Some Words of Advice for Scottish Labour

2915088014It was when we were discussing the Scotland Bill in the House of Commons it struck me just how different the place is. For a start, there were none of the aggressive interventions and the attempts to shout down SNP MPs from the Scottish Labour benches – entirely because there are no Scottish Labour MPs left! Save the one lone survivor, of course, who is required to serve on the front bench. Their diminished state was so apparent, that a shadow Welsh Minister had to be drafted in to sum up on the bill.

This current Scotland Bill is a curious piece of legislation. Like all hastily drafted bills, it is totally flawed and open to interpretation. It can’t even agree with itself on the ‘permanence’ of the Scottish Parliament. It has been scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament devolution committee and there was cross-party agreement in Holyrood that the bill must be improved. But predictably, the Tories gave nothing away.

Labour at least tried to improve the bill, but their heart wasn’t in it. Like ‘English votes for English laws’, they can’t be bothered with Scotland anymore, having more or less (probably correctly) written off their chances in a nation that has comprehensively rejected them.

Is there a way back for Scottish Labour? Well, yes there is, and it is so apparent that I can’t believe they can’t see it. Labour currently inhabit a place in Scottish politics that goes against the thrust and the grain of Scottish public political opinion. The referendum redefined everything and Scotland now really, really cares about its constitutional future. The vast majority of the Scottish people have settled for a place which straddles devo-max, near federalism and independence, somewhere Labour themselves may have been headed towards by the end of the referendum.

What makes this extraordinary is that Labour have since spent the last few weeks totally rubbishing what the Scottish people say they want and what Labour claimed they wanted to deliver. With their inept campaign against full fiscal autonomy (FFA), they had to explain to the Scottish people why this, in their words, would be a ‘disaster’. This had to be dressed up with the crushing news that, like independence, they were just too wee, too poor and unimaginative to manage the policy that is as close as possible to the new settled will of the Scottish people.

But that brings us back to the Scotland Bill itself and what happened when this was discussed. Well, the debate itself on the measure was the usual – ‘we were too poor, etc’. Then astonishingly Labour abstained. Now, I’m actually taking this as progress. It’s good that Labour are at least unsure about FFA now. Labour have got to get to the place where they say that they are at least open to all options for Scotland’s constitutional future. And there are signs that they are at least looking at FFA.

If they do not, Kezia Dugdale may indeed be right – they aren’t at rock bottom yet. Labour have got to get with the general national plan or they are indeed finished. It’s up to them.

5 thoughts on “Some Words of Advice for Scottish Labour

  1. Jim Morris

    When the voters of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are added together they make up roughly 15% of the electorate. Democratically they should have a say in 15% of the legislation. Given that all three areas have some measure of devolution (allbeit at the whim of the majority in Westminster), then we are talking Scottish, Welsh and Irish Votes for English Laws “SWIVEL” for short. Very much an equality with EVEL. What we have now is EVSWIL English Votes for Scottish, Welsh and Irish Laws.

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  3. Angry Weegie

    Labour’s “inactivity” seems to be the continuation of the Bain Principle. While they seem to be happiest talking down Scotland, Scots, the SNP, anyone wearing tartan, or even anything made from tartan, they are definitely, absolutely, positively not going to vote on anything proposed, sponsored or supported by the SNP. It’s not a lack of ambition, rather that their ambition is directed in a somewhat self-defeating direction. Pehaps the new leadership will bring a new sense of direction, but, having looked at the candidates North and South of the border, I somehow doubt it.

  4. Jed Wheeler

    Labour is acting like a kid who has decided to take their ball and go home because they don’t like the other kid winning. They will do everything in their power to block and stifle the snp at this point because they blame the snp for the tories being in power – never mind that if every person in scotland had voted labour the conservatives would have still won based solely on their wins in england. It’s like democrats who still blame the green party here in the States for Al Gore losing to George Bush in Florida. They feel they are entitled to unuestioning support from the left no matter how far right they move and incensed that anyone would dare challenge them.

    Here’s the thing neither the democrats or uk labou understand: nobody owes them anything. If they want voter loyalty they have to earn it. And if they betray the working class over and over again eventually people will either vote for someone else as you have done in scotland or simply stop voting at all as many americans have done since we have no viable third parties.

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