Thank you very much for your lovely letter which was sent out in a mail shot from the Labour party. Oh look, I said to myself, a letter from that guy who plays the hobbit in the movies and it’s addressed to me personally. But sadly the only wizardry on display was the magic of mail merge, and that wasn’t quite enough to convince me that you had actually sat down and directed yourself personally to my concerns. George Osborne might do a convincing impression of Sauron, but this isn’t Middle Earth and Ed Miliband sure as hell isn’t Gandalf. Middle Earth is a fantasy invented by a middle class guy from Oxford University, just like the claim of the modern Labour party to be a party of the left, come to think of it.
Thank you for assuming that I’m too thick to cope with the complexities of modern politics and require everything to be reduced to a binary opposition between Labour and the Tories. It’s that kind of patronising attitude that has caused Labour to lose Scotland. You are offering a fantasy Martin, a story for children like dragons and orcs. In the real world, the one we actually live in as opposed to the fantasy one where Labour lives, we have other choices, and we can make our own minds up about what our choices are. There are other ways to resist the Tories. Labour thinks it can resist the Tories by aping them, by turning itself into little monkeys who perform tricks for the Conservative press and offer working class people the occasional peanut. That’s not resistance, and even a hobbit should realise that.
Despite what you say I’m not confused by different parties claiming different things, I can weigh up multiple options. And I can see that the simplistic choice you offer on behalf of the Labour party is a false one. But then you don’t need to be a mental giant to resist the dubious charms of Jim Murphy. You don’t need to be an Oxford don to see through Magrit Curran’s lies. You don’t need the wisdom of Gandalf to be unconvinced by Ed.
Labour can claim what they like, and even if they were offering a winning lottery ticket for every voter, a free foreign holiday and a guaranteed shag with someone who is actually attractive and who doesn’t look like your average politician, I won’t believe them if I don’t trust them. And that’s your problem right there Martin. I don’t trust the Labour party as far as I could throw it. And I could throw it as far as missile strike in Baghdad. I could throw Labour as far as an ATOS assessment. I could throw Labour as far as Ed Balls and his promise not to undo any of George Osborne’s cuts. Labour has been promising invisible jam at every election I can remember, yet as soon as they get into power they morph into Murphy.
The choice I want to make is to prevent Labour from behaving like it has always done, to make Labour behave like a Labour party should. Voting Labour in Scotland doesn’t offer me that choice, all voting Labour offers is a return to being side-lined, marginalised, ignored and patronised. I choose to hold Labour to account. I choose another way, a Scottish way.
The Labour party started in Scotland you say. And that would be true. And values of community, compassion and fairness still hold true you say. And that would be true as well, only they’ve got little or nothing to with the Labour party in Scotland. Labour sold those values down a PFI river decades ago, then contracted them out to ATOS for a profit. Because Martin, all those cruel and horrible things that the Tories pursue with gusto, Labour wants to keep them – the creeping privatisations, the disability assessments, the benefits caps, the demonisation of the poor, the dispossessed, the migrants, the worship of weapons of mass destruction. In Middle Earth Labour would be on the side of the orcs. Look at Jim Murphy and you can see they already are.
The Labour party was born in Scotland, and it will die in Scotland too. There’s a poetic circularity to that if nothing else. Labour moved away from the communities that gave it root, and migrated to the City of London. Seduced by the precious ring of capital that promised absolute power, Labour deprived itself of its roots. So Labour shrivelled and died, cut off from the communities that gave it life and meaning and purpose. There is no point or purpose to the Labour party any more. They stand for nothing but power for power’s sake, the party of careerists who don’t know the difference between principles and press releases.
But those values of community, compassion, and fairness that you speak of Martin, they do still hold true, and unlike Labour they are alive and strong and breathing in the communities that gave birth to the Labour party. Like most in Scotland I hold them dear. It’s just that they are no longer to be found in the Labour party. Us hobbits, us wee folk with our hairy Caledonian legs, we’ve created another party where we can express those values.
Today Martin, this Monday April 20, another party presented its manifesto to the electorate in Scotland. It is a manifesto that Labour would once have been proud to present. It promises social justice, and fairness and compassion and community. It promises to resist weapons of mass destruction, to fight for the disabled, to include the excluded, to bring tolerance and sense to the media’s racist hysteria about immigration. It’s a manifesto that promises to do all the things that Labour used to offer but never followed through on. Those things that Labour no longer even offers. It’s a manifesto for Scotland, not a manifesto for the Tory press.
And unlike Labour’s litany of lies and broken promises and shattered dreams – I can actually believe it. It’s a manifesto that comes from a party that promises to lock out the Tories and to keep Labour on track. It’s a party that really is a mass movement, born in Scotland’s communities, unlike Labour’s hollowed out shell, focus grouped to death. It’s a party that can make sure that Labour has a spine, because Labour needs a moral conscience. When the Labour leadership are left to their own devices they find their moral conscience in Daily Mail editorials, and then they hope to convince us with children’s tales of orcs and hobbits presented by starry eyed stars. But we have our feet on the Scottish ground.
I vote for moral conscience, I vote for hope, I vote for compassion and care. And that Martin, is why I’m voting SNP.
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