Labour is like a gambling addict, convinced that the next throw of the dice will bring about a turn in its fortunes. They believe this even though they’ve thrown the dice out of the window and into the path of the oncoming Caledonian express that’s about to flatten them.
Following a series of brutal opinion polls which suggest that Labour is facing extinction in Scotland, Jim Murphy BA Politics (failed) and his fellow subscribers to the John McTernan ACME catalogue of fears, smears and Toryesque policies have decided to embark on a radically new strategy. And that new course of direction, that thing that they’ve never tried before, that stroke of genius – that would be obsessively slagging off the SNP and screaming from the rooftops that they’re really really bad. And probably Nazis, and Communists, and definitely obsessed with Mel Gibson movies, and totally obsessed with the referendum – the SNP that is, not the Labour party. The Labour party aren’t obsessed at all, like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jim, they’re still stars and will be serving up a cooked rat and blaming it on the SNP just before they attempt to push Scotland down a flight of stairs to the accompaniment of a 1920s show tune. That’s perfectly sane and rational.
No really, slagging off the SNP is a new thing, well according to the Labour party, and they wouldn’t lie would they. Although if Jim Murphy believes that anyone will be convinced that this is a new thing or that Labour wouldn’t lie then somewhere there must be a box of frogs which is really relieved to discover that it is not after all the maddest thing in the universe. For the rest of us Labour’s demise is ribbitting.
Now that Jim’s scheme to court Yes voters by donning a fitba shirt, making a song and dance about milking English taxpayers, and legalising drink fuelled sectarianism has proven as attractive as being stalked by an identity thief who’s got millions in a Nigerian bank account he needs your help to unblock, Labour has moved on to Plan Con – begging Tory voters for help. Although to be fair, all of Jim’s plans have been a con. It’s just that they’ve been pathetically transparent, and so is his latest.
The SNP is very very bad, according to Jim, because they’re going to press ahead with a second referendum. That would be the second independence referendum that the SNP isn’t asking for, but because it wasn’t specifically ruled out in the SNP manifesto, Labour insists that the SNP are going to press ahead with one anyway. There are of course lots of things that were not specifically ruled out in the SNP manifesto which are very likely to happen after the election – for example grief therapy and counselling for the Labour party in Scotland, or an appointment at the job centre for Blairites who’ll discover why sanctions aren’t such a good thing after all – but a second referendum isn’t one of them. Jim is hoping that by fighting a referendum campaign that isn’t actually happening he can scare up a few Tories to vote for him, and save his arse in East Renfrewshire – which is one of the few seats where there are enough Tories to make a difference. It is, after all, all about Jim, and it always has been.
Jim made this pronouncement while campaigning in the East End of Glasgow along with Magrit Curran, and Caroline Flint who had been invited along to give a bit of Labour leadership gravitas to Jim’s Bette Davis impression. Jim and Magrit were filmed by some telly cameras standing beside a building site and a very big hole. Yet again Labour had organised a campaigning event in Glasgow without inviting any actual Glaswegians, because some of the kinder ones might have yelled at Jim and Magrit to stop digging, while others would have shown them how to operate the JCB.
Working class Glaswegians don’t tend to be Tory voters, and so aren’t really Jim’s target audience. So not really a campaigning event then, it was an astroturf event, only without any turf, astro or otherwise. There was no one there except Jim, Magrit, Caroline and a couple of press people. Jim must be longing for the days when the punters gave enough of a shit to turn up just so they could shout back at him.
However the Labour party in Scotland’s attempts to stop itself from drowning with the aid of inflatable Tory floaters are being scuppered by the tidal waves generated of the Labour party leadership as it flails about in some deep water of its own. That would be the real Labour party leadership, not Jim’s branch managerial variety. Ed Miliband has – for the second time in the past few weeks – insisted that he would block a second independence referendum. This may help him in his attempts to woo voters in England, but in Scotland all it does is to tell voters who haven’t yet made up their minds that they can vote SNP safe in the knowledge that by doing so they’re not voting for another referendum.
Meanwhile, with the help of the Daily Mail – Kezia Dugdale’s favourite go-to publication for photos of her looking miserable and sad – the Tories are stoking the fires of English nationalism, according to Labour and the Lib Dems. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that they themselves were merrily stoking the fires of English nationalism during the independence referendum when they told Scots we were the recipients of English largesse and ought to be grateful. It’s only bad when the Tories do it, because this might damage Labour and the Lib Dems.
Time is running out now. There are few spins left for Labour’s one armed bandits. Unless something really dramatic happens between now and next Thursday, the game is a bogey for Labour. The compulsive gamblers will have dealt their last cards, and lost badly. It’s a safe bet they’ll still blame everyone else for their own misfortunes, and like Baby Jane they’ll dance on the beach oblivious to the men in white coats coming to take them away for good.
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