There’s really no need for anyone to be confused about Labour’s stance on devolution, it’s really quite simple. During the early part of the referendum campaign Labour wasn’t going to offer Scotland any more devolution because it was a simple Yes or No question and Scotland could like what it had or lump it.
During the latter part of the referendum campaign Labour vowed that Scotland was going to get a devo maxy home rule that was just a baw hair short of full frontal federalism. You may have thought this was connected with a narrowing in the opinion polls and panic in the Unionist camp as they thought that Scotland was going for the ‘lump it’ option, but if that was the case your mind was clearly being warped by non-approved sources of information, like facts and things.
Following the referendum and the squeaky bum No vote, Labour tried to remove as many powers as possible from the Vow without collapsing it entirely, or more accurately by trying to ensure that its collapse could be blamed on someone else. The Labour Accounting Unit if Scotland spent their time during the Smith Commission consultation process playing devolution jenga. This wasn’t actually that difficult, as the Vow consisted of highly non-specific promises to begin with. Even so, Labour made sure that Scotland wouldn’t have control of the minimum wage or most benefits. You’ll have had yer devomax then, said Labour smugurphly, and added that these were the very bestest extra powers it was possible to have. And something about pooling and sharing, which was mentioned every couple of minutes as it’s clearly important for Jim Murphy’s expenses claims. That’s a vow fulfilled and we’ll be having no more of that separatist nonsense as it upsets Magrit Curran and Wee Wullie Bain.
Now however the very bestest possible devo maxiest turns out not to be the very bestest or the most maxiest after all, because on Monday Jim Murphy – and some superannuated geezer called Gordie – vowed that if Scotland votes Labour in May we’ll be in for super devo double plus good. It was not explained why this new offer of a super devo gob stopper that we can sook on for years without it ever losing its flavour was presented by a back bench MP who has already announced that he will be stepping down from the Parliament he’s scarcely attended for the past few years. Neither was it explained why we are supposed to be reassured about the worth of this new vow when the self-same ex-politician who promised to supervise the last vow now doesn’t think that the last vow delivers anything like enough. Gordie swore blind the last time that the Smith Commission was going to deliver “near federalism”. So this time presumably Labour is going to deliver “almost right on top of federalism but not quite there yet, we just need to stop off at Celtic Park for some photo ops so Jim can pretend he’s normal”.
But Labour’s attitude to Gordon Brown’s political worth is similar to the attitude of the producers of the Police Academy movies to comedy. They’ll keep dragging the old joke out even though we all stopped laughing years ago. In the next instalment, Vow Academy III, Gordon and Jim will suffer a series of supposedly hilarious misadventures as they try to ensure that the bumbling Captain Miliband is elected to the city council and will save their careers. Which also formed the plot line for Vow Academy I and II.
This new plotline, sorry offer, is entirely unconnected with any opinion polls you may have seen recently which show that more people believe that Elvis is alive and well and working in a chippie in Montrose than believe that Jim Murphy is an effective leader of Labour’s North British Accounting Unit, or AU for short. In a supplementary question about the trustworthiness of party and accounting unit leaders, a large majority of those polled said that if they shook hands with Jim, the first thing they’d do afterwards would be to count their fingers. Or at least the offer is unconnected with the polls in the same way that Magrit Curran opposed fracking. The electorate have taken all this on board, and May’s vote is looking like it’s going to be a weapon of Mag’s destruction.
By a happy coincidence, AU is also the generally accepted abbreviation for Astronomical Unit, the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. This is also a rough measure of the distance Labour has to make up in the opinion polls if it is to have any chance at all of overtaking the SNP and clinging on to its majority of Scotland’s Westminster seats.
The promise of new improved all singing all dancing powers is Labour’s master strategy to win back disaffected Labour voters by reminding them how much Labour has screwed them over in the past. It’s a stroke of genius, or just a stroke. Certainly it’s a product of brain death as Labour’s neurones fail to fire. It’s a clear and simple message which tells voters to vote Labour because Labour failed to meet their expectations the last time – but this time they really really mean it, pinky promise sure they do.
The new pretendy offer of new pretendy powers which Labour swore blind were not needed just a couple of months ago smacks of desperation, like a junky promising to give up the smack if we’ll only give him a tenner for a wee bag of powers that’s been cut with all sorts of rubbish.
Labour’s upping of its devo offers is a lesson to the people of Scotland that if we keep voting ABLY (Anyone But Labour’s Yobs) Labour will keep promising more and more in an effort to entice us back into the fold. And that’s the thing about folds, it’s where sheep are held before being slaughtered. So the offers are best ignored. It makes far more sense to vote SNP in May safe in the knowledge that the SNP will hold Labour’s feet to the fire in order to get them to implement what Labour promised to implement anyway – and then some. Because we all know by now that if we vote Labour, Labour will only backtrack and deliver a tiny fraction of what they promised and will go back to treating the voters like sheep.