A guest post by Samuel Miller
This week Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, has been touring what he hopes are winnable marginal seats in Scotland. His intent, to raise his and his party’s profile north of the border and of course apparently do some damage to Labour’s political opponents along the way. So far, so logical. It’s what politicians do. Jeremy however, is different from other politicians. We know this because … well basically he said so.
In fact it’s been pretty much a major theme of his political rhetoric for the past two years, this call for kinder, more honest politics. Sounds great, don’t you think? Which is kind of at odds with some of the statements made so far. According to Jeremy – “The SNP government has the powers if it wants to use them to mitigate the effects of austerity, they chose not to.” So clearly, offsetting the bedroom tax, no tuition fees, no prescription charges and up until the beginning of the last parliamentary term, the freezing of council tax don’t count then. Also, and this is maybe just me, but in whose estimation are the powers of the Scottish government adequate enough to cope with the austerity measures of central government? A matter of opinion surely?
Jeremy also made statements on the levels of third world poverty and shortened life expectancy to be found in areas of Glasgow (not entirely clear whether he made any statement or posited a theory on the historic causes though). Housing shortage and under investment in rural communities also rated some concerned mention. There were also some pledges from Jeremy to invest in all of the above, though my fav quote has to be “I want to see a Labour government in Westminster to be able to fund Scotland the way it should be funded and empower housing associations and local authorities to improve their housing stock.” Uh Huh!
It’s nice that Jeremy made the suggestions and all, don’t you think? In fact it’s appreciated that he discovered these things happen in Scotland at all and that, as is right and proper, some degree of concern for same is being shown. How and ever, setting aside that the Scottish Government do have a programme and targets in place on pretty much all of the above, just what does ‘fund Scotland the way it should be funded’ imply d’you reckon? Does Jeremy think Scotland is underfunded? Why would he think such a thing? He has been aware of the Scotland bill debates, devolution and such over the past seventeen years or so surely? He is aware of the current constitutional settlement, yes/no? His party were somewhat heavily involved in the process after all. How precisely does he intend to work out what this proper funding should be? Once he’s done that, how will he get it through both houses and sell it to the electorate of the other nations that they should ‘fund’ Scotland even more? It’ll be quite a sell given the current toxic media attitude toward all things Scottish. A media attitude and narrative born of political affiliations and corporate interest it has to noted.
I’m hoping regular readers have also noted the language and terminology concerning Scotland by this point?
Going back to the first statement however, there are a few pertinent questions to ask Mr Corbyn. Why should the Scottish parliament be required to ‘mitigate’ anything? Haven’t the Scottish public paid taxes to ensure that central government is responsible for adequate and effective legislation in the first place? Why should Scotland’s electorate expect that portions of their budget allocation are used to rectify catastrophic economic errors and/or oppressive legislation from central government at all? Isn’t central government fit for purpose? Is Mr Corbyn suggesting that it’s not?
Moving on, there’s the matter of the branch office’s strategy over the past year (well, past several years really). Where does kinder more honest politics come into Labour’s constant, and I do mean constant, negative opinions of the performance of Scotland’s institutions and services fit in precisely? If Labour are to be believed, Scotland’s NHS and Rail services are on the verge of imminent collapse and in a state of perpetual crisis. Which is, y’know, strange because NHS Scotland have some pretty impressive performance stats and our Scotrail service appears to be doing rather well.
But still, a kinder, more honest politics.
Finally we come to THIS. Yes, I know. A federal solution. Something this site and a great many others have covered in some detail is the long promised, nay mythical, idyll of federalism.
“Everything is on the table.” (Jeremy Corbyn or David Cameron? I just can’t tell anymore.)
Two words for Mr Corbyn – Gordon Brown. Another two words if those fail to ring any bells – The VOW. (and the first smarty pants who suggests a further two will be sent to bed without any sweeties, mkay?) Yet another reminder for Mr Corbyn to jog the old grey cells can be found HERE. That last example should put the tin hat on it as an issue.
When it comes to a kinder, more honest politics? I’d say it’s perhaps not enough to simply talk the talk.
About now, most folk could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that so far as politics from the establishment parties are concerned, it is very much a case of business as usual.