Ed Miliband One Nation(Un) disgraced blogger Ian Smart’s self-honesty has been gaining plaudits as he charts Scottish Labour’s descent into oblivion. He writes: “You may have noticed that I have more or less stopped blogging.” We hadn’t, but thanks for the update.

Smart’s latest follows a long line of Labour’s right who seem so shocked by Corbyn’s victory they are now openly championing the Conservatives. The Red Tory jibe has stuck as problems with their former foes get dropped in the face of their own impending electoral doom. Tom Harris talks of  Labour being on the “edge of irrelevance”, colleagues like Dan Hodges have flounced off, Brian Wilson remains in a state of permanent unreconstructed apoplexy while the magnificent John McTernan was this week high on Tory cronyism. A queue of commentators and editors form a perpetual whine in print and online. John Rentoul (Chief Political Commentator at the Independent on Sunday) and Nick Cohen are most prominent amongst them. Lord Mandelson is chief propagandist for his lost tribe. This week he argued that Ed Miliband could have won the 2015 General Election claiming that one of the chief reasons was his attitude to business: “The public are not in love with big business but they do expect a prospective prime minister to understand the fundamentals of the market economy.” He continued, perhaps betraying a hint of sour grapes, that last year’s election was the first since 1983 in which he “played no role whatsoever at national level”. Mr Miliband did not want him, he says, because “a desire to bury New Labour” was “at the heart of [his] being”.

On and on they churn.

Former-Labour-minister-Brian-Wilson-1831222.pngNever a day goes by without a prominent (or not so prominent) party members leaving in disgust/dismay/despair. Delete as appropriate. Last week Kate Godfrey wrote – in a widely praised piece ‘So long Labour, and thanks for all the guilt:

“The grey chill of Corbynism frightens and disturbs me. I have seen Libya and lived in the German East, and I am frightened by the visions held before us.”

Of course this is over-hyped and meaningless nonsense. These people just can’t come to terms with defeat. The question is how many of them will have the courage to actually cross the floor or do something other than moan? Very few. With a nice club or two and a media waiting on them, the now deposed New Labour rump are in a feeding frenzy of malcontent.

“The grey chill of Corbynism frightens and disturbs me. I have seen Libya and lived in the German East, and I am frightened by the visions held before us.”

John Harris suggests they may be about to make their move. He writes: “Now Peter Mandelson has advised that the time for hand-wringing is over, and his former Labour colleagues ought to “fight for the party’s future” against a leader who is apparently an “intentionally divisive figure”, using “very unconventional means” to strengthen his grip (some of this may sound familiar).” He suggests that soldier turned politician Dan Jarvis might be the man for the job. If not, Hilary Benn, or maybe Jess Phillips? It all sounds a bit far-fetched. As Labour unionists never tire of telling Yes voters: you lost, get over it.

_84909463_kezia_waveCorybyn is about to do what he should have done months ago in recasting his shadow cabinet, in a move the Labour right have dubbed ‘the revenge reshuffle’. No doubt he will be castigated for being a demagogue by those same New Labourites who have been dismissing his lack of ‘firm leadership’.

But as UK Labour continues its civil war, opinion is divided on how this affects Labour in Scotland. Kevin McKenna writes with the sort of bright optimism of very early January (‘Scottish Labour should take heart from events in London‘):

“She (Kezia) has spent much of the last six months developing a strategy to raise the quality of Labour candidates for Holyrood, a quest she hopes will begin to bear fruit before the Holyrood election in 2020. Her job this year is to ensure Labour holds the line as Scotland’s second party and to begin to chip away at the SNP’s weaknesses on health, education and policing. She and others ought to be looking at what is happening in the new Labour party south of the border. There is a renewed spirit of optimism and belief among supporters and activists in England and Wales.”

But this only makes sense if Scottish Labour was imbued by the same radical spirit of the left. It is not. It is imbued with trepidation, constitutional chaos, and bitter unresolved internecine feuding. But also just plain policy confusion, As Ian Smart writes:

“It’s not just Jez, it’s Kez as well. Kez stood for the Scottish Leadership on an open platform of not being the solution to Scottish Labour’s problems and has since gone on prove it. She gives the impression of having no idea why she is there, other than to acquire a momentary, very minor, celebrity. Having embraced, in theory, the argument that no-one knows what we stand for, far from clarifying that, she has instead cast doubt on two of the few things about which it was thought we were reasonably clear: that Scotland should remain within the United Kingdom and that the United Kingdom should remain within the European Union. And that’s before you even start on her bizarre attempt to save Michelle Thomson (a distraction, apparently); her failure to go after Phil Boswell (another distraction, apparently) or the general vacuousness of her every public statement. Strangely I even feel some sympathy for the “#SNPbad” school of criticism. I know what we are against but I have absolutely no idea what we are for. We are against the Council Tax freeze but will we lift it? No idea. We are opposed to the SNP failing to use the Calman powers but would we have used them? No idea. We believe Forth Bridge maintenance was underfunded but would we re-introduce tolls? No idea. We think the NHS needs more resources but do we support Prescription Charges? No idea. We oppose cutting college places and maintenance grants to fund free university education but would we introduce fees, or even bring back the Graduate Endowment? No idea.”

One of the main charges against Corbyn is that he is a deluded ‘peacenik’ who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But as Helmand falls to the Taliban and the findings of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) reveal Britain’s gruesome behaviour in the region, the failure and futility of British foreign policy is exposed. Some humility and remorse would be more in keeping from the Blairite wing.

There’s something unedifying about Blair’s disembodied party railing against change. The primary argument is that ‘he can’t win’ and has no concept of power – yet this is from a group who themselves failed to win an election against Jeremy Corbyn. It is, at best, ironic. At least our friend Ian Smart is honest. He writes:

“Aside from the SNP there is at least one other Party in Scotland who is not in complete disarray. Who does have a credible alternative candidate for First Minister, a candidate who does know what her Party stands for (chiefly because she has told them) and who does have a clear programme for Government. Who has had a grip on their candidate selection, who hasn’t effectively written off the constituency contests, and who will be laser focused on winning as many seats as possible rather than on who gets to win these seats. That Party won’t win the election. But if the SNP are to be denied a second overall majority it is much more likely to be as a result of a recovery in their fortunes than as a result of any other scenario.”

I’m not so sure what Ruth Davidson’s ‘clear programme for Government’ is, nor do I share Smart’s confidence for their prospects, but if I were this opposition-in-waiting I would welcome Ian’s support with open arms. He’s surely a prize worth nurturing.

 

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