Should the pro-indy left do more to support Jeremy Corbyn?

imageRe-watching old documentaries about Labour this week – which I know makes my life sound thrilling – made me take a step back and look at the party’s struggles from a different angle. Labour’s last left wing leader, Michael Foot, was regarded as a disaster by many. Although initially elected as a diplomatic figure who could ‘unite the party’, Foot was unable to satisfy the Europhilic right flank and was criticised for being an old intellectual who was out of touch with real people’s concerns.

So far, so familiar. However, it’d be incorrect to assume that their 1983 electoral failure was all down to what MP Gerald Kaufman famously dubbed the “longest suicide note in history”. It was figures from the right of the party that did the most damage by leaving to form the SDP, who then ate into Labour’s vote. Instead of fighting back, the party essentially validated their new opponents by spending the next two decades removing references to socialism in their manifestos and eventually their constitution.

This is highly significant when analysing the party’s dilemmas today. Here in Scotland, huge swathes of the population decided they’d had enough of Labour some time ago, that feeling eventually culminating with the independence referendum and subsequent wipe-out at the general election. For many people – and I include my own family in this, abandoning the party initially felt like a betrayal, like shedding a layer of your identity that you’d worn for years. Thus the oft-repeated saying came about: ‘I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me.’

“I’d urge pro-independence Scots to look at the bigger picture, though. Jeremy Corbyn remains the official leader of the parliamentary opposition to a Conservative government that has dragged us out of the European Union.”

Perhaps that’s why many Scottish voters, particularly SNP supporters, no longer weep for the demise of the Labour party but revel in it. Maybe it’s partly the “bitterness of ex-lovers”, as Owen Jones neatly puts it, but some of the comments I’ve seen are beyond venomous. It’s not just the Blairites that attract the wrath of ex-Labourites who now stand resolutely behind Nicola Sturgeon, but the Labour movement as a whole.

The fact that Labour now have a genuine left wing leader in Jeremy Corbyn means nothing. In fact, Corbyn has a negative approval rating amongst SNP voters just as he does with everybody else (even if it’s higher than amongst his own party’s voters).

There are several obvious reasons for this: Corbyn isn’t particularly managerially competent, he’s not the greatest orator and he’s not got the natural leadership abilities that Sturgeon has. It also must be said that Corbyn’s entire attitude towards Scotland has been disastrous. Despite arguing early on that he’s a ‘socialist rather than a unionist’, Corbyn’s generally failed to engage with Scotland’s constitutional debates whatsoever, usually side-stepping the issue (in fact, he’s hardly been to Scotland at all).

I’d urge pro-independence Scots to look at the bigger picture, though. Jeremy Corbyn remains the official leader of the parliamentary opposition to a Conservative government that has dragged us out of the European Union, steered the country towards shocking levels of inequality and ensured that food banks are the only option for many families around the country. Corbyn, for all his faults, is utterly unequivocal in challenging the government on issues that affect Scotland just as much as they affect the rest of the UK.

Abandoning the party initially felt like a betrayal, like shedding a layer of your identity that you’d worn for years. Thus the oft-repeated saying came about: ‘I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me.’

Of course, the majority of the left in Scotland have found a home within the SNP. I could easily reel off a number of reasons that I personally won’t join them: their reneging on scrapping the council tax, their refusal to tax the rich, their flip-flopping on corporation tax, their proposals on standardised testing in schools and the overall message that class issues can’t be rigorously discussed until after independence. Indeed, I’m sure many in the comments will naturally challenge some of these assertions – and that’s fine – but I believe that most left wing SNP supporters understand that they’re not in a socialist party.

In the past few weeks, for example, we’ve seen a group called ‘SNP Socialists’ pop up with MP Tommy Sheppard set to chair their first meeting on Saturday.

Although this development was missed by the press, it’s noteworthy because it highlights a growing hunger on the pro-independence left to ensure the SNP uphold an anti-austerity approach. As someone who voted RISE in the last election, I’m aware that I don’t necessarily speak on behalf of most pro-independence lefties in saying I’m uncomfortable with supporting an overtly ‘nationalist’ party. But like Cat Boyd, who talked about Scottish politics’ ‘tribal divide’ in her The National column this week, I believe that these disagreements are less important when it comes to fighting the real enemy: the Tories.

What I remember from the independence rallies in 2014 wasn’t just the flags; it was how unified we were in our desire for a new politics, one characterised by fairness, social justice and solidarity.

“Indeed, I’m sure many in the comments will naturally challenge some of these assertions – and that’s fine – but I believe that most left wing SNP supporters understand that they’re not in a socialist party.”

The people joining Labour now to support Jeremy Corbyn are our brothers and sisters in this fight, whatever their position on independence. Thousands even paid £25 to try and get a vote in this latest contest, a ridiculous situation that highlights just how desperate they are.

Whether a formal alliance is possible, I don’t know – although it’s telling that Corbyn would consent to a coalition with the SNP if necessary. Nevertheless, this isn’t just about casting votes at a ballot box, or whether you’re SNP, Labour, Green, RISE or whatever. The British left lost in the early 1980s and have taken thirty years to come together again as a movement. Even if Scotland’s path ultimately lays elsewhere, we should still be a part of that, whether that’s simply attending rallies or linking up with English activists and trying to win hearts and minds.

Laughing at Labour’s failures will be no consolation if the Tories are in power at least another decade. Whilst we remain in this union of nations, the left in England and Wales cannot be left to fight their own battles while we fight ours.

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  1. bringiton says:

    The UK has never had a “socialist” government and most of Scotland’s ills are as a result of our historical constitutional arrangements where English votes call the shots.
    Without a change to these arrangements,nothing of significance is going to happen here.
    We will not win over the majority of Scots to independence by offering something that HM press could have a field day with.
    We have already seen how they reacted to the modest changes proposed for land ownership….Mugabe land grab etc etc.
    I wish Corbyn all the best in England as he offers much that I agree with but as long as we are shackled to the London establishment,our democratic deficit continues and all the consequences of that.

    1. John B Dick says:

      Never had a Socialist Government? What about the Atlee governments? You want something more Socialist than that?

      Were they no good because they didn’t in a short period do everything you would have liked?

      I remember that time, and the negativity of the press.

  2. J Galt says:

    Despite the “longest suicide note” and the “donkey jacket” is it not the case that if the election had been held a week before the contrived Falkland’s episode in 1982 and not in 1983 Foot would have won?

    Thatcher’s monetarist adventure was a disaster by early 1982 with Labour ahead in the polls and it needed a nice shiny, patriotic, union jack be-sprinkled, but not too hard to win war to turn things round!

  3. David says:

    Should the pro-indy left do more to support Jeremy Corbyn?
    Should Jeremy Corbyn do more to support the pro-indy left?

    1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

      I think his hands are somewhat tied to be fair. He’s the leader of the UK opposition and so would be crucified in the press for openly supporting SNP et al.

      I definitely believe the Labour left need to do more to work with pro-independence supports, though. Most of the left in Scotland is pro-independence whether they like it or not.

      1. David says:

        Yes it seems like a lot of the choices Corbyn and his team make about priorities are, understandably, to do with the pressures they are under. I have reached a point in my life where I believe the Scottish independence is a very decent ideal.

        One question that I keep asking is how we got to a situation where 56 from 59 MPs representing Scottish seats support independence and yet almost every single MP that represents an English constituency is not even prepared to give this very reasonable, mainstream Scottish political opinion any time whatsoever. There has to surely come a time soon when a significant number of reasonably minded politicians south of the border take their heads out of the sand and start behaving like the grown up politicians that we should expect them to be.

        What are they all so afraid of? What is it that so totally scares them about having an independent nation on their northern border instead of an increasingly dissatisfied colony?

        Why is it that the one issue that so overwhelmingly unites these political representatives of English constituencies more than any other is the total denial of, and often visceral hatred of, the now very mainstream, Scottish Independence movement?

        Surely reasonable people are capable of something better than this?

        1. Crubag says:

          For better or worse (better, if they won so many seats?) – the SNP didn’t stand in 2015 on an independence manifesto, but on a home rule platform:

          “Delivering Home Rule for Scotland

          The SNP will always support independence – but that is not
          what this election is about. It is about making Scotland stronger.
          We will use the influence of SNP votes at Westminster
          to ensure that promises made during the referendum
          are delivered.

          We will demand, firstly, that the proposals of the Smith
          Commission are delivered quickly and in full.

          We believe that these proposals do not go far enough to
          honour the promises made during the referendum.”


        2. John B Dick says:

          60 years ago, John Marshall,

 , a future Conservative MP explained the reason.

          Knowing that I was interested in politics, he went on to establish my (un)suitability for membership of the Young Conservatives.

          The Westminster System is the best of all possible Systems and is admired all over the world. It has been copied by lots of countries, and works well in … [the white commonwealth].

          We know it is the best system because the events of 1688/89 were less bloody than the French revolution.

          An unwritten constitution is good because changes can easily be made by the House of Commons.

          British tradition is best. PR means ever changing coalitions. We need stable government. Strong government. Representative government. [ie no Referenda] FPTP delivers that.

          A two party system is needed so that when the natural party of government [the Conservative] party] needs refreshed in opposition after maybe three terms in a row, the other side gets a chance to swap sides for a term. Anything else just wouldn’t be cricket, because you need two teams to play.

          Newly independent or or soon to be independent black african states were/would be one party states, like the communist countries which was axiomatically bad and proved that they were not ready for independence.

          The House of Lords is important as a revising chamber. There are some good speeches, but the commons must be paramount.

          The duty of an opposition is to oppose. The ‘Official Opposition’ is part of the System. The Leader stands beside the PM to hear the Queen’s speech and at the cenotaph.

          … and more.

          My preference is for a unicameral PR parliament with the Founding Principles, Standards and Procedures and yes, importantly, the seating arragements, of the Home Rule Parliament.

          Around the same time in the year ahead of JM and me, The Gannett (now more widely known as The Father of the Nation) shared his vision of the Home Rule Parliament which he unequivocally and emphatically denied was his idea but rather official Labour Party Policy, to be enacted by the next Labour government.

          I am ashamed to admit that I disappointed Donald by dismissing devolution (as it is now called) as the worst of three options because it would be an extra complication and expense. I thought then that Westminster was not beyond reform.

          I WAS WRONG

          Nowadays I have doubts that the better governance of Scotland was the main aim of the Home Rule Parliament but rather “… a model for the reform of Westminster” as Donald said it would be. That may yet happen, but not till a couple of generations after independence.

          I won’t be there to see it of course.

      2. The Glasgow Clincher says:

        Speaking as a Labour member south of the border who recently rejoined because of Corbyn, I would ask all Scots of a left persuasion to consider this: if Labour needed SNP support for a coalition to defeat the Tories, would you support him? The price would naturally be the setting up of an indyref or even the granting of a federalist kind of independence. I believe Corbyn would not reject this out of hand. Islington-based he may be but you should not lump all of Labour in the same Blairite bracket – something new is really happening.

    2. That’s certainly true David, and Jeremy needs a better understanding of the national question and the potential alliances against austerity that might be possible

  4. John B Dick says:

    Is you aim the satisfaction in thinking that you may have played a part in delivering a Socialist purity, possibly by revolutionary means? Is the good [a start on Land reform] the enemy of the best [complete socialist revolution nest week if not before]?

    Isn’t it better to have a little cumulative but steady progress in the right direction, than frighten off the electorate with a socialist revolution? Some of your complaints about the SNP may be because you seek a doctrinal purity that would not have public support.

    That is not to say that the Blairite analysis is right, or the only way. J Galt points to one facet of that fallacy. Another is that Blair was a loser. He lost to not-voting, not to the Conservatives, and lost even more than they did.

    The avowedly socialist left are failures too. They use elections for evangelism for their faith , not to promote leftish policies that people will accept. They belong in the past when they selfishly promoted the interests of a male unionised workforce in large organisations.

    It’s as narrow as “What’s good for General Motors is good for America” (Though the converse may be true) to say that What’s good for trade unions is good for society.

    Why should we have a Labour Party to prioritise the interests of manual labour with a perspective on life that the highland crofter, the retired, the academic, the unemployed, the full time carer cannot relate to?

    Trade unions are a business, which put first the interests of the business (indirectly the top management) just as much as hedge funds and banks. We don’t have a Horologists and Taxidermists party, do we? A hedge fund managers and bankers party?

    We do, you say? Well that’s bad. I hope they never get political power.

    I am encouraged to see a new breed of young men. It is clear that they think of themselves as something other than as “employee”. I call them ‘Fathers of pre-schoolers’.

    Adam Smith was of his time.

    The strongest human instinct is not the male strategy of accumulating resources and thereby attract more (or a better choice) of females by showing that they can feed and support children until they reach maturity.

    That is the male strategy for achieving the Darwinian aim of maximising the chance of getting a man’s genes into future generations. The female strategy has the same objective, and the menopause is an efficiency device which redeploys grandmothers from making more babies (better done by their daughters and daughters in law) to looking after grandchildren and promoting their survival.

    What mothers and grandmothers will do if their progeny are in danger is without limit.

    There is a gap in the market for a Grandmother’s Party. Grandfathers would vote for it too,

    It would attract a more unselfish and committed membership than a “Conservative old selfish white male manual worker’s party” or a “Conservative old selfish rich white male change-phobic I’m all right Jack party.”

    The way things are going, we will soon have more grandparents than workers if we don’t already.

  5. Crubag says:

    ” Jeremy Corbyn remains the official leader of the parliamentary opposition to a Conservative government that has dragged us out of the European Union.”

    Are we talking about the Jeremy Corbyn that voted in favour of leaving the then EEC in 1975, voted against Maastricht, voted against Lisbon and who said:

    “The project has always been to create a huge free-market Europe, with ever-limiting powers for national parliaments and an increasingly powerful common foreign and security policy.”

    That one? You know, just in case there is another one I don’t know about.

    1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

      Yes, that one. The one who acknowledged the EU’s deficiencies but still campaigned around the country to remain in it on platforms that said Remain, wearing stickers that said Remain, telling people quite openly that they should Remain. The notion that he was playing some other game is ludicrous. Corbyn knew that the alternative of an even more right wing Tory government, which is now what we have, is a bigger evil.

      1. Crubag says:

        Whose first response on BREXIT was for it to commence as quickly as possible? Like NATO, I don’t think it’s something he’s going to shed a tear for.

        One could say that he is inconsistent in his principles. I rather suspect his principles are consistent, he just struggles to find a real-world opportunity that can accommodate them.

        But good to see there is still boosterism for RISE in this article. They were outpolled by the Scottish Christian Party in 2016. If Corbyn needs votes from RISE, he will indeed have sunk his party.

        1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

          It’s a shame you have to take it to that level. My point was quite clearly that the majority of the Scottish left is pro-independence, if not necessarily in RISE (yes, we did very disappointingly).

          And you seem to suspect a lot but the evidence was pretty damning. I’d suggest you’re being unfair to Jeremy.

  6. Onwards says:

    “Whilst we remain in this union of nations, the left in England and Wales cannot be left to fight their own battles while we fight ours.”

    What does this mean in practicality though ?
    Independence supporters in Scotland cannot vote for Labour in England.

    In the absence of independence, the best we can hope for is for the SNP to hold the balance of power in a future UK parliament as a way of extracting more powers.

    Most people who support self-government for Scotland choose to vote SNP as the most practical way to achieve progress towards statehood. They are a social democratic party, if not ‘hard left’ socialist. They take a pragmatic centre-left position as a way to achieve their foremost aim.. whilst trying to take the majority of the country with them. We all saw how RISE went down like a lead balloon at the Holyrood elections.

    The way I see it, Corbyn is pretty much unelectable in an increasingly right wing nationalistic England anyway. Way behind in the polls. How would support from indy supporters in Scotland change that ?

    And if Corbyn gets hammered at the next UK election as expected, and Labour become a Tory clone party, then perhaps that makes a YES vote more likely at a subsequent referendum.

    1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

      The point I tried to make – particularly by alluding to the 80s etc – is that this isn’t just about elections in the short term. It’s not our role to go out and campaign for Labour to win the election – that’s their job. But I think there needs to be more dialogue and comradely support between different strands if there’s to be a sustainable long-term left wing movement in UK politics.

      I think Cat Boyd speaking at a Momentum event, for example, is a brilliant example of that.

      1. Onwards says:

        ‘Comradely support’ is fine. But we have to remember that Labour is a unionist / UK nationalist party at heart, and that Jeremy Corbyn is against Scottish independence. His voting record on devolution has also been patchy including voting against national insurance devolution and tax credit devolution.

        Labour is also against Scottish independence from a point of self-interest. They want Scottish MP’s to help them get elected at UK level. But that means Scotland suffering long periods of Tory rule and a democratic deficit which sees decisions like the recent Brexit vote imposed on us.

        Long term, I would hope for Scotland to be a normal independent country before the end of the second term of Teresa May’s Tory government.

        If those on the Labour left genuinely wanted a more social democratic Scotland, they would help to set Scotland free from Westminster rule. Then Scotland can set an example for the type of government that socialists in England can aspire to.

  7. Ted Parry says:

    Broadly, I welcome the message you’ve outlined here. Cooperation against austerity is essential across the disUnited Kingdom.

    That means – if it’s likely to be useful – Scots supporting Corbyn against the right wing of the Labour Party. And – with the same caveat – left-wingers outside Scotland (like me) doing what they can to assist the cause of Scottish independence.

    But on several matters of fact (broadly interpreted) we differ.

    J Galt is entirely correct to point out the central importance of the Falklands War in the 1983 election result. In the remaining elections up to 1997 Labour leaders (and prominent Labour academics who retained a reputation as ‘Marxists’) did not simply ‘retreat’ from socialism. They attacked it viciously wherever they found it, especially – yes, especially – when it meant helping the media portray the Labour Party as old-fashioned, weak and unfit to govern. This continued a long history of Labour anti-socialism dating back to the establishment of the Labour Party in 1906.

    Corbyn’s election – and probable re-election – as leader is remarkable in that it’s the first time a unambiguously left-wing leader has managed to hold off the combined resources of Labour Party anti-socialists and the ‘national’ media.

    How’s he done that?

    By being a very effective orator, tactician and manager.

    You claim otherwise – but neglect to give any evidence at all. Except for a negative comparison with Nicola Sturgeon. But Corbyn needs to lose Scotland. Let me say that again. Corbyn NEEDS to lose Scotland. The rump of the Labour Party in Scotland is composed of Blairites, and Corbyn (and the left as a whole) therefore needs them to lose. And not merely to lose but to be absolutely discredited and a laughing stock for a generation. For Corbyn that means that his pronouncements about Scottish policy need to alienate Scottish voters whilst leaving open the possibility of negotiating with the Scottish Government. That’s what he’s done.

    In terms of speech-making elsewhere, the traditional measure of oratory, he’s done pretty well. He’s made the people the star at each event, forcing an unwilling mainstream media to follow him around rather than to be at their beck and call. Most importantly, he’s consistently adopted FDR’s key tactic of never naming his opponents – except where they are bad employers who can usually rely on politicians to avoid naming them. But neither Angela Eagle nor Owen Smith have had the chance to shout about his personal attacks on them, and have been forced instead to complain vociferously about ‘bullying’ from everybody else. That in turn has led to them, and their campaigners and staff members, looking like bullies. Meanwhile the ideas and people he’s seeking to represent have been shaping the agenda, with Smith’s campaign increasingly ridiculed for aping policies Corbyn has already put forward – but with demonstrably less sincerity.

    Managerial competence.

    1. At first glance this looks like a reasonable criticism, with Corbyn having been repeatedly caught out by right-wing rebels within his own party. But, thanks to having weathered that storm, he has forced them to explicitly rule themselves out of contention for positions of power. An entire generation of New Labour politicos have been rendered homeless within a year, with Momentum providing an organisational resource for the Labour Left bigger than any that has ever – yes, ever – existed before. And the tame media the Labour Right has been relying on forever is now uncomfortably aware that its own audience is at risk – from new social media competition – if it chooses the wrong side too enthusiastically when the next breakaway comes. (For which we have the Scottish people to thank. Nice one.)

    2. We don’t usually, in democratic thought, expect politicians to be ‘managers’. We expect them to lay out strategy, rather than tactics. The very idea of insisting on ‘competence’ rather than ‘beliefs’ issues from a market-based mindset that focuses on micromanagement. That’s great for those who want to promote the myth of private sector superiority. But it’s not so good for those seeking to promote equality or serious redistribution of wealth.

    3. If he’s lacking in ‘competence’, that logically means he’s ‘incompetent’. But the only – only – task he needs to perform right now is to retain leadership of the Labour Party. Which he’s doing pretty well at so far. “Incompetence” is a pretty good description of his Labour opponents however, who have managed to turn a positive relationship with the mainstream media into a clear and obvious disadvantage, whilst losing Shadow Cabinet jobs and discrediting themselves for any future positions outside St. Stephens Palace.

    I’m sure you and others will have a million replies to these points. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll differ on useful strategies and tactics for the left working across borders. Note that by strategies and tactics I’m talking about effective action, rather than simply whether we choose to approve of each other or not.

    Here’s some initial suggestions.

    1. Cross-border twinning. Despite the rhetoric of internationalism presented by the Left, we rarely build cross-border institutions prior to the need for them. A possible partial solution for this is for socialist and left-nationalist (workerist, green, antifa, union branch etc) groups to twin with groups in other countries. By twinning I mean actually visiting each other in groups, making each other welcome, and getting to know each others areas without the mediation of centralising committees that have real or perceived interests in suppressing grassroots activism or ensuring party ‘discipline’.

    2. Thinking across borders. I am one of a vanishingly small number of people I know of who regularly reads about Scottish politics since Indyref, and that’s not much. If I lived in England I’d know fewer still, and it would be less. But both Indyref and Brexit present crises for establishment and mainstream thought and institutions – and Scots commentators are ideally placed to provide cogent analyses to newly politicised audiences elsewhere in “Britain”. The other way round, not so much.

    The Left – broadly understood – can have a role in pushing debate leftwards and towards decentralisation by helping those commentators get speaking engagements etc. For generations we have allowed academia and celebrity to dominate political and cultural discussion – but the new social media offer us a way of finding and promoting new discursive talents without the financial and ideological obstacles so common in those areas.

    I’d hope, incidentally, that left-wingers seeking to promote / host / enable those kinds of discussion would also work to ensure that speakers were decently paid.

    3. Thinking across parties. For most of us on the Left, it’s more important that we get Left-wingers elected (or egalitarian outcomes to given situations) than that we get particular parties into power. There are infinite possible tactics to help with that – much of which could only happen by informal cross-party and non-party discussion and information-sharing.

    Thanks for your post.

    1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

      Some interesting points there, Ted! I’ll definitely have a look through and reply in more depth later.

  8. w.b.robertson says:

    my old mum, (who died at 92) was a miner`s wife and lifelong left winger. She ended up, in her dotage, refusing to vote Labour any longer. Shocked at her mental somersault, she explained “Labour politicians always promise Socialist measures. Then when elected to power, they think up excuses not to put them into practice”. Corbyn might be indeed a loser and an airy fairy dreamer – but he offers fresh hope to those punters who want to keep up the struggle.

    1. C Rober says:

      Much like promises labour offered for 17 years under Tories , then ooooh forgot . No council building drive , no reindustrialisation and so on?

      This is what Corbyn needs to fight , two relatively new historical mindsets , the parties failure to supply -as well as those of centrist policy , with Mclones of B and B still remaining , and the branch office mentality of BT.

      For me I can agree with the Darwinian desire to have the party in Scotland ebb to a memory.

      They are after all doing it to themselves.

      All but one was left wiped out during the Extinction level event that was the Westminster election , after Millibrand ordered that every Labour MP carried the party flag under threat of a p45 – just for a BT win , and they still got their p45s . Then repeated , though somewhat lesserly so with Holyrood via D’Hondt , I hear they have got a ouija board oot looking to see if the belgian ghost did a sequel that could help them oot.

      And this is where Corbyn too has to change , theres scope to not rebrand but to old brand , just as being repeated in England , perhaps taking the best from Scottish councils that still remember they are elected politicians to serve – and are not drama degree , private educated , career minded politicians.

      But there in lies the rub , to have SLab on board , means hands off or accusations of Branch office again.

      So like Darwins natural selection , you have to have the hope that the best genes continue in the next generation , and that just like the old guard socialist voter coming out in his favour , that now look like being prevented in voting for him remaining as leader , in that Scotland too has a drive towards refreshing the stock in a similar manner….

      BUT without bringing INDY to that table , or at the very least a federal Scotland , then Slab will be remembered as the Scottish thylacine , not deceased because of darwinian law , but by being ignored to extinction…. where every now and again a blurry pic will appear , of what may be the last Slab politician living in the wild somewhere in a woodland setting , or caged on the private lecture circuit.

      1. John B Dick says:

        Do I misremember, or does the sole labour MP not owe his position to his SNP opponent’s embarassment on social media?

  9. kimberley cadden says:

    To me it is very evident, especially online, that Corbyn has a great deal of support from the pro-indy left including quite vocal support not just from SNP voters and activists, but also SNP MP’s, and not just when it comes to his politics but also with what he is having to face down both from the media and much of his own party.

    So we shouldn’t confuse low approval with low support, for eg I wouldn’t give ‘Corbyn the leader’ a great approval rating at all, not only for the obvious and often cited reasons, but also because the voting record of the party under his leadership is pretty abysmal – they almost voted for Osborne’s fiscal charter, only changing their minds at the last minute due to pressure; they also voted for the IP bill (unforgivable and totally unnecessary) and abstained on Trident when the SNP raised a vote on it, showing complete disrespect to the Scottish people in the process. They also abstained on Caroline Lucas’s PR and Electoral Reform bill, which again makes you wonder what they are really for (the SNP have consistently voted much more progressively than Corbyn’s Labour which makes the voices on the left who are very critical of the SNP but totally supportive of Corbyn come across as *extremely* selective/partisan). In addition they voted against the devolution of tax credits when the Tories were still planning on cutting them (and still are anyway via universal credit), showing no respect for the democratic wishes of the Scottish people (who voted the SNP in by a majority on a manifesto of FFA).

    Then there’s the rhetoric; John McDonnell being a prime example of how bad they’re getting it, saying (presumably with Corbyn’s approval) that the SNP are the ‘real enemy of Labour in Scotland’ (profoundly idiotic) and coming out with all that crap about being socialists not nationalists (incidentally not only is there no dichotomy there, but I would also point out that the Scottish *National* Party are a party striving for independence and are no more or less nationalist on any level than anyone/any party who wants Scotland to be independent. Furthermore, people need to get their minds out of the 20th century; nationalism in and of itself just means that the nation state is the best/preferred model for government – or in the case of British nationalism the mulit-nation state – and as such socialists or indeed people in parties without ‘national’ in the name are every bit as much nationalists as anyone else who agrees with their view re how to model government, we must always remember that the only disagreement between so called nats and unionists is the best way to be governed within one or other kind of nation state model – so SNPers are no more inherently nationalist than anyone else).

    So yep Corbyn as leader is not someone I rate, but in the context that Jonathon outlines we support him because he seems to still be genuinely trying to advance a much more progressive politics and there is of course massive value to that and so he gets a great deal of support from the pro-indy left in Scotland, including and perhaps especially from the SNP. But I am very disappointed that we have not received the same support. There is much more that Corbyn could be doing in my opinion, beginning with an acknowledgement of where the left is in Scotland – because he hasn’t even done that. Paul Mason is very good on this stuff, and if he thinks it’s entirely possible for Corbyn to embrace the reality in Scotland and work towards a progressive alliance for now, while accepting that we are on our way out the door, then I think there’s every reason to think that this is possible. But until they embrace such an alliance (which would include admitting the SNP are progressive – the horror!) then the support will continue to be very much one way. Also not much support coming from Corbyn/Momentum activists when the SNP are on the receiving end of the same kind of media treatment, it’s there but minimal.

    Regarding the SNP not being a socialist party – Jonathon is right, they aren’t, but neither is Corbyn’s Labour and actually I don’t know of any major party advocating state ownership of across industry and capital. The SNP are a social democratic party just like other parties genuinely on the centre-left/left in the UK. Socialism does seem to just generally be used now to mean the far left, but I think it’s important we remember what these words actually mean. My take on the SNP Socialist group is that it is a group for people on the far left within the SNP, and their own description of what they are trying to do in no way indicates that they feel the SNP’s long and thoroughly argued anti-austerity position is tenuous, but rather that they want a strongly represented left wing voice within the party. All good and positive.

    Lastly I agree that Cat Boyd speaking at Momentum is a good thing if it helps Labour come closer to acknowledging the Scottish left, but whether people like it or not this will mainly mean agreeing to work with the SNP, on the understanding that they are representative of most of the Scottish left at Westminster, not just in terms of preferred party, but in terms of their position on the constitution. I think it’s time for the Labour left to step up and show solidarity to the Scottish left, they really do already have it from us.

  10. Proadge says:

    Sorry, Jonathan, but this is tired and – ironically – rather conservative stuff. No, the pro-indy left should not do more to support Corbyn.

    The United Kingdom – that bizarre 18th-century imperialistic creation – is in the fag end of its existence. In our country, the political faultline is now between two visions – becoming a modern, progressive, pro-European, outward-looking state or remaining part of a reactionary, nationalistic, warmongering ‘kingdom’, constituted overwhelmingly by one of the most right-wing countries in the world. That, essentially, is the choice.

    The British Labour Party is an irrelevance in Scotland. That boat has sailed. And while Corbyn is self-evidently a good man, the idea that he can win power in England is a fantasy. He’ll have to settle for ‘challenging the Tories’ as you put it, just as Labour’s Feeble 50 did in the 1990s, and with the same disastrous consequences for the poor and vulnerable. For anyone who wants Scotland to be independent, spending any energy actively supporting Corbyn is a distraction from the prize.

    The essentially conservative nature of your thinking is encapsulated in the sentence: ‘I’m uncomfortable with supporting an overtly ‘nationalist’ party.’ As Kimberley above, points out, just because you’ve got the word national in the title of your party, doesn’t make it nationalist. And the converse is of course true, as the Union Jack-waving Unionist parties so consistently demonstrate. The truth is the Scottish National Party is about as nationalistic as Nelson’s Mandela’s African National Congress during the apartheid era. Both are about normalising the constitutional arrangements for their countries, about national liberation. Getting fixated on the word nationalist in this context just makes you sound like Alistair Darling or the Daily Mail.

    1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

      ‘The United Kingdom – that bizarre 18th-century imperialistic creation – is in the fag end of its existence. In our country, the political faultline is now between two visions – becoming a modern, progressive, pro-European, outward-looking state or remaining part of a reactionary, nationalistic, warmongering ‘kingdom’, constituted overwhelmingly by one of the most right-wing countries in the world. That, essentially, is the choice.’

      I don’t reject that. But I think it’s also worth noting that Corbyn is an anti-imperialist Bennite who has long opposed the United Kingdom’s actions. I think rejecting him out of hand simply because he doesn’t go as far as saying he supports Scottish independence – which, let’s be honest, would an absolutely unprecedented thing for a leader of the Labour party to say – is very unfair.

      ‘The British Labour Party is an irrelevance in Scotland. That boat has sailed. And while Corbyn is self-evidently a good man, the idea that he can win power in England is a fantasy. He’ll have to settle for ‘challenging the Tories’ as you put it, just as Labour’s Feeble 50 did in the 1990s, and with the same disastrous consequences for the poor and vulnerable. For anyone who wants Scotland to be independent, spending any energy actively supporting Corbyn is a distraction from the prize.’

      As I’ve already said, I’m not advocating that pro-independence voters suddenly switch to Labour by any means. The onus is on Corbyn and his supporters to campaign for votes. I’m talking about movement-based politics, real grassroots politics that seeks to help working class people around this country. That means mobilising millions of people. In my opinion, Scottish independence isn’t the only goal that we should aspire to as a society. We should seek to build alliances with positive movements wherever they spring up. For many people it seems that Scottish independence is the ultimate goal and everything else must be weighed up by how far it goes to supporting that aim. I care about people, first and foremost, wherever they live, and I refuse to give up on England and Wales simply because I support independence.

      ‘The essentially conservative nature of your thinking is encapsulated in the sentence: ‘I’m uncomfortable with supporting an overtly ‘nationalist’ party.’ As Kimberley above, points out, just because you’ve got the word national in the title of your party, doesn’t make it nationalist.’

      I fail to see what’s conservative about being uncomfortable with nationalism. I believe patriotism is a pointless waste of time and that being proud of a patch of a land because you happen to live on it means nothing. I believe in being proud of my community but I’ve never seen the attraction of putting up borders for the sake of it. That was never a factor in my decision to start supporting Scottish independence. In fact, my main reasons you gave at the start of this comment.

      ‘And the converse is of course true, as the Union Jack-waving Unionist parties so consistently demonstrate. The truth is the Scottish National Party is about as nationalistic as Nelson’s Mandela’s African National Congress during the apartheid era. Both are about normalising the constitutional arrangements for their countries, about national liberation. Getting fixated on the word nationalist in this context just makes you sound like Alistair Darling or the Daily Mail.’

      Yes, yes, civil nationalism bla bla. I’m not ‘fixated’ on the word nationalist. I’ve now voted SNP in a couple of elections and may well do so again, mainly because they’re the only viable pro-independence party that have been capable of winning in my area. However, I firmly believe that there are plenty of people like me in Scotland who are uncomfortable in being a member of the SNP because they simply don’t subscribe to the ‘standing up for Scotland’ narrative. As Loki wrote recently, this is quite a vague statement. Judging by the last election, it seems to mean keeping middle class and upper class voters happy with lower taxes etc. I just don’t think it’s radical to say you’re ‘putting Scotland first’; I think it’s more radical to say you’re putting class politics at the forefront of the discussion.

      You may not consider yourself a nationalist but many in the party do, including many in the parliamentary party. One of the SNP’s aims has been to supplant Labour, which they’ve done very successfully, but they need to learn from New Labour’s mistakes. Scotland needs a party that will be brave on taxation, brave on challenging corporations and brave on supporting workers.

  11. Davd Robinson says:

    now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid if of whats left of the labour party …too many egos exploding their own views

  12. kimberley cadden says:

    I forgot to make a very important point in my above response – and that is that Corbyn and McDonnell agreed on a fiscal rule that there would be no borrowing except for investment under a Labour government, and that all spending would thus need to be ‘balanced’ with all revenue. This means that when revenue falls, so must spending, so this is categorically not an anti-austerity economic policy and nor is it consistent with academic economic opinion (in the main) on how best to manage a strong economy. The whole ‘balancing the books’ thing is just a nonsense, wholly based on a neoliberal narrative all about shrinking the state, dis-empowering workers, and ultimately about ensuring continued, rising inequality. Corbyn has lots of great policy ideas, but his rhetoric regarding austerity just doesn’t chime with what would be his most important policy impacting on austerity, i.e. economic policy regarding public spending. And whilst the right attack him in ever increasingly fanatical ways, much of the left seems to judge him on rhetoric alone, and somewhere in between lies the reality: He is trying to move things in a more progressive direction, but hasn’t done much to get *that* excited about, at least not yet.

  13. Dave Coull says:

    It’s statement of fact that, in parliament at Westminster, with the Tory party yet again tearing itself apart over “Europe”, and when the Labour Party really ought to be doing their job of being an Opposition to the Tories (instead of leaving that task to the SNP), right-wing Labour MPs chose this crazy time to attack their own leader. And the explanation for why they chose this crazy time for attempting a palace coup is because, unlike Corbyn, who was against the Iraq war, and criticised Tony B. Liar from the start, the people seeking to overthrow him were deeply involved in all of Blair’s lies.

    That contemptible opportunist Owen Smith has sought to distance himself from Blair, claiming to be in some obscure sense “left wing”, but this notorious former drug-pusher (PR man for a drug company was his job before becoming a politician) is a coward, a liar, a hypocrite, an enemy of democracy, and a traitor to the working class. How can anybody that supports the Tories’ blank cheque for renewal of Trident, written against welfare of every kind indefinitely into the future if there is one, possibly claim to be any kind of “left”? The truth is, in so far as the lying creep has any kind of consistent politics at all, he is extreme right wing. As Frankie Boyle correctly pointed out, anybody who wants the ability to heat hundreds of thousands of people’s skeletons to the surface temperature of the planet Mercury, just in case 1970s Russia invents time travel, or tries to attack us through some kind of Stargate, is a bonkers right-wing extremist.

    The right wing attempted a palace coup, quite literally a palace coup, a coup by a junta at the Palace of Westminster, instead of an actual election for leader of the party, which Corbyn would win (again). Kezia Dugdale (who was, don’t forget Jim Murphy’s sidekick) is against Corbyn because she and her colleagues have painted themselves into a corner of being dependent on Tory unionist votes in Scotland.

    So, in general, I’m against all of Corbyn’s enemies in the Labour Party. But that’s not the same thing as being a Corbynista or a supporter of Momentum.

    As a result of the fallout from the Brexit vote, we are in a situation where there could, and there should, be a second referendum on independence within a matter of months. The SNP Scottish Government is dithering, but it would be intolerable if there is not a second independence referendum in 2017. In that situation, all talk of what might happen to the Labour Party’s prospects in a future election is a distraction from the immediate task in front of us.

    I know a woman who voted NO in 2014, but she enthusiastically supported YES by taking part in a recent march & rally in Glasgow, and she is actively bringing other former No voters over to Yes.

    I was at the agm of the Radical Independence Campaign. None of us present were all that enthusiastic about the EU as such, but we were all against the racism and British Nationalism of the likes of Farage and Boris. There were some folk at that RIC gathering who had voted to Leave the EU, maybe even some who had campaigned to leave the EU. But they recognised that every region of Scotland had voted to remain, so, for the time being at least, that is Scotland’s position, being dragged out is an example of the democratic deficit we all complain about, so, there’s going to be a second independence referendum, in which some folk, despite having voted to Leave, will be campaigning actively for a YES.

    The actual question on the ballot paper will be exactly the same question as last time: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

    Anybody who says “No” in answer to THAT question is voting against independence as such.

    My bet is that hardly anybody who voted Yes last time will vote No this time. The idea that there are large numbers of such folk is propoganda, and lying propoganda at that. On the other hand, the former No voters who will vote Yes are very real, and very significant. Also, most EU residents in Scotland voted No last time, because they were worried about their status in this country if it became independent. Now, it’s the other way round. They’re worried about their status as a result of a rigged Brexit vote from which they were artificially excluded, contrary to the principle of no-taxation-without-representation. That’s about a hundred thousand extra votes for YES. But only if IndyRef2 is held before the Brexit process gets too far.

    There will never be a better time for that second independence referendum. There should be an announcement now that it will be held in 2017. And getting involved in the problems of the Labour Party is just a distraction from the immediate task in front of us.

  14. Broadbield says:

    I went on Political Compass some time ago and found I was extremely left wing. In their analysis of the parties prior to the 2015 GE they showed Labour to be right wing, and the SNP slightly left wing. Has anything changed? Corbyn is left on some issues but well to the right on economics, it would seem. Corbyn may win re-election to the leadership, but the Labour Party will continue to be stubbornly to the right, and the plots will continue, unless there is a clear out of most of their MP’s and they will career into defeat at the next GE and Corbyn will be gone, if he’s still there.

    I don’t see any reason to support him. He has nothing to offer us and has offered us nothing.

  15. John B Dick says:

    While I can’t agree with your conclusions, your second sentence has long been established by sound research.

    Many years ago a study of prospectuses for local government showed that the SNP were exactly where they would want to be: almpst exactly at the centre of what they had esablished was Scottish Public opinion.

    Of course people’s actual votes in local elections depend on many factors other than prospectuses which they haven’t even read.

    Asked if the SNP were a party of the Left, or Right, one government minister’s answer was ‘No’ and an ex=minister’s answer amounted to ‘either, according to circumstances’ or further simplified that would be a ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ is the same as ‘No.’

    Signficantly, I think, they didn’t use the word ‘Centre’.

    An MP answered cautiously ‘I’ve always thought that …. (Left)’ which shows doubt that there may be some catch in the question.

    It is recognised that Left/Right is not the only choice and Authoritarian/Libertarian is also a parameter. Both can be plotted together in a two dimentional representation on a piece of paper, but are there other comparisons that need 3D graphics to include tham. Radical/Conservative, or Rational/Emotional, or Selfish/Altruistic?

    What’s good or bad can be influenced by the choice of axis and the best choice between 4 and 6 as an answer to 2 + 2 = ? is not 5.

    Having said that, what you dislike about NewLabour is not just that it is economically left, but where it is placed on matters important to you on these other scales.

  16. willie says:

    Jeremy Corbyn is anti Scottish Independence. He is therefore the enemy of what so many of us are trying to achieve. Yes many may see merit in his left wing credentials but at heart he is a British Establishment unionist.

    1. Jonathan Rimmer says:

      If you think that Jeremy Corbyn is a British establishment unionist then I fear that you’ve really being paying attention to anything he’s been saying over the past eleven months.

  17. David Sillars says:

    Where is there a Socialist Party in the U.K. committed to Socialism i.e. wealth redistribution, peace, human rights and egalitarian education?
    Let’s change the whole paradigm by supporting whoever pledges to break the UK and its control and regard them as the first step on the 1000 mile march.

  18. Catherine McRorie says:

    I support Corbyn for people in Eng but not for Scot. He has shown we are least of his priorities & even an annoyance & don’t think that will change if he’s elected. He will never have same aspirations we have for our Country and its people. Like most WM politicians Scot is meant to put up & shut up for the greater good of UK

  19. Mhari morrison says:

    No, I met Corby and his folk last year , to be frank they were very arrogant about Indy . I wish to have no truck with the labour party UK or Scottish as they are a bunch of lowlifes , a term I do not use lightly. All they do is pull our country down I see no purpose to them

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