It’s been one of those weeks. I’ve not been very well, but am slowly getting better thanks to some nasty medicine. This is more than can be said for the ailing Labour party in Scotland, which on top of its deeply unattractive warts and acne, its sclerosis and its mange, is now showing all the symptoms of dysentry. That must be that Murphy bounce they keep telling us about then. Labour are just nasty, and no medicine can cure them.
A new opinion poll places the SNP on a whopping 52% for voting intention in the Westminster General election, a figure which would see the party walk off with all but four of Labour’s seats in Scotland. The SNP would even take Mr Hi Jumpy’s seat too, leaving the Scottish branch manager without an elected position and therefore, according to Labour’s rulebook, he’d have to resign as Keezha’s boss. But then Labour’s rulebook exists mainly for the benefit of Labour’s leadership, so doubtless a fudge would be found. Or if not a fudge then at least some tablet or a teacake, as Jim’s so very very keen to establish his Scottish creds.
Jim was most recently seen on the telly today volunteering for a foodbank and hoping that no one would notice that it was policies he supported when in government that brought about the need for foodbanks to begin with. Jim Murphy helped to destroy the ability of thousands of folk to earn a living wage, but now he’s helping to deliver a tin of beans on the telly. So that makes up for everything.
But the main news on Thursday was the sooper dooper tin of beans given to Scotland, on loan mind, by the Smith Commission. It’s a lovely tin of beans, not as big a tin as the one we thought we were getting of course, but then Scottish people can’t really be trusted with bean governing. We might not consume them after all, leading to copious amounts of Westminster gas, we might plant them and they could turn out to be magic beans which grow into a mighty bean plant leading to a magical land. Before you know it the sound of Fi Fie Foe Fum I smell the blood of Davie Cameron would be ringing out across the country. This is not a risk Westminster is prepared to take.
The Unionist parties have played a blinder in the Smith Commission, in the sense that they can’t see where they’re going and they don’t know where they’ve been. It started with a vow to deliver the homiest ruliest devoest maxiest the world had ever seen. Scotland was going to get the most powerful devolved parliament in the history of devolved parliaments – although it still wouldn’t have control of broadcasting, oil revenues, or most taxes and would have fewer powers than the Faroe Islands – population 49,000.
The bean pile was further reduced during negotiations, as Labour, Tory and Lib Dem bean counters on the phone to their London headquarters vied to remove a mung here and a haricot there. Labour didn’t want Scotland to have control over abortion laws or the minimum wage. The Tories didn’t want Scotland have control of anything much really, and the Lib Dems were just pleased that they got a ride in a ministerial motor.
Now the official bill has been put before Westminster, and a few more flageolets and favas have been removed from the pile. Scotland isn’t going to get control of welfare powers after all. The Scottish Secretary is to get a veto, the Scottish Parliament can only take action on benefits policies after due “consultations” with the Scottish Secretary of State. This is a bit like a teenager being told that they can decide for themselves when they go to bed, but only after asking permission to stay up late from their mammy.
Anyway, if you’ve got a masochistic streak greater than that found in someone who gets his jollies from nailing his scrotum to a plank with rusty nails, you can read the entire document here. It consists of 134 pages of managementwankspeak which promise vague nothingness, and which will in any case be further diluted in interminable committee meetings in Westminster. By the time an Act passes its final reading, Scotland will be left with control of road signs and precious little else. Its sole purpose is to give the Conservatives an excuse to introduce measures to prevent Scottish MPs from voting on “English only” laws, even though, due to the Barnett Formula, those “English only” laws very often determine the overall level of Scottish funding.
This is why it is vitally important at the next General Election that Scotland’s voters give the Unionist parties a kicking like they’ve never had before – and this essentially means we deprive Labour of their Scottish beans.
Labour counters this by claiming that Scotland needs to vote for them in order to keep out David Cameron, even though we voted Labour last time and got David Cameron anyway. It’s pretty obvious that Scotland voting for Labour doesn’t keep David Cameron out, we have David Cameron as Prime Minister to provide the evidence for that. Scotland voting SNP or Green increases the number of Tory seats in Westminster by precisely zero. David Cameron might think it’s in his interests to destroy Labour in Scotland – but Labour’s doing a perfectly grand job of destroying itself in Scotland all by itself.
But it’s only by returning a majority of pro-Scotland MPs to Westminster in May that Scotland can ensure that our interests will be represented. Labour MPs put party interest first. It means that whatever machinations and manoeuvrings Westminster indulges in over Scottish devolution – and it’s a given that they will – will not enjoy the support of a majority of Scotland’s MPs and will lack a democratic mandate in Scotland. It means that Scottish MPs have a real chance of holding the balance of power and then we can ensure that the Unionists really do deliver on their promises to bring in Home Rule. And remember – home rule means at a very minimum that you get to control the TV remote control or it means nothing at all.
Vote Labour, vote to be powerless, vote for a diminishing pile of beans.