There’s a bit of a problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that “if we all stand together things can and will change” in that we have stood together and things have changed – and around half the people of Scotland are not at all happy with the way things have changed. The only ones prepared to accept the promises and assurances are those sad party loyalists who would would persevere with British Labour no matter how often or how abysmally the party failed or betrayed them. All my life I’ve been listening to British Labour in Scotland solemnly swearing that its going to be different this time, and it never has.
With the media getting all excited about the polling figures, it would be easy to forget that British Labour is a party held together with spit and spin. All that’s needed for the rot to set in once again is a bit of electoral success. Or some electoral failure. Either way, British Labour’s response is always the same – internecine warfare.
It doesn’t do to oversimplify these things, but if we were to look for a single explanation for the fact that the British Conservatives tend to beat British Labour it would be the former’s ability to come together for the sake of power, compared with the latter’s predilection for falling apart. The Tories have discipline, British Labour has factionalism.
That Tory discipline has yet to come into play. When it does, their present parlous polling will be quickly forgotten. The Tories have he knives, and they know just where to insert them to take full advantage of British Labour’s tendency to self-destruct.
It’s time to resign ourselves to the fact that the British state is a Tory state. That is its natural condition. To whatever extent it may occasionally depart from its essential right wing character, it will always and quickly revert, Jeremy Corbyn will not be permitted to win. And even if he were to win, he would not be permitted to govern. The British state deals with threats to the integrity of its structures of power, privilege and patronage in different ways. Where challenges cannot be crushed, challengers are absorbed.
British Labour’s role in the great British scheme is, not to bring about meaningful change, but to soak up the votes that might otherwise force meaningful change.
What does this mean for Scotland? Where does it leave a nation which, despite rejecting the inherent Toryism of the British state in favour of its own more progressive political culture, is nonetheless locked into this incorrigibly Tory British state by an anachronistic and obviously dysfunctional political union? Surely something has to give. There is a conflict here that cannot be resolved within the confines of a constitutional arrangement which is itself the cause of the conflict.
The British parties actually recognise that this clash of political cultures cannot be resolved. But, being immersed in and utterly dependent on those structures of power, privilege and patronage, they can do no better than attempt to ‘deal with’ the situation in one of two ways. Endless constitutional tinkering intended to give the illusion of genuine reform whilst leaving the structures unchanged. Or an arrogant, bullying insistence that the ‘solution’ is for the people of Scotland to simply stop complaining about the democratic deficit and just accept their nation’s very subordinate status within a Tory British state.
The ‘solidarity’ that Corbyn urges on the people of Scotland is actually surrender. Surrender to a Tory British state increasingly responding to democratic dissent in Scotland with a shrill, angry, intolerant and ultimately anti-democratic British nationalism.
We can do better. We can reject that nasty, narrow, xenophobic British nationalism. We can reject the parties which, whatever the colour of their rosettes, represent the Tory British state. We can and must assert our democratic right of self-determination. We can vote SNP.Views: 4104
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