Polly Toynbee, doyen of the Islington Labouristas and one time cheerleader for Tony Blair and Gordie Broon, has ventured north of the M25 and come to visit Scotland – and it’s not even the Embra Festival. There’s true dedication to the cause of writing apologias for you, or is that apologii. Anyway, in the opinion of Polly, Scotland’s about to drift off from the Union, sailing off into a state of independence almost by accident. She takes two conclusions from this, firstly that Scotland drifting off into independence is a very bad thing, and therefore following on from this as a natural logical consequence, it must all be the fault of the Tories. And there was you and me thinking that it was all Alicsammin’s fault, because everything else usually is.
Polly complains that David Cameron has never governed for a united kingdom, but instead has implemented policies which benefit his core voters in the leafier parts of the south. And this is perfectly true, although it’s an observation which is unlikely to make anyone slap their foreheads and go “Oh. My. God. I never realised.” Being selfish evil basterts is pretty much the definition of Tory, so it’s not like this is news. Just look at Iain Duncan Smith, if you can bear it, which few can. But being selfish evil basterts is written into the DNA of Torydom, and it is a fact that the word Tory comes from the Gaelic word tòraigh, which can be loosely translated as ‘selfish evil bastert’. It’s a less well known fact that the word toerag is from the Gaelic diminutive of tòraigh, and when you call someone a toerag you are in fact calling them a dwarfish Osborne, and that could scar a small child for life. And for once I’m not actually making this up. At least not much.
Of course, Polly’s definition of “very bad thing” is absolutely anything which doesn’t benefit the Westminster Labour party. Polly wants Scotland to vote for a party that abandoned it a generation ago to keep out a party that abandoned it two generations ago.
However in her rush to blame the Tories for everything, which to be fair isn’t unreasonable, Polly ignores the fact that Labour has never governed for a united kingdom either, treating Scotland, the North of England and Wales as fiefdoms whose sole purpose is to provide lobby fodder so Labour too can appeal to those better off voters in the leafier parts of the south. It’s what kept Tony Blair in power for over a decade. So maybe it’s just not outside the bounds of possibility that the setting sail of the Scottish independence ship is the fault of all the miserable short sighted triangulating lot of them together. Who’s Better Together now eh.
In Islington Labour commentariat world, Scottish independence is a bad thing because it no longer means a block of 40 odd lobby fodder MPs blindly doing whatever it is that the Labour whips tell them to do. Unlike Islington apologists for the Labour party, yer actual traditional Labour supporters in places like Shettleston and Sheffield have long since worked out that blindly supporting the Labour party by providing placepersons with the personality of placemats to blindly do what the whips say does not do a great deal to improve their lives and circumstances. Labour has given us generations of neglect, generations of apathy, generations of hopelessness. The only thing Labour has positively generated in the East End of Glasgow is the impressive expenses claims of Magrit Curran, following in the impressive tradition of the unlamented David Marshall. He’s kept very quiet over the past few years hasn’t he.
The sense of despair and anger is the same in Shettleston and Sheffield, the difference is that voters in Shettleston have something they can do about it. In the case of Shettleston, that something comes in the shape of Natalie McGarry and the SNP. And that’s why those of us who, unlike Magrit, actually live in the East End are telling everyone we can to get angry, get even, and vote Natalie.
Similar advice applies in other parts of Scotland. If you don’t live in the East End of Glasgow you can vote for the lovely Anne McLaughlin in Glasgow North East, or Emma Harper, the nurse in the Borders who wants to make the Tories extinct.
Scotland getting even is the real motor of this election campaign. We’re out for revenge, and it’s a dish best served in the gloomy faces of Labour commentators on the telly on election night as they desperately try to tell us why losing almost all their seats isn’t that bad really. I want to see Magrit Curran as a runner up. I want to see Jim Murphy as the unelectable leader of a fictional party that doesn’t exist.
Labour can promise whatever it likes, £1 billion last week, £800 million this week, beads and blankets, free pixies and stardust sandwiches for every pensioner, but no one believes them any more. They’ve lied so much in the past that they have no credibility left. They deserted Scotland but demand our votes simply because they’re not the Tories. That worked as long as it was a binary choice, as long as there was a switch with only two settings. The switch got broken in the referendum campaign, and it was Labour that broke it. Now we’re going to get even. This is the long slow run up, the pulling of the foot, the taking aim. Labour’s going to get kicked in the nads. The only question left is how high up their lying throats their nads are going to get kicked.
What we learned during the referendum campaign is that Scotland will not be passive, we will not be silent. We will be the agents of our own change. We are the wind in our own sails and this ship is sailing and we’re setting the course. Labour is left floundering in deep and stormy water of its own creation.
Polly can wave from the quayside as she watches her party drown.
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