You go away for a couple of weeks, and in your absence the tottering edifice of the Labour party in Scotland manages to collapse even more, proving that it is in fact possible to demolish a building that has already fallen in on itself. But it’s worse than that for the erstwhile people’s party, Labour’s even bringing in the bulldozers to clear away the rubble, but not because they’ve got wonderful plans for a cutting edge new building. They’re just making room for more tired old weeds like Anas Sarwar.
Policies which were announced with as much of a fanfare as possible when you’ve got James Kelly as a spokesperson are quietly dropped. Although to be fair you’re going to get more excitement and drama from reading the annotated minutes of a meeting of the Aberdeen Victorian Brick Collectors Association about clay varieties and brick baking times than you’re ever going to get from the Labour MSP for Rutherglen.
Indeed the Aberdeen Victorian Brick Collectors Association are already combing through the rubble of Labour in Scotland in search of bricks or even anything vaguely substantial, although early reports are that they’ve failed to find it. We can only await the next edition of their newsletter with bated breath, which is a whole lot more anticipation than the Labour manifesto is going to get. Rumour has it that the Labour manifesto is going to come with perforated pages so that policies can be easily removed during the campaign if James Kelly doesn’t manage to excite an audience with his gag filled discourse on SNPbad housing policy and its effects on brick manufacturing.
A long time ago in the dim and distant past, which in Labour’s timescale is the week before last, they were going to raise the rate of income tax in Scotland. The low paid were to be compensated with a rebate that they were going to get from the cooncil via unspecified means. This is what made the party’s tax policy progressive, allegedly. Only now they’re not going to reimburse the low paid after all, because George Osborne did something to the tax rates. Which means that Labour is now trying to tell us that Tory tax policies are progressive. It’s only the SNPbad’s policies which aren’t progressive. Or something. There are more strictures and contortions in Labour’s policy announcements than there are in all the varicose veins in a vascular surgeon’s appointment book. At least varicose veins don’t restrict the blood flow to vital organs, which is more than you can say for Labour in Scotland.
Then there’s the named person scheme, which according to the right wing media is the baddedestly baddest SNPbad in the history of SNPbadness. They’re going to take your children off you and indoctrinate them in Scottishness you know, and it’s all going to happen before you can say och jist gaunie no. Labour supported the policy when it was introduced in Holyrood a loooooong time ago when James Kelly was still just boring for Rutherglen instead of boring for Scotland. Only now, thanks to coming down with a severe case of the Daily Mails, Labour has decided that it doesn’t support the policy after all. It’s not clear what they propose to replace it with, it’s just important in the run up to an election that they establish that the SNP is really REALLY bad. And they’ll take your weans off you and give them antielocution lessons so they keep saying och maw jist gaunie no.
Despite announcing a few months ago that Labour members would be free to campaign for independence when there’s another independence referendum, Kezia Dugdale asserted this week that she’d oppose a second referendum even if a party won a majority in Holyrood with a clear manifesto commitment to holding one. Seems that Labour only approves of democracy when it delivers the result that Labour wants. It’s not the politicians or their policies which are wrong in the rheumy eyes of Labour, it’s the people.
This is certainly a policy position. It’s maybe not one you might agree with, but at least Kezia is giving us a clear idea of where she stands, even if it does seem to be a reversal of the stand that she had a few weeks ago. But the revolving doors of Labour policy spin ever faster, because today in an interview in the New Statesman, Kezia averred that it wasn’t inconceivable that she could vote yes in a Scottish independence referendum. If the rest of the UK votes to leave the EU but Scotland votes to stay and is guaranteed a place in the EU if it votes for independence, then Kezia says she might support indy.
Despite seeming to have changed her mind yet again, Labour’s Scottish leader was keen to stress that she thinks the circumstances are all but inconceivable in which it would not be inconceivable for her to support independence which had previously been inconceivable. Got that? That’s about as clearly articulated a policy as you’re going to get from Labour in Scotland. But don’t worry if you’re confused, they’ll have changed their minds by the time I get this article published on the blog.
What’s really inconceivable is that Labour in Scotland could discover a policy other than SNPbad and stick with it for longer than a week. There are 78 rpm gramophone records that spin more slowly than Labour. And let’s be honest, a scratchy wax cylinder of Harry Lauder pandering to the cringe would be rather more in touch with the realities of post-referendum Scotland than anything that’s come out of Labour of late.
This is the incoherence, confusion, and outright incompetence which leads to the very real and unwelcome prospect of the Tories becoming the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament. Not because there’s any great upsurge in support for the party of Osborne, Cameron, and the self-aggrandising Boris, not because there’s any great affection for tank girl Ruthie, but because Labour isn’t capable of organising the proverbial menage, and wouldn’t be trusted even if it did. We had part one of the death of Labour in Scotland last May, this May we see part two. And part three will take place during the local elections next year. And all that will be left are the weeds in the rubble.
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