The Labour party, after the currency union veto which left its credibility as sound as the Zimbabwean dollar, and the devobuggerall which not even their own leadership understands, has now announced a new strategy which is going to save the Union and kill nationalism stone dead. No don’t mock, this time it will, honest. Anas Sarwar said so, and his dad thinks Anas is a first class politician.
The new killer strategy to put the fear of god into the monsters of independence is to summon up the Legends of the Lords. It sounds more like an episode of He-Man Masters of the Universe than a strategy, but Labour’s been trading in cartoon fiction for decades, so it’s really quite appropriate. And Jim Murphy blagged the role of Skeletor years ago. The marketing opportunities are obvious, in its assortment of lordy troughers, Labour has already got a surplus of overpriced plastic inaction figures. You can have your own in return for a part time directorship and a six figure salary.
It’s a sub-Tolkienesque fairy tale, piss poor dialogue complete with goblins, intellectual dwarfs, and George Foulkes doing an impression of Gollum, on a quest to defeat the Wizard of Bute House who wants to slay the gold grubbing trolls of Westminsteron. Sadly, what with austerity and everything, the special effects budget is very limited, but Johann Lamont and Ian Davidson will be in it, so they’re saving a fortune on orc costumes.
They got the lords, or at least people who were given pretendy titles by their pals in the party. The legend in this instance is the legend that Labour’s lords are heavyweight statesmen and women who command respect, as opposed to them being a bunch of pensioned off troughers whose snouts are firmly buried in swill.
Gordie Broon is going to step up to the plate and save the day, which at least means he’d have to do a proper day’s work in Scotland instead of jetting off to give highly paid speeches in conference centres in the Azores where he can insist that he saved the world. I’m sure Gordie stepped up to the plate and saved the day a couple of months ago, and then again a few weeks back, at least if stepping up to the plate and saving the day is defined as giving a speech in front of an invited audience of Labour loyalists and media representatives.
But there’s a lot of other legends too. There’s the legendary rightward trajectory of John Call Me Doctor Reid, the holiday companion of Radovan Karadžić, apologist for the Iraq war, and close ally of Tony Blair, who will put aside his differences with just about every single other person in the Labour party and pretend he’s better together with people he loathes. He was once famously described by Henry McLeish as a “patronising bastard”. He’s got a PhD in pissing people off. John’s a very clever man you see, but not clever enough to realise that people don’t like it when you rub your intelligence in their faces like it was a custard pie. Or not possessed of sufficient empathy to care, which is a lot worse.
There’s Helen Liddell, who was the local MP during the Monklands scandal when Labour was mired in accusations of sectarianism, and who once followed Robert Maxwell into a toilet. She will also happily give up her well remunerated time to condescend a wee bit to the little people. It will be just like presenting Reporting Scotland all over again, complete with the hysterical denunciations of alicsammin. She’s even prepared some photies of some cute furry animals. Oh look a squirrel.
And then there’s the old stalwarts. George Robertson will step up his efforts to persuade his business pals to issue statements against independence while telling Scotland we can’t have independence because we have no culture. George Foulkes will do a wee dance with a polis and claim that independence supporters are being positive on purpose.
Sadly for Anas, big daddy, the emeritus MP for Govan, His Sarwarness himself, won’t be able to make it as he’s too busy fending off Islamic fundies in Punjab who’ve found out he made his money flogging alcohol to Scottish people and are not at all happy he’s their new governor.
South of the border Labour is frantically hoping that voters will forget the dinosaurs of its previous terms in office, just in case the voters remember that Eds Miliband and Balls were up to their neck in it as well.
The architects of New Labour are one of the main reasons we’re having this independence debate in the first place. They were the people whose terms in office finally put rest to any hopes that a vote for Labour was a vote for progressive and social democratic change. Labour gave us privatisation, PFI, ATOS contracts, ruinously expensive attempts to introduce compulsory ID cards, the security state and foreign wars. We got a financial sector that ran amok, and a government that rushed to rescue the banks while insisting the poor had to pay for the sins of the rich.
Anas’s call for a Jurassic revival is Labour’s equivalent of calling all hands to the pumps as their leaky ship hits the rock of devo-ye’re-havin-a-laff. The gilded princes and princesses in first class have to go back to pumping bilge because Labour’s natural support base has deserted them in droves. Anas isn’t for saying why he thinks the disaffected will be enticed back by the very Labour figures who disaffected them in the first place. Which probably means that this latest wheeze has been as carefully thought through as Darling’s currency scare and anything Johann Lamont has ever said in her entire life.
It’s certainly just as desperate, and just as doomed to failure. It’s not a Labour legend, it’s an epitaph.