only policy in Scotland is SNPbad. I suggest they merge and call themselves something like, say, the Democratic Unionist Party.

  2. m boyd

    The British state won’t allow a second indy vote unless they know they will win. They clearly hope the SNP bubble bursts and the make up of the Scottish parliament is more Unionist ipso facto there is no mandate.

    It’s worth remembering the Scots were forced into the Union in 1707 with threats of violence and promises of sinecures and the treachery of the Squadron Volante. Why because the Scottish parliament had threatened to go it’s own way.

    The only choice open to the SNP is to make a UDI. What is the British state going to do send in the army?

    1. Peter A Bell Post author

      The mistake that the British political elite make is to see the rise of the SNP in terms of the British political system. In other words, they see it as being all about the party. They fail to recognise that it is not a case of the SNP dragging voters along on its quest for power, but the people pushing the SNP to the vanguard of their fight for reform.

      The British establishment imagines that if it can kill the SNP, the independence movement will die with it. They are, as you will doubtless recognise, entirely wrong. The Yes movement isn’t going to die. It is now an essential part of Scotland’s politics.

  3. Bill McDermott

    I read two academic pieces from the London School of Economics which puts the Tory party in its proper light. The first talks about the abysmal leadership qualities of Theresa May and the second puts the economic abilities of the historic Tory party in its true perspective.


  4. Big Jock

    The Snp will get back to business after 8th June. We will win the election and we already have a parliamentary mandate for indi ref2.

    What you are seeing now is the last GE Scotland will ever take part in. The Snp are treating it as a distraction hence keeping a low profile.

    Next stage is we take our mandate to the Scottish courts. They will agree with sovereignty of the people. I think May or Corbyn will then back down as they won’t want to upset the legal system.

    It’s just delaying pre election tactics from May. We will have our referendum by March 2019.

  5. alasdairB

    I Share your thoughts on the British state & the establishment which continues their malign influence on this United Kingom .

    Irrespective of the elected government the British state comprisies monarchy & their acolytes, the Unelected House of Lords, the Church of England, civil service , private education & the bastions of Oxford & Cambride, exclusive private member only clubs, the city, big business & the Annual Lord Mayors dinner and of course the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, the CBI & Parliamentary lobbying. Last but not least the biased BBC & the Press which is predominately overseas owned with indisputable power to influence elections depending on the agenda of their mainly overseas owners .These are powerful voices who first and foremost will always look after themselves and in doing so influence government policy and decisions.

    It is interesting the Millions of election funds which have flowed into the Conservatives since the announcement of GE17, some £3,500,000 whereas Labour have received a paltry £330,000

    The election will be bought by the Conservatives thereby delivering the expected win at the ballot box & this charade of Government & sponsors will continue until the next time.
    However their nemeses Corbyn & Labour in England have suddenly discovered their Mojo
    and unexpectedly we have a YouGov poll postulating a hung Parliament.

    Panic in the ranks just as the rogue poll before IndyRef which unleashed the dogs of war on Scotland. This time I fully expect the weekend and next week will elicit a
    Bombardment of outrageous Conservative advertising which will be an updated version of Project Fear with the big hitters of BoJo, Rudd, Fallon, Gove & Davidson, to take to the airwaves in order to spread their specialty of threats, lies, vilification & defamatory remarks on the opposition

    The state & the establishment will stop at nothing in combining to protect their interests and the status quo. Thank goodness we have the SNP protecting & speaking for Scotland or we would becby now a forgotten region of this disjointed and disunited Kingdom ; increasingly run by the few for the benefit of the few

  6. Abulhaq

    Fundamentally our country has an existential problem; namely the relationship with England and Englishness. The term ‘Scotch cringe’ is apposite in describing the condition of socio-cultural insecurity felt when faced with the perceived,but largely fanciful, might of Anglosaxondom. Experts at assertive self-promotion and huxters of the great British myth of exceptionalism ‘the establishment’ has too many Scots by the psychological short and curleys. Everything anent Scotland is lesser. From climate and geography through the complexities of our unique history and linguistic diversity, we were multi-cultural even before the term existed, to the very undemocratic ‘bought and sold’ foundations of the British Union we seem stuck in a cycle of pathetic self-parody of the colonial subject; although too stubborn and proud to actually recognise the syndrome.
    The likes of Davidson and Dugdale are totemic of the condition. As long as there are ‘proud Scots’ happy to diss their country and its people the chains of Unionism will continue to bind us politically and psychologically and developmentally: a nation without hope or a future.
    An old nation in thrall is a sorry and pathetic sight. We need a large mirror to reflect to certain sections of our population just how pathetic an image that is.
    Like the ageing portrait of Dorian Gray the image may well be that of disfigurement and contortion to boot.
    In this case cosmetic surgery is not enough, Doctor, we need total regeneration

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