2007 - 2021

Common Ground

4d8e5e60-4534-11e5-_959985cThe Labour Party’s in such a ‘burnt out shell’ that 14000 people joined it today. The political elite is in total disarray it is reduced to puerile abuse. The Times yesterday said that Labour had elected ‘Caligula’s Horse’. The Telegraph today headlines “Corbyn has just appointed a Nutjob’. The STV’s poor Stephen Daisley was hyper-ventilating: “The Labour Party is now in the hands of the extremists. Its leader is an extremist. A majority of its members and registered supporters are extremists. It is an extremist party.” Cameron was reduced – in comments Lord Robertson would be proud of – of declaring that “The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security.” The Sun announced that Jeremy Corbyn was to ‘appoint a Minister for Jews’.

What’s inconvenient amongst the smears and (understandable) dismay of the routed Blair sect, is the overwhelming and unprecedented backing Corbyn has been given. Corbyn swept to victory with 59.5 percent of the vote, with tens of thousands of people joining the party.  The heir to Blair candidate Liz Kendall received 4.5 percent. Democracy’s a bummer.

Despite the media glare and the shrill apocalyptic white noise of the rejected right, Corbyn has cobbled together a Shadow Cabinet with some stability amid the mayhem. He’s brought Andy Burnham in as shadow home secretary and Hilary Benn remains shadow foreign secretary. Diane Abbot is shadow international development secretary. Angela Eagle, the new shadow business secretary, was also named shadow first secretary of state. There’s innovation too with the appointment of the first Minister for Mental Health. The list of people you’ve never heard of resigning from jobs they haven’t been offered is hilariously repeated by a pliant media. As if the world will stop rotating without the giant talents of Jamie Reed and Emma Reynolds.

People don’t like it when politicians don’t play by the rules. The press pack gets nervy. Commentators just about fainted because he turned down the Andrew Marr Show, instead opting to take a breather and get his act together. People called it a ‘stunt’ that he went to a refugee rally. Someone tweeted saying “he’ll need to be clear why he can talk to Hamas but not to Sky News.”

He really won’t.

As Mark Steel put it: “What an outrage. Corbyn says he’ll follow policies he said he supported and that got him elected. Does he know NOTHING about politics?”

Red White and Blue Labour are in meltdown and its cheerleaders in the broadcast media are throwing their dummies out of the pram. They haven’t the balls for an actual coup so instead they’ll plot and leak and smear from the backbenches and to their media confidants.

The other great straw man being put about is ‘Corbyn can’t win a general election’. Who knows? A week ago we were all parroting Daily Mail style hate about ‘immigrants’, now we’ve woken up to ourselves and are holding vigils of solidarity. The political debate is in turmoil, and the managers, spin doctors and professional politicians hate what they can’t control.  Myths and lies about who we are are being smashed and re-formed. As Zoe Wiliams wrote: “This conception of the nation, as a solid body of mainly centrist people, who all think broadly the same things, and are just waiting for someone photogenic to come along and articulate it, is fallacious.”

The empty gesture politics of Blair and Cameron is drowning in a pool of its own superficiality. Gloss is dead.

Meanwhile Corbyn’s team will be planning solid policy proposals on areas with huge public support, like public ownership of rail, improved social housing and a defence of the NHS. Far from these policies being barking mad fringe ideas, they are likely to gain widespread sympathy.

What does any of this matter in Scotland?

There’s four ways that this is significant for Scottish politics. The SNP, Greens and Labour can unite on an anti-austerity agenda to stand up to the Tories. No more will we be in the throes of Harriet Harman style roll-over-and-die politics of abstention. This approach may win concessions but is unlikely to defeat an emboldened Conservative government. But it will throw into sharp relief the reality of the Austerity Union.

Second the question now facing a nervous Kezia Dugdale is: Will Scottish Labour follow Corbyn and back scrapping trident? Despite unconvincing protestations that “I’m the boss in Scotland”, she really isn’t, particularly on reserved matters. The very real prospect of a new sanity dawning on UK Labour will provide Dugdale’s remnant Labour offering floundering in the run up to Holyrood where they face continued demolition.

Thirdly, as Corbyn’s Labour looks for friends in Westminster they’ll find them more in the SNP and Green parties than they will in their own. That’s a breeding ground for trade-offs and deals on the constitution. It’s easy to characterise Corbyn as a ‘Unionist’ and he is, but he’s also torn up the political rule book and there’s a moment to grasp. I suspect Angus Robertson, Alex Salmond and the new tranche of MPs to be making some appointments as we speak. The language of ‘self-determination’ is the key to this and there is an open door as Labour try to resurrect themselves and are open to fresh thinking.

Fourth, Corbyn and Tom Watson’s experience and analysis of the media will chime with many in the Yes campaign. His unorthodox approach to (and barely concealed hatred of) the media will be immediately recognised by those of us who experienced Project Fear. The British media and the Murdoch Empire remains an enemy of democracy, north and south of the border. In a speech last year, Tom Watson – a key supporter of the Hacked Off campaign – accused the press of operating “like a mafia, intimidating here, bribing there, terminating careers when it suits them and rewarding their most loyal toadies.”

The Corbyn phenomenon is part of a far wider disillusionment with political elites across the world from Podemos in Spain, to Syrizain Greece, Bernie Sanders in the US, the SNP and the Icelandic Pirate Party all expressing a buoyant rejection of the status quo and the old failed narrative of scapegoating blame culture and economic failure. We can sense it as that and see common ground at Westminster as a new political landscape emerges while giving no ground on our ultimate goal of independence.




Comments (37)

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  1. Brian says:

    As my wife noted (and she really only skims through political news), “That Jeremy Corbyn sounds like the SNP”. Mmmmm, I thought, interesting.

  2. tartanfever says:

    With up and coming parliamentary votes/debates on welfare and trident we’ll get an early indication of just how much power and influence Corbyn has within the Labour party.

    Citizens may have voted for him, but the PLP and more importantly the NEC are not supporters. If they decide not to play ball then Corbyn is toast.

    Already Corbyn has appointed Maria Eagle as Shadow Defence Secretary and she has voted in favour of Trident renewal.

    1. tartanfever says:

      Just reading the other articles here on Bella about Corbyn – all very interesting, but the are all ‘external’ – the press, public support, tory ridiculing etc.

      Any chance of someone writing a little bit about the internal struggle Corbyn faces, particularly with the PLP and NEC that I mentioned above ?

      It’s all very well repeating Corbyn’s claims of scrapping trident, re-nationalisation etc but without the support of the internal Labour hierarchy just how can these things become actual Labour policy ?

      1. JBS says:

        They can’t become Labour policy, and they won’t. Corbyn will change his tune soon enough. Corbyn will be made to change his tune by Tom Watson and, ahem, “senior Labour figures”. Just watch.

  3. Pat Miller says:

    What an excellent well-thought out piece of wordage this is. Well done for such sensitive and astute comment and thanks for the refreshing change from the hysterical media bleating and ranting all around. Truly, we live in interesting times.

  4. dunderheid says:

    Well Sturgeon’s a fan….shes just said that Corbyn’s lack of electability may hasten the next referendum

    Nationalism comes first comrades….lol

    1. Juan P says:

      Except that’s not what she said. Nice try though.

  5. Big Jock says:

    The left wingers in the Labour party in Scotland , backed the Tories and the union. I hope Scotland never forgets that!

    “Democracy for everyone”. Was the chant…Except for viewers in Scotland.

    1. Dennis Mclaughlin says:

      I’m in complete agreement with you here BJ,we musn’t be swayed by this ‘new kid on the block.
      Remember’97 and how things could only get better…the Obama’s coronation?,between these two they have been responsible for illegal wars,countless dead and now Cameron’s drones are assasinating without trial or justice.
      Independence from all this evil is what our nation is crying out for.

  6. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    We’re witnessing Better Together part II. Instead of the Establishment scaremongering against our Independence, we have the Establishment scaremongering against Corbyn.

    The irony is that members of Labour’s Scottish Branch were implicit in gleefully spreading smears. The same ones will now be on the receiving end.

    I give Corbyn six months and he’ll resign. Too many people south of the border will take in and believe the crap. Especially when circa 80% of his own MP’s will be covertly plotting against him in cahoots with the right wing media.

    1. bjsalba says:

      Probably after Eight months, if I count it right. Holyrood election is May 5th so sometime after that. Probably the 6th.

  7. Paul says:

    I have just read that Cameron will side step Corbyn and attempt to garner support for the bombing of Syria from the PLP. If they do rebel and vote for this, the next indyref will come soon and we will win as people recognise that the Labour party is as dead as democracy in this corrupted union.

  8. Shen says:

    The incoming tide is a wave after wave of people realizing the MSM are a Mafia elitist organization, and apart from Scotland the rest of the UK are beginning to see the centre right ideologists as a mortal threat to Democracy and to everyone’s human rights.

    The Awakening has truly gone global demanding for Equality, Justice, Liberty and Freedom.

  9. deewal says:

    Can I just point out that there is only 1 (one) Green MP and the Greens as a whole are a UK Party and are anti-Scottish Independence and the Blairites of the Labour party will still be in the throes of Harriet Harman style roll-over-and-die politics of abstention.

    Oh yes and the 8 Lib Dems will vote with whoever offers them the most money.

    SNP First and List in May.

  10. Chris Rogers says:

    I’m baffled why posters are nearly as derogatory to Corbyn as many of the posts one finds on The Guardian, which itself has moved from a once proud left-of-centre publication to essentially a rightwing rag.

    I’m also a little annoyed that the Scots seem to think regular Labour folk did not support independence, particularly given the PLP is hardly representative of the members, never mind Labour’s core voting constituency South of the boarder.

    As for the Greens, of which I’m a member, it actually has a Federal Structure, which as a Welshman is a solution I favour most strongly for the UK period, and if Westminister cannot see that, well its probably PC for me at the end of the day as who wants to be yoked to Tory little England. Not me that’s for sure.

    So give some fair play to us real socialists, many of us actively promoted Scots independence, if only to force a radical Constitution overhaul of the UK, which would have delivered “Home Rule” to NI, Scotland and Wales, together one hoped with a fairer voting system.

    Corbyn is not Scotland’s enemy, the Tories are, closely followed by the New Labour neoliberal types who wrecked the People’s Party, As such, give the man a chance, is back is against the wall and his enemies are all around him. And yet he continues to fight for ideals most of us agree with passionately.

    As for the EU, do be careful what you vote for, the EU was fine when it was following Jacques Delors Social Europe trajectory, but not so fine when it’s pushing for TTIP and a corporatist agenda that’s far from democratic – look at Cyprus, Italy and Greece, all nations treated appallingly by Brussels, the Eurogroup and the ECB – do you think Scotland would fair any better?

    So, no issue with Scots independence, adore the commitment to a social democracy, but remember, if both Westminster and Brussels threaten that, what will you chaps do then?

    There is safety in numbers, whilst our masters believe in a divide and conquer policy. Tories are Tories are tories wherever they are found, so I’ll stick with the left and Corbyn is all we currently have, so best he gets on with it before they take away all our liberties and all our social welfare, and that includes the NHS.

    1. JBS says:

      “…give the man a chance…”

      No. No chance. He’s a unionist. His party is a unionist party.

    2. Dennis Mclaughlin says:

      Scottish Green Party are sellouts to the lowest bidder,NOT to be trusted by the true seekers of Independence for Scotland.

    3. tartanfever says:

      Chris Rodgers -‘many of us actively promoted Scots independence, if only to force a radical Constitution overhaul of the UK’

      Glad we could have been of service to you. Bit rich though coming on here telling us how ungrateful we are to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the party that at various times in the last few years has called us ‘ a virus, nazis, not genetically programmed to make political decisions’ amongst many other slurs whilst they stood shoulder to shoulder and arm in arm with the Tories.

    4. Blether says:

      Thank-you for your personal support for independence.

      In my view the anti-Europe feeling in the UK is deliberately fostered by the plutocratic press and the core Blaimeron approach to international relations, which is for Britain to keep its head firmly lodged in America’s arse. Iraq was less about wresting Iraq’s oil from Iraq, than wresting it from the French –


      Security isn’t just about what foreign war of choice we ill or won’t join in with. It’s about what goes down when there’s a real world depression, a famine or worldwide epidemic. Who are our friends then? Is Britain better off close to faraway America, or nearby Europe?

      TTIP is an American initiative. They insist on secrecy around negotiations, and in Asia are using the pact as a a tool to isolate China.

      There’s a brand of British anti-Americanism that’s existed for a long time, and of which I don’t approve. Set against that is an America that recently veers towards religious fundamentalism, international aggression and unfettered corporate power. An America to watch with a very wary eye.

      There’s a strong argument that the EU’s approach to Greece was pragmatic. And “neo-liberal”, as in Wolfowitz-Perle-Cheney aggression, is a term that just doesn’t fit the Europe that’s the main force against war in Ukraine.

      “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds”, Michael Lewis (author of Liar’s Poker), Vanity Fair – http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/10/greeks-bearing-bonds-201010

      Patrick L. Smith on Ukraine, salon.com – http://www.salon.com/2015/09/02/outright_lies_from_the_new_york_times_what_you_need_to_know_about_the_dangerous_new_phase_in_the_ukraine_crisis/

      A lot of us believe that Scotland’s economy is stronger than Greece’s or Italy’s, thanks.

  11. Alex Beveridge says:

    If elements in his own party don’t destroy him, then the establishment surely will. And as for him being a socialist, he has just appointed an unelected Lord as his shadow justice secretary. Against Scottish independence, for, at least the retention of Trident, he is just another Labour fraud, whose party are in freefall and hopefully will descend shortly into civil war.

  12. Alan says:

    The Corbyn phenomenon is part of a far wider disillusionment with political elites across the world from Podemos in Spain, to Syrizain Greece, Bernie Sanders in the US, the SNP and the Icelandic Pirate Party…

    and Donald Trump, UKIP, Tea Party…

    There’s a lot of raw, emotional energy that can be organized for good or ill. Let’s hope cool heads prevail.

  13. Derek says:

    It’s very simple: Corbyn is not a bullsh*tter; and from the very little I know of him he has 1000% time the authenticity of Michael Foot and Tony Benn.
    Personally I won’t vote Corbyn/Labour but nonetheless (and at least during the honeymoon) he has something going for him. The Conservatives wouldn’t otherwise be going for his jugular in such intemperate fashion.
    Wait a few months and let’s see how he’s doing …

  14. Big Jock says:

    Corbyn knows the left are unelectable in England. Scotland has proven the left can win. If he genuinely cares about poverty. He should join the campaign for Scottish independence. That would show he practices what he says he believes.

    Or would he rather have a left wing Scotland, forever enslaved to right wing England. Just because he is British.

    Do we even exist as a nation to him?

  15. Brian MacLeod says:

    The Yuppies are finally on the run.

  16. Douglas says:

    Thanks, England…well done…I was beginning to lose faith in you…

    …as for the anti-Corbyn stuff, well that is a moveable feast….we’re going to have so much fun with that….

  17. Johnny says:

    He absolutely should tell the media to stick it when it suits him.

    The other thing is that branches that have a majority of members who support him (probably most Labour branches in England going by the results) ought to be talking the language of de-selection for the next General Election if their MPs move against Corbyn without good cause. The members need to remember they have tools as their disposal too.

  18. Peter Williams says:

    I am a supporter of Welsh and Scottish independence, and live in Wales. I regularly read with interest your enlightened articles, and would ask you to recognise that south of your border, there is another Celtic country.
    It is a little irritating to read your references to a desirable anti-Tory alliance of SNP, Labour and Green MPs in Westminster, whilst ignoring the contribution that the Plaid Cymru MPs would, and indeed have made, to such an alliance.
    There are 3 Plaid MPs. There is 1 Green MP.
    Too often in Scottish political comment, there is the subliminal message that only England exists outside of Scotland.

    1. tartanfever says:

      True, and in that spirit of remembrance let us remember the Welsh farmers, who along with the English farmers voted arm in arm with Cameron’s Tory government to rob Scotland’s farmers of their specifically awarded EU subsidy.

      1. Jeff says:

        That’s a bit low. We should appreciate Plaid Cymru supporters. These farmers you mention were/are Tories rather than Welshmen/women. Same as our very own Tory/Labour breed here in Scotland are Tories/Red Pawns rather than Scotsmen/women.

    2. K.A.Mylchreest says:

      I was certainly concerned about what fate might lie in store for Wales, had the Scottish referendum gone the other way. Scotland would then have been a ‘foreign’ nation, with no no more right to interfere in the politics of England-and-Wales than France or the Irish Republic has now. That would have left Wales at the mercy of a English Tory government, no doubt prepared to ensure that nothing similar would ever happen again.

      Scotland had its own constitution prior to the Union, and it can at least be argued that it was not overturned by the Treaty of Union. Scotland also had a functioning parliament (by the standards of the day) and it should be remembered that when the ‘devolved’ Scottish Parliament sat, the first statement was that the original parliament was now re-established. Interestingly no one in the establishment objected to that statement (you can find in on YouTube somewhere).

      What this could well imply is that Scottish democracy has its own legal and constitutional basis, it is not simply a ‘gift’ from London, to be extended, pulled back or even removed entirely, according to how well we behave ourselves in their view.

      Not so alas for Wales. The Welsh Assembly is entirely a modern creation of the UK government. Had Scottish independence gone forward, the Tories and centralists (Red and Blue, Orange and Green) of Rump-UK might well have been hell-bent on clipping its wings, or even working towards its eventual abolition (no doubt on grounds of ‘cost’).

      But fortunately for you (the Welsh) it was not to be, not quite this time. So you have a breathing space to get your act together. One might have expected that seeing how thing had gone in Scotland, the Welsh might have taken a leaf out of our book, realised the true nature of the Labour Party, and like Scotland have voted in a mass of Plaid MP at the last election. But no! You simply marked time.

      The only conclusion to be drawn is that the Welsh aren’t really that concerned about gaining political independence. They have their separate cultural identity, but how long can that last in an ever more ‘united’ Kingdom?

      Mewn gwirionedd dwi ddim yn deallt meddylfryd y Cymro.

      1. Peter Williams says:

        I agree with your last paragraph. It is difficult to understand the mindset of the Welsh.
        (A very good attempt at Welsh-da iawn).
        Nevertheless, the movement towards independence will continue, and if the Labour Party rips itself apart with its current problems, then political independence will come sooner.

  19. florian albert says:

    If Corbyn is being given a hard time by the MSM, he is being given an easy ride by many on the Left. Having criss crossed the country to speak to his supporters, one of his first acts as leader was to opt out of a TV interview with Andrew Marr – not the most gladiatorial of interviewers.
    To win an election, which I assume he wants to do, he must persuade people who are not his enthusiastic supporters. It is difficult to envisage Nicola Sturgeon behaving as he did.
    In his place, Tom Watson appeared and used to opportunity to lay down his credentials to be the – less self-indulgent – leader of the Labour Party.

  20. John Page says:

    On a side issue having followed the link to the Daisley piece, I am bemused why STV lets him publish such stuff……it just wasn’t very good apart from the fact that it was so one sided……..he supported Liz Kendall, she got 4.5% and he still supports her. It was if he was having a public tantrum about how stupid people are and then demeaning himself by dragging up the IRA and presumably saying that you are anti Semitic if you have any views on Palestine.
    I blocked him on Twitter because he was repetitious and a Blairite Unionist…..but trying to be objective and setting aside my prejudices, can anyone explain why he continues in employment………is it difficult to find unionist journalists who know anything about digital media? It is not very difficult to discern the pro Isreal or neoliberal argument on every issue and to repeat ad nauseam that any Labour politician who suggests otherwise simply doesn’t live in the real world. How much does he get paid?
    Is there a fancy Latin phrase for an ad hominem attack on a piece of writing where the writer actually is boring, repetitious and pretty shallow?
    John Page

    1. James Coleman says:

      “Is there a fancy Latin phrase for an ad hominem attack on a piece of writing where the writer actually is boring, repetitious and pretty shallow?”

      Yes. Scripsit merda! (He has written shit!)

      1. John Page says:

        Thank you, James……the benefits of a classical education!

  21. Wul says:

    Speaking of “Common Ground”, is there a reason why there are no links from Bella Caledonia to the “Common Space” news website?
    I contribute funds to both, and I’m a bit saddened that there seems to be no cross pollination. Why is this?

  22. Peter Clive says:

    I think Labour under Corbyn must distance themselves so completely from the collusion with Project Fear during the referendum campaign as to effectively concede that

    – The Yes Movement was / is right
    – They were on the wrong side
    – They have no monopoly on social justice

    See my thoughts here:


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