We can do better

standing_up“Standing up – not standing by”!

The lectern in front of John McDonnell groans under the planet-weight irony of this legend as he announces that British Labour will be “standing up” from a supine orientation. They will be “standing by” in the same sense that a doormat is poised in eager anticipation of the next pair of mucky boots.

McDonnell’s message is simple. British Labour is very clear about its position on the matter of Brexit. (Which is the politician’s way of turning their duty to explain that position into your obligation to figure it out.) Having taken this position British Labour will honour its responsibility to parliament and people by declining to either promote or defend that position. We might call it ‘principled inaction’, but for the difficulty in discerning anything resembling a principle.

Any day now, we can expect Jeremy Corbyn to announce that British Labour will not be contesting any more elections, because that whole democratic process thing is just so ‘divisive’.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the British parties at Holyrood risked dumb duplicity reaching critical mass as they teamed the odious Jackie Baillie with the execrable Murdo Fraser in yet another exhibition of the puerile politicking which has become such an embarrassing feature of proceedings of the Scottish Parliament.

It was another case of the British parties resorting to that mindless oppositionalism which forsakes all principle in favour of a primitive urge to stick it to the hated SNP.

Offered the opportunity to demonstrate Kezia Dugdale’s declared commitment to the EU and support for the Scottish Government’s efforts to protect Scotland’s place in the single market, British Labour in Scotland chose instead to abstain. Because, whatever the social and economic importance of the issue for Scotland, there is no way these craven creatures could bring themselves to vote with the SNP.

I abhor British exceptionalism, and would abhor Scottish exceptionalism even more were I ever to encounter any serious manifestation of it. But I am persuaded that, in a world increasingly given over to ‘post-truth’ politics and jingoistic populism, Scotland has managed to develop a distinctive political culture. A political culture which contrasts vividly with the examples of British politics just described. A political culture which is worth preserving and nurturing. A political culture which is threatened by the corrupting influence of the British state.

Scotland can do better as an independent nation.

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