Ever seen Monty Python’s Life of Brian? It’s a movie classic. In terms of the sheer density of surrealist ridiculousness contained in every scene it’s rivalled only by any video ever released by the Better Together campaign. The only real difference is that Life of Brian is funny on purpose.
The Labour wing of the increasingly fractuous Better Together Except For Thae Basterts I’ll Not Be Seen On The Same Platform With campaign has apparently also spotted the similarity between the doughty struggle to save the Union and the comedy genius of Monty Python. It can be the only explanation for why Wee Dougie Alexander wants Scotland to play the role of the Judean People’s Front Crack Suicide Squad at the end of the fillum.
The Scottish Labour People’s Front Crack Suicide Squad are the ones who turned up at the end of the movie, when Brian was being crucified, yelled “Attack!” and then stabbed themselves. This is pretty much what Labour wants Scots to do in order to demonstrate our solidarity with people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who are also being crucified by Tory governments. At least it’s what Labour calls solidarity.
It’s already been demonstrated that the outcome of Westminster General elections is not greatly affected by how Scotland votes. Even if Scotland doesn’t return a single Tory MP, we cannot protect communities in the rest of the UK from Tory governments. England outweighs the rest of the UK in terms of population by a very considerable margin, the Scottish vote can only make a difference to a Parliamentary majority if the parties achieve very similar numbers of seats in England. That doesn’t happen very often, and when it does happen it tends to produce governments with wafer thin majorities that don’t last the full term.
Labour demands that we make a futile gesture anyway, it’s the noble and self-sacrificing thing to do. Like locking yourself in the garden shed for 27 years in solidarity with Nelson Mandela. Mind you, if Ian Davidson promised to lock himself in his shed for 27 years it could well be a vote winner, sadly it’s not going to happen.
It’s not even as though Labour’s vision has a very positive view of those we’re supposed to be showing solidarity with. It seems Labour wants us to vote no so that Labour supporters in the rest of the UK can say, “The Tories are basterts, but I feel much better about myself knowing that people in Scotland are having a crap time of it too.”
Which means that Labour regards solidarity as something akin to oil revenues, they should only flow from north to south of the Border. True solidarity would see Labour supporters in England welcoming the fact that Scotland has an escape route from the Tory menace, despite it being an escape route they cannot take themselves. Solidarity in this instance would be them saying, “Flee as fast as your hairy wee Caledonian legs can carry you mate.”
And in fact a not insignificant number of them are of this opinion, because unlike the Labour party in Scotland they know what solidarity means.
We are all human beings with the same worries and struggles. What Dundee faces, Liverpool faces. This is a truism. And it also applies to Dublin and a whole lot of other places that aren’t part of the UK. But let’s gloss over the subversive thought that solidarity also applies to non UK passport holders.
Imagine a group of friends trapped in a cave behind a rockfall, one is much smaller and skinnier than the rest. There’s a narrow space between the fallen rocks that’s just big enough for the wee yin to crawl through. There’s not enough room for the bigger ones to follow and the rocks are too massive to shift. They’ll have to go into the depths of the cave in the hope of finding another exit.
Does the wee yin stay in the cave trapped with the rest, or does she make her escape and go and get help?
Labour wants us all to stay in the cave, so no one ever goes for help. That’s not solidarity. That’s stupidity.
It’s also insulting, because Labour tells us that by squeezing out through the rockfall wee skinny Scotland is abandoning her English friends, and will just bugger off to watch telly that can’t receive Dr Who or Strictly instead of suffering the deprivations of Conservative rockfalls. The selfish article.
In fact an independent Scotland will be constructing a politics that isn’t constrained by Westminster’s love affair with American neoliberalism, one that can tackle social inequalities and provide a sustainable future for all. That’s a vision of independence many of us share, one which will allow us to shout, “Haw here’s a Tory free exit over here,” down an open shaft. Then we can help our English, Welsh, and Northern Irish friends towards a way out of their own.
But there’s another Tory related issue that Labour wants us to overlook when we consider our vote in September next year. And it’s this, in order to get those much sought after majorities which will allow Labour to usher in a golden era of government with lashings of solidarity jam, Labour has to adopt policies that appeal to Tory voters.
It’s the simple arithmetic of Westminster. The party which attracts the votes of swing voters in Labour-Conservative marginal seats is the party which forms the government. The only way Labour can do that is by dressing in Tory clothes. So we end up with a Labour party which is, to all practical intents and purposes, identical to the Conservatives. 13 years of Blair and Brown taught us that.
Labour wants Scotland to stay in the cave along with opponents of the Tories in the rest of the UK. It’s not like they have any clear idea of how to get us all out, there’s no Labour plan to guide us anywhere but deeper and deeper into the bowels of austerity. They quite like it down there.
That’s the choice facing Scotland. We can squeeze out through an exit that no one else can use but which might shine enough of a light to let others find their own escape – or we can all give up hope and resign ourselves to gloom forever.
True solidarity delivers hope. That’s why I’ll be voting Yes.