Former Lord Provost of Glasgow Alex Mosson has come out in favour of independence. It’s a bit like the end of the third movie in the first Star Wars trilogy, when Darth Vader comes over all good guy and saves his boy from the evil Empire. By that time the series was already getting a bit creaky, although the actual evil Empire is currently deep into the third of the increasingly dire prequels, but without the expensive special effects budget or Natalie Portman. All we’ve got left is the tortured and unconvincing dialogue and Johann Lamont. Although to be fair, Wullie Rennie does make a convincing comedy alien.
I’m no fan of Alex. Scotland is a small country, even though we’re governed by a parliament stuck long ago in a galaxy far away. We don’t have six degrees of separation it’s more like two. I’m related to Alex Mosson, albeit distantly. We’ve never met, the Mossons not being a close knit clan, and far less cuddly than Ewoks.
Grandee and Alex Mosson are not two concepts I’d normally expect to find in one sentence. I heard all about how far short of grand he fell long before he was ever elected as a cooncillor, and before the Daily Record did its exposé on his criminal past and his former alcohol problem. An exposé which if I recall failed to mention how he climbed the greasy pole of Glasgow Labour politics in the first place. It also missed out some of the things my grandmother told me through severely pursed lips, although she rarely had a good word to say about anyone. Apparently it’s genetic.
I won’t be repeating my grandmother’s gossip here, on account of not wanting to get sued, but Alex Mosson was one of the reasons I turned against the Labour party. He was the embodiment of Labour’s machine politics. He witnessed how those politics turned a party founded by trade unionists and socialists as a vehicle for social reform into a voracious mutant with a sense of entitlement as devastating as that of an absent Highland laird during the Clearances. It sent hope into exile and treated its flock like sheep.
This would be the same Labour party in Scotland whose hierarchy is dead set against independence, not because they have any great affection for the United Kingdom, but because they know that it would spell the end to their style of politics. The endless ping pong between two identical sides who rack up points to be exchanged for peerages and directorships. We’re stuck in a 1970s video game that’s only of interest or benefit to those who are playing it. And even the players don’t love the game, they only love the rewards it gives them.
Alex Mosson isn’t playing the game any more, he’s retired, as is that other Labour grandee who recently came out in favour of a Yes vote, Charles Gray, former chief of Strathclyde Regional Council. Both of them have recognised that Scotland needs a new game.
Strathclyde Region was part of an abortive 1970s experiment in killing nationalism stone dead by giving us a system of local government that was incompatible with devolution, brought to you by those fine minds that gave us the 1979 40% rule and 1997’s twin vote on devolution and tax raising powers. It was abolished in 1996 when it was clear it had been as successful at dispelling nationalism as Ian Davidson has been successful in defending the jobs of Govan shipyard workers.
Alex Mosson used to work in the shipyards. It would be interesting to know what he thinks of his party colleague’s, ahem, intervention, in the controversy over RN orders and the future of the Govan yard. I suspect that his declaration this weekend that he’s voting Yes is not unconnected to Davidson’s machinations.
Now like the rest of us Charles and Alex are viewing the ever decreasing spiral of Labour from a more distant perspective, they can see that the Westminster game’s a bogey. It’s not beneficial to Scotland, and it corrupts any political party that participates in it. The British Parliamentary road to socialism died a long time ago. Now it happily takes part in an anti-independence campaign alongside Cameron, Osborne – and even Nigel Farage – while accepting donations from conservative businessmen like Ian Taylor of Vitol.
Charles Gray and Alex Mosson are not alone. You can be certain that there are many more senior figures within the Labour party who harbour the notion that Scottish independence gives the Labour party its only chance to redeem itself. You only need look at Ian Davidson and Anas Sarwar to see that redemption requires something pretty drastic. The dam has just started to crack open. So much for Labour for Indy being an SNP front organisation. Labour for Indy is the real Labour party, it’s Lamont, Sarwar and the rest of that sorry bunch who are the entryists.
Unionist critics will doubtless leap on Alex’s past as a reason to discredit his conversion to Yes. What they need to remember is that he only got where he is because the Labour party in Glasgow voted for him. He is a creature of politics under the Union. Criticise him for his past, and you criticise the Westminster system of politics which has served him very nicely. That’s a system that he, but not the Unionist critics, sees as being in need of change. Who’s the hypocrite here? For those who are hard of thinking, like Ian Davidson, here’s a wee clue: it’s not Alex Mosson this time.
When even Alex Mosson, yer definitive Labour dinosaur, sees that the writing is on the wall for the Union, the end is in sight. I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised to find myself, for the first time in my life, in total agreement with my dad’s cousin. I didn’t see that one coming. So I’ll give Alex the last word, the words that all Labour supporters who are unsure about independence need to hear:
“This is not a time for party politics. The decision we’ll be making next September is too important for that. People need to realise that this is not about the SNP, Scottish Labour or any other political party.
“This referendum is all about us, the people of Scotland, and our right to self-determination. Once we achieve independence I’m sure people will start to regain their interest and engagement in politics, and that will be a good thing for democracy.”