Let it go

I offer Henry McLeish another quote from RH Tawney,

When men have gone so far as to talk as though their idols have come to life, it is time that someone broke them.

I’m afraid Henry is idolising British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). He asks how BLiS can be saved. He never wonders whether it should be. He envisages BLiS finding a new role in Scotland’s politics by “re-engaging with the constitutional debate in a more positive way”. He doesn’t question whether this is even possible. He talks of federalism as if it were a potential way of resolving the constitutional issue. He fails to see that devolution within an asymmetric political union is the problem, rather than the solution. He doesn’t seem to understand that any devolution measure – including a federal arrangement – which succeeds in terms of the aims and objectives of the British state necessarily fails in terms of the priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people.

Distil down Henry McLeish’s argument and what do you find? The essence of it is that he seeks the salvation “Scottish Labour” within the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. It is only within that system that British Labour ever had any relevance, and Henry appears to suppose that relevance can be regained simply by having the party develop a creed as defined by Tawney. Let’s remind ourselves of that most apt definition of a creed.

A common conception of the ends of political action, and of a means of achieving them, based on a common view of the life proper to human beings, and of the steps required at any moment more nearly to attain it.

Unfortunately for Henry’s ambition, such a creed cannot exist within the British state. It cannot inform those structures of power, privilege and patronage because it is anathema to the established authority which is sustained by those structures. Tawney’s creed would disrupt and destroy the British political system. So it is utterly rejected by those who profit by that system.

And this is not mere speculation. We know for a fact that a creed of the sort described above cannot co-exist with the other elements of the British political system. We know this because we see the British establishment’s reaction to this creed in the way it treats the SNP.

Tawney’s definition of a creed will ring true to any member of the SNP. That “common view of the life proper to human beings” lies at the heart of the party’s philosophy. If you want to see a “common conception of the ends of political action”, just look at an SNP conference. Listen to the speeches and you will hear a passionate discussion of “the steps required at any moment more nearly to attain” that “life proper to human beings”.

And how are those who adhere to this creed treated by the British establishment? They are vilified and demonised. The British establishment’s response to democratically elected representatives of this creed was akin to an organism’s reaction to a virus. The Westminster elite immediately sought to isolate and quarantine SNP MPs as if dealing with an infection. The British state’s immune system was triggered by the 2015 election. Like antibodies, the media attacked the intruders with a vigour and vehemence that naturally elevated the temperature of the body politic.

That is how established power deals with any doctrine which it perceives as a threat. The creed described by Tawney cannot flourish within the British state that Henry McLeish wishes to preserve. Not only is he commending to BLiS something which is already an option for voters in Scotland, he is asking that they adopt a set of principles which are deemed detestable by the British state and treated accordingly.

For all that, there is hope that this creed might thrive in an independent Scotland. We can reasonably suppose that it would because the electoral success of the SNP suggests that, despite the efforts of the British state’s propaganda machine, people are drawn to a principled pragmatism which draws heavily on Tawney’s idea of a political creed.

Maybe it’s time for Henry McLeish to realise that there is no way to “solve a problem like Scottish Labour”. Perhaps he and others should rethink their reverence for BLiS and acknowledge that there simply isn’t a place for it in Scotland’s politics. There is no unoccupied niche in our developing political environment. British Labour is a creature of the dark, shadowy British jungle. It cannot survive in the ‘sunny uplands’ of a political culture that is striving for Tawney’s ideal.

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7 thoughts on “Let it go

  1. bringiton

    Unfortunately for Henry and friends the question for most Scots in the upcoming GE will be Toree or not Toree.
    Labour are irrelevant in Scotland now as a viable alternative to the nasty party and the view of many that Corbyn is unelectable won’t help.
    Will red white and blue persuade Labour voters to support the nasties?

  2. twathater

    In other words Henry is just like the rest of his troughing zombies , shit scared because most Scots are fully awakened to the destruction blis inflicted on our country and people , all in the name of power and self aggrandisement. Independence is coming and blis will be eradicated consigned to the trash

  3. Ian

    Henry’s article in the National read like a backwards step in his ‘journey to yes’. But in the end who cares that much, as he only has one vote like the rest of us. But then again, there are a large number of people out there just like Henry who make me wonder “just what more is it going to take for you to change your mind?”.

    Despite almost uniformly bad news for unionists since 2014, the polls remain surprisingly stubborn. I still trust that this can be fully explained by the fact that ordinary people are simply content to get on with their lives and won’t think that much or deeply about indy until they really have to. Only then will the polls begin to shift decisively.

  4. seanair

    I kept waiting for a wonderful conclusion but nothing happened, something McLeish has been guilty of for many years.
    I presume the National paid him for this meandering contribution, but they were done!
    So was I!

  5. Kangaroo

    Agreed. Blis is just a zombie party, supported by being attached to Blie. There is no prospect of Federalism it is merely a distraction designed to divert Blis supporters from going full indy. The question is what will it take to wake people up?

    I suspect we need to let the tories run wild before they will turn to indy.
    Close down SNHS.
    Charge for CareServices
    Charge for prescriptions
    Charge for doctors appointments
    Charge for University
    Charge etc etc…….

    Will they wake up then?
    Don’t know they remind of the Slaves in Game of Thrones who asked to be returned to slavery after being freed as they had been so accustomed to being downtrodden. Cringe?

  6. Big Jock

    SLAB chose the wrong side in the referendum. There is only room in a small country like Scotland for one ultra unionist party. The Tories were already established as that. So Labour were squeezed out of existence ever since 2014. The ultra yoons have a natural home in the Tory party. With Slabour they get union light or a second rate right wing party.

    That’s why Slabour are all but finished. What’s left will drift to the SNP and some to the Tories. In 2015 the Slabour indi supporters moved across to the SNP. In 2016 the union supporters moved to the Tories. What’s left are the old and hangers on who are just voting Labour mechanically.

    Once they die off there will be no Slabour party at all. Kezia will resign after the 2017 GE. That will cause more factions and what bound them together will no longer be there.

    Sometimes it takes a long time for people to leave an institution , but eventually most people do.

  7. Lochside

    McLeish is a mystery. A tenth rate ‘intellect ‘ shamed from public office and perpetual fence sitter. Paid to waffle non sequiturs about federalism and Blis, and even bigger dogs doo doos about it …and the question is why?

    The man is a paid shill for New Labour and a refugee from the dead hand municipal gang of crooks and timewasters that allowed our country to be raped by Tories. He’s still here getting paid by the likes of the Nationa(why?) to mouth the same old tired crap he was mouthing on about a decade and a half ago. ..a modern dayToom Tabard and just as empty.

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