Jezza the Unionist

Jeremy Corbyn’s leading role in the Labour leadership campaign is to be welcomed. He’s showing a discredited and directionless party that it is possible for them to rediscover their soul and regain their purpose. But for Scotland his message is a lot more mixed. Jeremy Corbyn says he isn’t a Unionist, he’s a socialist. Like assorted other Labour politicians before him, Jeremy has an aversion to the U word because the official title of the Tories is the Conservative and Unionist party. So since he’s not a Tory, he can’t be a Unionist even though he prefers the continuation of the Union. Clear now?

It’s a bit like an Edinburgh lawyer claiming that because they’re not English they can’t be speaking English even though English speakers understand them perfectly. Although to be fair, what Edinburgh lawyers say often bears very little relationship to reality, and in this respect they are remarkably similar to Labour politicians. In fact, when you get an Edinburgh lawyer who is also a Labour politician you get unreality squared and they’re incapable of uttering any simple truths at all. Just look at Alistair Darling and everything he has ever said or done.

Jim Murphy is the previous high profile Labour politician who claimed not to be a Unionist. Jim did occasionally claim to be a socialist too, although Jim’s claim to be the political heir of Keir Hardie and James Maxton was met with giggles and not so muffled guffaws – and that was from other members of the Labour party. When Jezza claims he’s a socialist, you can at least believe that he’s being sincere, which wasn’t the case with Jim’s claims to socialism, or indeed Jim’s claims about anything at all. Jim’s problem then is the same problem that Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall all have now. It’s not just that we know they’re not socialists, but after 13 years of Blair and Brown their claims to social democracy are on a pretty shoogly peg too. All of them are so tainted with the misdeeds of Labour’s recent past that none of them have any credibility at all.

Unlike the other three leadership candidates, Jezza is at least a proper socialist. You know he’s a proper socialist because he’ll tell you that the reason the chicken crossed the road was because of the fundamental contradictions inherent in neoliberalism and the structural inequalities of capitalism leading to an unbalanced distribution of domestic fowl. The only time he’ll mention a Scotsman, an Englishman, and an Irishman entering a bar is when they’re all going to attend a meeting on Gramsci’s contribution to the development of optimism of the will. The other three, on the other hand, only ever attended meetings of focus groups and although there may have been some funny one liners, most were unintentional and the deliberate ones were written by a hired team of script writers on zero hours contracts.

However what you can’t do is to say, like Jeremy, that you’re a socialist who believes in the continuation of the Union, but you’re not a Unionist because, eh, reasons. Because what Jezza’s non-Unionism boils down to is a mere dislike of the label, and as we all know, a label is nothing more than an adjective to which the bearer takes exception. It’s a bit like closeted gay men who don’t like the “label” gay, so instead we have to call them men who have sex with other men while their wife doesn’t know. That makes Jeremy a British politician who has intercourse with Scotland. And while there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Jeremy’s socialist credentials, we’ve had a lot of British politicians screwing us over during the past three centuries.

You can’t have it both ways. If you’re a socialist and you believe in the continuation of the Union without being a Unionist, then you need to be able to explain precisely how the Union is a better vehicle for the delivery of socialism, or even social democracy, than Scottish independence. You need to be able to demonstrate how the structures of the British Union are more likely to lead to the introduction and implementation of socialist policies and social justice than an independent Scottish state. Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t done that.

Admittedly it’s a pretty hard task, since the Union’s record on the social justice front hasn’t exactly been glowing. It took a world war and the defeat of your actual Nazis as opposed to the metaphorical or name calling variety to drag anything approaching social democracy out of the British establishment. And ever since the post war high point of recognition of working class aspirations, that same establishment has been hell bent on demolishing all the advances that were made. While all of us on the left in Scotland wish Jeremy Corbyn well, we shouldn’t forget that this is the same establishment and the same state that Jezza plans to coerce into a new socialist dispensation. His chances of success are not great, all the more so since he doesn’t seem disposed to decentralise the state any more than it already is, which isn’t much.

The inescapable truth is that the Union guarantees that we will all be subject to periodic bouts of Conservative government. Any advances made by the Corbyn project are subject to being undone by a future Tory administration just like the post war settlement was trashed. And we shouldn’t forget that periods of Tory government are the norm, in the British state it’s the periods of social democratic government which are the exception. The normalcy of Tory rule is so entrenched in the British state that it co-opted the Labour party, which is why we are now having this discussion in the first place. It’s become so entrenched in the Labour party that Jezza is going to face implacable opposition from within his own ranks. The Labour hierarchy is predicting doom and failure if Jezza gets the leadership, and they’re going to do their utmost to ensure that he does fail. What’s left of their credibility depends on making sure of it, and they value their own route to power far more than they value the Labour party’s socialist traditions.

The only way to guarantee that the Conservative and Unionist party is consigned to the political fringes and the advances of social democracy – not the values of Conservatism – are entrenched, is Scottish independence. We should support Jezza and ally with him while we’re all subject to Tory predations, but we must not take our eye off the independence ball. It really is that simple.

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39 comments on “Jezza the Unionist

  1. Jan Cowan says:

    Yes, he’ll be a fine neighbour to have next door. But independence comes first.

  2. tomtumilty says:

    Essentially, Corbyn is promoting the same old “We don’t need independence, we need a Labour Government and that will sort out all our problems.” message. His kind of Labour government might be more likely to help achieve the kind of society we would like to see but, as you say, he’s dependent on the people of England electing him. We would still have no say about that. With indpendence, the people of Scotland will decide.

  3. John says:

    Surely you mean James rather than John Maxton. While John was a Labour MP, James was never a member of the Labour Party, prefering to remain a member of the ILP the same party of Keir Hardie.

  4. Stoops says:

    I do worry that Corbyn will win back some traditional Labour support in Scotland and weaken the case for independence. I think the long knives are out for him though. If, as seems likely, he wins the leadership contest the venom in his own party may well destroy him, and destroy itself at the same time.

    The stupidity of Labour never ceases to amaze me.

  5. macart763 says:

    Well said Paul.

    I don’t doubt that as politicians go Mr Corbyn is probably progressive in the right direction, but there’s absolutely no doubt that he’s hiding behind sophistry where the state of our union is concerned. He has absolutely zero idea what’s happening in Scotland, no clue as to the issues involved, the constitutional reality, the need, aspiration or the societal change taking place. To be fair why should he? His country is London (yes, I know). He understands the need for an English progressive voice, but apparently doesn’t recognise the same voice already being expressed by the Scottish people and the Scottish government. Somehow, its just wrong and wrong headed.

    His nationalism, that’s not nationalism, is that British socialism? To be honest I neither know, nor care. I don’t do ‘ists or isms’. I’m not a big fan of political or societal pigeonholing. Its never accurate and can be downright bloody insulting. Besides you need several uni degrees in English as whut is writ n’ spook, Olympic freestyle boredom, dogma, whataboutery, psephology and the black arts to understand such things apparently. Or in other words, you need to be really, really well educated to at least the level of Mr Torrance in the Daily Hehaw, so what do I know? I have an o grade in applied brickwork and home economics, which essentially means I bake a mean rock cake.

    How and ever I do know when I’m being robbed blind, lied to, othered, abused and otherwise taken for a ride. I do know that when someone says I’m not good enough or simply not allowed to run my own affairs they’re due a brisk and very short response. Basically I don’t like to be told who I am supposed to be or to what I might aspire.

    In the words of our own man of the people:

    “A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”

  6. A left-wing party – let’s for a laugh call it Labour – could reduce the chance of Tory government simply by adopting PR, and replacing the dosser house for OAPs called the Lords with an elected second chamber. It could introduce a constitution that protects the welfare state and the NHS, the rights of Trade Unions and human rights.
    What am I saying? We know that Queenie and all her chums would never allow it. Sorry, I’m on strong anti-biotics, it must be going to my head.

    • gavin says:

      Labour could, today, pull out all its Peers from the Lords and refuse any more “elevations” to it. That in itself, would destroy any notion of a of a non-partisan oversight body.
      It could ask its chums in the Lib Dumbs to do the same, but as we all know, they are not motivated by democracy any more than the Tories are.

  7. tintochiel says:

    “We should support Jezza and ally with him while we’re all subject to Tory predations, but we must not take our eye off the independence ball. It really is that simple”

    Exactly, Paul. We should never forget that, amongst other things, a Yes vote would have guaranteed an end to Tony governments affecting Scotland and the removal of Trident, two things any socialist would have been proud of, surely?

    Jeremy is someone who has always stayed loyal to Party, despite voting against it hundreds of times: cognitive dissonance to the max.

    He does not have Scotland’s best interests at heart.

  8. tintochiel says:

    Sorry, I meant Tory governments, not Tony governments, but, hey, what’s the difference?

  9. Bill Hume says:

    Jeremy Corbyn is irrelevant (for the moment)…………and here is why.
    1. He’s not (yet?) the leader of the Labour Party.
    2. Even if he becomes leader of the Labour Party….how long will he retain that position?
    3. Labour need to be electable in England before he can make a difference…….long shot.
    4. Leftward direction of the Labour Party will not insulate Scotland from further Tory governments.

    Let’s keep our powder dry. Oust the Labour Party in Scotland next year and the year after that.
    If Corbyn makes a difference, that’s the time to question your vote for the SNP.

    I suspect that in a year’s time the smoke and bullshit will clear and we’ll be back to the same old…same old.

    • SOG says:

      I feel that if Corbyn is selected, and subsequently ousted by a coup from the right, then the Labour party would split. The majority of supporters would follow Corbyn, the right-leaning would-be leaders would have an all-bosses-no-workers rump.

      And I hope that Corbyn would not be foolish enough to stand against the SNP and split the progressive vote.

  10. harper1903 says:

    At the end of the day the guy is still a britnat unionist. And should not be trusted as regards Scotland. Get wise people!

  11. Deedee says:

    100% nail on head mate : )

  12. Luke A says:

    Another great post! Finally got round to donating for all of your hard work. Wish I could afford a little more🙂

    Keep it up!

  13. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  14. Capella says:

    Well said. Let’s also remember that it is not Jeremy Corbyn, nor even the Labour Party, who is the “enemy”. It isn’t even the Tory Party. These are just tools. The real opposition to Independence is the British Establishment. They have a formidable range of forces to draw on. But we have the people and the prospect of a happier country for our children to grow up in.

    • Spot on, Capella. Aided by a compliant M.S.M, the “establishment” will go to any lengths to protect what they see as their god-given right to rule over us. And yes, I do mean any lengths.

  15. roibertabruis says:

    “The chicken crossed the road was because of the fundamental contradictions inherent in neoliberalism and the structural inequalities of capitalism leading to an unbalanced distribution of domestic fowl.”

    Better than Burns.

  16. Gavin C Barrie says:

    Explaining the benefits of the Union- Jeremy hasn’t done that. Spot on Wee G Dug.

  17. Les Wilson says:

    We here need to remember, there is no such thing as the “Scottish” labour party. The Labour party is registered in London and basically runs with the Tory ideology at Westminster.
    There have been times suggested that “Scottish branch office” should cut ties with said UK Labour, if it happened it would just be smoke and mirrors, or to put it even more crudly a lie.

    They are tied as tight to the UK labour party as being an arm of it, to cut itself off would lead to it further bleeding to death. Less financial support, less political support, and more. They may kid us on but it would never be real. Corbyn would condem such a move, regarless of who was head of UK Labour would condem it.

    They exist as a branch office, and that is how they will remain, regardless of how it is dressed up.
    Beware of Labour and their motives.

  18. david agnew says:

    I suspect that a number of things will happen.

    Corbyn will win. He is way popular with the membership and frankly the left in England, desperately want their old party back.

    The old “new” labour clique are appalled by this and will work tirelessly to bring him down, by pressuring folk to refuse cabinet positions, and trigger a vote of no confidence. They will go against the whip in the house, in an attempt to render the party completely rudderless. This would be fairly easy as it is quite dysfunctional atm.

    The right of the party will create a split by forming a new party. I don’t know by how much bit it will be damaging.

    The schism will hit “Scottish” labour with the force of a tornado. They simply won’t know which way to turn. If there is a split in the UK party, it could easily lead to something similar in Holyrood. Mind that this will happen as it is going into a holyrood election cycle. The UK party has until 2020 to short its shit out, the Scottish branch has less than a year. Evidence is pretty conclusive that Scottish labour is not very good are dealing with self inflicted existential crises.

    The golden rule that the electorate will not vote for a divided party is going to ensure that Kezia will come to grief in 2016, along with the rest of them. This will roll on into 2017 and the council elections. Its the perfect storm for British politics in Scotland.

    The death of labour in Scotland, will mean that there is now no party in Scotland, that is a credible voice for pragmatic unionism. Constitutionally the nation is divided over the concept/value of the Union. A large part of the electorate do not trust in British politics, the media or Westminster any more. The so called dividend of union is going to vanish like mist in the sun.

    We could argue that Better togethers’ sole achievement was to make the SNP a formidable political force that they are now far too weak and divided to oppose properly. I would also argue that they not only failed to plan properly for a no vote, but ensured that Scotlands’ reputation within the union was damaged beyond repair.

  19. jcd says:

    In the newsagents this am I noticed the Daily Retard’s headline “It MUST Be Corbyn” or words to that effect. Unless like many Labour supporters and voters you’re stupid enough to believe that they’d run a front page headline like that because they actually care about social democracy and justice, then it’s of course patently obvious that the aim behind it is to split and weaken the SNP vote and thus lessen the chance of Scottish self-determination becoming a reality.

    Personally I hope that they throw Corbyn under the bus, and I don’t care how or who by. I don’t care about the left in England any more than the left in England cares about Scotland. Whereas before I used to think of England as kind of different but also kind of the same, I now see England as a completely foreign country.

    Would Corbyn’s Labour party (if he becomes leader and actually got into power at some point) do anything to reverse the theft and misappropriation of Scottish resources in order to prop up their bankrupt ponzi economy? That, among a few other things, is all he could do to build some kind of case for the union, but what’s the chances that he would? By doing so he’d be consigning England to being, under all the hype and bullshit, the economic and social basket case that it really is.

    Without Scotland’s resources to leech from, England is a busted flush, and Corbyn knows it. The problem is of course that many of the Labour attached thickos in Scotland don’t.

  20. Tinto Chiel says:

    I liked your speculations, David Agnew. It could very well go this way, and the inherent strains and contradictions in “Scottish” Labour will eventually destroy in any case, I feel.

    Maybe you should get down the bookies and start laying bets, if you’re a betting man.

    jcd: double plus good. I still fear a short-term return to Labour by some of the glazed-eyed “But he said Socialism!” Brigade but I don’t think it will last long once he is seen to put the Scots at the bottom of his priorities.

  21. Luigi says:

    I think if Corbyn wins the leadership contest, the red tory faction will have to take action. So much has been said against a Corbyn win by Messers Blair, Brown, Kinnock and many others, that they are going to look pretty darn stupid and completely inept if the fail to act immediately. Another no-win situation crafted by Labour.

    Talk about boxing one’s self into a corner! Do those guys ever think more than one step ahead, or is this just another vow, another case of blind panic?

  22. says:

    The Labour party will split whether Corbyn wins or not. Voting Labour in Scotland will be even more pointless than it already is.

  23. epicyclo says:

    While he seems a decent man, if he opposes independence, he is the enemy.
    Let us not be seduced by what he may do, because it all will be undone with the next Tory govt.
    The only way to preserve socialism in Scotland is independence.

  24. Jezza is currently onto his third marriage. Wife no.3 is 20 years his junior. They married in Mexico. He divorced his first wife because she suggested sending the sprogs to the local grammar school. None of the foregoing are against the law, admittedly, but although I am to the left of Tommy Sheridan, I really, really do not like Mr Corbyn. His mask slipped the other night when he arrogantly declared,

    “The SNP leaders said the indy ref was for a generation and no-one has ever said there is to be a 2nd Indy Ref. There’ll only be a 2nd Ref if Westminster allows it & that’s that”. Oh, really, Mr Corbyn?

    The Tory press are biding their time, then if Jezza wins, it will be open Jezza season. Mr Salmond & ‘Nicla’ should be delighted, as they will no longer be the press ‘Public Enemy No 1’.

    Plus ca change, mes freres, plus ca change…

  25. macart763 says:

    Superb article in today’s National Paul.

    Very well said fella.

  26. bowanarrow says:

    I always thought we were allowed to have the socialist party after the second world war because the super rich, who had benefited so greatly from the wars, had ripped the heart out of the industries without any inward investment and they saw socialism (of a kind) and nationalization as a means to an end. The state would take all the risk and when the time was right the government would resell the industries back, (with all the infrastructure replaced) to the original owner at a bargain price (which they did). Socialism was a means to a capitalist end.
    Now we have a situation where the establishment need to get socialism back, especially in Scotland, to prevent independence and are selling the lame duck corbyn as the savior of the movement.
    A new player but the same old game.

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