Black armbands, glue, and sleepless nights

The Unionist party leaderships have the attitudes to Scotland which are typical of the less enlightened tourist to furren pairts. Nice country, shame about the locals. If only they could just drop all that silly nonsense and vote like England does, then everything would be just fine. This is the closest thing that the Labour leadership has to principles, and with this principle in mind, Labour has a plan to win the General Election and stem the haemorrhaging loss of redness to the SNP.

The plan is not a very good plan. It is in fact a rubbish plan. It is actually a plan that makes any reasonable person guffaw in derision. But then it’s a plan that was most likely devised by John McTernan and Blair McDougall and approved by Jim Murphy, so what did you expect exactly? It is however all they’ve got. For once the plan doesn’t involve making vowsies and pinkie promises that Labour has no intention of keeping, and for this small mercy we should be grateful.

It’s just a pity that the plan doesn’t involve anything except pouting, carping, and harking back to a mythical grudge in a past that only exists in the imagination of a Jim Murphy which, he told Andrew Brillopad on the BBC politics show on Sunday, he is too young to remember. This isn’t really a new plan, since it’s exactly what Labour has been doing without success for the past ten years, but as already pointed out, it’s all they’ve got.

Incidentally, the past time in question was 1979, and according to Jim Murphy’s Wiki page he was born in 1967, which means he was 12 years old when the grudgesome events took place. It’s surprising that Jim can’t remember. I can remember lots of things which happened when I was 12, but then I wasn’t sniffing glue.

Anyway, back to the plan. In a desperate, if not to say pathetic, attempt to deflect criticism of Labour for cosying up to the Conservatives during the referendum campaign, for signing up wholesale to the austerity agenda, for privatisation, for PPI schemes, for abandoning Clause 4 and for demonising the poor, the plan is to tar the SNP with the Tartan Tory brush and blame them for ushering in a decade and a half of Thatcher in 1979 and the destruction of the mining industry. Back in 1979 the SNP voted against the then Labour government in a confidence motion, a government which in any event had only a few months left at best – but only after the self same Labour party had betrayed its promise to create a Scottish Assembly by imposing the infamous 40% rule which ensured that dead people counted as No votes. Those of us who were at least 12 at the time can remember these things, at least those of us who weren’t sniffing glue.

In a further attempt to rewrite history, Labour MPs are going to wear black armbands and lay a wreath saying SNP RIP at the miners’ memorial, because that will make us all forget that the only red thing left about Labour are the shamed faces of those who used to vote for them but will do so no more. And it will make us forget that the Labour leadership refused to back the miners during the strike of the mid 80s and betrayed them because that played well with the Tory press. We can remember these things because we weren’t sniffing glue Jim. Labour wants to stem the SNP tide with a display of mourning, but they only thing they’ll really be mourning is the death of their own careers.

Meanwhile, according to the Guardian over the weekend, a senior Labour figure fears “civil disobedience” if the SNP acquires “power over the English”. Labour is terrified that the Scottish tail may wag the UK dog, because the only tail that’s allowed to wag the UK dog is the financial sector in the City of London. It’s unclear what form this civil disobedience may take, a mass letter writing campaign by Outraged of Tunbridge Wells to the Telegraph perhaps. People will leave sharply worded comments in the Guardian and will tsk and raise their eyebrows. The very fabric of British existence will be threatened.

It will not go unnoticed in Scotland that senior Labour, and Tory and Lib Dem, figures were quite happy for English votes to impose power over Scotland, but somehow when it happens the other way about it’s a dreadful threat to the fabric of the Union and fundamentally undemocratic. And there was us thinking that we were valued and much loved partners in this greatest family of nations that the universe has ever seen. The obvious conclusion is that it’s not really a Union that the leaders of the Unionist parties want, what they want is a tame wee Scottie dog which doesn’t demand to sit at the table with the humans. Scotland’s not a partner, it’s a prize. They’re in for a big shock then, because this wee Scottie dog not only snaps and bites, it will also piss and crap on the rug that passes for a British constitution. A rug under which all sorts of nastiness has been swept.

Alicsammin said over the weekend that Scotland can hold the balance of votes in Westminster after the next election, pointing out that if you hold the balance you hold the power. This was described as “terrifying” by Tory Defence Minister Anna Soubry, who said it like Scotland having access to any sort of power was a bad thing. They wanted us to stay in the Union, they threatened, they begged, they pleaded. Now we’re staying and they’re complaining that we might have the audacity to define our own role within it. They think that this Union is theirs, but if it is really a Union then it is ours as well. Now it’s up to the Unionists to step up, to put their money where their mouths are. Unions mean compromises, and that means they must compromise too. They’ve not learned that lesson, they’ve spent too much time sniffing glue, so Scotland is going to have to teach it to them.

If we’re terrifying the Tories that can only work in Scotland’s favour. They’re not terrified by Labour MPs. Let’s give Anna sleepless nights. They want a Union? We’ll show them what that means. The Tories and the Labour party will have plenty more sleepless nights in the five years ahead. Scotland is coming to Westminster, and it’s angry.

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36 comments on “Black armbands, glue, and sleepless nights

  1. smiling vulture says:

    terrify a tory–vote SNP

    brilliant slogan

    get posters out every where

  2. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    At 12, Smurfy should have been sniffing glue in Apartheid South Africa.

  3. Whitburnsfinest says:

    Wait, so if I’m reading between the lines here what I think you’re trying to convey here is that Jim Murphy sniffed glue?! You were a wee bit vague there😉

    Also, the ‘fears’ of ‘civil disobedience’. Could that not be taken as incitement to riot or incitement of hatred? Pretty serious offences, both of those…..

    Also, I hope I’m not speaking out of turn here. But can anyone recommend reliable sources of further info about this little tory/labour love-in during which the 40% rule and all the other nonsense was conceived? I was born in 1981, so don’t worry, I wasn’t sniffing glue like Jim Murphy🙂 I know patchy bits of the history but feel like I need to know more. And as we all know, there is any amount of utter garbage written online, from lies to damned lies. I’m looking for the truth here. Any pointers to reliable info sources would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

      • Saor Alba says:

        Interesting. The majority was 15 and there were only 11 SNP votes, so these had no real influence. On the other hand, 30 odd Labour votes carried the day on the 40% rule. Murphy should know this, but either he is still suffering the effects of glue or he is lying. Any bets?

    • andygm1 says:

      Basically, Labour got elected in 1974 without much of a programme for government. They were casting about for things to occupy themselves with and Devolution neatly filled the gap and was seen as a way to dish the SNP.

      As the Labour Chief Whip said to Jim Sillars afterwards, following Labour’s betrayal,

      “You didn’t really think we were serious Jim, did you?’

    • Whitburnsfinest says:

      Folks, thank you! Just needed a few bits to point me in the right direction. You’ve been most helpful. Saor Alba, I’ve seen your username around various parts and it always makes me smile.

      Hope you’re all having a great day🙂

  4. macart763 says:


    Practising evil laugh.🙂

  5. Robert Graham says:

    like you i was around and able to vote in 1979 this country was on its knees through useless strikes I well remember a certain Mr Carty outside Linwood then Peugeot i believe, they won’t close Linwood oh really pal ! remember the song Bathgate no more Linwood no more the same thing almost happened at Grangemouth the common theme “Labour” useless in or out of power the mugs with the arm bands really should read Mr Callahan’s account in his book he points the finger at members of his own party for sticking it to him in the confidence vote but they still carry the lie hoping it will become true some day just like their mps retaining their seats here in a few weeks time don’t you just love a optimist ha ha anyone know of a good party on election night ?

    • weegingerdug says:

      I was certainly around – but was a few months too young to vote. I do remember watching the election results coming in on telly in 1979, and growing increasingly depressed at the prospect of a Tory government – but consoling myself with the thought that it was probably only for a couple of years at most. The only smile of the evening was seeing Teddy Taylor lose his seat in Cathcart. He was Thatcher’s favourite for the post of Scottish Secretary of State and was last seen doing a British Bulldog impression and wearing a Kiss Me Quick Hat on Southend Pier in Essex.

  6. […] Black armbands, glue, and sleepless nights […]

  7. Hector says:

    Just watched the first five episodes of “Outlander”. Diane Gabaldon’s series of books about an English nurse who time travels from 1945 Scotland and finds herself in 1743 Scotland. Series slow to start but interesting depiction of Scottish Highland society and clan system sets the scene. Episode 5 begins to get really interesting when the nurse, Claire, recognises that what she considered “criminal” behaviour by the clan she is adopted by is in reality “political” behaviour as she witnesses the barbarism of the Redcoats and their destruction of Highland villages. The “baddy” of the series is an ancestor of her 1945 husband, “Black Jack” Randall who is Captain of Dragoons in the English Army. He is a dead ringer for Jim Murphy…….. perhaps Jim has found an alternative career and forgot to tell us.

    • Marconatrix says:

      Hmm, all the episodes FWIW can be found online, so maybe someone with the necessary skills could do a bit of creative editing. It’s really romantic fantasy rather than history, although the landscapes are nice and there are bits of Gàidhlig to be heard. Nasty piece of work that Jack fellow, not unlike …

  8. Tris says:

    It’s not a union. It’s an empire and we are a vassal state.

  9. Rik McHarg says:

    Once again I am blown away. How can we get this included in the national curriculum?

  10. andygm1 says:

    Have another tenner.

    Come on folks, let’s keep the Dug in beer and sandwiches!

  11. Tinto Chiel says:

    It’s bad enough having to listen to all the Murphy guff about 1979 again (and which has been forensically debunked by the Wings over Scotland article which cirsium helpfully mentions) without the nauseating hypocrisy of laying a wreath at the miners’ memorial.

    I’m old enough to remember the Labour Party in parliament doing nothing to support the miners in their struggle with Thatcher. It and the ridiculous behaviour of Scargill did as much to defeat them as Thatcher’s police force.

    Is Labour completely delusional or utterly cynical and devoid of any decency?

  12. Dunkie says:

    A friend in Holland has been asking me what is happening here in Scottish politics these days. Here’s what I had to tell him:-

    As far as Scotland losing the vote last September is concerned that was merely a minor skirmish (battle if you like), the war was not lost at that point and the pro-left-for-Scotland movement just gets stronger and stronger every day. We have a General Election for the London Parliament coming up in May and all the polls show that the independence movement is going to sweep to a major victory in Scotland in this election to the extent that they may well have a major say in how the UK is governed after the election in conjunction with the Labour party. This is causing major alarm among the right wing in London and a very nasty anti-Scottish/anti socialist agenda is building up day by day among politicians and the media there. They are terrified at the prospect of democracy working out in a new and radical way that will really challenge the power of the establishment.

    The SNP is a left of centre party, the Labour politicians are now so right of centre that we call them “Red Tories”. However, what we are dealing with here is not a “Nationalist” assault on Westminster as the right wing press and politicians claim – as though it is all some kind of outrageous attack on the English and Welsh people. Our fight is with the elite establishment and how they govern in the interests of the super rich while making the poorer and less fortunate suffer unbelievably.

    The SNP are addressing a large section of English and Welsh voters who would like to have a left of centre party to vote for. In England they have no party except the Greens to vote for which has a left of centre viewpoint and which cares about the ordinary people. If the SNP hold the balance of power with Labour at Westminster they can move Labour to the left and many people in England and Wales recognise this and are responding well to our egalitarian ideas. This is a battle of left versus right (not Scotland versus England) no matter how hard the right wing London press and politicians scream their hatred at us. The more hysterical the right becomes the more they expose themselves to critical examination by thinking people of all UK countries.

    We live in very interesting times with Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, for example. We may not have won that first skirmish but we belong in the same new movement as Podemos and Syriza. The UK is destroying itself from within now as is world capitalism. Large sections of the electorate across the world now detest the neo-liberal philosophy and the politicians who force these elite values on societies. Since Tony Blair came to power the once socialist Labour Party is no different from the right wing Tory in pursuit of this neo-liberalism agenda.

    There is a fresh breeze blowing through the stale corridors of world power. It is youthful thoughtful and determined like a force of nature and it will not be denied.

    Here are 2 links to youtube videos – interviews with old men in their nineties who recognise the emergence of this new energy. I think you will find them interesting.

    Time for Outrage – Stephane Hessel

    Harry’s Last Stand – Harry Leslie Smith

    Here is another link which is a comment on a pro-independence blog in response to an English writer who was asking how they can do in England what we have done in Scotland to wake up the people and make them politically aware. If you scroll up to the start of the webpage you will get the article by the Englishman which got this response.

    Excellent statement about political situation in Scotland/England

  13. Janis says:

    It’s become increasingly the case that tory and labour mps alike vilify the snp. It’s seems very difficult for them to conceive that this is democracy, so suck it up and start getting used to the wee Scottie that bites. It’s both amazing and disturbing watching the reactions from both tory and labour. The people of Scotland were never wanted, it was just our oil that was wanted. How many countries around the world can you say that about. Loads. It’s good so many Scotts have realised it.

  14. I wonder how their cynical ‘armband’ stunt will go down in Fallin, Cowie, Polkemmet, Glenboig, Waterside, Kelty and other spots where miners once toiled..?

  15. davy1600 says:

    Even Andrew Neil kicked Jim Murphy’s sorry effort to bring 1979 into his interview right into touch.

    And if Murphy and his armband crew attempt to place a wreath on the Miners Memorial just for a political stunt I hope a load of ex miners and their familys let them know exactly what they think of it.

    The Miner’s Memorial should be respected.

  16. Jan Cowan says:

    I just love the picture of the wee Scottie dog and the British “constitution” rug.

    Harry’s Last Stand must surely move those south of the border to recognise the worth and concern of our current SNP leaders.

    • Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Jan Cowan commented: “I just love the picture of the wee Scottie dog and the British “constitution” rug.

      Harry’s Last Stand must surely move those south of the border to recognise the worth and concern of our current SNP leaders.”

  17. Steve Asaneilean says:

    Thanks again Paul – sometimes it’s good to have a dug that bites!

  18. INDEPENDENT says:

    Once again sheer brilliance Paul, always a great read, the pen IS mightier than the sword.

  19. Devereux says:

    The institutional lack of understanding of Scottish politics among Westminster politicians is leading them down the path of destruction that Scottish (allegedly) Labour walked this decade or more.

    Vilifying SNP, Green and SSP politicians, members and supporters who live and work in Scottish communities and are interacting with civic and commercial Scotland on a daily basis is hugely counterproductive.

    First Labour took Scottish (allegedly) Labour’s tone and now the Tories and right wing English media are up and running with it. Why on earth they can’t see the danger of all of this is a mystery. Or, of course, the symptom of the problem in the first place.

    The disenfranchisement of half of Scottish voters would finish the job sooner rather than later.

    Even if Labour were to marginally recover within the flawed FPTP system, the Union is toast.

  20. Nigel Mace says:

    The leitmotif of “if he hadn’t been sniffing glue” and deft variants on it is one of your more crippling coinages. Excellent.

  21. David Agnew says:

    37 labour MPs voted against their own Government. The result was so narrow, that only 2 more labour votes would have saved Callaghan. They brought down their own party, to bring down devolution, and opened the door to Thatcher. All that pain, all that misery that she brought with her, that is on labour not the SNP.

    They also walked away from a rainbow coalition in 2010 to stop the tories getting in. So all this misery and austerity – thats on labour too.

    Labour are good at doing that. Opening doors and letting the tories do their worst. Since then they have abstained on bills that could have brought down, Workfare and the bedroom tax, they also had it in their power to stop fracking dead. Each and every time, they stepped up and walked away.

    I always voted labour, because I was told they fought for the little guy. These were the bastards who let the tories kick the little guy down.

    They are a party of cowards. The only time they act tough is when their opponent is already beaten. They’re all talk and no trousers. They were a shiver looking for a spine to run up. A feeble collection of troughers, whose only concern was ensure that people stayed poor and angry so they could get voted in and live off anti-tory hate and a generous expenses account.

    The conservatives may be the bastard party. But labour are a party of useless bastards.

    They are shit on the heel of Scotland’s shoe, and its high time we cleaned them off, opened the windows and got the smell of their stupidity out of the room.

  22. davy1600 says:

    “David Agnew”

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