2007 - 2021

Blair McDougall – In remembrance of times past

Reading Blair McDougall’s reminiscences on 1997 got me thinking too. I’m a politics nerd. I became interested in politics through visiting my brother Paddy in Anniesland amidst the earthquake that was Roy Jenkins’ victory in the Hillhead by -election of 1982. It seemed that summer that as we walked from Anniesland through Byres Road and Partick, that there were TV cameras everywhere. This political carnival certainly made an impression.

I remember being struck by the simple geography of the Falklands War being fought as far away as it was. To me, a teenage schoolboy, it was baffling. I remember asking my lefty Maths teacher about the conflict, particularly why we were fighting in a far away place about which I knew little.

The miners’ strike was much more immediate: fought out on ITN and the BBC news. I became used to seeing Scargill and McGahey, pitched battles between police and striking miners, Ian McGregor, the UDM. I remember hunger strikes and bombs going off- the Shankhill and Falls Road. My mum was Irish, how could I not be aware? That was my teenage introduction to politics, but I never became politically active outside of arguing with friends and adolescent ideological posing.

I remember casting my first vote for Labour in the 1987 election and the devastation of that defeat.

Working for Glasgow City Council was the beginning of my real political education in the late 80s and through the 90s. I was always a Labour voter. May Day, the GMB, the poll tax. To vote for anyone other than Labour in Glasgow was simply unthinkable. Then in the late 90s, I studied Politics and English at Glasgow Uni. I loved Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, the study of Machiavelli and Locke. I loved the theory, but I also loved the study of institutions: the EU, the politics of the US, Mexico and China. I remember a Labour activist student acquaintance passing me a note in a lecture theatre in 1997 . I had “twenty four hours to save the NHS.” by voting Labour. He was leaning against an open door, but I, like so many, was still suspicious of Tony Blair.

I remember my then girlfriend, now my wife, insisting I go to bed before I got to see Portillo.
I remember how sweet that victory was.
I remember the good Labour did in those years.

In contrast to most of my peers, particularly my friends who were old style lefties, veterans of the internecine battles of municipal socialism, the Iraq war- while a political and humanitarian disaster – was not the simple black or white moral issue for me it remains for so many of my friends: Blair as the irredeemably evil bastard who lied the UK into an unjust war. I thought Saddam was loathsome, but I sought an alternative route than simply launching military action. I still marched against the war on that cold clear day in 2003 when millions of others did.

I have ever enjoyed the spectacle, the passion and the controversy of politics: from the spectacle of Paul Boateng discussing “sucking off” on Question Time before a squirming panel and audience at the height of the AIDS epidemic- to the high drama of Kinnock confronting Militant over redundancy notices being delivered by taxi in Hatton’s Liverpool.

It was during the Glasgow East by-election of 2008, the first harbinger of New Labour’s eventual destruction that, as a constituent, a parent and a teacher, I became more engaged. It was like Hillhead all over again! In one week, in my garden, I had Alex Salmond and Elaine C Smith chatting. A day later, Annabel Goldie appeared at my door delivering leaflets. I remember joking with the Scottish Tory leader that things must be tough as she was reduced to delivering her own leaflets and we laughed.

On the other hand, Margaret Curran’s representative was told my local MP was not welcome at my door. Why? James Purnell had been reported as talking about the unemployed working for benefits or Workfare as it was called. This issue being raised in one of the poorest constituencies in Scotland and indeed the UK, struck me as egregiously insensitive, politically inept and downright suicidal. I knew Mrs Curran was going to lose. I felt then, as did many friends and neighbours, that Labour were losing their way, losing their core vote – losing us!

So confident was I that a political earthquake was on the cards, that I waited outside the count at Tollcross Leisure Centre for the annihilation that I knew awaited Labour in Glasgow East. For the first time in my life, I voted for a party other than Labour. I and many of my fellow voters in Glasgow East wanted to let Labour know that working class constituencies could not be taken for granted. I voted SSP. Most in Glasgow East voted SNP. For the first time in my experience, the BNP campaigned (despicably using children to deliver leaflets) in my constituency. These were straws in the wind for the political storms approaching.

Fast forward to the Indyref. I was and remain deeply suspicious of nationalism. I, and my fellow Scots engaged passionately in the arguments. The campaign was fought in communities, in pubs, in schools, in workplaces, in halls. It was indeed a joyous, tumultuous and, yes, divisive exercise in participatory politics. I loved it. I attended several Yes organised events including a huge event in the Radisson hotel in Glasgow and smaller events in Shettleston and Barrowfield. However, despite my efforts, I could not find any Better Together events to attend, simply because BT, by design, did not hold open hustings events in communities.

I remember phoning the Better Together offices and speaking to a BT activist, Rob Murray. I wanted to attend a meeting to discuss what voting no meant for the future of my country. Young Rob told me BT preferred ‘street events’ where I could discuss the future of my country alfresco. BT didn’t do platforms, draughty halls and jugs of water on shoogly tables. Instead, Rob informed me, I could discuss Scotland’s future in the street at pop up stalls!

I remember my wife getting hacked off with me as I continually sought to catch up with Scottish Labour’s Jim Murphy at one of his Irn Bru crate events. I wanted to ask if I could discuss Scotland’s future (indoors!) with other undecided, but politically engaged people. I never did catch up with Mr Murphy.

I remember consistently tweeting Blair McDougall, the mastermind of the No campaign, asking him what value a campaign designed to exclude genuine voter participation had in terms of democratic legitimacy. He did not respond.

I remember Duncan Hothershall telling me that Better Together held literally hundreds of events and accusing me of being untruthful when I said that I had not managed to attend any such events.

I remember Duncan Hothershall telling me it was right that I did not get to attend such events as I only wanted to harangue the platform.

I remember Duncan Hothershall telling me that I would not have to back up my assertion (on Twitter) that the Better Together campaign would be the death of the Labour Party in Scotland.

I remember the school in which I work being a hotbed of political discussion in which newly enfranchised Yes pupils argued knowledgeably and passionately with equally enthusiastic No pupils at break time and lunch.

I remember attending the Big Debate where George Galloway represented the No side. Gorgeous George by turns baffled, infuriated and amused the thousands of young people who attended the Hydro, most wondering who the old guy with the hat was!

The only BT event I managed to attend was held behind closed doors to an invited audience in a location disclosed the night before via email. This was the kind of event organised by Better Together then, favoured by Theresa May now. I only managed to acquire an invitation because an acquaintance in the school in which I work called in a favour from a personal friend of hers within the Labour hierarchy.

As a result, I got to ask a genuine question about the democratic legitimacy of the closed meetings in secret locations to invited audiences favoured by Better Together. The answer from Alistair Darling was depressingly inadequate as he simply did not expect anything other than a softball question.

I am reminded of the look on the face of Alistair Darling then as I watch Theresa May trapped in the headlights now.

This event in Coatbridge was hosted by Tom Clarke MP, it was addressed by sectarian celebrity, Yvonne Hama. I was a genuinely undecided undercover ordinary voter. I asked my genuine question. Yvonne Hama was applauded for reciting her prepared speech; I was verbally abused by Mr Clarke for having the audacity to attempt ruin the “Mr Darling addresses a grateful nation photo” opportunity so favoured by Blair McDougall’s campaign in Mr Clarke’s (until 2015) solid Labour constituency.

I remember I voted yes.

I remember Scottish Labour were duly annihilated in the great reckoning of GE 2015 and Scottish politics would never be the same again.

Fast forward to June 23rd 2016 and an unprecedentedly depressing, cynical and, unfortunately effective Leave campaign, chaired in Scotland by Zelig-like ex Labour MP, Tom Harris, The UK voted to leave a EU which, while hugely ineffective and maddeningly bureaucratic, I still feel passionately, remains a force for good in Scotland, the U.K and the world.

I enjoyed Blair McDougall’s Proustian reverie on things past. It made me think of times gone by too.

I remember tweeting Blair McDougall after the Indyref and asking if he recognised the irony that through the conduct of the No campaign, he had helped destroy the party founded by Kier Hardie in its Scottish heartland.

I remember voting Labour in 2015, hoping against hope, Miliband might win.

I remember the bitter taste of defeat.

I won’t forget Blair McDougall’s role in masterminding a campaign which prized photo opportunities over engagement; a campaign which excluded undecideds; a campaign which demonstrated the worst excesses of municipal crony socialism; a campaign which managed to be an elitist stitch up, while simultaneously offering ersatz engagement at pop up stalls and whirlwind Irn Bru crate events.

I will vote Labour in June in Glasgow East. I will vote Labour in May in the council elections. I will vote for the party of my youth which represents the principles I swear by and the only real hope for the representation of working people across this United Kingdom- a party that stands on the brink of extinction in Scotland.

I will attend hustings. I will investigate the issues, I will debate. I will dog the heels of Tory candidates over the benefits cap, the rape clause and foodbanks.

I will vote for Labour knowing they will lose. I could never vote for another party when a Conservative government looks to be a certainty. I will vote Labour as my recently deceased mother did all her days.

I will regret that Yvette Cooper lost and I will forever rue the day Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership battle and gave power away for a generation.

I will never forget Blair McDougall’s part in the demise in Scotland of the party he loves.

If only the battle for Scotland’s future mattered as much to Blair McDougall as the victory, we might not be where we are now. If only Better Together had taken a leaf from the Yes campaign’s book and genuinely campaigned in communities and hustings, in halls and clubs, where all were welcome, perhaps Labour in Scotland wouldn’t be where we are now- on the verge of extinction.

Perhaps Theresa May wouldn’t be running the same AstroTurf campaign that will work as well for her as Better Together’s campaign did for Blair McDougall. The campaign may well succeed, but democracy will be the loser.

Comments (39)

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  1. Willie says:

    I will vote for Labour knowing they will lose. I could never vote for another party knowing a conservative government looks a certainty.

    Well why not man. Plenty of folks and many of them ex Labour are voting SNP to stand against the Westminster Tories. Use the noddle man and vote for the party who can win against the Tories.

    Or are you a dyed in the wool Brit who is quite happy to accept the destruction of all that we hold dear in terms of worker protection, free national health, free education in a society that tries to break down class differences.

    1. Sid says:

      I lived thru Thatcher and Labour treated the workers worse. A min wage that was actually a wage cut for a lot of people ‘as you must be aware, lots of employers sacked their workers who were getting £6ph, only to re-employ them at the min wage £3.80ph. So forget about Lie@bour being worse than the Toaries. I will never vote Lie@bour again.

      1. Jim MacIntyre says:

        I have very little time for socialists in the Labour Party any more. For years they argued about entryism with those in the SSP, what are you left with? A set of parliamentary candidates indistinguishible from the Tories. You will have Blair McDougall becoming a minister. Even now, with Corbyn, you have a guy who agreed to an election on the cusp of the biggest electoral fraud case in the country. He has become a liability to left wing causes.

        The idea Kezia Dugdale would operate any differently from Ruth Davidson in holyrood is a joke. True, Davidson would have an insane amount of propaganda supporting her government.

        The idea you dont get Tories by voting labour is a complete joke. We will always get Tories by voting Labour. Just as we did under Thatcher after comrades spouted the same crap about stopping Thatcher. True Labour won eventually with Tony “the Red” Blair after a lot of you were booted out.

  2. DialMforMurdo says:

    Excellent read with a very pained conclusion.

    I get hanging on to all that made Labour a worthy recipient of your vote in the past is tainted today and that it is oh so difficult to finally walk away from the party who so easily surrendered their values in pursuit of electoral power. I don’t relish your decision when you number or put an X beside a candidates name over the next month or so.

    That moment when devotion to a mother’s memory and the shared history of the benefits of universal housing, education and health are overshadowed by corruption, nepotism and countless hundreds of thousands of deaths ameliorated by an acquiescent leader keen to be seen on the side of might.

    I don’t envy that moment of uncertainty, where a protest vote is so futile. I see it like a trip to the dentist for you, there will be pain, it will be short term, it will soon be over…but the nature of what forms this democracy dictates that you’ll be back again, will you make the same decision then? Particularly when your Labour candidate is Kate Watson, the former director of operations at Better Together?

  3. Kenny says:

    Many people reading this well written piece will have gone through the same painful process of recognising Labour in Scotland (and elsewhere for that matter) as a party in terminal decline. A decline of their own making, as is pointed out here.

    How ironic then that the writer, who has accurately described Blair McDougall and his scurrilous role in masterminding Project Fear, will still vote for a party that recently endorsed McDougall as a candidate for the up and coming General Election.

    Rather than training their guns on the Tories, Brexit and May’s ineptitude, they’re reduced to begging tory voters to lend them their votes to “keep out the divisive separatists.”

    My days of voting Labour are well and truly over.

  4. bringiton says:

    I am afraid that the one thing that the BT campaign made clear was that Labour are just stooges for the Tories in Scotland.
    A vote for Labour in the Westminster election is a vote for England’s Tories.
    Don’t do it.

  5. Marlene MacKinnon says:

    I agree with most of your article except your conclusion. The labour party is so tainted by New Labour and the self-seeking and inept people who have followed. Admittedly the party in England has more able politicians but they have not been a strong opposition to the Tories. However voting for labour now in Scotland is a wasted vote and not going to get this evil right wing government out. The damage that will be done to the UK and its constituent parts will take decades to repair if ever.
    Like you I was a labour voter but saw how disenfranchised Scotland was becoming; how irrelevant Westminster was to us and us to Westminster.
    The party of Keith Hardy and people like him remains only in name. The ideology is still there and can be rekindled as a Scottish Labour Party in an independent Scotland.
    I am a teminally ill retired head teacher and a loyal trade unionist
    I have spent much of the last two years reading and discussing politics with friends and am very concerned that if Scotland does not win independence soon our legacy for our children will be to live in what will be virtually a capitalist dictatorship.

  6. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Mr Crawley, what will Labour do with your vote?

    A lot of the people who read this site and post comments are all from long-time Labour-supporting backgrounds. But, Labour betrayed us and will continue to do so until it is reduced to a footnote in history (which could well be this year). This is a party many of whose MPs have supported much of the nastiness of this Tory government. This is a party who, ultimately, would rather Scotland continued to suffer under the Tories than be an independent country and make our own way, for good or ill, in the world.

    This is a party whose members, listening to Dolores Ibarrura (La Pasionaria), would have shrugged and said, “Catalunya is too we, too, poor and no very good,” so, we’ll just thole Franco.

    Despite your eloquence, I suspect you just hate the SNP, and, those non-SNP members, like me, who want Scotland to be an independent country. You seem happy to tar us as ‘separatists’ and ‘nationalists’, with all the straw man baggage you have invested in that term.

    1. Wul says:

      Showing my naivety here but I don’t understand this “I hate the SNP” line from so many socialist/(ex) Labour supporters.

      I once worked with a very left leaning guy, who around 2012 was thinking about supporting Scottish independence but kept repeating “…I just hate the Nats though”

      This seems to date from a period before I was engaged in politics, so I don’t really understand it. Can someone help to explain it to me?

      Is it to do with the “tartan Tory” image that the SNP once had?

      It seems a real shame that some people can’t fully support independence, even though they might want to, because of some historical grudge.

      1. Monty says:

        Labour has always been deeply suspicious of nationalists and nationalists parties believing it a distraction and irrelevance. Part of the reason the no campaign was half hearted at best is the constitution just does not engage a lot of the left. This is not widely understood by a lot of the SNP. An apparently progressive nationalist party is a contradiction in terms to many hence some of the confusion in how to deal with it. Many still have to be convinced the SNPs apparent embrace of left of centre politics is not just a means to an end rather than a real belief. SNP policy on for example private schools and local government suggests they are right to be suspicious.

        1. Wul says:

          Thanks for the background. I can understand the “workers of the world unite” philosophy.

          It fits with my own view that I have far more in common with say, my wife’s extended ex-mining family in Newcastle than I have differences with them.

          However, in recent years I have been thinking that Westminster is so fully corrupted by the interests of corporate wealth that it is now beyond restoring to actual democracy. This, along with the fact that our English cousins keep voting Tory and that my vote is irrelevant in the UK means that I now want a realistic opportunity to live in a different type of country.

          I don’t “trust” the SNP’s leftist credentials either but after independence, and the first Scottish GE, they become an irrelevance, or at least just one of a number of viable governing political parties.

          I think its far more likely that a “real” Labour party (which so many people are mourning) will emerge in an independent Scotland than in the current or future UK set up.

          1. Iain Ross says:

            “I can understand the “workers of the world unite” philosophy.”

            Well I can not. At the end of the day there is never going to be a one world government, and why would anybody want one anyway? It is about blocks and having influence over the block in which you are part.

            In addition the whole ‘international socialist’ gig is all a front anyway. Aye you may well have a lot in common with your wife’s extended family in Newcastle but what if they were in Eire? Funny how the Labour view of being an ‘internationalist’ seems to stop at the UK border.

            And that is what it all comes down to really, despite everything they say they are British Nationalists. The Labour Party would rather be British and hand control over to the Tories than live in an independent left of centre Scotland which delivers the policies they say they believe in.

            I am left leaning, an internationalist but I am also pro-Scottish and believe we, the people of Scotland, should be in charge of our own destiny. Being chained to England in a one-sided deal does not achieve that and that is what Labour tells me is best in the guise of non-nationalism, yeh right.

            I would never vote Red Tory and I find it strange that the author of this article is still willing to give his votes to these people. Perhaps he has yet to finish his journey yet.

      2. DialMforMurdo says:

        “Is it to do with the “tartan Tory” image that the SNP once had?”

        I suspect, and other’s can correct me, if they think I’m wrong, that a lot the antipathy towards the SNP stems from Labour’s guilt over the Cunningham amendment to the 1979 Devo Ref, which included dead people in the referendum count as No and the subsequent whitewashing of their role in bringing down the disaster that was Callaghan’s government in the June of that year by blaming the SNP for heralding in 11 years of Thatcher…

  7. Alf Baird says:

    “I was and remain deeply suspicious of nationalism”

    But evidently not British nationalism, which masquerades as ‘unionism’. Compared to the uber-nationalist British Tories, the SNP is clearly social-democratic, with a political focus on Scotland, i.e. nationalism with a very small ‘n’ indeed.

  8. jack says:

    Yvette Cooper?? self-serving Blairite who has nothing to do with the real ideals of Keir Hardie. Do yourself a favour vote Tory because Blairite Labour is the smiley face of Thatcherism.

    1. Jo says:

      Yes, the reference to Cooper threw me as well!

  9. Jim Bennett says:

    I honestly can’t see the point of this article. Why is the author repeating the same mistake over and over? Why publish it? Totally pointless indulgence of British nationalist reminiscence.

    1. John Cawley says:

      Did you miss the part where I said I voted yes? Is your idea of democratic debate so stunted that you can’t get beyond the fact that I am and have always been a democratic socialist? My piece may be sentimental, illogical and lacking coherence, but that’s because politics is not so simple that I can just turn my back on my beliefs and vote SNP. I voted yes as part of a broad left coalition. I remember ‘Sshh for Indy’, I’ve been blocked by Wings, called a yoon, now the bold Jim wonders why Bella would publish such a piece. Maybe because Mike recognises that a plurality of views is good for democracy. Disagree by all means, but don’t question my right to my views. As a person of the left, I am pro European, internationalist, suspicious of nationalism, whether Scottish, British or even American (America First, anybody?) I have no interest in betrayal narratives from 1979 or Tartan Tory labels either. My politics are informed by my Irish heritage,my family, poverty, education, literature, travel and so many other life experiences and factors so numerous and complex as to transcend nationalism. I am not naive, gullible or misguided, I am simply suspicious of nationalism and the certainty it breeds. I wrote a piece in response to a piece by Blair McDougall. I said my piece. In a democracy we agree to disagree. The good thing about Bella Caledonia is that it’s a place for discussion.

      1. DialMforMurdo says:

        A coherent response John, but ultimately I’m no further forward as to why you would still vote Labour. I don’t care if you wont vote for the SNP, personally, I see them as many others do, as a vehicle towards Independence. Post Indy, they’ll fracture into half a dozen different parts. They are only cohesive as a Yes platform however, I still can’t quite get why you would give your vote twice to Labour.

      2. John O'Dowd says:

        John, I can sense a tortured man. I’d like to help you through.

        You write:
        “Is your idea of democratic debate so stunted that you can’t get beyond the fact that I am and have always been a democratic socialist? My piece may be sentimental, illogical and lacking coherence, but that’s because politics is not so simple that I can just turn my back on my beliefs and vote SNP.”

        You are right that space for a plurality of views is the essence of democracy – and we are not machines – our feelings may dash hard against rational, logical analysis and confound and conflict us.

        I went through something like that thirty odd years ago, when I was in my early 30s. I had joined the Labour Party at 17 and was still a member when I went to London to work. This was around the time of the miners’ strike -and I had close family members involved as dependents of striking miners.

        Two things coalesced: Firstly, my experience of London – the sheer wealth, metropolitan elitism, the remoteness of Islington Labour types from the real struggles of working (and striking) families – their obsession with identity politics, rather than the reality of the class struggle. Secondly, Kinnock’s betrayal of the striking miners in his futile desperation to become ‘electable’ in England – where it mattered.

        These experiences taught me two things: Firstly that Labour’s historic role was to betray the working class – it’s so-called social democracy was a cover for the deep infiltration of Oxbridge careerists (and subsequently under Blair straightforward Tories -Yvette Cooper may be an example of both); and secondly, that England was a different country – and London a different one again. That the British State was simple a means for promoting the wealth and privileges of a metropolitan – largely Financial elite.

        In this context, I find your comments respectively on Cooper and Corbyn incomprehensible. Corbyn’s beliefs are simple mainstream Labour -and would have surprise no-one in the 1960’s and 7o’s. That they attract such derision shows just how successful the Thatcher-Blair- Brown coalition has been in rendering neo-liberalism mainstream. In my day in the Old Labour Party, Cooper would have been regarded as far right – or just a Tory – like Blair.

        Immediately on my return to Scotland I joined the SNP – and remain a member to this day.

        You write “My politics are informed by my Irish heritage,my family, poverty, education, literature, travel and so many other life experiences and factors so numerous and complex as to transcend nationalism.”

        Ditto John. I am lifelong socialist – probably well to the left of you. I am the son of Lanarkshire steelworker, the eldest of a very large family, brought up in considerable poverty on a council estate in deepest Lanarkshire. Like you I have found liberation in education and those other good things you mention. Like you, I am fortunate.

        Too many of our fellow Scots do not have that good fortune. Too many have poor housing and rely on foodbanks.

        When I joined the SNP, it was not fashionable to do so – especially for one with my surname and heritage. But it was the right thing to do – and I believe – to use a modern phrase – ‘ahead of the curve’. I have no doubt Scotland will gain its independence.

        I believe England is a lost cause to ‘democratic socialism’ – or even as things look at the moment – to lily-livered liberalism.

        I believe that the way forward is as a democratic socialist republic of Scotland – but right now I will settle for an Independent Scotland – because nothing – nothing at all – is possible without that, save as a vassal region of increasingly fascist Greater England.

        I believe too, that an independent Scotland will be good for the ordinary, gullible misled, and abused masses of England – fed a diet of swill by the Sun, the Daily Mail and – yes – the BBC.

        I believe that we can show them the way forward. We have similar backgrounds.

        The hardest bit of moving to the SNP for you will be the feeling of cultural alienation. This will be resolved by a hard-headed look at the facts of the situation, and an appreciation of your true identity as a Scot who is also a socialist.

        Grasp the nettle John. and mixing metaphors – It’s nice and warm in home waters.

  10. IJM says:

    An all too familiar mindset amongst a section of a generation of people who cannot accept the world has moved on. To admit that the very ideas, and the foundation, of the Labour party have been trashed by these plastic Tories, and then to state he will vote for them is mind boggling.

    I too when voting will be thinking about my mother , my father, my son, my sister, brothers
    nephews as they are all still alive and will be at the mercy of the Blue/Red Tories and their
    assault on all of us. I will be voting SNP ,to help us be rid of sentimental nonsense from
    people who should know better.

    Better Together, The Iraq War, The Vow, Labours total capitulation over Brexit. Some of us can’t

  11. Dek says:

    Led up the garden path by this article. It’s this wilful and illogical denial of reality that is frustrating self determination in this country.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Which suggests that dominant cultural influences prevail over rational thought?

  12. Clive Scott says:

    For heavens sake John, face reality and accept that whatever you thought the Labour Party stood for in years gone by it does not stand for today. It is stuffed full of miserable careerists whose vision extends no further than a salary and expense account. The only anti Tory vote that counts in Scotland is a vote for the SNP. Just do it.

  13. Wul says:

    No point in voting for a corpse, however much you loved the deceased.

  14. John Page says:

    My parents supported Labour from ’45 until their untimely deaths which came before the Iraq War I share some sympathy for the sentiments expressed here.
    But I am sorry but I turned off when I read about voting for these crooked Labour bastards in Glasgow tomorrow.

  15. John Page says:

    Good for Bella allowing all views to be aired.
    Like many, I have memories of my parents passion for Labour stemming from ’45.
    I am sorry but I stopped reading when I read about voting for these crooked Labour bastards in Glasgow tomorrow.
    John Page

  16. Jt1 says:

    My advice to the author: don’t ever try to buy a Norwegian Blue from John Cleese…

  17. James Mills says:

    This is a Labour supporter preserved in aspic .
    He enunciates all that is wrong in the Labour party then admits that nothing has changed for him . He wants people like Yvette Cooper to lead the party , he will thole candidates like McDougall despite being the architect of Scottish Labour’s demise , and no doubt he will vote No in the next referendum – with his fingers crossed hoping that the good Labour fairy will arrive to save him !

  18. David Wood says:

    I’m sorry, but I struggled with the depressing conclusion of this commentary. I empathised with the feelings however. I felt them too, because I have been around long enough to remember both 1997 and 1979. I too come from an Irish Background, from immigrants coming here early 20th Century. My Grandfathers, both, who fought for their King and Country and all that stuff. I learned my Labour through and through with them, and my father. I was a paid up member of the Labour Party, up until 2012. Then I stopped. Too many of them, the older ones, still harp back to betrayal as per 1979……they have a similar mentality to the one and only Brian Wilson. I joined the SNP in 2014, and voted YES, because I want my country to make her own decisions. I felt betrayed by Labour. I still do. They remain part of the problem we have today, and will do so until they become honest.

  19. John Cawley says:

    I’m going to go round the houses one more time, then I’m done. The Labour Party is neither Corbyn, nor Cooper, neither Tony Blair nor Kezia Dugdale. The Labour Party has been the best representative of my values since my first vote. I voted yes in 2014! I’ll say that again – I voted yes in 2014. I am not voting for Kate Watson in June, nor am I voting for Corbyn. I am a democrat to my core. I reserve the right to vote how I please, no matter how wrong-headed or illogical you find my decision. I am not a nationalist. No matter how unthinkable that may be to the people below the line.
    Should Scotland vote for independence, I will be holding on to the values that are embodied in the principles which underpin the Labour Party. I am a democrat. Labour’s values will be needed in an independent Scotland as will a plurality of views. No matter how genuinely appalling I find the Conservative ideology, rational, decent people vote for them. It does not make them monsters, it makes them people who think differently to me. I also read The Spectator (online, obviously!) . Many who visit Bella think of Alex Massie as an unspeakable arch-unionist, but in my book, he is on the side of the angels as far as Brexit is concerned. He also writes brilliantly about Scottish politics from the right.
    To those who responded negatively to my stated intention to vote Labour. You may not agree, but that does not make you right or me wrong. It simply means we disagree. If you stopped reading before you got to the end (spoiler – I vote Labour) have a word with yourself. If you object to Bella publishing something that you did not agree with, how does that wilful refusal to engage with other points of view serve the democracy you claim to prize so highly?
    Finally, I have SNP voting friends, I suspect some of my colleagues are Tories (the bastards!) and I sometimes feel like the last of the Labour voters in Glasgow, but we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns. I’m a democrat to my bones and uniformity of views and consensus stifle creativity, but to some I am simply a pawn, a gullible fool or an anachronism. If that’s the case, I’m glad to disappoint you.

    1. David Wood says:

      I empathised with the feelings in this article. I have been around long enough to remember both 1997 and 1979. But the conclusion to your article was depressing. I too voted YES in 2014. And will do so again. I was an active member of the Labour Party up until 2014. Then I joined the SNP. Labour is simply dead from the neck up. This was proved to me by people like John Reid and Alastair Darling, when I heard them speak at better together meetings. I felt they were simply 2 old Labour Cronies who had lost their souls. They’d forgotten what they once stood for. I asked them politely what they actually stood for and was heckled. Their support of Unionism was paramount.
      My roots are Labour. My roots are also Irish, from both sets of Grandparents. My Grandfathers, when young men fought for King and Country. They did their duty. I learned from them. They would turn in their graves to see what the Labour Party has become.
      I was an active Trades Unionist in the NUM. Michael McGahey was my hero, and in many ways still is. I voted YES in 2014, simply because I want Scotland to be able to make ALL her own decisions. As for Tories, I view them in the same way as Bevan did. Don’t give them any opportunity. I am currently a volunteer adviser at the CAB. I see first-hand, the impact of their welfare policies. I see the misery this causes.
      John…..change your mind. The mind-set from many, not accusing you of this, is still to blame the SNP for 1979. This is some of what drives men like Reid, Darling and the one and the hidebound, bitter Brian Wilson.
      This is a democracy. Let’s stop the Tories from completely destroying it. Let’s have some of that euphoria from 1997 back, but in our own hands this time. Cheers

      1. Tony Hendrix says:

        David,your comment on John Reid was absolutely right.
        Many a time I sat beside him on the Carfin X 1948 bus and often he blasted out the Irish rebel tunes.
        Later on,he had to have protection in our village when his portfolio changed beyond all recognition,security cars were in our area 24/7.
        This guy was a complete fake,just like many Labour mps are,I mean Richard Leonard,Jesus wept.
        Reid was an opertunist and used the Labour Party to get into high places,boy did it work.
        Like George Robertson,he conned his way almost to the very top,a farce of a man,trust me.

    2. John Page says:

      You’re gonnae vote Labour in Glasgow tomorrow to ensure you don’t stifle creativity…….

  20. Bibbit says:

    Ironic that the writer does not realise he is a nationalist and not only that, that he is a nationalist who thinks his nation is exceptional when compared to other nations.

    He’s going to vote for a party that voted for Brexit, along with the Tories, to leave a voluntary international union of equal nations, to be ruled by Chairman May.

    In 1916 he’d have been on the side of Britain against Irish nationalism, as he is deeply suspicious of all nationalism.

  21. William Ross says:


    As a nationalist of the Centre Right and Brexiteer, I enjoyed your article enormously. I obviously do not agree with you on much but I also read the Spectator and enjoy reading Alex Massie. There is much too much demonization doing the rounds. My father was a hard working fisherman and veteran of the Arctic Convoys. He was Labour all his life until near the end.

    I know where you are coming from.


  22. Gribble says:

    Your comments show that you are evidently irritated by criticisms of the article, and you attribute this to lack of tolerance of differing views. I would say rather that it is (as other commentators have noted) that, having set out in vague terms your journey into being a Labour supporter, you then articulate in considerable detail how Labour has diverged repeatedly from what you say are your reasons for supporting it – yet say you will vote for it anyway, without addressing those contradictions. You are of course completely free to use your vote as you wish, but if you articulate an argument and then announce a voting intention which seems to be in direct contradiction to that argument, then criticism seems pretty justified. Yes, it may have in some cases been expressed somewhat intemperately, but that may well indicate a general frustration with the unreasoning nature of a good deal of the opposition to independence.

  23. Lanark says:

    Thanks for a thought provoking article. Like so many other Yes voters, I was a Labour supporter for two decades. My family are still Labour to their core. My late Uncle sat on the Labour NEC in the 80s. I can’t bring myself to vote for them again but I have considered joining Labour for Independence. Is this something you have thought about?

  24. Lanark says:

    Thank you for an interesting article. Would you consider joining Labour for Independence?

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