2007 - 2021

The Edge of Irrelevance

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

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

On and on they churn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Comments (13)

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  1. Sandra says:

    Good post.

    The only insight I gleaned from Ian Smart’s latest offering is he should give up politics and stick to football in future.

  2. Craig mckechnie says:

    On new and now time response

    Pcharlie Who only has to wipe his Arse each day. Was being arselicked by Arse and dull. Unbelievable

    This is Scotland NOW. For fukk sake lets get rid of these vermin and what they stand for.

    We are our new culture without vultures like this. Can I suggest

    you how we do it ?.
    Silver fox. Robber of barons like vestey et do et do and other Arse holes who use Scotland


  3. DB1 says:

    This guy seems to be all over the place. Just like Labour these days.
    If winning is more important than policies, then why not just join the Tories?
    And if they are the only ‘important party’, why is he desperate for them to prevent an SNP majority ?

    It seems like the only realistic way for Labour in Scotland to recover is to start afresh as a ‘real’ Scottish party, embracing federalism as the next step.
    Changing the leader won’t change the core problem. After the referendum, People trust the SNP to take Scotland’s side, in a way that a subsidiary of a UK Labour will never do – however autonomous it claims to be. Everyone knows their loyalty will always be divided between UK Labour’s interests and Scotland’s interests.

  4. Broadbield says:

    Your reap what you sow. They (he) have (has) sown lies, Nazi slurs, denigrated every SG/SNP achievement, jumped into bed with the Tories and have offered nothing positive. Now they are reaping their just deserts.

  5. Blair paterson says:

    I mean what labour leader in his right mind would keep Hilarious Benn in his cabinet after his speech in the commons was cheered to the rafters by the Tories ? A speech against his own leader .,the truth is most of these people like Mandelson and his ilk should never have been in the Labour Party they were only ever in it like,Parsons also known asBlair to destroy it

    1. Valerie says:

      I can’t tell you how revolted I was by Benn’s Am Dram, self serving drivel.

      In Corbyns position, I’d drag him across the floor, the least he can do is demote the warmonger.

      Corbyn gave Benn a shot, and even at a push, he could have voted a lot more quietly, instead of making a complete arse out of his leader.

      I’ve no time for Corbyn, but he’s all they have down south.

  6. Alex Grant says:

    Can someone properly explain to me what Smart actually hopes to achieve with this contorted logic? Apparently the SNP are everything from Tartan Tories to Nazis conning the electorate into believing they are lefties but the only way to oppose them due to Labour’s incompetence is to vote Tory???? And they is Smart and his ilk in the media complain that #snpbad is totally undemocratic form of defence. And which Labour voters is this analysis supposed to convince? Scottish lifetime Labour voters who still believe that the Tory party are Bevin’s vermin or Thatcher’s we are doing Scotland a favour party??? Or does he only try to appeal to those similar to the so called Liberals who slipped so easily into voting Tory in May? Not that there seem to many of those in Scotland

    1. Brian Fleming says:

      Alex, if you’re referring to the Liberal seats that went Tory in May, that wasn’t because Liberal voters voted Tory; it was because they voted Labour. FPTP: ya gotta love it, democracy don’tchaknow.

  7. thomaspotter2014 says:

    Ian Smart’s weary outpourings expose what most in Scotland are already aware of.
    The idea that voting for anyone but SNP cos they’re BAD is acceptable and is the only path open to the desperate’Scottish’Labour crew ,who are on life support at the stage where the machine should be turned off.Sad but true.
    The latest Grand Coalition directive from our masters in the south must be : the perpetuation of unquestioning Unionist rule would be best served at this time by voting for ‘Scottish’Conservatives.
    No chance of enlightening the electorate of the benefits of voting ‘Scottish’Labour,oh no.
    Whoever thought Bitter Together had dissolved better think again.
    We now have a One Media State denigrating the duly elected representatives of Scottish Democracy with a cry of’One Party State’ which is curiously never directed at the Conservative and Unionist Party who would be worthier of the name with a skewed FPTP voting system that is shown to be totally undemocratic,why is that never challenged by their screams of righteousness.
    2016 needs the spotlight put on a ‘media’ who are nothing but an Establishment entity who’s only allegiance is to maintain the corrupt rotten status quo.
    Now that does need scurrilous and exacting scrutiny in a free modern world.
    But I won’t be holding my breath.
    Rant over

    Happy New Year to all on Bellacaledonia.
    At least it ain’t gonna be boring.

  8. Alba Woman says:

    Spot on Mr. Potter!

  9. Mike says:

    Seems the Red Tories are having an identity crises. They still want to deny the label of Red Tory and pretend they are Socially Democratic while trying to find ways to undermine the principle of Social Democracy and their own Socially democratically minded leader.

    It will be interesting as Corbyn consolidates his grip on the party to see who does cross the floor and beg Cameron for a job.
    Be more interesting to see how easily they fit in.

  10. Jim Bennett says:

    Very good article.

  11. Janet says:

    As things stand, the Yoons would accept a minority SNP govt as a victory!

    Forget RISE (also no policies).

    Since the job is not yet done, it has to be SNP / SNP in May.

    Westminster will perceive any Green votes as pro-environment!

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