What dilemma?

Kevin McKenna could resolve his dilemma by the simple expedient of removing the rose-tinted spectacles when regarding British Labour in Scotland. If, as he seems to imply, his purpose is to assess his options ahead of Thursday’s vote with a measure of rationality sufficient to at least partially compensate for a deep nostalgic attachment to the Labour movement of yesteryear, then he needs to be more honest with himself.

That he is not being honest with himself. or his readers, is evidenced by the fact that he refers to the “Scottish Labour Party”. As most of the rest of us are by now well aware, no such entity exists. There is no “Scottish Labour Party” for him to give his vote to. There is only British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). A wholly owned subsidiary of the UK party led, pending the inevitable knifing by his “colleagues”, by Jeremy Corbyn,

This is not mere semantics. It has huge significance for the kind of reasoned approach that Kevin McKenna is at least putting on a show of essaying. If one is judging the electoral contest on the basis of policy offerings, then it is at least as important to know how credible those offerings are as it is to appreciate the extent to which they fit with one’s personal politics. And the hard truth is that Kezia Dugdale can have no credibility whatever in this regard. Because she has no real authority to formulate policy independently of her bosses in London.

It is utterly pointless to give any weight to the BLiS manifesto, not only because it is padded out with bold promises made in the knowledge that there is no possibility of being required to deliver, but also because any and all of those commitments can be overruled by Dugdales superiors. BLiS can make all the right noises about issues such as Trident and welfare, but when push comes to shove, ALL policy will be determined by the ‘parent party’. A party which, on a less partial and selective few of history than is favoured by Kevin McKenna, has a record for macho military posturing on the world stage and absolute adherence to neoliberal othrodoxy that is hardly distinguishable from that of their Tory allies in the anti-independence campaign.

As if this were not sufficient reason to discount any superficially attractive aspects of the BLiS offering, Dugdale herself undermines the credibility of that offering. Kevin McKenna’s rose-tinted spectacles allow him to see Dugdale’s apparent softening of British Labour’s hard-line unionist stance. But the blinkers of nostalgia seem to have hidden from his view her subsequent back-pedalling on the assurances given to BLiS personages who might prefer the aspirations and ambitions of Scotland’s independence movement to the rigid “Union At Any Cost” philosophy of Brtish nationalism.

Kevin McKenna appears oblivious to the fact that Dugdale has allowed herself to be drawn into fighting the election on the hard-line British nationalist agenda adopted by her Tory chum, Ruth Davidson. He is blind to the fact that Dugdale has matched Davidson’s unyielding unionist rhetoric almost word for word. He seems not to have noticed Dugdale’s uncompromisingly anti-democratic pronouncements on a second independence referendum. He seem not to have heard her tell the people of Scotland that we’ve had all the democracy we’re getting and that’s it.

All of this might not be so bad were it nt for the fact that Kevin McKenna takes care to remove those rose-tinted spectacles when looking at the SNP. But, as is almost invariably the case, the SNP is held to a different standard. To get any credit at all, Nicola Sturgeon’s party – a REAL party – has to achieve the impossible on an impossible time-scale and against impossible odds. On any fair and rational assessment the record of the last two SNP administrations is quite remarkable.

Without going into specifics, the fact that the SNP has managed to prevent serious deterioration during a period of massive economic upheaval and against the background of an increasingly antagonistic British establishment is itself hardly short of miraculous. That they actually managed to make progress in some areas is – or should be – quite astounding. The progress may be small and patchy. But, taking due account of the circumstances, it has been an impressive performance. If a Labour administration had done even a fraction as well, McKenna would have succumbed to fits of ecstasy.

Discounting Kevin McKenna’s reference to RISE as no more than a bit of whimsy, it is difficult to see why he is in such a quandary. Subjecting BLiS and Kezia Dugdale to only adequate scrutiny, they are found seriously deficient. If his priorities are as he indicates – a quietly competent, moderately progressive, unequivocally pro-independence government – and his expectations are realistic, then it is difficult to see why Kevin McKenna would even be considering anything other than #BothVotesSNP.

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