2007 - 2021

1983

corbyn-arrest-rob-scottLike a lot of people, I’ve just been watching Jeremy Corbyn, overwhelmingly confirmed as leader of the Labour Party, say nothing I really disagreed with and doing pretty well (with comparatively soft questions) on the Andrew Marr show. The last time I voted Labour was in 1983, which was roughly the last time either Jeremy Corbyn or I were ideologically comfortable with the direction of a Labour election manifesto. So why do I, along with a lot of people who are much more enthusiastic about Corbyn’s leadership than I am, feel that there is little to celebrate…just yet.

Well, because it is perfectly clear, both from the democratically dished but still disgruntled Parliamentary Party, and from the New Owners and Proprietors of the Labour Brand, that the civil war within the party…and a continuing lack of effective opposition to the divided and dithering Tory government…is far more likely this morning than not.

Jeremy said a lot of things about the Health Service, and about investment for example…but he also talked about the boundary changes which will mean that every sitting MP is up for re-selection. And if anyone thinks that doesn’t mean that every single CLP all over the country isn’t going to be completely consumed with re-selection between now and the next election, then they’ve never met a left wing activist. I’ve met a few in my time, I’ve BEEN one in my time, and the overwhelming attraction of fighting for an achievable local victory (as well as for the wider direction of “the movement”) means that the left of the Labour party will be right in its comfort zone, where they’ve always been happiest and most effective – fighting their own right wing and not the Tories – for the foreseeable future.

(The Tories are a damn sight more difficult to beat than the Blairites.)

Sitting as I am in another country, my own impatience makes me shout at the telly “Mother of God, there are going to be two Labour parties by, at the latest, the 2025 election…why don’t you just get on with it and SPLIT already!”

The anti-Tory majority of UK voters have historically allowed the Tories into power because their vote is already split, argue both the Corbynistas and the McTernans in reply to such a notion…the only way to beat them is to UNITE the PARTY…which means the other lot have to agree to cease to exist. And if they’d get on with disappearing it would be much better for everyone.

This is no more going to happen than Anas Sarwar’s plea for the SNP to cease to exist on September 19th 2014 was met with the acclaim of history. With peace having conspicuously failed to break out, both wings of the Labour Party, having written off the 2020 election, have some similarly vague notion that they will be able either to

a) overturn Corbyn after he’s beaten like a gong, or,

b) on the other hand, sweep to victory having de-selected “New” Labour without anyone noticing all the blood and screaming in the meantime

– all with just enough time to scrape together a victory for the “Real” Labour Party (take your pick) in 2025.

Oh, and by the way, Brexit means whatever Theresa and the chaps can cobble together in the meantime.

This scenario takes no account, you’ll notice, of Scotland – except that Corbyn granted “autonomy” to the Scottish Labour Party BEFORE the leadership election, and tried to take it away again, unsuccessfully, immediately AFTER.

This invisibility (or Brigadoon status) should not be at all surprising. One unintended effect of the presence of 56-ish SNP MPs in Westminster is a grand demonstration of the democratic irrelevance of “Scotland” as such in even so patently “national” a question as Brexit. Not quite believing it, having become used to being interesting and important for a bit, we are back on the sidelines where we belong.

Come now, the Tories might say, London too voted to Remain…Scotland is not a special case.

And, if what we did on September 18th 2014 – the rejection of democratic national sovereignty – was as binary a decision as the referendum made it, that would indeed be the case.

But politics is analog, mixed, complex – despite what Trump-esque demagogues promise. And a lot of us don’t think that’s quite what happened. We think that we voted No…for the moment…but kept the right to re-think that position. That Scotland asserted sovereignty, but chose to pool it within the UK, just as we chose to pool sovereignty within the EU in June of 2016. In both cases, we had a complicated analog answer to a simple binary question.

Besides, be under no illusions, the City of London, ably supported by the Tory government will find a way to do very bloody well out of Brexit. The brutal, schismatic Break up of Britain, which has been led by The City’s quasi –independence for getting on for thirty years, continues apace. Wales and regional England voted for London to become the tax haven for every crook in the world, even more than it already is. So the City, suitably ethnically and economically cleansed of all poor people apart from the messengers and cleaners…will do fine out of Brexit…don’t you worry.

And Scotland, like London, in the context iof the schism in these islands of which the Brexit decision is a part, is also trying to negotiate, via the SNP, on the basis of its own financial sector and of its limited sovereignty, for a “Soft Brexit.” Realistically, that is what the current phony war on another Independence referendum is about – it’s a negotiating posture.

And why not? Using the threat of independence to gain concessions from the Brits is what we do! It’s our entire economic basis! (We too accept that London is really the only place that really counts)

Hard Brexit will probably only come to those who voted for it, in Wales and regional England, and it will hurt like hell. And I don’t believe that either of the two Labour Parties…or the SNP, I fear…will be able to do a damn thing about it.

Unless, of course, Theresa and her Merry Band of Barmies screw up the negotiations so horribly that the virtues of constitutional “Hard” or “Soft” “Sexit” will be blindingly obvious to our bewildered electorate so that we meanwhile have and win very convincingly another referendum of our own…

But unless and until things over which we have very little control change very quickly in support of that strategy…we may be in for a long, dirty haul before that is even a possibility.

We’ll look back on September 18th 2014 in years to come and say, “Why did we have to pick the hard way? Why did we give them another chance?”

Why indeed?

Comments (22)

Leave a Reply to punklin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. bringiton says:

    Cameron’s legacy.
    Scotland’s right to self determination.
    England’s right to self determination.

    1. Russell MCK says:

      Within Waiting for Godot, some see a metaphor for Ireland’s view of the uk as the uk being a society blighted by a greedy ruling élite keeping the working classes poor, passive and ignorant by whatever means at the elite’s disposal.

      Just in case anyone is in any doubt, the labour PLP, members of HOLs and wealthy donors are as muc a part of the elite as the tories.

      Red and blue tories are one and the same!

    2. Russell MCK says:

      Within Waiting for Godot, some see a metaphor for Ireland’s view of the uk as the uk being a society blighted by a greedy ruling élite keeping the working classes poor, passive and ignorant by whatever means at the elite’s disposal.

      Just in case anyone is in any doubt, the labour PLP, members of HOLs and wealthy donors are as muc a part of the elite as the tories.

      Red and blue tories are one and the same!

  2. Gralloched says:

    Thatcher’s legacy !

  3. David says:

    I often despair at the wallet clutchers and the pension panicky types that have to won over in order to get democracy to work in their favour.

    Most of the scared people, who said no in 2014, still seem to no-ing along inbetween bake off and coronation street. Most of the shit that’s pouring down seems to miss most of them most of the time. How do we get them to the point where they will actually see that it might be prudent to sacrifice some of their easy time to reading, thinking and wising up a bit rather than put it all off until the day when it affects them directly and by which time it might be too fucking late to save their own bahookis?

    1. punklin says:

      ” How do we get them to the point where they will actually see that it might be prudent to sacrifice some of their easy time to reading thinking and wishing up a bit rather than put it all off until the day when it affects them directly..?”

      Well we could try being sympathetic, understanding, charming and patient. Maybe that would be more effective than being derisive, patronising and superior?

      1. Josef O Luain says:

        It probably would if we could get them to listen to the arguments.

      2. Richard MacKinnon says:

        punklin,
        You saved me the effort. Thanks.

  4. Scott says:

    Well said David. The article only skirts around the real stuff going on with the Labour party and the hiatus of British radical politics which is at an ideological impasse for the Left and scared to step forward because it lacks the vision to see past Blairite farce. Labours knot is this. They must be anti-austerity to win back their heartlands. But the mediocre boffins elected as MPs are too stupid to comprehend a realistic economic way of being anti-austerity. You cannot be FOR Neo liberal economic and preach anti austerity. A liar could. A con man could. They are so full of their pompous importance inflated by their job title as an MP they don’t have a clue about a programme of anti-austerity policies to show that Labour could be Left wing and win a majority! They prefer to kneel in ignorance to sacred truths that were forged by the Right wing tabloids of the 1980’s and little toe rags like Smith whack down their intellectual superiors by idiocy repetition from the Bank of Right Wing Tabloid sloganism! It looks like the sacred truths of the ultra right tabloid with its IQ of around 5 yrs old is the Bible of the Corbyn bashers. If x didn’t work in the 1980’s it can’t work now. If the policies of the Labour Party are to be honed purely from the Thatcheite slogans of abuse then the dummies of the Labour right will serve the same elites BLAIR served when he accepted Neo liberal economics and made more millionaires than Thatcher. The arrogance of idiots is often breath taking. If Labour swings back to the right and keeps a policy of nuclear weapons are good for us and austerity light, then they might as well join the damn Tory party party. Knuckling down to the financial elites and accepting Neo liberal economics and playing to the ego of megalomania British nationalism that good olde England needs a large nuclear cock to be a macho man in the world stage and make bellicose belches at Russia to feel a national pride, is the buffoon behaviour of idiots like Boris and may make a few country morons feel good at Eton, but it is the claptrap of the British establishment. It’s unworthy of the Labour Party that so many of its MPs are bunch of elitist shitbags who want a celebrity following around them fawning on their knees kissing their rings! A rush of new members and the paranoid cry entryism! Imagine the horror! Their chain of command structure runs downwards, from egomania to underlings. Blair and his crew killed the heart and soul of Labour long ago and the right wing idiots who will continue to kill Labour are Hilary BEnn et al, thinking they must repeat the exorcism of the 1980’s. It’s time those who cry grow up and be realistic were given a lesson in democracy. If they can’t listen to the majority of their party and want it to be ego driven by mediocre MPs they should get out of politics. The psychology of territorial dominance within politics is the death of politics. Open, rational, educated debate devoid of calculating secretive groups, factions, feuds and the pettiness of mediocrity is almost impossible in politics. Politics needs principled people once more. Top down careerists are not democrats. Labour needs to move beyond BLAIRISM and show the newer better world that can be created and break out of the neoliberal prison it was sentenced to.

  5. Crubag says:

    This seems to be a bit disjointed – it starts with Corbyn but ends with BREXIT.

    Corbyn was long a supporter of BREXIT, he only had to trim his sails when he became the party leader. Assuming he ever felt any grief about the result, I think he will have quickly moved on to acceptance.

    Labour devolving policy on Scottish Parliament issues makes sense, but at UK level they will still be whipped to follow the UK line. It would probably work better like a German CDU/CSU relationship – though Christian Democracy probably has fewer contradictions within it than the socialist/social democrat problems of Labour.

  6. Richard MacKinnon says:

    I was trying to work out why Peter Arnott put three full stops at the end of the sentence that finishes , “so that we meanwhile have and win very convincingly another referendum of our own…” and then I noticed he used the same punctuation twice in the sentence before and once in the sentence after. I then scrolled through the article and found the same three full stops at the end of a number of sentences and on at least one occasion in the middle of a sentence.
    I think what Peter is doing here is trying to make his writing more conversational and less formal. When Peter finishes a statement with his three dots he is assuming (I think) that we, the readers know what he is thinking and so, he thinks, he does’nt need to actually complete the process of writing down what he wants to say.
    This pressumption on Peter’s part might be OK if the reader is in tune with his thoughts and agrees with his line of reasoning but it is difficult to follow Peter’s logic if you dont know what he is talking about.
    To ensure I am not being over critical of Peter Arnott’s writing style I have gone back and re read the article and Im still none the wiser. I don’t know what he is talking about. And when Peter concludes “We’ll look back on September 18th 2014 in years to come and say, “Why did we have to pick the hard way? Why did we give them another chance?” Who is he talking about? Another chance to do what?

    1. K. A. Mylchreest says:

      I agree, I´ve seen clearer exposition. As for the last line, I took it he was referring to the IndyRef and to Scotland apparently giving the UK a second chance to repent and cease battering its spouse (i.e. Scotland). But then again, I may be barking up the wrong tree … which is at least an advance on many of the so called ´Labour´ MPs who are just plain barking 😉

      1. Neil Anderson says:

        ” I may be barking up the wrong tree … ” There’s those 3 full stops again! What is the world coming to? Oh calamity! Are we meant to know what you mean? Please explain yourself.

  7. Alf Baird says:

    “One unintended effect of the presence of 56-ish SNP MPs in Westminster is a grand demonstration of the democratic irrelevance of “Scotland” ”

    Brilliant, but this also demonstrates the irrelevance of the 56, who are constitutionally swatted away by I single Scottish Tory MP. The 56 would be as well doing something useful, like resigning en masse and fighting by-elections in Scotland on an indy/indyref2 + pro-EU ticket. That would up the ante a bit – and give the mandate so many want to see; Yes voters would lose nothing as we have nothing currently to lose. Alternatively the 56 (and their 2-3 assistants each) could simply continue to be an “irrelevance” meanwhile pocketing the unionist shilling, settling in, sampling the London property market, eateries and night spots etc, while ‘fighting’ (oh yes, yawn) for independence.

    1. c rober says:

      But yer firgttin wan hing , expecting turkeys to vote for xmas.

      As long as you want an snp politician to get independence as a goal , then it also means their demise as a party if they achieve it – at least in part. No more 56 benchwarmers , no more council , and thats a lot of of “at least politically” unemployed lawyers , doctor and accountant landlords….and their jobs arent dun yit shaping legislation in their pocket favour. But then again tory , slab being the other offer afterwards?

      Has the token socialist sandbag clear oot of the SNP startit wi McGarrie? That is the bigger question , but less investigation into other SNP polticians seems to be the norm. So that 56 is noo 54 ish.

  8. George Gunn says:

    Peter Arnott is a playwright, so he is a poet of sound. I always find his Bella stuff entertaining. Knowing him I would suggest he would agree with all the criticisms of his writing style. But at least he has one. As to Labour I. like him, despair. A party caught between entryism and extinction is a strange demise. As to the SNP I would seriously ask just what the hell all their (our?) MP’s are achieving at Westminster? It would be more useful if they all resigned, as one of the comments above suggested, and came home and formed a second chamber in Edinburgh. or as has also been suggested have a festival of by elections. Who knows, democracy may break out any time soon. Tanks in George Square? I think what Peter was saying is that we are drifting and we should start navigating.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Aye, George, I was just a wee bit taken aback after the 2015 ‘political tsunami’ when the 56 SNP “roaring lions” first went down to Westminster, diligently took their oath, delivered their ‘maiden’ speech, and then proceeded to set up their London offices and constituency shops back up the road, settling into the unionist parliament for the long term. In that sense they are really no different from their Labour predecessors, who we used to call ‘the feeble 50’. The 56 have squandered the 2015 Yes vote and the political momentum from that ‘tsunami’. As you say they are drifting, devoid of ideas or leadership.

      1. punklin says:

        Thanks for that. Thousands of us worked our guts out to get the SNP so well represented, with vast swathes of Scotland’s people supporting them.

        Best just give up now you’ve shown us how wrong we all were.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          “to get the SNP so well represented”

          The 56 are supposed to represent the people who voted for them, not a political party. I did not ‘support’ them so that they could represent a party, I supported them to lead Scotland to independence. What is their strategy to secure independence? All we see so far from the 56 (95% of Scotland’s MPs) is inertia, hot air, and ‘lets wait and see what Mrs May does next’.

          1. punklin says:

            Sorry Alf but your assertion that the 56 = “inertia, hot air etc…” is just too weak. Preferable I suggest is some evidence and analysis. Though hard won and significant (would you rather there were unionists from Scotland down there?) the SNP’s role at Westminster cannot be “to lead Scotland to independence”. We’ll be doing that up here.

          2. Alf Baird says:

            On the contrary, “some evidence and analysis” of the achievements of the 56 is surely for their unquestioning cheerleaders and sycophants to provide. You might also remind everyone, as I requested, of “their strategy to secure independence”, which is I assume still the number one objective.

          3. Alf Baird says:

            I’ve seldom heard such nonsense, Punklin, and if this is the level of SNP activist argument then I truly worry:

            You say – “would you rather there were unionists from Scotland down there?” As it happens many if not most of the new SNP MPs are actually fairly recent unionists. They are also ‘social democrats’ (i.e. neo-Liberals?) and I think on this basis and on the basis of their ‘actions'(?) thus far it is valid to question their commitment to independence.

            And, related to this, you say: “the SNP’s role at Westminster cannot be “to lead Scotland to independence”. This is a bizarre statement as independence is surely their primary objective and arguably it should be their only objective.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.