As so often happens, one of Kezia Dugdale’s recent brain-farts has prompted a wee torrent of derision. Specifically, the thing that dropped out of her head during a Sky TV interview with Dermot Murnaghan.
“Scottish Labour is committed to tackling poverty and inequality. You can’t do that with independence.”
Leading pro-independence and anti-idiocy blog, Wings Over Scotland, branded this ‘The stupidest thing ever said’; allowing that there was “stiff competition for that accolade”. (One wonders how frequently Ms Dugdale’s name appears on the long-list.) Stu Campbell posed a couple of very pertinent questions prompted by Kezia’s proclamation. How, he asked, do other countries do it? How do countries that are independent go about addressing the issues of poverty and inequality if, as Kezia Dugdale assures us, independence makes this impossible?
Mr Campbell goes on to wonder why the 309 years of political union with England has so signally failed to do more to tackle these issues. After all, that union has certainly relieved Scotland of the impediment of independence. So how long does Ms Dugdale think it will take before Scotland sees the advantage of having the government we elected overruled by a government we rejected?
It’s easy to mock. The difficulty, betimes, lies in containing the hilarity. But even inanities such as those that spill with such embarrassing frequency from Kezia Dugdale’s addled pate can occasionally tell us something useful about the mindset that begets them.
And here we must say a word in Dugdale’s defence. Or, at least, offer a plea in mitigation. She probably didn’t think this up herself. The inanity was very likely the entire product of an entire day’s work at the British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) spin factory. At least, you’d like to hope it was their whole output. It would be appalling to think they might have the capacity to produce several such gobbets of vacuity in a day. The risk of their stupidity achieving critical mass is just too horrifying to contemplate.
But even if we assume Ms Dugdale was merely mouthing the lines provided by her scriptwriters, she bears responsibility for them. That comes with the position of branch office manager. And nobody had a gun to her head forcing her to parrot this nonsense. There was nothing to prevent her realising the senselessness of what she was being instructed to say and sending the script back with a stern note telling her staff to try harder. Nothing, that is, apart from the very stupidity that I’ve just been trying to excuse. Stupidity born of mindless resentment. Stupidity in the form of what I have termed “constrained thinking”.
Basically, Dugdale and those around her think as far as the first anti-SNP/Scottish Government/independence line that pops into their heads, and then they just stop thinking altogether. It doesn’t have to make sense. It only has to meet that solitary unsophisticated criterion of being some kind of shot at the targets of BLiS’s mindless animosity, and it’ll do. It’s yet another illustration of the contempt in which BLiS holds the Scottish electorate.
But what does this particular instance of constrained thinking tell us, other than that BLiS is intellectually crippled by its towering sense of entitlement and its rancid resentment at being denied the status to which it lays claim almost as if by divine right? There’s an interesting aspect to the statement under discussion that may have eluded those too quick to respond to Dugdale’s inadvertent comedy.
Looking back to the first independence referendum campaign, readers will surely recall that one of British Labour’s favourite lines was the ‘solidarity’ argument. In fact, it was possibly the only argument that wasn’t shared by British Labour’s Tory accomplices in Better Together/Project Fear. The essence of the argument was/is that it would be immoral to ‘deliberately’ seek to improve the lot of the disadvantaged in Scotland if we did not also improve the lot of the disadvantaged in the rest of the UK. (Curiously, this appeal to socialist solidarity appeared to extend no further than the borders of the UK.)
The foolishness of this argument must be apparent to anyone not consumed by the imperative of preserving the British state at any cost to the people of these islands. Socialism is, if it is nothing else, internationalist by its very nature. To insist, as British Labour did/do, that it cannot operate across even a border so porous as that between Scotland and England is to deny a significant part of the very essence of socialism. There are clear echoes of that reprehensible denial in Kezia Dugdale’s dumb declaration that independence is an insurmountable obstacle to tackling social inequity.
But there is more – and worse – to the attitude betrayed by her words. There is a dour defeatism and a facile rationalisation of past failure. Think about it! If, as Dugdale would have us accept, poverty and inequality cannot be tackled by a country wielding all the powers associated with being an independent sovereign nation, then how are they to be tackled at all? Dugdale is effectively telling us to abandon hope of a better society. Or, at least, to postpone that aspiration until such time as an unspecified constitutional arrangement becomes available which is neither independence nor, presumably, the political union which has failed in the endeavour for three centuries.
To illustrate the point about rationalisation of failure, consider British Labour’s position on weapons of mass destruction. That position is that they want to get rid of WMD everywhere, so they won’t settle for getting rid of WMD anywhere. This was another specious argument deployed by BLiS in the first referendum campaign. They wanted to to eliminate Trident, not just move it a few hundred miles south. It is as solid a self-serving argument for inaction and serial failure as any machine politician could wish for.
Kezia Dugdale said a very stupid thing. Very possibly ‘The stupidest thing ever said’. But it was all the more stupid because of what it reveals about the hollowness inside British Labour in Scotland. A dank, cavernous void in which echoes but one increasingly shrill voice endlessly screeching,
“SNP BAD! SNP BAD! SNP BAD! SNP B…!”
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