Ed Miliband was in Clydebank on Monday, speaking to what Labour calls a mass rally. Once upon a time, way back in the mythical age of fairy stories and magic wireless and inventing the NHS, Labour had mass rallies which involved a Labour leader addressing a cheering crowd of thousands who’d flock to hear him because the telly was in black and white and Jimmy Savile still had a career on the BBC. Nowadays Labour’s definition of a mass rally is collecting the useless tubs of lard who sit for the party in the House of Commons into one room, calling on some obliging full colour TV cameras, and hoping that their combined inertia can be mistaken for weighty.
Ed was in evangelical mode, mostly because only divine intervention is going to save Labour in Scotland now. He was preaching to his small and rapidly diminishing flockette about the evils of the unholy alliance between the SNP and the Tories. This came as something of a surprise to the SNP, and indeed to the Tories, who are even less on speaking terms with one another than Labour is. And Labour has spent the past eight years sulking in its bedroom and refusing to talk to anyone, perfecting the pouty spoiled entitled brat school of politics. It’s safe to say that Labour has that off pat by now, and has thoroughly mastered the art of spoiled entitlement, proving that the party is good for something after all.
As the little group huddled together, fearing just how flocked they are, the Labour adenoid told them how immensely upset he was that the SNP was diverting Labour from its historic mission to adopt Conservative policies wholesale so that Ukip voters in Essex will vote for it. The SNP is forcing the Labour party to act like a proper Labour party and preventing it from being just like the Tory party, he complained. Even worse, they’re doing it on purpose, he thundered. Well, not thundered exactly, this is Ed Miliband. Instead he sounded like a kitten with a bad head cold which was annoyed that it couldn’t reach its ball of wool.
Because of the nasty SNP, the only way Labour can get elected in Scotland is by being left wing. But because of the nasty Tories the only way Labour can get elected in England is by being right wing. Ed Balls has a right not to find George Osborne’s budget objectionable, and the word of Gord tells him to announce to the press that he wouldn’t change anything if he was in power. However in Scotland, Jim Murphy has to adopt an unconvincing socialist drag, like a creepier version of Dracula’s minion trying to pretend that the Garibaldis he proffers to the voters do not contain actual flies. All Labour in Scotland has to offer is a graveyard of insects.
Ed thinks this is unfair, and Labour’s current difficulties are not because Labour has spent the last twenty years in an ever rightwards triangulation dance with the Thatcherite tendency of the UK press. It’s all the fault of those horrible Scottish voters for getting pissed off and saying they’re not going to put up with it any more. That’s just unholy. Indeed it’s blasphemy. The job of Scotland’s voters is not to think, not to expect anything, not to have any expectations. Their job is to shut up and vote for Magrit Curran and Jim Murphy, like a good little flock of Labour sheep.
In aid of this Labour has been putting another leaflet through people’s doors. Another effort delivered by the postie because Labour doesn’t have enough activists on the ground to do it for them. It boasts, amongst other things, that Labour is opposed to tuition fees, that it will ban “exploitative” zero hours contracts, forgetting to tell us that it was Labour which introduced tuition fees and zero hours contracts in the first place. They hope we don’t remember. That’s Labour for you, it’s the party of glue sniffers with advanced dementia.
The leaflet repeats the lie that Labour clings to like a lifebelt – the lie that only the largest party in the Commons can form the government. But it’s simple arithmetic – 323 is the size of a majority. So if Labour has 275 seats, the Tories 280, and the SNP 50, then the Tories can’t form a government, because they can’t come close to a majority. Labour could be a minority government reliant upon the kindness of the SNP. If Labour can’t cope with simple arithmetic, then how can we expect them to cope with the more complex sums involved in budget calculations? Labour hopes we can’t count. Vote Labour, vote stupid, vote glue sniffer.
Meanwhile, the sordid squirming can of worms of Labour local government has had its lid prised off again. In North Lanarkshire a Labour cooncillor is suing the party for allegedly damaging his name and reputation after he raised questions about a deal done by the council with a company run by the husband of Glasgow’s Labour Lord Provost. The leader of North Lanarkshire council has admitted being a personal friend of the Lord Provost and her company director husband, but has denied that this friendship influenced the decision to award the company the contract.
It’s all a depressingly familiar tale. Move along, nothing to see here … and don’t expect an in depth investigation on BBC Reporting LabourScotland any time soon. We will instead be invited to sympathise with the emotional trauma that the stalwart Labour party members have all been put through.
However the interesting point here is not so much that there are allegations of nefarious and underhand doings in a Labour cooncil – because that’s pretty much a given with a Labour cooncil – it’s that the Labour cooncillor doing the suing can’t sue the Scottish Labour party because no such entity exists in law. It turns out that there is no such thing as the Scottish Labour party. He has to sue the Labour party headquarters in London.
The question is then, what exactly is it that Jim Murphy claims to lead? It turns out that he’s the fictional leader of a fictional party, spouting fictional policies. How can a party that doesn’t exist separately from Labour UK claim to have policies that are distinct from Labour UK? Is that even legal under electoral law? Quite probably it isn’t. These are yet more questions that it is unlikely you’ll see being investigated in depth on Reporting LabourScotland any time soon.
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