2007 - 2020

Nothing New, Nothing Resolved

Kezia Dugdale started her reign as leader of Scottish Labour by thanking all of her predecessors, and, it was a long list (she’s the eight leader since 1999). We wish her well but she’s so inexperienced it’s incredible to think that she’s in this position at all (by a huge majority) and she’s entering a shitstorm of unresolved Labour infighting and political confusion. She got the deputy she didn’t want. She distanced herself from Corbyn so she’ll be in trouble when he wins. She’s got all the gravitas of a rag doll.

Worse than all this she doesn’t appear to have anything to say.

For the team who are ‘dropping the baggage of the past’ (a difficult task for Jim Murphy’s deputy who surely must be tainted with at least some of that disaster) what’s new? Whilst the Corbyn campaign has lit up English politics and attracted tens of thousands to join Labour and created a storm of debate, where has the debate been in Scotland? The mild-mannered and likeable Ken McIntosh made some stylistic points about excessive ‘nat bashing’ and that’s the extent of the debate we’ve heard. For a party that has just been obliterated you’d have thought they might want to have a wee reflection on what went wrong?

Dugdale’s inexperience is a major flaw but any leader would find it difficult to cope with a party as factional, mixed-up and divided as Labour. The Corbyn effect means that Labour’s leadership up and down the land will be scythed-out and replaced if he takes charge, or people will have to undergo a sort of political contortionism to twist their way out, explaining away their devotion to Blairism for the past decade if they are to remain in post. The coming storm of a Corbyn victory will rip the Labour Party in half, and JC’s apparent blindspot on Scotland – Iain Macwhirter points out in his visit to Edinburgh last week neither he nor his audience mentioned it at all – leaves a massive problem for the UK Labour Party.

Nothing New

So there we have it, a new Scottish leader with nothing to say about Corbyn’s agenda and a leader-in-waiting with nothing to say about the issue that has dominated UK politics for a decade. It’s as if they are marching onwards side by side with the incantation: “I have nothing new to say, and this is me saying it. I have nothing, this is me saying it new.”

Into this pretty picture strides (once again)  the BFG of Scottish politics, Gordon Brown, once again ‘breaking his silence’. The Herald told us this week that “Gordon Brown is expected to warn of the dangers of backing Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader this weekend amid growing fears among senior figures that victory for the veteran left-winger could split the party” and “Mr Brown is due enter the debate with a speech on the future of the Labour Party at the Southbank Centre in London on Sunday, titled ‘Power for a Purpose’.”

I suspect that, as with Blair, Brown’s intervention will add a few thousand votes to Corbyn’s campaign. John McTernan may have been given permanent status in BBC Scotland broadcasting studios, but the desperation of the shrill voices intoning Blairite orthodoxy and the will to power is becoming more and more stark.

But behind all of these myriad problems facing Labour, red, white or blue is the legacy of Blair and the Iraq war.

The Chilcot Inquiry, which started work in 2009 and was due to report the following year has cost over £10 million. But yesterday we’re told it’s not just delayed massively but it will never really tell us who was responsible and why. In an extraordinary report Christopher Hope writes in the Telegraph: “Ministers, civil servants and senior military figures accused of wrongdoing in the Iraq War inquiry may never be named, prompting accusations that it is being run like a “secret court”. The inquiry, chaired by former mandarin Sir John Chilcot, has admitted its final report will not name anyone who has been sent details of the accusations against them in his draft inquiry report as part of the controversial Maxwellisation process.”

This is a travesty for democracy, but also a simple confirmation for many about how British-style democracy actually works. But it’s also a disaster for Labour. They could have potentially tried to move on after Chilcot (whatever the outcomes and culpability). That’s not going to happen now and all of the resentment and bitterness will remain. The party never really made amends or looked into its own soul after Ed Miliband was elected. Gordon Brown could have done that, but it never happened. Chilcot won’t report and will just confirm to many thousands of people that elite power in Britain is unreformable and Labour are unequipped to do anything about it..

Dugdale is a leader of the northern branch of a party that is dispirited and split and facing an enormous further upheaval in the months ahead. She is on collision course with Corbyn on trident and she is predicted to lose all of its first past the post seats to the SNP on current polling. With a new left under the Scottish Left Project and a resurgent Scottish Green Party brimming with ideas and new forms and continued dominance of the SNP, you could be forgiven for thinking that yesterdays was Scottish Labour’s wake not its resurrection.

Comments (39)

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  1. Mike Vickers says:

    What you say is all true.
    However the SNP Government is brimming with ideas but has as yet failed to put many of them into practice. One can only hope

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      For a start, the SNP needs to sharpen up its game on land reform, with no backsliding on ending offshore corporate ownership of land and property in Scotland.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Exactly.

  2. sandy ritchie says:

    Agree with main points above. And Mike’s comments that SNPs rhetoric is short on actions…in fact I would go further by stating SNPs few actions are simply populist rather than the real deal…e.g. fracking moratorium… lol

  3. JBS says:

    “She’s got all the gravitas of a rag doll.”

    Oooooooooooft! 😀

    1. sandy ritchie says:

      But she’s enthusiastic… I’ll be giving her a chance…

      1. John Page says:

        Was Murphy also enthusiastic? Or just demented?

        John Page

        1. sandy ritchie says:

          No fan of J Murphy….or Alex Salmond (even though he’s a jambo)…quite like Nicola…but pity she’s Nationalist…but nobody’s perfect….even me….lol

          1. JBS says:

            I’m glad to see you’ve cheered up a bit, Sandy. I thought I was going to have to send you some pink bunny hugs…

  4. John Page says:

    Iraq, Trident and austerity are all irrelevant to Scottish Labour……which is not a political party but a “self licking ice cream” which exists to give jobs and influence to a tier of second rate local players.

    I am puzzled about why the Torygraph has come out with this hatchet job on Chilcott

    John Page

    1. I think even the political elite is embarrassed. A good whitewash has the decency to play the game

  5. Willie John says:

    Perhaps like other leaks it will be mulled over, commented on, re-hashed and finally when it actually gets published the indignation/anger will be muted.

  6. George Bell says:

    I think that the majority of Scots are really secret Labour supporters, just not “Blairites” or “New Labour” supporters, so as long as the Scottish Labour Party continues to follow the same path as before they will struggle to re-gain the support. Jeremy Corbin shows that the founding principles of the Labour Party are still a force to be reckoned with and are still popular. It was the politicians that fell out of favour with the electorate not the beliefs.
    The SNP performs best when it follows the “Labour” principles but is sometimes trying to be “Something for everyone” which will never work, but is gaining support hand-over fist, not just for Independence but for the hope of a better Scotland.
    The Chillcot Enquiry to be honest did anyone ever expect the outcome to be anything other than it is

  7. Lesley Docksey says:

    Re: Chilcot Inquiry – “it will never really tell us who was responsible and why”. Well, for those of us who have been engaged on this issue since before the UK and US invaded Iraq, we do know (and have the proof) of who is responsible, etc. For many of us it is still a very raw issue. And I can be proud of the fact that I played a small role in getting the case against Blair to the International Criminal Court, where, sadly it has gathered dust. But it is there.

    Where Corbyn is concerned, he has done wonders for England and has woken up our political thinking and discussion, and I can’t tell you how great that is. But, much as I support him and he is one very nice decent guy, I sadly feel that he does not quite get what has happened to politics in Scotland because, despite everything, he belongs solely to Labour. Reminds me of how disappointed people were with Tony Benn, who made speech after speech about the illegality of Iraq and the culpability of Blair and his government, but still said we should vote Labour.

    My suspicion is that, should Corbyn win the leadership, the party will be destroyed by its establishment figures and their machinations to overthrow him. And what he stands for is worth more than that. Were he to end up officially leading the ENGLISH Labour Party, he would at least work well with the SNP both in Westminster and over such issues as Trident.

    My despair is that the current parliamentary Labour party refuses to do that. If they did, the combined votes would send Cameron and his cruel government packing.

  8. Will says:

    Just watched the Gordon Brown speech and it has definitely added loads of votes for Jeremy Corbyn, it was funny that during the referendum he paced up and down from side to side whilst he ranted and raved frightening the pensioners that if they voted YES they would lose their pensions and instilled fear, today he used a different word on numerous occasions it was HOPE what a joke.

    Kezia wont last long as the Branch Manager right now the plotting and backstabbing will have already begun this should keep the no-hopers busy and make a change from moaning about the best political party you know who I am talking about of course the SNP.

    1. trenoon the boiler says:

      Will, for God’s sake; punctuation and sentence construction, please.

      I thought Scottish education was the best in the world?

      1. Will says:

        Trenoon, It does you no favours making cheeky chops comments regarding grammar it just shows you for what you are a typical wannabe pseudo intellectual snob, anyway what’s this about Scottish edumacation I was edumacated at Oxbridge that’s why I am well qualifed to help out at making the tea at the Branch Office.

  9. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Can’t see anything but a civil war if Corbyn wins. William Hill’s odds now 2/7!

    Without exaggeration, many Labour MPs’ comments have been more bitter towards Corbyn than the tories during the GE campaign.

    The assistant branch manager in Scotland favours a split with their imperial masters. Sounds like he’ll be undermining her to take the job after the slaughter next may. He’ll be able to say, told you so.

    A perfect storm for Labour?

  10. Monty says:

    Dark days ahead for Scotland with a government which don’t seem to have the first clue about how to improve education, health and reduce inequality, no opposition never mind no effective opposition and virtually all parties distracted by internal party matters. Hopefully next year’s election will focus them a little but the referendum and what seems to be a five not four year election cycle for the Scottish parliament have knocked everything out of kilter and no one seems able or willing to address the issues
    Facing the nation.

    1. trenoon the boiler says:

      Well, why bother when you can successfully, at least in the eyes of the electorate, blame others for your own problems that are of your own making?

      I look forward to the day that option is no longer open to the snp, though they’ll probably find someone else for the their electorate to blame (europe, Germany, or an enemy within who are not “proud” scots etc).

      1. JBS says:

        Dammit. I could have sworn that your next username would be “Hippies in Teepees”, Corporatist Hell. Well, never mind.

        These are the updated generations of the creepily obsessive Bella Caledonia troll: Baffled by Hyperbole* begat Corporatist Hell, and Corporatist Hell begat Glazed Eyed Moonies, and Glazed Eyed Moonies begat One Baw Shaw, and One Baw Shaw begat Lincoln Powell, and Lincoln Powell begat Teddy Henfrey, and Teddy Henfrey begat trenoon the boiler.

        *Hat-tip to John Page for reminding me of this previous incarnation of the troll.

        1. sandy ritchie says:

          JBS…drinking on a Sunday night…. tsk tsk…lol. But as you refer to trolls…I was unaware that BC didn’t invite alternative views… discussions…or is BC just a twitter blog. Fyi…I quite like BC although most of the posts I may disagree with…but not all..or maybe you believe BC should simply be an echo chamber for the faithful?

          1. JBS says:

            Now, Sandy.

            Firstly, I’m pleased to see that you are still in such a good mood.

            Secondly, I am very far from wishing that Bella Caledonia should simply be, as you put it, “an echo chamber for the faithful”. But this troll – and it is a troll – is not interested in discussion; in fact, it wants to close down all discussion – which is why all you will ever get from it are sneers and jeers.

            Search back through the site, then tell me I’m wrong.

        2. John Page says:

          JBS
          I am sure there were other names before BBH but I couldn’t be bothered to dig back
          Bella
          The first comment above is offensive and the rest are off topic and repetitious…….

          John Page

          1. JBS says:

            Well, John, maybe Sandy can part the mists of time and discover what were those ancient names of the troll. As part of his investigations he might even – who knows? – discover the original name used by the troll all those aeons ago…

  11. J.A.B. says:

    My hope is that if Corbyn wins the leadership, he’ll embolden other rUK Labour politicos to emerge from under the skirting board where they’ve been hiding from the vicious NuLabs, and mebbe by 2017-18, there might be a more assertively anti-austerity, pro-all the good stuff contingent in the Lab Party that will challenge the Tories, unlike the ridiculous scenario we saw last month of Labout politicians abstaining from the benefits cuts bill. I don’t really see Corbyn leading the Labour Party in the 2020 election (unless he really wants it), but that he steers his party to something that is closer to what so many Labour supporters envisioned their party until it was hi-jacked by NuLab, and new leaders take up the mantle, so to speak.
    I don’t see Corbyn as a vindictive politician, but as someone would try and steer those who oppose him into some kind of negotiating scenario. (Unlike egoistic Mr Blair and co., who, for example, having seen Mo Mowlam lauded on the party conference platform, immediately started to brief against her.) Yes, Corbyn’s got an ego – you can’t be a politician without one, but it seems to be in check and in service to the people and ideas he wants to see enacted. Whether his opposers would negotiate is up for grabs, but their stance for the past few years sure hasn’t helped them much …

    Unless ScotLab starts to encourage these kinds of people, they will sink like a stone under the SNP, and the SNP needs an opposition to keep it real. I know Corby doesn’t have much to say about Scotland, and that he’d probably prefer to keep the union, but he’s got enough smarts about other countries’ self-determination, that he’d probably accept Yes, just doesn’t want to make it an issue right now. I certainly don’t see Corbyn being elected Labour leader endangering anything happening in Holyrood next year. Even if he is elected leader, the influence will take a while to filter through in Scotland-and Yes will continue to flourish.

  12. Frank says:

    Interesting times ahead. Dugdale has disaster written all over her and is just not pleasant to listen too.

    But a Corbyn will changes the dynamic. I have lost count of the many yessers I know who say they would vote Labour if Corbyn wins. Many socialists lent their vote to the SNP and a Corbyn victory challenges SNP hegemony, which is probably a good thing. That said, the SNP received support from across the political spectrum. An example: student radicals I know, voted SNP, but so did my 75 year old mother in law who is about as radical as a pond of ducks. Moreover, for many yessers, supporting independence forms part of a natural political outlook which is unlikely to be disrupted anytime soon.

    Next years Scottish Parliament elections will be interesting, and a Corbyn leadership allows Labour to attack from the left. The Greens will also keep the SNP looking over it’s left shoulder. I’m not sure about the left project. I don’t wish to make a sectarian point but in Edinburgh, it looks dominated by ex SWP types. It has no credible electoral strategy and with the SNP and Labour shifting to the left, at best they may pick up a couple of seats.

  13. arthur thomson says:

    It is with great pleasure that I can say that the speeches of Dugdale and Brown are an irrelevance.

    The Chilcot inquiry is another matter. This attempt to avoid dealing with corruption must not be allowed to succeed. I expect Scotland’s MP’s to confront the Unionist parties on this issue. I expect harsh words to be stated and repeated in the House of Commons – even if this results in MP’s being ejected. This is one of a relatively few occasions where confrontation should be the guiding principle. A very large number of people within and outside the UK would respect the SNP for taking the lead in this. So long as corruption is allowed to thrive at Westminster the establishment will continue to exploit and deceive rather than serve the electorate.

    As to the SNP, I think they are doing a good job in very difficult circumstances. I wouldn’t expect any unionists to say that but deep down they know it’s true. It must be hard for them to acknowledge it, poor souls.

    1. sandy ritchie says:

      So far so good for the 56. They’re being kept in line…head count at reveille… then clumping off to the big house…to clap on queue…then clump off to their watering hole… job well done…lol.

    2. trenoon the boiler says:

      While for example Scotland’s health service is grappling with very similar challenges to those in england, there is simply no excuse for the snp’s performance on education.

      especially when higher spending is available yo them, while free university education accrues benefits to the well off. Scotland has the lowest % of children from disadvantaged backgrounds registering and the highest % of children from privileged backgrounds registering for university.

      1. JBS says:

        Quiet night in Manchester tonight, Corporatist Hell?

  14. Clydebuilt says:

    The SNP are doing a grand job A&E waiting times being met. Bedroom tax being paid, No tuition fees for University Students. Council Tax Frozen, NHS budgets protected. And all this with Budget from Westminister being cut, whilst having no borrowing powers. Grand job, miracle workers more like.

    1. sandy ritchie says:

      I agree with the approach by the SNP using Barnett formula to pay the bedroom tax…and happy about Uni fees being paid. Pity that thousands of college places have been sacrificed to finance these though. As for SNP copying Tory policy of freezing council tax in Englamd apparently saving you and me about £1000 since the freeze was in place, its a pity that has meant that LA care of the sick and elderly is having to pay for us. But that won’t worry the SNP…they’ll just blame WM…even though under FFA, we’d be worse off…just saying like

  15. Clydebuilt says:

    Och nearly forgot , Police numbers being maintained, and free prescriptions.

    1. sandy ritchie says:

      Police Strathclyde… Lol…ask the polis how they feel about the new systems…and free prescriptions… Labour introduced these for children, elderly and some with certain chronic illnesses. People at work paid for their prescriptions… I would if the money raised was spent on more pressing matters affecting the NHS…

  16. Clydebuilt says:

    The police are feeling just fine. No redundancies, numbers maintained. Stark contrast with the cuts in numbers in England.

  17. KriegersClones says:

    “The mild-mannered and likeable Ken McIntosh”

    The virulent Zionist and friend of war criminals Ken Macintosh? Just does a better quiet voice than creepy Jim. Still cut from the same cloth.

  18. John Mooney says:

    The BFG. of “Scottish”Labour one,Gordon Brown”once again “Breaking his silence”Breaking Wind is more applicable with regard to anything Brown emits nowadays!

  19. Iain Ross says:

    Seem to be a couple of Labour Party stooges on here constantly complaining. I note with interest the new fronts that have been opened up in regard to Education and the Police. Funny how you can also detect the sense of entitlement and outrage over the fact that the SNP are now the left of centre choice in Scotland, how goddam dare they eh? Somewhat ironic that, coming from the ‘Red Tories’.

    Listening to all this griping I am yet to hear anything of value from the Labour Party. Instead of cat calling the SNP let’s here some concrete proposals. When Dugdale starts spouting tripe about Labour values and Social Justice, what exactly does that management speak even mean? When I hear that my ears start to bleed. She was asked on GMS if she was pro-Trident, answer, she is a ‘multilateralist’ and of course she is proud of her party and we should be asking the membership for their views and then something about Police officers and oh SNPBad. Is that code for yeh I am because the only way to get rid of nukes is to renew them but by they way I reserve the right to change my mind if London tell me I need to think differently and also by the way the SNP are sh*t at education and policing?

    Seems to me that Scottish Labour (Scottish, really??) are just in the business of moaning and moaning about things that could have been so different, but let’s not forget this is the Party that didn’t want Scotland to stand on its own two feet and make real change happen. They were happy to trap us in a political union where we basically have no say over our own affairs, then sell us a dummy over more powers and then sit in the corner and complain about how crap things are in Scotland. As they constantly remind us we voted ‘No’ so let’s just remember were are pish, get on with the job of fixing the window dressing and leave the import stuff up to the real politicians down at the other place. No vision and no principles, just political robots with a sense of entitlement.

    At the end of the day the SNP have done rather well, a damn site better than the Labour Party ever managed, particularly given the issues of a declining budget now being faced and trying to deal with and mitigate enforced external changes (i.e. ‘Bedroon Tax’). I notice that the Scottish Futures Trust is actually delivering now, I see a new secondary school and affordable housing in my community. That used to be a favourite topic of the Labour gurns but don’t seem to hear them blowing off about that anymore.

    Could they do better? Absolutely. Should they be replaced by the Labour Party? Are you having a laugh or what?

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