Breaking the Joyce Barrier

Oh here we go again.  It’s becoming a daily ritual, ranting about Johann.  I’m starting to feel like a stalker.  But it’s been a really bad day.  I wish I could run away and hide from my problems like Johann, but full time carers don’t have the same luxuries afforded to the leader of the Labour party in Scotland.  In the meantime she offers a convenient target for an outpouring of pent up frustrations.

So she is actually useful for something, although I’m sure the members of Falkirk Labour party and the staff at Grangemouth wouldn’t find that much of a consolation.

Anyway, on Monday we were presented with evidence that Johann lives.  Ok, well maybe it’s “lives” in the sense that a sea sponge lives without the benefit of a central nervous system, ears, or eyes, but the lovely Johann has come out of hiding and has admitted what the rest of the country has known for quite some time: there were attempts to manipulate the selection process for a Labour candidate in Falkirk.

Admittedly it took a front page spread in the Sunday Herald, in which Falkirk Labour party members complained that they’d been left adrift and abandoned by the party leadership, none of whom could be arsed to turn up and explain to them what’s going on, before she decided it was time to “intervene”.

She didn’t add that the attempts at manipulation set off a chain of events that led to the greatest threat to Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy since Thatcher.  Neither did she remind us that the leadership of the Labour party in Scotland then sat on its collective bahoochie replaying nostalgic old videos of conference delegates singing the Internationale.  But we can take that as read.  Johann has now intervened, to her own satisfaction if no one else’s.

If you look up the word “intervene” in the Dictionary of Labour Party Terminology, you’ll find it really means “shamed into giving a brief media interview after howls of outrage and derision over a leadership with as much direction as an inflatable banana in the Corrievreckan whirlpool”, but hey, let’s not quibble.  Better late than never.

Scotland is on pause – oh the irony – because Johann won’t do the job that she and Labour claim she was elected to do, to lead the entire Labour party north of the Border.  She didn’t think it was “appropriate” to discuss the situation with her fellow Unite members.  She didn’t think it “appropriate” to discuss the issue with the leadership of the union that sponsors her as an MSP.  And she certainly didn’t think it “appropriate” to speak personally to members of the Falkirk Labour party.  She’s only a nominal leader, a latent leader.  But better latent than never.

Johann is so much of a leader that she wasn’t even given a copy of the report that Labour central office carried out into the affair.  It was reported on Monday that Johann had seen the report, although that’s not exactly what she said.  She said she “knew what was in the report”.  But that’s not saying much, everyone knows what’s in the report.  It contains the contents of a Falkirk sewer and it’s deeply embarrassing for the Labour leadership.  Still doesn’t answer the question of whether Johann is in the Labour leadership loop or not.  I’m guessing not.

Decisively leaderish, on Monday Johann vowed to “have a look at” reopening the inquiry into the Falkirk serial collision.  Not a definite commitment to reinvestigate the murky goings-on, just a vague statement that Johann might have a wee think about it.  One of those promises that’s as vague as Davie Cameron’s commitment to “consider” further devolution in the event of a No vote.  That’s reassuring then.  Though somewhat less reassuring when you realise that Johann doesn’t actually have any powers to reopen an investigation or start a new one, which isn’t very leaderish at all.

However in the same interview she also repeatedly stated that Labour needs to “move on” from the debacle, sweep it under the carpet and desperately pretend that it never happened.  She didn’t actually say that last bit, but it’s a safe assumption that’s where her preference vote lies.

So what’s it to be, reinvestigating or “moving on”?  Labour is able act swiftly and decisively.  By tea time it was reported that Labour was going for moving on, rather than doing anything of any practical use to clear up its problem with declining membership rolls, and the increasing ease with which small organised groups can manipulate selection processes in sclerotic constituency parties.  And in a few weeks it may well be rinse and repeat in East Dunbartonshire.

They’ll kick it into the long grass, let the police investigate, and pray they find nothing illegal.  Hopefully we’ll all forget and Johann can go back to accusing Alex Salmond of lying about something.  It’s a tried and trusted strategy.  Worked a treat with Stephen Purcell.

“Oh that’s a surprise,” said a shocked Scotland over its tea as it digested the news.  Before going on to ask itself just how Labour expects to persuade us that we’re Better Together with the Union when the Union has been so spectacularly bad for Labour.  Look what the Union has turned them into, a party that once stood for socialism and Scottish self-determination.  The high road to British Parliamentary Socialism led to the cul de sac of Lamont, fiddling in Falkirk while Grangemouth burned.

The whole sorry saga was sparked off by a former officer in the Army Education Corps and sometime Labour MP who wanted to teach us a lesson in Chaos Theory.  The classic version requires a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon to set off a destructive hurricane on the other side of the world, but Eric discovered that a fly head butting of a Tory in a Westminster bar worked just as well.  It led to a storm over Grangemouth, and it seems the lasting casualty will be the Labour party.  The storm ripped away their tarpaulin of lies and self-serving excuses, and even BBC Scotland wasn’t able to provide much shelter.

Their only hope of recovery is the birth of a party that is really a Scottish Labour party, a party that’s not always looking over its shoulder to make itself electable to Tory voters in swing seats in Middle England.  A party with a proper leadership that doesn’t just mouth platitudes, but demonstrates solidarity with working people by having the confidence to adopt truly progressive social democratic policies, the will to carry them out, and the powers of a parliament that can make them happen.  The current party leadership will never allow that to happen, so it’s up to us ordinary punters to make it happen.

It’s the first lesson of socialism, the lesson that Labour have long since forgotten.  If the people want change they must make that change happen themselves, because those with power will not do it for us.  We can only do that by voting Yes next year.  A Yes vote will drag Labour into change, despite themselves.  Vote No and the Labour leadership will take it as a vote of confidence.  We can expect many more Falkirks, and Grangemouths.

At least Scottish science has discovered a new principle of physics, so it hasn’t been total loss.  Labour under Lamont has shown it’s possible to break the Joyce Barrier, the level you have to sink to before Eric Joyce is able to lecture you from the moral high ground.

As man responsible for toppling the first domino when he nutted that Tory MP put it in his blog:

“The party seems wholly unable to distinguish between competent, decent trade union organising and Unite’s intimidation, incompetence and bogus politics. Either that, or it’s simply too afraid. With the majority of the Scottish shadow cabinet members of and sponsored by Unite, and with a huge number of MPs in the same basket, it’s looking awfully like the latter.”

He added later on Newsnicht that he had no confidence that Johann was capable of taking action, a view which Alistair Darling apparently shares.  But the Labour leadership is still going La-La-La-Lamont listening.  It’s too afraid.

But it’s not the Unite union Labour should be afraid of.  It’s not the banks or the press.  It’s ordinary Labour voters, it’s the people – like me – who should be natural Labour voters but are too revolted by what the party has become.  Because we have it within our power to give them the biggest fright of their lives on the 18th of September next year.  A fright not even Johann Lamont will be able to hide from.

Gordon Brown tells the truth

According to one theory, there is an infinite number of universes, which in turn means that all possible things which can potentially happen do in fact happen somewhere in the infinite multiverse, no matter how implausible or unlikely.  There is a universe where there are actually more Tory MPs in Scotland than pandas, it’s one of the Hell Dimensions.  There’s also a universe where Reporting Scotland is a really good news programme, although quantum physicists consider this less plausible than the universe where the Daily Mail publishes an editorial begging the UK Government to allow in more asylum seekers from countries which Westminster has invaded.

However yesterday we discovered we reside in perhaps the most singular universe of all, the blessed land where Gordon Brown actually tells the truth for once.  No really, it did happen.

Gord has now admitted that he’s an ex-politician, something the rest of us have known for quite some time.  You have to phase these things out gradually you know, so he’s still drawing his MP’s salary, and his expenses, and gaining contributions to his pension pot and pay offs.  He gave up doing any work himself a long time ago.

But we must not be harsh on him, he’s really just practising the message that he preached while in high office.  He’s privatised his constituency work by farming it out to office staff he pays for out of expenses.  So he’s really a job creator and not a parasite.

Gord has lied for years on just about everything, mostly to himself, but also to the rest of us.  He was the Labour Chancellor who proudly stuck to Tory spending plans and Tory attitudes to the jobless.  He had a moral compass but it was really a device for telling the direction in which to sling some mud.   He was the man with a plan who was going to put the Labour back into New Labour, but it turned out the only plan was how to get his paws on Tony Blair’s job.  Gord approached politics like an obsessive Monroe bagger, once he’d reached the highest peak he didn’t know what to do with himself.

The blessed land where this miraculous truth telling occurred was not Scotland, that’s too ridiculous for any universe in which we’re not yet independent.  It was Qatar.  Gordie was doing what he does best when he’s not got a book to plug or an after-dinner speech to make for nothing more than his food, travel, lodgings and a very fat cheque.  He does it all for charidee you know.  He was punching above the weight of the constituents of Kirkaldy at an international summit on something terribly important, held at a posh and lavishly appointed conference and hotel centre. Conveniently somewhere warm where people think he’s the former prime minister ingliziya.

Removing themselves from being subject to difficult questions is the only demonstrable skill possessed by Scotland’s Labour politicians.  They are experts in disappearing, world class in fact.   It’s surprising that they didn’t demand hide and seek to be added to the list of Olympic sports when the games were held in London.  Between Gordie Broon, Johann Lamont and Jim Murphy they’d have snapped up gold, silver and bronze.  It would have given them an excuse to wrap themselves in Union flags and pose on the front of United with Labour leaflets.  Only there aren’t any leaflets.

United with Labour is the invisible campaign for invisible politicians.  Despite being launched with a fanfare of “that’ll show thae nats a thing or three” puffery from media hacks, Labour’s own campaign to save the Union in a way that doesn’t involve being photographed with Conservatives has managed to garner just 6 friends and 47 likes on its Facebook page.  I almost felt sorry for it.  Even Gary Glitter’s got more people who believe him than that.

Johann Lamont has learned well from Gordie, many would say she now surpasses the old master in the vanishing arts.  It’s much harder for Johann to hide, since she’s rarely invited to international conferences in warm countries.  No one in Labour’s London office seems to have heard of the supposed leader of the party in Scotland, she didn’t even figure on the CC list for the report into the goings on within the Falkirk constituency party, so it’s hardly surprising no international conference organisers have heard of her either.

After briefly emerging to have a wee gloat over a predictable Dunfermline by election result,  chicken Johann has gone back into hiding in order to avoid being asked any questions about the flustercluck that was the role of Labour and the Unite union in the Grangemouth crisis.  Labour and Unite spent the past few months attacking one another with the single minded fury of battery chickens on steroids determined to establish who ruled the roost.  They forgot all about the Ineos fox intent on devouring Grangemouth’s wee chicks in high visibility jaickets.

For all that they preach that Scotland should demonstrate solidarity with workers in England, Labour’s pretty poor at showing solidarity with workers themselves.  Grangemouth showed that Labour’s sole interest is Labour.  Unite’s sorry role in the Grangemouth affair is nothing to be proud of either, but at least their basic point is correct.  The Labour party was established by the union movement as a vehicle for workers’ rights.  But the Labour party has transformed the union movement into a vehicle for the Labour party.

Now the Labour party rails against the evil inquities of avaricious foxes, but when in office Labour embarked on a fox breeding programme with all the enthusiasm of their Tory predecessors, and cut down the chicken wire protecting the coops saying it was a barrier to business.  They muzzled the guard dogs and sold off the chicken sheds.  They created the conditions that allowed Grangemouth to be so vulnerable.

Johann doesn’t want to answer any questions about this.  And it’s terribly unfair of us to think she should.  After all, it’s not like a Unite sponsored MSP and nominal leader of the Labour party in Scotland could possibly know anything about a major bitch-fest between Labour and Unite that ended up being the blue touch paper on a powder keg of petrochemicals.

Labour doesn’t want us to think about its role in leaving Scottish industry a sitting duck for any passing capitalist predator, a legacy of the ex-politician on a freebie to Qatar.  Instead we must allow Johann to get back to doing what she does best.  Lying down in a darkened room until she can think of something to accuse Alex Salmond of.  It’s her only apparent purpose.  She’s a fat lot of use for anything else.

Scotland’s Labour politicians have been known to submerge for weeks and months on end, only finally surfacing for a brief period, usually in order to accuse Alex Salmond of something.  It’s a skill in which they are rivalled only by Nessie, except for the accusing Alex Salmond bit, although it is fair to say there are more plausible sightings of Nessie than Gordie or Johann.  It’s also probably true that Nessie would be capable of giving a far more coherent account of herself, but that’s by the by.

However the similarities far outweigh the differences.  All are elusive cold blooded reptilians, all have a reputation that is largely mythical, and all are easy to confuse with lumps of dead wood floating at an odd angle.

Johann Lamont is an ex-politician too, she’s just not admitted it yet.  Perhaps in an independent Scotland a real Labour party can rise from the ashes of despair created by the current incarnation.  It’s unlikely that Johann or Gordon will have any role in it, then perhaps they can disappear forever.