The Labour party’s mostly invisible branch office manager in Scotland, Reginald Lapdancer, might once have had the fond belief that being a Corbyn loyalist meant that the Jezza would be loyal in return. He has discovered that he was sadly mistaken. Or not so sadly if you’re not one of the tattered remnants of what’s left of the Labour party in Scotland. The party leader has said this week that it’s not up to the UK parliament to block a Scottish independence referendum. So, that’s you telt then, Randalf Loglauncher.
Jeremy Corbyn thinks that another Scottish independence referendum is a bad idea. He’d campaign against independence. He’d stomp the land along with the rest of them, warning of doom and devastation and deficits. All of which is fair enough. It’s perfectly fine to oppose Scottish independence, what’s not fine is to prevent the people of Scotland from debating it in a national referendum when they’ve elected a Scottish Government with a mandate to bring one about. So Jeremy doesn’t agree with the Labour branch office which wants Westminster to overrule the Scottish Parliament when the Scottish Parliament doesn’t agree with the Labour branch office. My god. Someone in Westminster gets democracy. Well, sort of.
There is of course a bigger picture here. Partly it’s the realistic electoral calculation that Labour’s Scottish contingent in Westminster is expendable. And you only have to look at Lesley Laird to go, “Well, OK. Fair enough,” to that last point. Lesley is apparently the Shadow Scotland Secretary and is supposed to be taking the lead on Labour’s Scotland policy at Westminster. However her sole distinguishing feature in Scottish Labour politics is that she has an even lower public profile and recognition than branch office manager Roderick Lambworrier. That, and she’s not Hugh Gaffney, who is only remarkable for his ability to embarrass himself. Apart from Ian Murray, who pops up on the telly from time to time to be hypocritical about whether there ought to be referendums, even those of us who are dedicated Scottish politics geeks would struggle to name the other Labour MPs who represent Scottish seats. Most of them would fail to make an mark if you gave them a big rubber stamp and an ink pad.
The Labour leadership has clearly calculated that getting the SNP to support Labour budgets is going to be far more important to the stability of any future Labour government than getting more Labour MPs in Scotland. Giving current polling, Labour is going to be extremely lucky to hang on to a single seat, Ian Murray’s. And Ian is as much a thorn in the flesh for the Labour leadership as he is for just about everyone who has the misfortune to hear him harrumphing on the telly.
The reason that he’s made the announcement now is that it is all a part of Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy to get the minority Westminster parties to agree to back him in a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson. The plan is that Jeremy would become Prime Minister for a limited period, in order to ensure that the UK avoids a no deal Brexit.
Jeremy’s plan has however already been shot down in flames by Jo Swinson. The only thing that remain voting Middle England dislikes more than Brexit is the idea of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. There’s no way that Tory in drag Jo is going to be seen to back a Jeremy Corbyn government. Not even if it’s to prevent a no deal Brexit. Not even if it’s time limited. Not even if he’s going to be prevented by parliamentary arithmetic from introducing the left wing measures that he’s promised his supporters. Jo has instead suggested that the temporary government be headed by Harriet Harman, because it’s up to Jo Swinson to decide who gets to be the leader of the Labour party.
The reason for the refusal is twofold. Firstly it’s because Jo has her eye on Tory – Lib Dem marginal seats in the snap General Election which is widely predicted, and Jeremy is as toxic with Tory voters as the Lib Dems were with students after they did a U-turn on tuition fees. A U-turn which Jo voted for. It’s going to be very difficult for the Lib Dems to attract the votes of remain leaning Tories, who do actually exist, if they have been seen to prop up a Jeremy Corbyn administration.
Secondly it’s because Jo knows that the price of a temporary Corbyn administration which also requires the backing of the SNP is another Scottish independence referendum, which buggers her career. You can’t be a party leader in Westminster when you represent a seat in a country that’s independent of the UK. It’s only referendums which produce a result that Jo doesn’t like that ought to be rerun. The Lib Dems want a government of national unity, but only with those people that they think it’s politically advantageous to unite with.
So that’s the Lib Dems there, putting the interests of their party ahead of the interests of the UK as a whole. They certainly learned the lesson well when they were in coalition with the Conservatives, didn’t they. “We haven’t got time here to muck about with people’s egos,” said Jo as she burnished her shiny ego.
Time is running out here. If there is to be a grouping in Westminster which can oppose a no deal Brexit, it is only logical that it should be led by the leader of the opposition. Parliamentary arithmetic alone means that Jeremy Corbyn will not be able to introduce any measures which don’t enjoy cross-party support. Even a number of Conservative remainers is willing to meet with Labour to discuss the idea, yet Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems are still set against the idea.
The way Westminster works is that if a government fails to win a vote of no-confidence, then it’s the leader of the opposition who has the right to try to form an administration. If he or she can’t, then there’s a general election, that’s how it works. It’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the leader of the opposition is. It’s not up to a minority politician like Jo Swinson to unilaterally rewrite what passes for a British constitution. But then we’re talking here about a politician who preaches Liberal Democracy but practises neither. Her refusal to countenance doing a deal with Labour only makes a no deal Brexit more likely, and that in turn makes it even more likely that Scotland will turn to independence as the only means of escape. Jo Swinson’s selfish short-termism is yet another nail in the coffin of the UK. Be careful what you wish for, Jo.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email email@example.com
You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at email@example.com and I will send the necessary information.
Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.
Gaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.