NOT WORTH THE VELLUM IT’S WRITTEN ON…..

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Let me take you back to last year in the House of Commons, to one of the first pieces of legislation that was discussed in the new Parliamentary term. To the debate on the still then Scotland Bill. Remember, the newly installed Secretary of State proudly telling us about this ‘historic’ piece of legislation? We listened in awe about the ‘permanence’ of the Scottish Parliament and how the Sewel Convention would be ‘enshrined’ in law in the making of this, the most ‘powerful devolved Parliament in the world’.

We now know of course that this Scotland Act isn’t worth the vellum its written on and that this ‘most powerful Parliament’ can be simply done away with on a Westminster whim.

Letting the ermine clad cat out of the bag, Lord Keen, the Tory Government’s top Scottish legal officer at Westminster, helpfully clarified the situation for Scotland, when he said – ”the correct legal position is that Westminster is sovereign, and may legislate at any time on any matter.” In a piece of unusual candour and honesty from the Tories it was a case of you’ll have had your ‘most powerful devolved Parliament in the world’ then.

The Tories petrified that Scotland might have some sort of legal entitlement and say in their cluelesss Brexit were obliged to dispense with the myth of permanence, statutory footings and respect for our national Parliament. On ‘serious’ issues such as Brexit where large swathes of Scots law is impacted we are simply subordinate, as we are in every aspect of our relationship with Westminster. Keeping us out of any Brexit say was worth dispensing with the veneer of constitutional equality and respect.

Just to make sure that we fully knew our place, there was more from the noble Lord. Legislative Consent Motions, where Holyrood has to give permission for Westminster to legislate on its behalf, are simply “a self-denying ordinance, a political restriction upon Parliament’s ability to act, no more and no less than that” and “in no sense any qualification or inhibition upon parliamentary sovereignty.”

Ensuring that there was no dubiety the Secretary of State for Scotland confirmed that this was indeed the case to the Scottish Affairs Committee telling us that we should have been paying  more attention to what was being debated in the House of Lords….

I’m pretty sure in the next few years there will be another Scotland Bill. Perhaps when it kicks off we can just gently inquire ‘what’s the point? There is, though, serious issues about where powers lie when, and if, Brexit is concluded. The Scotland Act is unusual that all powers are considered devolved unless they are listed. Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act provides that list and big EU powers like agriculture and fisheries are not there. There is a sense in the clear ‘know your place, Scotland’ statement from the Tories that we are being softened up to be disappointed in the repatriation of those powers.

But that’s all for the future because road signs are now fully devolved. Just make sure that we don’t have one directing us towards a Scotland in the EU, because, who knows, Lord Keen and the Westminster Tories might just be back with a road closed sign and all traffic redirected to Westminster.

INDYREF2 WILL BE THE SNP vs THE TORIES

I remember when Scottish politics was pretty boring and predictable and nothing ever seemed to happen. When I was first elected in 2001 only one Scottish Westminster seat changed hands and in 2010 absolutely no seats changed hands at all. In the Scottish Parliament the steady decline of Scottish Labour was more apparent but was always considered to be a temporary set back and something that would, in time, be reversed. The great adversaries of the era were the dominant Labour party and the insurgent SNP. Everybody understood the rules and the terrain of the fight and we got down to the business of slogging it out.

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Now everything has utterly changed. The contest for political dominance is now between the SNP and the Conservatives profoundly changing the nature of our political debate and redefining the terrain that our politics are now conducted in. All of this has happened within five dramatic years and the changes in our national politics has been as quick as it has been overwhelming. Scottish Labour has all but disappeared reduced to one MP and a diminished rump of mainly list MSPs. The remarkable feat of the Conservatives beating Labour into second place in the last Scottish election has firmly established them as the main opposition in Scotland.

There may be several reasons why all this has come to pass but the only one that matters is the independence referendum. Where the Conservatives got it right in their pitch in the referendum Labour got it totally and utterly wrong. Labour took the gamble that they spoke for their support when they enthusiastically embraced the union cause. Their arrogance extended to believing that campaigning with the Conservatives would be uncontroversial and they sincerely believed that following the independence referendum they would be placed with a 1979 supremacy with the SNP humbled once again. The Tories on the other hand had absolutely nothing to lose knowing that there would never be an issue with their support.

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If fighting the independence referendum war was bad for Labour the way they have tried to prosecute the peace has been disastrous. Their former ‘centurion guard’ of seats now have unassailable SNP majorities and their unionism now only seems to antagonise those that they once represented. The Tories on the other hand quickly understood that the constitutional debate instead of concluding was only getting in to its stride. If they could remain the true defenders of the union they could enlist unionist support from a diminished Labour Party and establish a new potent pitch based around personality and a cause that secured fifty five percent support.

This is why the campaign against an indyref2 is just as important for the Tories as the SNP’s campaign for another referendum is important for us. Labour meanwhile are stuck in a meaningless no-man’s land pitifully wailing about the continuing constitutional debate, hoping, praying, that the Scottish people will move on. It could not be worse for them.

With a Conservative opposition the constitutional debate will therefore be promoted even more enthusiastically as Conservative support becomes increasingly motivated and dependent on opposition to a referendum. Having a Conservative opposition as the main unionist party is also immensely helpful for us in the SNP. That’s because they help properly define what unionism now represents. Westminster rule increasingly means continuing Conservative rule and voting for the union now means endorsing the right of a Conservative Government we didn’t vote for run its writ in Scotland. The case for the union therefore will in time become a proxy and a case for Conservatism. Having the Scottish Tories as the union’s main proponents in Scotland helps crystallise the clear options available to the Scottish people.

And what of Labour you may ask? Well they seem to have made their choice. No sensible person associated with the Labour Party is talking about any sort of Labour government for a generation yet they still seem to be asking what is left of their support to get behind what can only now be a Conservative led union. After the disaster of recent years it would seem Labour have learned absolutely nothing.

The new constitutional debate is therefore quickly becoming about whether we should have Scottish self Government or Westminster Tory Government. That seems quite a good place to resume hostilities.

REFERENDUM NIGHT

September 18th September

It’s finally here. I joined the SNP in 1995 when we had 4 MPs and were less than 20% in the opinion polls. Now today we are asking the people of Scotland whether they want our nation to be an independent country. It has been an incredible journey and I feel quite emotional as I go and cast my vote in Craigie Church, just round the corner from where I live. I started out believing that we had absolutely no chance of winning this but have been genuinely surprised at just how close we have run them. Even today I think there might just be a chance we could pull this off. It has been all down to this incredible new constituency for Yes that has been created in the last few weeks of the campaign. The old industrial working class vote has now almost entirely embraced Yes and the young people of Scotland have come on board embracing the many opportunities to define a new nation doing things differently from the UK. Will enough of them turn out to vote? Will the fear be enough to drive out the still hostile pensioner vote in the necessary numbers? Which way will cautious aspiring Scotland fall? All will be answered in a few hours time.

The polling station is mobbed and I recognise all the returning officer’s staff who said it has been going like a fair since they opened at seven in the morning. On polling day there’s always a little bit of trying to judge how people have voted through body language but it’s all just mainly nonsense. The only difference today is that people seem to be voting more purposefully, if that’s even such a thing. There’s also a feeling of powerlessness on polling day. There is nothing much you can do make meaningful interventions and it is all about knocking up the people you have previously canvassesd to ensure that they have been, or are, going out to vote.

I make a tour of the polling stations round the city and they are all busy. I take time to speak to the new comrades who have become involved in politics for the first time through the Yes campaign. For most of them polling day is a new experience and they are both excited by the event but equally bored by the drudgery of polling station duty and the early knock up of supporters who are inevitably out at work.

In the afternoon I head up to my rural areas and if anything they are even busier. Here the Nos seem to be out in real force and it would seem that they have their support mobilised. I go back to the office to help the get the vote out effort at the crucial early evening period to be told that this is probably an unnecessary exercise from Yes Scotland. Everyone, apparently, is voting and looking at our knock up sheets most actually have. I therefore do another tour of Perth with the van and the loud speaker. Call it a night about 9pm and return home for a break and something to eat before the count. Can’t relax though, and venture down to the Bell’s Sports Centre for the Perth and Kinross count early. Here we go. Can we, can we?

Evening of 18th September/19th September

An expectant Bells is mobbed. All the registered groups have the right to have a full compliment of representatives and there are people from all the campaigning groups such as women for indy and business for Scotland. All elected representatives have also been invited and there was an invitation extended to the Head and Deputy Head Boys and Girls from all the Perth High Schools. The start of the count is always a curious affair as we await the first boxes to arrive. We are all organised for the ballot box samples and there is lots of nervous pacing of the cavernous sports hall.

The first boxes arrive at about 11.30, later than usual. By midnight there is a steady stream of boxes being opened and their contents spilled in front of the many counters and supervising campaigners. You can usually tell from the first few boxes on how it’s going to go and already I’m beginning to feel that first sense of disappointment starting to find a place in the pit of my stomach. We’re also now hearing from counts elsewhere that it is not going our way. It is apparent that we are clearly behind here but in the last few weeks expectations was that Perth and Kinross would not be one of our better areas. Surely this can still be turned round in the places we can do well?

The first declaration is from Clackmannan. A decisive win for No in a county that we would need to win if we are to prevail. As further boxes are opened we look well behind in Perth and Kinross and the No campaign are looking increasingly happy. More declarations, more success for No. But then there is a bit hope in a series of results from East Dunbartonshire, Dundee and North Lanark where we win and for one beautiful moment we are slightly ahead. Didn’t last long though, as more declarations pushed our percentage share further down and down. This isn’t going to happen now.

Hearing good things from Glasgow. Could a huge Yes vote from there bring us back into the game? We’re grabbing at anything now. Perth and Kinross is declared at about 4am and we get beat soundly 60% to 40%. I was just grateful that we got 40. Head home knowing that we are beat. Glasgow is finally declared and we won. Not enough to make a difference though and it is now officially all over. At 6am the First Minister makes a speech conceding the referendum and congratulating the No campaign. In a dignified speech he says we will now hold the unionist parties to their promises of more powers. An hour later the Prime Minister is there accepting the victory. In his speech he seems to say some things about England and more powers for the rest of the UK and some stuff about voting rights of Scottish MPs. What on earth is this? Certainly something that will be mulled over in the coming hours. Finally the Chief Returning Officer. Mary Pitcaithly, announced the final result. Yes 44.7% No 53.3%. It’s all over we have lost. I lie down for a break, absolutely exhausted and bereft.

Friday September 19th September.

Must have dozed off and awoken by the first of several phone calls from journalists wanting my response to the results. Ignore them all. Can’t help but look at the extended results programmes on all channels and the scenes from the various counts. There are of course the looks of jubilation on the faces of the victors in the No camp and looks of despair and despondency on the faces of my many friends and colleagues I recognise in the Yes camp. Both camps seem to accept the result in good grace and there is no sign of any rancour predicted by so many on the No camp. Try to examine the national picture from across the country and make a few calls to close colleagues to see how they are.

Then there is an announcement that there will be a further statement from the First Minister from his Edinburgh residence, Bute House. Expecting this to be a further concession speech Alex instead announces that he is to stand down as First Minister and leader of the SNP. It is at this point that I eventually lose it and the tears come rolling down and I appreciate what we have lost and that this is finally all over. Alex recruited me to the SNP and I served as his whip in his time at Westminster and I just can’t believe that he is now no longer going to be there to lead us and lead our nation. The rest of the day I spend in a fragile state before going out in the evening to meet a few close colleagues in the Yes campaign in Perth. Have to concede that I had a little bit too much to drink and finally fall into a deep sleep. It’s all over.

 

2 MONTHS ON AND I’M NO CLOSER TO BEING RECONCILED TO THIS AWFUL DECISION.

Brexit hasn’t properly started yet but just the sheer fact of it being decided has profoundly psychologically impacted on how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with the world. Everything feels different. There’s a feeling of being more constrained, smaller, of being culturally alone and communally detached. Being on holiday in Europe there was a real sense that all these other nationalities are part of a club that I’m now excluded from and they are planning all sorts of new co-operative shared initiatives that I can now only observe.

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Marooned on this small island, governed by the most right wing ideologues in this section of the planet, doesn’t help this sense of being adrift in an interconnected world. The rest of Europe will be getting on with building shared institutions whilst isolated Tory UK will be getting down to the business of scrapping the Human Rights Act. The loss of access to the free movement of peoples across our continent is probably the most self damaging decision we have made in our island history. The access that my generation had to mix, work, learn and build relationships with our European friends will be lost to the next generation as Europe reciprocates in kind by closing down the continent to Brits. This decision has denied our young people all those opportunities and experiences that we simply took for granted. This generation of young people have every right to feel angered and aggrieved at the isolated, inward looking United Kingdom they will now be bequeathed.

And then there are the reasons that underpin why we’re doing all of this. A massive distrust, even contempt, of others who want to come and live and work amongst us. An agenda based on suspicion, insecurity and most of all fear. What a cultural basis to start this singular, self dependent journey into splendid isolation. Departing the European Union as a project is the culmination of decades of work by UKIP and right wing Conservatives. It is their agenda that has prevailed and will influence our journey into solitude.

Then there was how this was won. The biggest pack of lies ever presented to this nation. £350 million per week would to be returned to our NHS just being the most obvious example of the rubbish claimed by people no longer a feature of our national politics, and rightly returned to the obscurity where they belong. Then there is what has happened since. The sense of trauma, a feeling of ‘good god what have we done!’, a rise in racist attacks and intimidation of immigrant communities, a ‘philosophical’ approach to declining currency values, downgrading of credit ratings, stock market crashes and deep, deep uncertainty and insecurity. There is still a feeling of disbelief about all of this and the looking for someone to pick up all these shattered pieces.

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I’m now told that I should look for the positives in this appalling decision. We’re back ‘in control’, our borders will ‘be secure’, powers will be ‘returned’ and we are free from ‘unelected bureaucrats’. They can frankly shove all that nonsense where the European summer sun don’t shine. There is absolutely nothing positive to be taken from this vote and it still feels like something to be mourned.

But Brexit means Brexit, we are blithely reassured, as if making it alright. What Brexit actually means is unfettered Tory rule unconstrained by the positive influence of partners. It means isolation and deep introspection. It means insecurity, uncertainty and absolutely no plan on how we deal with it. It means closing down the continent to our young people and denying tariff free trade to our businesses.

I still hope that my nation, a nation that voted for continuing partnership and inclusion, can still escape the ramifications of this vote. Scotland wanted none of this and Scotland’s view should be respected. I think you can tell I’m still struggling to be reconciled to this awful decision. Scotland should also continue to be angered and unreconciled about it too.

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE -the changing face of the Scottish press

Like most politicians in Scotland I have a ‘complicated’ relationship with my press colleagues. I’m always grateful for the coverage I receive but remain anxious about the power they have to make my life an absolute misery. I remember being splashed across the front page of the Sun with the headline ‘What a Twit’ for one of my latest indiscretions on social media and the way the Daily Mail particularly likes to give ‘airtime’ to my particular views is always a ‘delight’. Like nearly every other politician of a nationalist persuasion I have been variously ‘hypocritical’, ‘a barefaced liar’, ‘accused’, ‘shamed’ and other adjectives too numerous to mention. The joys…..

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Like most of the media elsewhere the Scottish media is in decline. Sales are precariously down, historic titles teeter on the edge of survival and the media’s influence diminished to a shadow of its almost omnipotent former self. Struggling to find a meaningful place on the new digital platforms Scottish titles wrestle with the new digital place they now find themselves in.

Add to that 24 hours broadcast news outlets means that ‘news’ is so often ‘olds’ for a press that has to be printed for the declining number of the next morning’s customers. In trying to find a space online ‘the press’ encounters stiff competition from the broadcasters, particularly the BBC, who simply crowd them out with their own extensive online presence. Only the biggest newspaper titles with the deepest pockets seem to have carved a meaningful place in the new online news terrain and very few of those are Scottish titles.

The Scottish press therefore has to rely on even more insider ‘exclusives’, creative headlines and ‘scoops’ for its news profile and increasingly comment is king. This then comes up against the ‘democratisation’ of comment with the proliferation of social media. No longer is there the passive consumer, everyone now has access to comment and the opportunity to express an opinion and challenge comment they disagree with.

Traditional journalists working in this diminished environment try their hardest to promote a meaningful role for themselves. They come to the party, though, with a historic and cultural baggage that finds the new ‘engagement’ difficult and problematic. Unused to having their views challenged many traditional journalists retreat into a self affirming huddle hitting out dismissively at a more demanding and critical readership. Increasingly our press colleagues feel that they should not be challenged at all if we happen to disagree with their particular and loaded perspective.

But here in Scotland we have practically recreated a new environment for news and things have almost been revolutionised here. The referendum changed things dramatically and Scotland is possibly several steps ahead and further evolved than most other nations in embracing new media. Identifying that almost none of the traditional press supported Scottish independence the Yes campaign simply created its own. This was done organically, and importantly online, and the sheer range of these new sites became one of the most interesting features of the referendum campaign. Those sites satisfied an increased desire for a different type of news and they offered a perspective simply unavailable in the traditional press, overwhelmingly hostile to the independence cause. It could be said that the traditional press gave birth to this new on line engagement by denying a large swathe of public opinion an editorial place in its structures.

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What we therefore have is an evolving, exciting, almost anarchic space for comment with more people actively engaging in political debate than ever before. The traditional press now lives cheek by jowl with new media in full view of a online public with an almost insatiable appetite to be informed and engaged.

But a ‘press’ remains an absolute essential and I would go to the ditch to protect the right of a free press to print whatever it wants. The idea of a free press is the very cornerstone of democracy but it is also right that the press is challenged. Most of the traditional press is owned by powerful individuals or institutions with a particular world view which they believe is in need of promoting. Journalists and broadcasters are also increasingly ‘commentators’ actively involved in our political debate promoting their own particular strong personal views that just cry out to be examined. They can not expect to be exempt from challenge when they have such a privileged position in the debate about our nation.

The traditional press in Scotland will continue to decline unless it can face up to the new realities of the place it finds itself in. It can wish things were the way they used to be, it can even wish the Scottish consumer was a bit more grateful and satisfied with what it has to offer. But we will not be going back to the old days and the Scottish press has to get used to that fact.

BLAIRISM – A POLITICAL ABERRATION

I’ll start by getting this out of the way first. I have absolutely no time for Blairism or what it represents in UK politics. I have always seen it as a curious political aberration that has probably done more than any other political ‘ism’ to destroy trust in UK politics. It’s not just the Iraq war or the attempt to build that appalling anti-civil libertarian state, with all its ID cards and 92 days detention. It isn’t even the quasi Thatcherite innovations such as Foundation Hospitals and Tuition Fees. It’s not even Tony Blair himself with all his post Chilcot defiance and lack of contrition. It is just the sheer dishonesty of the project and what it has done to all who inhabit the space on the left of UK politics.

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Blairism, or ‘New Labour’ as it liked to style itself emerged out of the crisis in the Labour Party in the 1980s. Riven and diminished by one of its periodic left/right conflicts ‘New’ Labour offered itself as a low risk accommodation to the prevailing right wing political culture of the time. As a revisionist movement it immediately got down to the work of eroding the social democrat base of the Labour Party before becoming confident enough to effectively abolish Labour’s historic commitment to socialism when it amended the iconic Clause 4. Presenting itself as a ‘more competent’ electorally acceptable ‘Conservative’ party it found easy success against the real Conservative Party which was effectively destroyed after acquiring a reputation for economic incompetence and laughable public scandals.

the key thing about New Labour, though, was it was always more about reforming the Labour party than reforming our national politics.

The Labour Attlee Government established the post war welfare state consensus so comprehensively and effectively that is was quickly adopted as the political mainstream. For most of the end of the last century politics was characterised by a gentle tick tock of the political pendulum around what that inspiring Labour Government bequeathed. That was until the political mould was shattered with the arrival of Thatcherism. Where New Labour likes to style itself as a dynamic political force it was but a mere whimper compared to the ear shattering bellows of the arrival of Thatcherism.

Thatcher simply ripped up the cosy bi-party post war statist consensus with her Friedman/Hayek inspired version of Manchester Liberal economics. Thatcher re-invented our national political culture and if Blairism is to be defined historically as being anything in particular we can only conclude that it is nothing but a sorry footnote to the political revolution of high Thatcherism. Thatcher reset the political pendulum so far to the right that 20 years on it still remains defiantly un-recalibrated. The Blairites in government did next to nothing to try and tilt that political pendulum back even a notch.

The Blairites governed as socially acceptable Thatcherites. For all the minimum wage introducing and devolution delivering it is hard to see any move away from the orthodoxy of Thatcherism. Anti-union laws were kept in place, PFI was expanded, financial markets de-regulated, military adventurism reached a peak and the privatisation of public services was actually speeded up.

Blairism only came to an end when the real Conservatives became electable again with a more electable, charismatic representative of Thatcherite orthodoxy than the curious (anti Blairite) Blairite Gordon Brown.

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Out of power Blairism remains the most powerful faction in the Parliamentary Labour Party. It’s roots are deep and the most significant Parliamentary figures are the old (and new) true believers. There is also this deep sense of entitlement and self belief buoyed by the fact that Blairism as a then necessary Conservative force won three General elections. In recent years you can still feel the grasp of Blairism on Labour policy on things like supporting Tory spending plans and Tory welfare caps.

But politics has moved on and across Europe the old decaying social democratic parties are in crisis as unsatisfied populations look for more substantial solutions to their many and manifest problems. Blairism finds itself out of date and unable to respond to the fast changing political environment and fast changing political contexts. Blairites are simply not adept and nimble enough to recognise the new reality and the fact that the electorate has already moved on.

The last great (and doomed) chapter of Blairism will be in trying to hold on to a Labour Party that has already slipped from its grasp. Why on earth the Blairites think they will ever be embraced again in a party that sees them as part of the problem is almost beyond belief?

They are already part of our political history and they will not be judged favourably when their movement is eventually chronicled. Blairism destroyed the credibility of the left in the UK and their petulant death throes have ceded the ground in England to UKIP and the other transient populists. We can only say good bye and good riddance. We will never see their likes again.

THE MOST INEPT PARLIAMENTARY PLOTTERS OF ALL TIME

There is something gruesome, compelling but yet almost beautiful about what is happening in the Labour party just now. Watching this excruciating and contorted battle for its ‘soul’ one can not help but agree with the conclusion of John McDonnell that the plotters are ‘****ing useless’. This is now a civil war that can not be won and it is likely there will be a split based around Labour’s parliamentarians and the Labour party membership. We could have two parties emerge from this internecine shambles. One with a small membership but lots of MPs and another with a large membership with a corresponding small number of Parliamentarians. If this does come to pass it will all be the fault of those who have led this inept revolt and the almost clueless way their plot has been executed.

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The minute Jeremy Corbyn was elected Blairite MPs wanted absolutely nothing to do with his leadership and their sole mission and purpose was to bring it to an end as quickly as possible. There were problems though, not least the size of Jeremy’s mandate and the damage that could be done in the wider membership and movement with any hasty proceedings. Care and caution therefore had to be exercised with a view to ensure that any future damage would be as minimal as possible.

The strategy was to demonstrate that they would give Jeremy’s leadership ‘a go’ whilst simultaneously doing all they could to destabilise it. Leading Blairites would therefore serve on the front bench to demonstrate this ‘loyalty’ whilst some would be dispatched to the back bench to give a noisy but measured opposition. In fact, you can almost imagine the evening round at Hilary’s or Yvette’s, scoffing into some expensive pizza whilst knocking back the warming Sauvignon Blanc. ’Andy, you and Angela stay on the front bench, Yvette and Caroline do what damage you can from the back’.

Aided and assisted by Jeremy’s chaotic front bench performances the plan was a patient waiting game until the optimum moment presented itself to strike.

But then they got restless. An opportunity presented itself with the turmoil following the Brexit vote. ‘Can we somehow blame Jeremy for this situation and his lack of commitment’? “Yes”, they concluded and the disastrous series of measures were put in place. The ‘carefully crafted’ plan was to be initiated with the picking of a fight where a senior Blairite spokesperson would walk. ‘Remember Hilary, you go first, then we all follow’. With little left of a shadow cabinet it was anticipated by the plotters that Jeremy would be away by the end of the week. The Parliamentary Labour Party would then rally round and once the membership saw this unity they would also fall in line behind the plotters. It would be the perfect Parliamentary coup….

Only Jeremy hadn’t read the script and he was going nowhere. He drafted in still loyal MPs into a new shadow cabinet and exercised a business as usual approach that bamboozled the plotters. ‘Why doesn’t he just go’ they wailed, knowing nothing of the historic lessons of the left’s attitude towards power? There was now no plan and things started to disastrously come apart.

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‘Maybe the unions can persuade him to go’? – they prayed in hope as no-one came forward to challenge his leadership. Next stop was the Labour NEC where they now hoped that Jeremy would somehow be kept off the ballot paper. But Jeremy had bolstered up his support on the NEC and the Blairite plotters now knew that they would have to face an unwinnable contest. The last hope they have is that they can somehow sufficiently rig the franchise in their favour by disallowing large chunks of the Labour membership a vote. That is how desperate it has quickly become for the most inept Parliamentary plotters of modern times.

The last stage will of course be another, probably more decisive, victory for Jeremy and the plotters will have killed their party. For the life of me I just can not understand why the Blairites didn’t try and really work with Jeremy’s leadership and the membership? Do something sensible like jointly grooming a future leader from the left with a view to unity (everyone knows that Jeremy could never win a general election)? Why couldn’t they work on joint programs and put in place a legacy?

I think that what is at the heart of it all is the sense of entitlement within the Blairite wing of the Labour Party. They used to call the shots and run the party. They have now found that they are totally ill-equipped to meet the challenges of a fast changing political environment and they understand it even less. They probably therefore deserve never to return. It’s just a pity they will take the Labour Party down with them as well.