From the Province of the Cat #37 – Dead Moments Of Edited History

Am I tough enough? Hell yes, I'm tough enough

“Am I tough enough? Hell yes, I’m tough enough!”

by George Gunn

Perhaps it’s a too little known fact that Ed Miliband’s mother survived the Holocaust and that he went to a comprehensive school? Oxford and the London School of economics came later. Why is it none of this stuff comes across when you see him on TV? Is it just that he has to create a persona in order to express himself as the leader of the Labour Party or is it the opposite: that he has to hide his brilliant father’s Marxism, his Jewishness, his mother’s bravery, his very self, in order to be what he considers, what the British media consider, to be real? Is he like the Portuguese poet Fernando Passoa in reverse? Passoa had, famously, seventy five pseudonyms. Are there seventy five versions of Ed Miliband? Or just one? Or none? It is almost impossible to know.

Despite his fascinating family history as I watched him mince his way through a spit-fest with Jeremy Paxman, or was it Clarkson, it is so difficult to tell them apart? I thought, “This person (Ed M) could be mistaken for a man with no culture.”

This is depressing because he so obviously has a deep and genuinely Jewish culture to draw on but because it is not packagaebly English it is deleted, which is a real pity and a mistake. I also find it troubling to hear someone who could easily be mistaken for a good man arguing about nothing. Cameron is so obviously insincere about everything that it is almost comforting. With Ed Miliband there is a kind of well-groomed tragic air which surrounds him; it follows him like some other Nordic nations weather. I would be heart sick if I was English and thought that this is the best the Labour Party can do. At least in Scotland they send in the clowns such as Murphy and Lamont and we can laugh at them because we have an alternative, however imperfect the SNP are. Just as a story is a narrative vehicle for truth the SNP will find that once this particular chapter ends, and Scotland finds itself somehow or other independent they, like an actor in a soap with too big a contract, will be ditched. If the English people ditch Eddie and the not so hot Labour-rods just what else have they got? As far as I can see, so far, they have nothing. When Scotland becomes independent just how are we going to deal with a rampant neo-fascist regime ruling over 53 million people to the south of us? Is that really the political direction England is heading?

Our culture is what gives us our humanity, whatever country we live in. In Scotland our cultural wealth will help us defeat poverty and powerlessness. We are, after all is said and done, a poetic nation and sympathy is the origin of poetry. But poetry and sympathy only get you so far. The increased education, the participation in and creation of culture is the only true guarantee of democracy. Why is it that Ed Miliband cannot say that he will guarantee every bairn in England an education even if their family have no money and more specifically because they have none? If he were to do that then I would feel more secure about the future of democracy in England. At the moment all I see is a drift towards an oligarchy and a plutocracy. Education is the organisation of passion. It is the vehicle for democracy. If you pay for education from another source other than general taxation you push your society towards inequality and oppression. Culture depends on education and without education there is no culture. That is the real tragic weather which surrounds Ed Miliband.

As the great Icelandic novelist and Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness noted of his own country, “Everything that helps to increase the nation’s cultural wealth is inexpensive, whether it costs a great deal or not.”

In Scotland, at the moment, unfortunately, both education and culture have a price tag. England’s future is a fear. Scotland’s future, on the other hand, is a reality. So how can we as Scots embrace and nurture that future reality if we commodify our culture and treat it as a product and financialise our education out of the reach of the poor who need it the most?

Why do we accept that English Labour and the English Tories are the same when they are obviously not? It is comforting for us in Scotland, especially for us on the left, to lump them all together and say “Well, what can you expect, they’re just red Tories” meaning the Labour Party. I have too much respect for the people who made the Labour Party, especially in Scotland, the political force it once was. You will note the past tense. Just as Miliband the younger denies, or his party managers do, his vibrant cultural roots, the Labour party have descended into the self-destructive trope of out doing the Tories on whatever homophobic-racist-anti this/anti-that Daily Mail headline grabber is popular in the goldfish brain of now at the ever present moment. This is their death. That tragedy is greater than the bad Hamlet of Ed Miliband as he goes on wall to wall television to express his deep convictions about nothing whatsoever. It is a betrayal of everything the English people need.

The referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 will be seen in the light of history as the day the music died for the Labour party in Scotland. Harold Wilson had the good sense to make the referendum on the Common Market in 1975 a non-party political affair. Wilson may have been many things but he was no fool. Likewise Jim Callaghan in 1979 made the Assembly referendum a non-party political affair even though it was blindingly obvious that Labour government of the day hated the very idea of any Scottish autonomy. They still do. That is also their death. Or part of it, because death is an on-going event and normally not pretty to behold. With the death of Labour the Scottish people have also lost something extremely valuable. In time we will have to reinvent it and if the SNP have any sense they will understand this. Nicola Sturgeon strikes me as a woman who understands history. If she doesn’t then, as ever, the SNP will go the way of Labour. We sculpt our politics from the winter of our need. A political summer will be, I suppose, when we shine the light of possibility on our own country, Scotland. To become a place in which we can develop our own democracy in a land where there is no poverty and where wealth, for once, can benefit all. That is not a dream, it is very much a possibility. It is also a necessity. In fact it is vital.

Scotland is a country where history walks like a grey dog over a midnight hill. Memory is merely a process of the conscious mind reinventing the past. Everybody does it. I am doing it now. Memory is edited history or even something we cherish other than actual history because it is easier. But what is history other than memory? It is how we define ourselves. To deny who we are, what we have been, is to deny our possible future. Our lives should not have a single dead moment because our lives are too short.

Part of the big problem is the names we give to things. Every time I hear Ed Miliband talk “passionately” about Britain I wonder where this Narnia-like place is. It sounds like an interesting place and I may want to go there on my holidays if I ever save up enough money to go nowhere. When David Cameron talks “passionately” of Britain the place I see is some distant but very familiar landscape populated by rich tweed suited me-lords shooting fat grouse on a cleared hill with womble like ghillies scuttling about denying their own existence. Is Ed Miliband a political ghillie?

The reason I am thinking about all of this rather than the price of oatmeal is that there is the large and annoying matter of a British general election in May and I suspect that this will be the last British general election we will see in its present form. When the British state does not get the result it likes they change the rules. If the SNP get the poll forecast landslide that is expected then they will change the rules. By accident we will become independent. All it takes is courage. Whether the current SNP leadership have both the wit and the courage remains to be seen. What is not in doubt is that the Scottish people require a mature political settlement but it is certain that they will not get it from either Ed the denier or Dave the toff. A mess is always damaging but it is mess we will have to deal with. It is also, always, expensive. But as Halldór Laxness has observed the increase of our cultural wealth is inexpensive, “whether it costs a great deal or not”. What we cannot afford to be are the dead moments of an edited history. Ed Miliband’s version of reality is a smirry rain drifting over an empty sea. His actual reality is much more interesting, human and real. Maybe it is the tragedy of all politicians that they start out as idealists and end up as travelling salesmen. Somebody should send Ed back to school.

© George Gunn 2015

Comments (58)

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  1. Peter Arnott says:

    I’ve always really WANTED to like him. And wouldn’t everything have been so much simpler if we’d voted “Yes”? Ho hum.

    1. Barraload says:

      no it would have been a mess. I think milliband is right when he says he is constantly under estimated. Please keep denigrating him inside the nationalist bubble that exists here so that meanwhile others can see him for what he is; a decent man with decent principles and a desire to help poor people across the UK rather than being a segregationist/nationalist whose empathy is defined by national borders. Explain this, why do poor people in Carlisle and Cardiff matter less then their counterparts in Carluke?

      1. JPJ2 says:

        And the UK isn’t defined by its national borders for you? I think it is 🙂

      2. Frederick Robinson says:

        Bravo, Barrowload. Couldn’t have expressed it better myself. It’s difficult to achieve the kind of decency George Gunn has the grace to recognise in Ed Miliband (while taking away with the other hand, the credit he’s given with the one. ‘How many George Gunns are there?’, to use his question) when vulgarians like Cameron, Osborne, Farage, Johnson, and (yes, I’m afraid he, too) Alex Salmond cheapen political debate with their PR stunts and loudness.

      3. DR says:

        Explain this: why do you think they would? If you’re a socialist, why aren’t you an internationalist? Why don’t you apparently even understand the *word*? (‘Inter’: look it up.) The ‘nationalist bubble’ Ed is denigrated within is very clearly a UK-wide one, which (as the article explains, or didn’t you read it?) requires him to internalise his deculturation, and restrict any desire to help people across the UK. Not least by ‘refusing’ to work with the multiple progressive parties those poor people across the UK are going to vote for. Or are only the Labour-voting poor God’s poor, and that’s nothing to do with where they live, because you’re no nationalist? Aye right.

        And in answer to your semi-serious cliched point: currently, people in Carlisle and Cardiff are being told that ‘their’ money goes to high-per-cap-Scotland. It doesn’t. It goes where it always goes – because decency is not enough, we require law and the elite to be held to it – it floods upwards, and is skimmed offshore via vast landed tax-breaks in (you guessed it) Scotland. A primary aim of independence is to alter the historic structures of entrenched privilege in the UK, which have never submitted to law or democracy, but may do so to a constitution. That will benefit *all* the people of these islands. Only capital-N Nationalists – who believe, as you clearly do, that the form of the state takes precedence – argue that empathy can only exist within state-borders. Explain this, why do poor people in Kiev and Kolkata, Kerkyra and Kansk matter less than their counterparts in Kingston upon Hull?

      4. Jim Bennett says:

        A decent man with decent principles who would rather spend £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction than on free education for our young people and who has agreed to implement £30 billion worth of Tory cuts rather than defend the poor.
        I would describe that as thoroughly indecent.

      5. Juan P says:

        Eh? Of course Miliband is a nationalist but just a British Nationalist which is the type you prefer.

        Segregationist? Labour’s top selling merchandise at the moment is a mug emblazoned with the words ‘Controls on immigration’. Contrast that with the SNP’s consistent support for increased immigration into Scotland.

        I’ve no idea why you are asking for an explanation of why poor people in Carlisle and Cardiff matter less than in Carluke.

        I don’t believe they do but I know they are ALL fucked if we remain part of the UK that will be led by a Labour government that doesn’t want to represent them anymore or a Tory party that already treats them as subhuman.

        At least with independence we can help the ones in Carluke and perhaps inspire a future English parliament to turn their backs on this austerity pish and treat the people of England with some decency and respect.

        Question for Ed that loves the poor though?

        How are £6,000 tuition fees going to help the poorest more than no tuition fees?

      6. Who has put forward the proposition that poor people in Carlisle and Cardiff matter less than there counterparts in Carluke other than yourself? And does your concern not extend to poor people in Cordoba, Caracas and Calcutta?

      7. ian says:

        They have had three hundred odd years to get it right with numerous false dawns and guess what its the same old same old.Take a walk around the average Glasgow scheme and little has changed in the last fourty years and certainly Ed and the two Daves ar’nt up to the job so lets try it our way.The SNP offer some hope where their was little hurry on may.

  2. Will McEwan says:

    Isn’t it remarkable how when you have toiled for years, when you have done all the work, when you see the light and see your people seeing the light along come the clever people and offer you all the wisdom they presumably possessed for all those years as you toiled without them.
    I have been over fifty years in this “imperfect” SNP since it enjoyed less than 1% popular support. I have seen so many of those who set off on a very hard journey with us pass on without the satisfaction of seeing the prize in sight. I am happy they don’t have to read patronising shite.

    1. Barraload says:

      Is that George Gunn you refer to

      1. Frederick Robinson says:


  3. Barraload says:

    Miliband, on the other hand, privately sees himself as a man with a mission to bring about lasting change in his country and to re-write the rules.

    A quote from Nick Robinson’s recent BBC blog. He is a decent commentator, but those who are ready to shoot the messenger, please desist and consider his estimation of this leader

    1. Nick Robinson has no idea how Ed Miliband “privately sees himself” and neither does anybody else. He is a political commentator, not a mind reader.

      1. Barraload says:

        Oh well so you decided to shoot the messenger

  4. Tinto Chiel says:

    @ Will McEwan.

    I agree completely, and good on you. As a young and beautiful SNP sixty-something, I would say Miliband is the most light-weight middle-class Labour MP since the last one. I have been out canvassing in “Darkest Lanarkshire” since January and I can say that I hav been astonished at the change-over from Old Labour to the SNP. Linking arms with the Tories during the referendum seems to have been a touch too much for socialists.

    I’m sure I don’t have to say, ignore the trolls.

    The media-savvy young ( eg my two daughters) don’t give a Murphy for the Press.

    Can’t stop the future, the future belongs to us.

    Onwards, Scotland.

  5. re: Barraload

    Your comments about Ed and that fucking rat Nick Robinson are a barraload of shit.

    1. Barraload says:

      Edifying. Welcome to the New Scotland where the opposition are to be bated and hated. The dark side of nationalism

    2. Barraload says:

      But if the break up of the UK leaves the poor in Carlisle worse off, you want exculpated from any responsibility? Just say it. You and other nationalists want what you think is best for Scotland and to hell with others in the rest of the UK; the rich, the westminster elite and the poor of England Wales and NI. You can’t wash your hands of this. I just can;t stomach the sanctimonious guff that seeks to avoid responsibility for the consequences of nationalism, including the fact, it appears, that those who oppose a nationalist creed are unlikely to be welcome in the new scotland

      1. Portjim says:

        The plane is going down, there is only one parachute among the passengers. Obviously, we must all die – for one to survive “at the expense” of the others just wouldn’t be British.

        I don’t know how you think Scotland staying in the UK helps the poor of Carlisle. After all, we consume an unfair proportion of the UK budget (we are told) – if we go, Carlisle can have more. And as for changing anything within the UK, the current monstering of the Scots because of the prospect that a group of our MPs may exert some influence in the next parliament shows you just how welcome our input really is!

        Only rUK can solve their problems. Scotland becoming independent and thriving may be the spur they need to get off their collective arse and dump (no pun intended) the corruption and greed so rife in Westminster.

    3. Like! Gunn, Barraload, and Frederick Robinson appear to be a continuation of the co-ordinated attack that took control of the BellaCaledonia facebook site. We can expect much more of this stuff ~ there’s a well paid team out there fighting a cyber-war against us… :o(

      1. Barraload says:

        No co-ordination here. Just expressing a pro-European view (free movement of goods people and capital across borders) and opposing all forms of nationalism that threaten this whether that comes from the left (SNP) or right (UKIP, Le Pen in France etc)

      2. JBS says:

        George Gunn, part of a co-ordinated attack on Bella Caledonia.


        ‘Oh! Sophonisba! Sophonisba! Oh!’

    4. My Cocaine says:

      Barraload’s comments confirms how intellectually feeble the Left has become in the UK. For two years in the run up to September 18th, all we heard from Left-wingers in the rest of the UK was ‘don’t leave us,’ “those bad Tories will rule England for ever.” As if English socialism was beholden to what happened in Scotland.

      How spineless can you get. The English Left does not, and has never needed to be saved by, Scotland.

      “I just can;t stomach the sanctimonious guff that seeks to avoid responsibility for the consequences of nationalism,”

      The only guff I hear is guff about bus drivers in Liverpool having morein common with bus drivers from the UK. Of course, bus drivers from the rest of the world don’t count.

      And another thing – why do we get twisted logic from unionists? Why is Scottish nationalism bad, but British Nationalism good? Double standards all round.

  6. Robert Graham says:

    Dear baraload

    The quote I remember from yer pals dad was “the Labour Party exists to manage the expectations of working people ” in other words don’t expect to much as is the case of all and I mean all areas in scotland who have the misfortune or should I say had a labour mp representing them they are usless always have been and why didn’t baw head broon not try to form a government after the last election hatred of the SNP maybe?

  7. DougtheDug says:

    “Just as Miliband the younger denies, or his party managers do, his vibrant cultural roots, the Labour party have descended into the self-destructive trope of out doing the Tories”

    I’m not sure why you think Ed’s family history should make him more interesting. His mother’s history is interesting as are the politics of his father but it’s more than likely that Ed is just as he seems, a boring political gonk who fails to inspire either his party or the wider electorate and the last time the Labour party did anything radical was nationalisation in the late forties and early fifties.

    I’d also take issue with this statement:
    “Why do we accept that English Labour and the English Tories are the same when they are obviously not?”

    First of all the idea that the Labour and Tory parties change as they cross the border is simply false. They are organised as British parties and internal political groupings or factions within both parties are not defined by their members place of residence.

    When push came to shove in Scotland and the establishment was threatened by independence all political differences were forgotten as British Labour and British Conservative came together to save that very same establishment. Neither side on either side of the border made any fuss about that alliance whatsoever.

    Labour and Tory are establishment parties and can be quite rancorous in their competition to control that establishment but as Scotland has proved, it’s all forgotten when the prize is threatened.

    1. theindyman says:

      Absolutely true. I’m tired of people apologising for being Scottish! We are a nation and for once, we are moving forward as a nation. Sure, there will be naysayers, there always are when a people are looking to be independent. Even the Irish rebels from the Dublin GPO were jeered and spat upon by Dubs when they were marched off to Kilmainham, but there is always a turning point in the population’s attitude, In Ireland, it was the execution of the rebels and in Scotland, it was the recognition that Labour in Scotland are just a bunch of corrupt, self serving fools who put party before country!

      If we loan our vote to the SNP in enough numbers, we will see the end of London Labour in Scotland and perhaps we will see a new, Scottish, Labour Party rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the London version. This may just force the other London parties to do likewise and in essence, that will be the end of Westminster rule in this country!

      Someone spoke about internationalism. I would love to see an internationalist slant on Scottish Government policy, but remember that we need to put the “nation” into “internationalist” beforehand. We need to create our own structures of government where you get rich by working hard and not by raping the bank accounts of working (and non working) people!

      We must also beware of siren voices calling for internationalism from within the confines of the Brit state. This is a “socialist” dialectic manufactured in Westminster and made easy to follow! “Stick with us as we move to internationalism. London knows best!” Well, we’ve stuck with you for 300 years and Marx has been dead since 1883 and we are still no further forward, so we ask you, the people preaching to us, come with us in OUR move to a more internationalist state as yours has obviously failed miserably!

      When we do this, when we create a system that supports the rights of citizens of Scotland, whatever their creed or place of birth, then perhaps we can look south and maybe, just maybe, our brothers and sisters in the south will ask why Westminster can’t be like Scotland and not vice versa and take matters into their own hands to change their system.

      This child of ours, this fledgling Scottish democracy, has been lied to, ridiculed and stabbed in the back by those who should know better, but the child still survives and no amount of whining and dirty tricks by Britnats has managed to change that! We need to protect this child of ours from the snide remarks and downright lies from those who would like to see out fledgling nation, our child, dead and buried.

      We need to show the Scottish people that our nation, our child, is economically sound and stop ignoring the fact that we couldn’t convince the majority of people in Scotland that this was so. We need to study how the Baltic and Balkan nations, along with the likes of Slovakia, managed to establish a currency without all the hangups that were exposed at #indyref1 and we need to do it now!

      Most of all, though, we need to stop acting like bairns when someone says something nasty about us. Our child is young and can’t fight back yet, but WE can! We can expose the lies of Westminster. We can expose the lies that the media peddle. We can expose the pure nastiness that exudes from certain sections of Scottish life towards the country they actually live in!

      We lost the first battle on #indyref1, but the war has just started. We have a chance to make Westminster listen to Scotland for once, so let’s march to the ballot boxes with our heads held high and say that you voted for Scotland! My family are from the Isle of Barra and on Barra, they say “Thig ar latha” Our time will come. Well, the time has come for our first move! Carpe Diem!

  8. arthur thomson says:

    @ Barraload You say ‘Explain this, why do poor people in Carlisle and Cardiff matter less than their counterparts in Carluke?’

    Who exactly has ever expressed that point of view? Who has ever actually thought that thought apart from those who use it to argue against Scottish independence? The sad truth is that ‘decent’ Ed Milliband and his supporters have an equal disregard for the needs of the poor wherever they live. That is just about the only sense in which there is any kind of genuine equality in UK politics. How dare I or anyone else buck the trend by trying to remedy the condition of poor people in Scotland?? What is so special about Scottish people that they can’t be impoverished like everyone else? I could easily despair when I hear your argument but there is too much despair around already and that is why I and others will keep pursuing the prize of a better, fairer Scotland.

    1. Barraload says:

      Who exactly has ever expressed that point of view?

      Nationalism is all about defining political objectives based on territory. You want to keep the income of scotland in scotland for scottish people etc etc. Fine, if that is what you believe. If this has an adverse effect on people who live in other parts of the UK then you ca’t duck responsibility for that. Why do nationalists want to be fuzzy about folk who live outside their polity. Are you going to make charitable donations to them to compensate them for withdrawing from the UK?

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        This only makes sense if you believe in some kind of global government and no borders. “Nationalism is all about defining political objectives based on territory.” Er, no, that’s the basis for any state in the world.

      2. lawrence says:

        Busted, cannae answer the question. The English subsidise Scotland so much why would they require our charity?

      3. Kenny says:

        Let’s flip your question around – why should people in Carluke stay poorer and die younger than poor people in Cardiff and Carlisle when we have the chance to change things?

        Honestly, this argument makes me think of a woman who won’t let her kids escape their abusive stepfather because she’s going to be left to face his wrath alone if they go. She still hasn’t woken up to the fact that SHE CAN ESCAPE TOO!

      4. John Souter says:

        The aim of independence is to increase the opportunities and aspirations of the poor thereby diminishing the need for welfare. Not as the present policies of the UK aspire to, of not only increasing the burden on the poor but in order for the policies to work to entrench and increase the need factor until it becomes a permanent measure of growth and inequality.

  9. Wull says:

    If Miliband becomes PM, he will suddenly become himself. It will seem as if he has changed, but that will not be the case. The only thing that will have changed will be his circumstances. At present, while trying to win the prize, he cannot afford to be himself, because (so at least he fears) it will put too many people off him. Once he has the prize in his hands, he won’t be afraid any longer. He will ruffle many feathers, quite fearlessly, even within his own nest (the Labour Party).

    Partly because it is not fully ‘his own’. Leader he may be, but in many ways he is an ‘outsider’ within Labour. He might even be the archetypical ‘outsider’. If so, I wouldn’t bet against him knowing how to use it to his own advantage. Our ridiculous Press hammed up ‘the ham sandwich thing’ to make him look ridiculous. He rode it out. The only truly ‘ridiculous’ thing about it was the very idea of asking a prominent Jewish man to eat a ham sandwich in public, on camera, in the first place. As journalism goes, it was the pits. If he looked awkward, no wonder. He may be completely secular and non-religious in his beliefs, but he is still Jewish, and should not have been subjected to that. Anyway, he rode it out …

    My impression is that he knows next to nothing about Scotland. Even during the referendum campaign that seemed clear. But he will learn quickly. My guess is that, on a personal level, he will rather enjoy working with the SNP. The SNP, who will also be regarded in some ways as ‘outsiders’ at Westminster, might get to like him too. ‘Outsiders’ of the world unite! And make common cause. It is quite possible that Ed will find the SNP’s social attitudes and policies rather attractive, in fact. The SNP leadership will have to try to understand him sympathetically, not just so as to ‘play’ him correctly, but to build up a genuine working relationship. All of which demands respect. I think ‘mutual respect’ between Ed Miliband and the SNP will be established quickly, and is set to grow.

    The Labour leader, if he does become PM, might even find that he enjoys dealing with the SNP much better than with some of the members of his own Party. There might even be a secret sigh of relief that he doesn’t have to deal with Murphy and the dead wood that comprises most of Scottish Labour after all. The kind of challenge the SNP will provide will be much better for his Premiership than anything his own Scottish dimwits could have contributed, and afford him possibilities and leverage he would otherwise have lacked.

    There is a real possibility that he will thrive on it, and the SNP too. I expect he is in fact far more to the left than he pretends to be at the moment. His having to accommodate the SNP will give him the chance – the ‘excuse’ he needs – to re-position the Labour Party, bringing it into the space he actually wants it to occupy. If it goes wrong, it will be the SNP’s fault; if it goes well, he will claim all the credit personally. Once he understands Scotland and the SNP better, I think he will also concede quite a lot of what the SNP wants for Scotland and for Holyrood.

    Of course, all this is speculation, and might turn out to be mere wishful thinking. After all, no one knows who the real Ed Miliband actually is. Or how he will react to the SNP if he has to depend on their votes to keep him in Downing Street. For any of the above to happen, Ed first has to win enough seats south of the border, and the SNP enough of the same in Scotland. Gaining these seats – and not counting any chickens before they have hatched – is the task at hand.

    1. Drew Campbell says:

      If you’ll excuse the hoary old Chruchill anecdote, but the wily viley old Imperialist once showed Eisenhower around the House of Commons when Parliament was closed. Ike stood at the dispatch box and looked across at the (empty) benches that usually accommodated Atlee’s Labour. “Is that where the enemy sits?” asked Ike. “No, that’s where the opposition sits,” said Churchill, “The enemy sits there!” And jerked his thumb at the Conservative benches behind him.

      Miliband may feel something similar if he takes residence at no.10 in May. Of course the Tories, and the media will be out to get him, but before all of them his own party will circle him like Brutus and the assassins. The Bliarites will undermine him for being too left-wing (they secretly loathe Labour anyway), and the egos of Chukka Umunna, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Ed Balls and all will be seething at every breath he takes – “Should be me,” they’ll be thinking, “I should be Prime Minister,” and they’ll plot. Weak, they’ll whisper. Can’t get any legislation through, they’ll huff – but if he so much as glances at the SNP the knives will be oiled and sharpened before he can say “Pea and ham? Fae a chicken?”

      So, basically, he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

      Personally I get the feeling they’ll get rid of him before the summer’s out but you can never tell what venal allegiances lie beneath and sometimes they can cancel each other out; in other words he might be the only thing a battered, beleaguered Labour Party shorn of its deep-fried gravy train Jocks can unite around.

      Perhaps Ed might just get to discover there’s worse things in this world than doing deals with the SNP.

  10. Dean Richardson says:

    Barraload, the idea behind the pro-independence movement was nothing to do with chauvinistic, xenophobic nationalism. The idea was and still is that independence can be a means to and end, namely a country with decency, fairness and democracy at its core. Such a society will never be brought about as long as the Westminster cabal and their allies throughout the British ruling classes remain. An independent Scotland might just have provided a positive example for the rest of us in this kingdom.

  11. Jim Bennett says:

    This is an excellent article, well writtten and a credit to Bella. Thank you.

    1. Aye right. Gunn writes very cleverly, surreptitiously sowing some seeds of darkness. If you really think it was that good Jim Bennett, I have doubts about your motives too…

      1. kevinwilliamson says:

        What kind of eejit throws snidey aspertions on one of most fiercely independent-minded and perceptive political commentators in the country? An anonymous one it would seem. Go behave yerself.

      2. Alastair McIntosh says:

        I disagree – this is bardic politics; what Hamish Henderson described as “poetry becomes a people,” double meaning intended.

  12. Wull says:

    I should add that so far Miliband is simply an opportunist, and quite a ruthless one (see what he did to his brother). What we don’t know is this: an opportunist for what?

    He wants power, certainly; but – here is the real question – what does he actually want to do with it? At the moment, he spends all his energy on getting hold of it (power). In order to achieve that goal, however, he feels he has to hide what he intends to do with it. And hide it he does. Hence, this fairly meaningless bland persona – which does not reveal the real man.

    The one time when he showed something of his real self was in his explicit support for the Palestinians. That is an agenda to which his mother was highly committed. I cannot imagine that his inner convictions – carefully hidden from public view at the moment – are anything other than of the left, given the father he had. Which does not mean that he is averse to enjoying a privileged and comfortable life-style (such is the lot of all modern politicians, of all persuausions, unfortunately: which of them does badly for himself?).

    The SNP will suit him more than many in his own Party. Such, at least, is my guess (though I admit it is a guess on my part, not any kind of absolute conviction). The fact that he may be putting inner convictions aside for the time being in order to win power is neither admirable nor endearing, but I suppose it is practical. It is also dangerous, because doing what you have to do to acquire power can corrupt and nullify the ideals with which you originally set out. On the other hand, if you are unable to acquire the power you need to achieve even some of your goals, how will you ever achieve any of them? But what exactly are Ed’s goals?

    I don’t say that I like him. But I do hope the SNP will get the chance to deal with him at Westminster.

    On the other hand, if Cameron gets back in, and the SNP are frozen out of having any influence in British governmental affairs despite having a good majority of the Scottish, the result might just be independence faster than we have been imagining. Cameron’s in / out referendum might bring this about. So too will the strategic blunders he is likely to make, including the frustrations many Scots will feel about being ibeholden to a state they can no longer influence. The UK would break up by its own inner momentum, and not many of us would mourn its passing.

  13. Wull says:

    Apologies: omitted ‘MPs’ in the phrase ‘a good majority of the Scottish MPs’.

    Further typing mistakes I notice: ‘persuasions’ and ‘beholden’.

  14. Darien says:

    Good article. Insightful. Never thought about Miliband and his absence of culture before. He does come across as a dope too. Anyway, de facto independence in May seems apparent. I can see a walk out of SNP MP’s after weeks/months of insults from both sides of the house, and not a lot of concessions on the policy front as the reds and blues work the system to their own advantage, stuffing Scotland in the process. Should be entertaining at least.

  15. Big Jock says:

    Good article but why do you think the SNP will be ditched post independence?

    The SNP were once a movement and now they have evolved into a credible government and left wing party. Their reason for being is not just independence anymore. I think you are reading fact from history 30 years ago. I will still vote SNP well after independence. The party is full of the best political brains in Scotland.

    1. Gordie says:

      I think they need more independence MSPs from other parties to help them over the line. A lot more. Once they have that, the general quality of debate should be improved, more good ideas, more radicalism to use a popular word and the scot gov can go further and further.even allowing for continued hostility from unionist traditional press. That’ll help the SNP and others to keep taking the steps the country needs them to take and Independence will come quickly.

  16. Gordie says:

    Another excellent article by the man Gunn. I really like this radical highlanders writing. Humanity goes beyond our national boundaries yet no mistaking where he comes from either. Great stuff. Does this lad write any books?

  17. oldbattle says:

    Heart and head, poesy and politics yet in all his excellence he misses what the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard calls the simulacra of modern society viz Cameron is all PR image and Miliband is a virtual social-democrat both devoid of actual substance; media memes. Baudrillard is worth a read…after elections

  18. Connor Mcewen says:

    Very tempting to fall into the trap of completing the remark ” Barraload of **** “

    1. Barraload says:

      i know – so easy you went for it

  19. mike cullen says:

    Brilliantly written and fascinating article.

  20. David McCann says:

    But if going it alone in the UK leaves the poor in Calcutta worse off, you want exculpated from any responsibility? Just say it. You and other Brit nationalists want what you think is best for the UK and to hell with others in the rest of the world; the rich, the global elite and the poor of Ethopia, India and S. Africa. You can’t wash your hands of this. I just can;t stomach the sanctimonious guff that seeks to avoid responsibility for the consequences of nationalism, including the fact, it appears, that those who oppose a British nationalist creed are unlikely to be welcome in our version of socialism.

  21. tartanfever says:

    Interesting reading. However, I’m not sure I agree when George says:

    ‘I have too much respect for the people who made the Labour Party, especially in Scotland, the political force it once was.’

    Why ?

    Surely like everything else in life, the Labour party are only as good as their last government or indeed todays policies. In which case I certainly wouldn’t dream of voting for them. Isn’t it precisely the nostalgia syndrome that holds back any true forward thinking political thought process ?

    What were the two greatest achievements in UK social politics of the 20th century ? Many would say universal suffrage and the creation of the welfare state. Of course, the fact that both of these momentous changes happened only after millions had been killed in two horrific wars is often overlooked. Maybe ask yourselves what Labour (and to be fair, other political parties) actually chose to do when in power and off their own backs without the tumultuous events of history playing upon them and that great list of so called achievements dwindles rapidly.

    The poor of these isles are now poorer than ever before in comparison to the rich. Yes, they may have running water and indoor toilets but their plight remains the same. Areas of poverty still look like they did in the 60’s, life expectancy, diet, education are still major issues. Wages are low so working people have to rely on handouts via tax-credits etc because they don’t earn enough to feed themselves. Those benefits rather than being treated as the kindness of government should be viewed as a failure to create a society where all are allowed the dignity to earn enough to feed themselves and their family.

    And yet Labour still claim to be the party of the working class ? The emphasis being on ‘working’ since ex-city banker Rachel Reeves came on the scene.

    I simply cannot see any way that Labour can be regarded as the party they once were and still claim to be when the facts of policy and action over the last 20 years tell a completely different story. It’s not rational.

  22. Hortense says:

    A towering piece. Thank you.

  23. Clydbuilt says:

    Only read part of this ….canny waste the time (it’ pish)….there’s an election to win.

    1. kevinwilliamson says:

      You could have delivered half a leaflet in the time it took to write that. As Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoia sang in 70s: ‘Heads down, no nonsense, mindless boogie, bang your head on the wall.’

  24. Dave Cohen says:

    Just to answer the questions at the heart of this blog:

    The reason we don’t hear much about Ed’s comprehensive school is because it is not in the interests of the vast majority of the English media to mention it. I guarantee if he had gone to a fee paying school you would not hear the end of it.

    The reason he doesn’t go on about his mother being a holocaust survivor was partially explained when the Daily Mail accused him of not being British enough. He is clearly wary of using his family past, exploiting it in the way that other leaders have done.

    The Jewishness is more complex. He’s clearly not ashamed of it, but he must also be aware of the polls that suggest more than 60% of the population say they would never want to see a Jewish Prime Minister.

  25. Hortense says:

    I think some people on here have ether wilfully misunderstood what George Gunn was saying or just don’t understand what he was saying. This piece was intended to open minds not keep the closed ones closed. I suggest you re-read and study it properly. The use of language in itself makes it worth it.

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