Kezia Dugdale finally got around to unveiling the Labour manifesto for Scotland yesterday, and it was received with rapturous applause and a renewed enthusiasm for the peepul’s party from the massed ranks of the Scottish working classes in Kezia’s imagination. That was jist fabby Kezia hen, said one of her synapses. Gaun yersel Kezia you’ve saved Labour’s arse and Jackie Baillie’s career, said another. From the depths of her limbic system came a surge of love and affection for the Labour party and a thousand Iain Greys danced along with a Subway sandwich and laughed and sang with joy for this time the stuffing would be knocked out the Nats. Neil Findlay punned his way across the stage to the uproarious applause and cheers of an adoring crowd, and Anas Sarwar managed to get through an entire debate without being supercilious or snide. Although admittedly that was because Kezia’s grand success had put out the gas on his leadership amibitions and for once he was lost for words. But still.
Former Yes voters got on their knees and raised their hands to the skies shouting, “I have seen the light! Praise the Labour for I have seen the light!” The lost sheep of Lanarkshire returned to the fold and realised that the Daily Record really is holy writ. Red roses cascaded from the heavens, and Kezia walked on a carpet of petals towards the glowing light of the First Ministerial podium. And the angels started to sing the Halleluiah Chorus in Gaelic and Scots until someone pointed out that singing in Scottish is dangerously nationalist and anyway, Scots isn’t a proper language because it doesn’t have a word for halleluiah.
And then Kezia woke up in the gutter of broken dreams alongside the ghost of Jim Murphy’s be-egged shirt, clutching that photie of him with a halo, all crushed in her hand, and she realised it was just a disconnect from reality produced by reading too many articles about Scottish politics in the Guardian. That’s what happens when you listen to puff pieces in the UK media. In the real world the manifesto was received with the sound of one hand clapping, but that just turned out to be James Kelly being slapped.
There’s more energy in a spent AA battery than there is in the Labour party in Scotland, a party which couldn’t even summon up a clap of the Duracell bunny’s cymbals with the aid of the entire wind farm output of Scotland. Ha, Labour would sniff, SNP wind farms are no use when the wind doesn’t blow. But that’s all you get from Labour, the empty wind of a blawbag on expenses and the disappointment of disillusion and deceit.
Labour has no ideas, no talent, and no clue. It doesn’t actually matter what policies their manifesto contains. What matters is the container. When the tin is electoral poison so are its contents, and Labour is a very poisonous tin indeed. They could promise the earth, and even have detailed fully costed plans which don’t involve Jackie Baillie’s arithmetic to show conclusively how they were going to pay for it, and still no one would believe them. When you’ve lied too often no one wants to believe you any more. When you’ve disappointed too often no one wants to trust you any more. When you’ve promised to change but still show the same tired old faces it’s tantamount to telling the electorate that you think they’re mugs. We’re the mugs they use to keep dipping into the trough.
This manifesto, Labour swears blind, is the most left wing manifesto on offer. No, really, honest. Look, it’s got red ink in it and everything. The Scottish leader that wanted the Blairite Liz Kendall to become leader of the UK party has all of a sudden morphed into Karla Marx after making the belated discovery that moving Labour to the right was electorally counter productive. Jim Murphy attempted the same trick, and look how well that turned out. His Guardian photo halo slipped and strangled him. You’d think that if Labour was sincere about moving to the left they might choose to be represented by people who can actually convince as left wingers. Yet here we are again a year on, and they’re still repeating the same mistakes.
The launch was overshadowed by a disastrous opinion poll released on the very same day. According to the poll for STV, the Tories are projected to overtake Labour as the second largest party, but not because the Tories are all of a sudden doing better than a non-EU approved toaster in David Coburn’s kitchen. It’s just that Labour is doing spectacularly badly. If the poll is borne out during the election just a week from today, the party will receive its worst result since the Second World War and the first time it will have come third since 1910. Labour is heading for a defeat of historic proportions, and no amount of manifesto tinkering is going to bring about a recovery in its fortunes.
When you can’t even hold your own against the Tories in a Scottish election, you might as well give up and go home. Yet Kezia maintains that all is well and smiles calmly. If she can keep her head while everyone around her is losing theirs and blaming it on her – perhaps she’s just underestimated the seriousness of the situation.
Labour’s big answer is to raise taxes so Scots can compensate for cuts imposed upon us by a Tory government that we didn’t vote for, a Tory government that Labour campaigned to keep us exposed to. And it claims that it’s offering the radical solution. The real radical solution is to campaign for Scotland never to be exposed to Tory governments that we didn’t vote for ever again. If Labour had included that in its manifesto then perhaps it might have been worth digesting. Instead we get a party that offers to put a plaster on the axe wounds inflicted on Scotland by the Tories, from the same party that held Scotland down while the Tories wielded the axe.
Don’t vote for the plaster, vote for the cure.
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