Is Jeremy Corbyn the saviour of Labour?

The short answer is maybe, but probably not in Scotland where Labour face a continuing extinction level event.

The long answer is more complicated. As we all know Labour were pumped in the election mainly because of a weak leader in Ed Milliband, Ed Balls being Ed Balls, crap neo-Tory policies supporting austerity but Labour’s nice austerity as opposed to the nasty Tory austerity. In effect voters looked at Labour and did one of several things.They voted for another party with the SNP, Greens and UKIP being the main benefactors of a collapsing Labour vote. They looked at Labour’s Tory-lite policies thought ‘nah’ and voted Tory, or they didn’t vote at all as one of the legacies of Tony Blair is a general disillusionment in politics.

Yet Ed Milliband did something quite remarkable in that he’s the first Labour leader since Tony Blair in 1997 to grow the Labour vote in England and Wales and that’s because he ran on a vague leftish platform. Of course other elements aligned to defeat Labour but Scotland aside, Milliband stopped the leaking of voters, but he was never going to be seen as a PM by anyone which has sent Labour into the insane bit of logic that to be elected, they need someone who looks like a PM and this leads me to the tragedy that is the Labour leadership election.

As most people paying attention know there are four candidates: Yvette Cooper otherwise known as Mrs. Ed Balls so someone the Tories would dearly love as leader because they know how fucking hated Balls was by the wider electorate. There’s Andy Burnham who’s main characteristic is that he’s not got a character beyond ‘Stock Northern English MP’. Don’t like Andy’s principles? No worries, he’s got some more sitting around you might like. He’s the very definition of a modern Labour MP except he’s not as Liz Kendall is standing.

As some readers of my blog will know I spent over a decade living in Leicester and in that time my MP’s were Greville Janner and Patricia Hewitt. Yes, it really was that bad. Now the people of Leicester are returning Liz Kendall to Westminster and you have to ask not just why they’re doing that, but why someone who is so far removed from the basic core principles of the Labour movement even in the party in the first place?

Then there’s Jeremy Corbyn, a man seen by some as the devil himself and by others as simply the second coming.  He’ll either destroy Labour or save it!! Truth is his task is if elected an enormous one but from the off his first move should be to cut off the ‘Scottish’ branch of Labour because realistically, the SNP have Scotland tied up til independence comes, plus people look at Labour and see a party that allowed poverty, corruption, child abuse and wars to happen and did nothing to stop them. Even Corbyn won’t solve Labour’s problems in Scotland but he can in England. Wales is another matter but I’m unsure how that could go.

In England where UK elections are won and lost there’s a winnable task for Corbyn which is to make Labour an actual real opposition, fight the Tories and push an alternative. Then it’s a matter of getting Labour’s new members to not just sit on their collective arses on Twitter and proclaim Corbyn a great success but get out into the streets, schemes and estates across England. Yeah, they’ll be told to fuck off a lot but unless Labour reconnect with the working class in England they’re over as a party and a movement, plus they’ll never, ever get anywhere near power. Corbyn isn’t going to sweep to a massive majority, nor is he as radical as some think, but then he’s not an evil mistake as the Blairites suggest he is.

Of course the Blairites suggest that Labour will do better with a Kendall or Burnham in charge. That’s this man..

Once you’ve stopped chucking up after ingesting all that sugar coated bullshit he’s Liz Kendall…

Winning! Power! NHS! Winning! Values! Winning! Looking stressed at a monitor!! Did she mention winning?

Placed next to each other Burnham’s cheesy family man sub Ripping Yarns northern English shtick looks like Nelson Mandela’s finest hour next to Kendall’s cold, calculated soulless and ultimately empty effort.

Cooper wisely hasn’t made a video yet, and Corbyn seems to be too busy to as he’s actually getting up off his arse and meeting people seemingly nightly in packed meetings across England. Yet the comparisons with Scotland should be held in reserve for now. Corbyn’s campaign at the moment isn’t energising an entire country, just the ones interested in some shape or from in politics yet it’s a tiny wee seed that might grow into something larger and more like what we’ve seen in Scotland, Spain and Greece.

So Corbyn isn’t the saviour of Labour. He might on the other hand be the man that gives the party, not to mention politics in England the same kick it’s had in Scotland but he should be supported because sure as shit, if one of the others get elected Labour will spend the next five years blandly capitulating to the Tories and leaving the fight to the SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru, SDLP and even the DUP.  Simply put the Labour Party are needed right now and if they’re not going to fight either under a Kendall/Burnham/Cooper led party or reject Corbyn as leader then they need to die because there’s no longer any point to the Labour Party.

Perhaps it is time for the Labour Party to die?

Jim Murphy is leaving his disastrous leadership of ‘Scottish’ Labour but not before throwing a stink bomb into the mix by taking on Len McCluskey directly, and in return, Unite in Scotland are going to vote in July to see about cutting support for Labour in Scotland.

unitelr

 

Added to this, the STUC have decided to support the SNP government in Scotland in standing against Tory austerity and their government generally. In England and Wales, the party is in the middle of a bizarre conversation about replacing it’s former leader Ed Milliband as candidates talk of ‘aspirational voters’,  John Lewis shoppers and endless reams of entitled self-indulgent soul searching that spreads the shite everywhere apart from at the feet of Labour itself or the fact the party has supported austerity for the last five years and has voted with coalition policy or abstained over the last five years.

The clear favourite for leader, Andy Burnham, is coming out of support for an EU referendum and is using language that just about stops short of sounding full-fat Tory, especially on the subject of immigration. All the other candidates are actually worse, and none have any idea as to why the Labour Party failed so, so badly in the election.

Andy Burnham could do himself a favour and read this splendid article by John Harris in the Guardian from last week, and actually understand it. Labour lost not because of the SNP, or UKIP, or anyone standing on a grassy knoll but they failed primarily because Labour don’t know what they’re actually for anymore apart from gaining power and keeping it. They’ve become a party of power for the sake of power itself, and in seeking this power they’ve driven many people away into the arms of more left wing parties like the SNP, Plaid Cymru or the Greens, false hopes like the Lib Dems, or the chancers of UKIP. In Scotland it’s even worse as Labour supporters and voters voted Tory in order to ‘keep the SNP out’ and in doing so added to David Cameron’s share of the vote and denied Labour an increase in short money.

As a serious anti-Tory campaign starts to form Labour are nowhere to be seen as they fight among themselves, or indulge in wheezes like attacking the SNP for not voting in the forthcoming free vote in regards the fox hunting ban in England and Wales. They know fine well the SNP don’t vote on England only issues, and that there already is a ban on fox hunting in Scotland that was introduced in 2002 introduced during a Labour government in Holyrood, and supported by the SNP. Rather than unite with the anti Tory movement and help protect the Human Rights Act, or even try to find Tory MP’s that could vote to retain the ban, they’ve continued this tactic of attacking the SNP, but this is going to blow up in their face as it not only provokes the West Lothian question (not that it’s a concern for Labour as they only have one MP left in Scotland) but it will invoke the question about why then did Labour spend so much time supporting the previous government or abstaining?

So as Labour is being eaten alive from within what’s it actually for? It doesn’t support the unemployed. It doesn’t especially seem to care about the poor. It doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of government is to serve, not to use power to curb people’s freedoms. Yes, Labour will tell you they formed the NHS, the Welfare State and brought in massive reforms in the 1960’s but that’s the past. Telling us what better men and women than the people in the core Labour Party now did isn’t painting a vision of the future under any sort of Labour government. I understand the Tory vision of the future, it’s horrible but I get it. I understand UKIP’s, the SNP’s , Plaid’s and the Greens (the Lib Dems have an even worse problem than Labour but fuck them) but I have no idea what Labour are actually for now?

Perhaps then it’s time to kill it? Give it a quick painless death now rather than hope that maybe one day Labour will be that party it was when we were either young or not born. Sure, it might change but then again I might be Batman, so the hope for the left in England especially is to take things into their own hands. Scotland has a healthy left in the SNP, Greens and SSP. Wales have Plaid Cymru and the Greens. All England have as a realistic left wing option now is the Greens.This isn’t to say Labour need to become fire breathing socialists, but a centre left socially democratic party would be nice, but as said, that’s not even remotely going to happen.

And that’s why Labour needs to die. Stop the endless hope it’ll reform. It won’t. It’s too corrupt, too bloated and too complacent to take the fight to the Tories, and from right now that fight needs to be taken to the Tories every single day. The majority of people that didn’t vote Tory, that don’t want £12 billion worth of cuts or the Human Rights Act removed and anything the Tories want as they intend to dive into neo-fascism need a voice and that isn’t going to come from Labour.

A small word of advice for the Labour Party and Jim Murphy

Labour lost the election, got humiliated and Ed Milliband’s failed time as leader ended is a result that few predicted, but many people had predicted that Labour would have to overacheive to get Milliband any where near Number 10 and even then, he’d have to have relied upon SNP support, something many in Labour would never have accepted.

So the first thing I say to Labour is stop blaming the SNP for your loss. It isn’t their fault that in a democracy they provided an alternative to you which is of course anti-austerity compared to Labour’s austerity-lite. That added to Labour’s extraordinary hubris and lack of self awareness has killed them not to mention the fact that socialism is never going to win over the people of England, not that Labour have even been remotely socialist for decades of course.

And here’s the brutal point that will upset Labour supporters. Clinging onto socialist ideas while supporting a neoliberal party of the right in Labour is daft. It taints the idea of socialism and shows just how many people supporting Labour are stuck in old ideas that do have parts that work, but on the whole socialism is never going to be anything more than a fringe idea which doesn’t mean it’s dead. It just needs to stop looking back, and instead look forward. Labour tried the whole ‘we did the NHS, welfare state, etc’ thing during the election but it’s as backward looking as UKIP’s vision of a country that never happened apart from in Ealing Films.

The Tories presented a vision of the future. It’s a horrible fucked up selfish vision but people fell for it. Labour painted a lightly less evil version of that but with Ed Balls standing there, a man even more hated than George Osborne for many people and Milliband made a massive error making him such a prominent member of his shadow cabinet, but the Tories threw everything at this and did enough to break out their core vote, and got over the line. Just.

Labour failed to connect. They didn’t get out and speak to people in the schemes and estates. They had gimmicky ‘public meeting’ with bright eyed young party members or older ones that always voted Labour because their ma and da did.They didn’t meet the people on their terms. They seemed to avoid it due to them being scared it seems of being told to fuck off, or actually have to deal with hard criticism of a party that says it’s for the people but doesn’t act like it. Draping themselves in the Union Flag didn’t help either as embracing Unionism probably killed them not just in Scotland, but across the UK as Labour embracing Unionism (and may I point out Unionism is a form of nationalism, something Labour proclaim to be against) didn’t once convince.

Labour need now to pull themselves away from the path or austerity, and not drop socialist ideas completely but learn from the likes of the SNP, the Greens and even UKIP as to how to engage with people on a personal level. Look at Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas or Nigel Farage, you may disagree with their politics but all three have an extraordinary appeal to people outside of the political bubble. All three can speak to people on their terms, and yes the content of Sturgeon or Lucas’s messages are more informed than Farage’s drivel but imagine just one Labour candidate for the leadership who have even the popular appeal of any one of those?

I suggest Labour supporters across the UK read this article on Bella Caledonia and grasp it. It suggests a sensible set of reasons not only for the new politics Nicola Sturgeon has introduced to Scotland but how the SNP connected with the working class. After all, I look at many SNP MP’s and they look like real people. I look at the failed Labour MP’s and they look like over entitled careeists that were never really interested in serving the people they worked for.

A democracy though without the Labour Party is a lesser one. It needs it’s voice heard, once of course it finds that voice and it cannot win by returning to Blairism and going ever further to the right, and it can’t take the mantle of social democracy in Scotland as the SNP have that very firmly locked up, nor does it seem they’ll be able to pass as socialists as the SSP are going to ensure that doesn’t happen next year so for Scotland, they have issues greater than the rest of the UK. The party’s only hope there is to become independent of London and declare itself a party of self determination or independence. It needs an independent voice from the London party and fast as the Holyrood elections are only a year away.

And the English and Welsh Labour party needs to work out what it’s there for. Labour were on 29% of the popular vote. That’s dismal but ask people what Labour stand for and they’ll say ‘The NHS’, but this is also the party that allowed the start of real privatisation of the NHS, so there’s a contradiction because people are tired of Labour saying one thing and being another. They need to say and do what they mean. They could adopt social democracy and instead of considering a leader as another ‘big beast’ from the front benches, look elsewhere as I tell you now if Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper is leader at the next election they’ll again lose.

So the party in England needs help and although I no longer intend to ever vote for the party, I do wish to see them find themselves and soon. I’ve mentioned the Holyrood election next year, but the EU referendum is in 2017 and right now the UK is voting to come out, or to be exact, England will and Scotland will vote to stay and that means the timeline for independence comes down from the 2020’s most on the Yes campaign agree is the next likely time to by the end of this parliament.

Here’s the thing that’s going to stick in Labour throats. They can learn much from the SNP and the Yes campaign. They need to drop the old rhetoric as that’s over The Red Flag is never going to fly ever across any part of the UK, so if you want to fight the Tories (and remember, this is a victory that carries a huge trap for Cameron in the EU referendum and he’s not stupid enough to realise that Scotland is lost to the Union now) learn from the success of the largest grass roots political movement the UK has seen since the days of Labour in their pomp a lifetime ago. With the right people and the right sort of imagination Labour can come back refreshed and different enough to fight the Tory Party that may have won, but their majority is perilous. A few coke induced heart attacks after a George Osborne party or a few sex/expenses scandals will see that majority go, plus that EU referendum is going to get the large amount of radical rightwing English nationalists that sit now in the Commons frothing at the groin and they;d have no problem stabbing Cameron in the front and crossing over to UKIP.

But here’s where I get to my words to Jim Murphy. There’s just two of them. Leave now. If he indeed does remain as leader as he says he will and if indeed he thinks he’s going to be First Minister then he’s dreaming. This is purely about Murphy getting back on the gravy train, and if ‘Scottish’ Labour were smart they’d kick him out, tell him to fuck off and try to repair the real damage he’s done to Labour of today, and of the legacy of Labour itself. If Labour in England do find their voice and there’s Jim Murphy and his sad little gimmicky tin of Irn Bru standing around manufacturing outrage all the time, then the party will never be electable either side of the border. There needs to be a Labour Party standing with the SNP in opposition to the Tories, and if Jim Murphy is still involved with the party in any way that opposition is always going to be hamstrung because Murphy doesn’t care about anyone bar himself.

The next few months are going to be tough. There’s already offers of not just solidarity to the people of England and Wales from Sturgeon, but support and even this weekend there’s talk of affiliate parties to the SNP springing up in England. There are people clearly trying to take things into their own hands and they don’t see Labour as an avenue for change so unless Labour do change themselves they’ll be lost forever and the sad thing is it’s all been so avoidable and it’s all their own fault. So change and do it now, or the people of England and Wales will have right wing governments forever.

Ed Milliband would rather the Tories get back in than take support from the SNP

picardfacepalmTonight is the last big televised event before next week’s general election. David Cameron avoided answering any questions, and yet again used the memory of his dead child as a shield and for political gain. He spoke, failed to answer any questions and wandered off stage a bit shaken by some of the questioning from the audience.

Then came Ed Milliband. He did OK initially til he was asked about Labour potentially taking support from the SNP. He ruled out not only a coalition (which Nicola Sturgeon ruled out back at the end of last year when Labour thought Scotland would get back in it’s box), not just a confidence and supply deal but any sort of support to the extent he’d rather lose and install the Tories in government than take SNP support.

Now any leader can rule out dealing with another party but this isn’t what’s at play here. The implication is that unless the people of Scotland decide to vote Labour they’ll get a Tory government and Milliband would rather that than work with the SNP. That not only smacks of blackmail, but it reeks of Milliband disenfranchising SNP voters by saying that by voting SNP he’ll let the Tories in rather than work with the SNP (and I assume the Greens and Plaid Cymru), a centre left party with the sort of social democrat principles Labour should have.

The implications are enormous. By just saying he’d prefer a Tory government than take SNP support that damns many a Labour candidate in Scotland to losing their seats as this is Milliband’s EVEl moment. Remember on the morning of the 19th of September last year in the hours after the referendum result when David Cameron instead of firming up the result made the Scottish referendum all about English votes for English laws and that angered people? Well, this is Milliband’s time.

It’s an amazingly stupid thing to do. Ever since Milliband adopted this ‘tough’ act he’s come over as someone that tries to be decisive but slips up, and by telling undecided voters in England that he’s not dealing with the SNP he might win votes, but he dooms Labour in Scotland not only next Thursday but for the Holyrood elections next year.  Also if he does stand aside and let the Tories in by refusing SNP support (and I assume he’ll refuse to take office if the SNP call Milliband’s bluff and vote for their Queen’s Speech because that’s the logical end of his comments) along with their allies (and I wonder if Milliband will refuse SDLP support) then Labour are over in Scotland, along with large parts of the North of England and Wales.

Labour would never be forgiven. Ever. You’d think a man as obviously intelligent as Milliband would realise this, as would all those Labour supporters carping on about how this is going to make Milliband look strong. But it seems like the Bain Principle is going to be played out at a UK wide level. If after the election Milliband concedes to Cameron and lets the Tories in then not only do I fear for the most vulnerable, the poor, immigrants, the unemployed, or anyone that isn’t doing well and not a Tory, but the UK is over. The final last insult will be played out by a Labour leader acting out of some misguided sense of British Imperialism of course, the need by Labour politicians to put the party before country.

So as angry as I am, I hope Milliband isn’t that stupid, and I hope Sturgeon plays his bluff, gets her MP’s to vote for the Queens Speech and see if Milliband has the balls to live up to his promise that he’ll refuse SNP support to let in the Tories in a probable second election (the incumbent PM gets first chance in a hung parliament to form a government, then the opposition gets their chance if there’s not a vote of confidence. Failing that it’s a second election) later this summer.

Or there’s one more thing that could happen. Labour and the Tories could form a Grand Coalition where the two biggest parties join together, something that’s only happened during the Second World War in this country but with the rhetoric against the SNP ramping up and neither main party looking like they’ve got a sniff of a majority then that’s becoming less ridiculous as time goes on.

Either way as bad as Cameron was; as pointless as Clegg was, Milliband has just fucked himself, and his party. He’s put himself now into a position where Labour’s only hope is a massive majority or to hope the Lib Dems support him, and neither currently look likely. So well done Ed. If we get a Tory government again I hope you’re prepared to go down in history as the Labour leader that turned down the chance to keep the Tories out potentially for a generation.

Are the Tories going to use the SNP as an excuse to have a political coup?

Yes it is a bit of clickbaity headline for this blog but I was reading this article on Vice, and it’s probably the best bit of analysis for the forthcoming general election I’ve read so far. It”s a fantastic piece and I’d recommend reading it before carrying on with this blog here.

Read it? Good.

For those that can’t be arsed reading it, the jist is that the Tories, terrified of yet again losing an election (they’ve not won an election since 1992 and don’t look like winning this one) and scared of losing their self-assigned role as the ‘natural party of government’ are (with the aid of their mates in the Tory press) using every single dirty trick in the book to slur the SNP (the party that have said they’d support a minority Labour government) as a threat on the scale with global terrorism, AID’s or any aold shite they can come up with.

Only today we’ve had Boris Johnson compared Nicola Sturgeon to King Herod, and John Major just talk nonsense, but it’s all part of a narrative that Others the SNP in the eyes of the English Tory voter, so that come May the 8th and we see that no party overall has won that the Tories will say Labour can’t even have a chance to form a government as they either won’t be ‘the largest party’ (a myth that’s been struck down over and over again) or worse, that the SNP shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a UK government. That they in effect don’t count so only the Tories can govern.

Now all of this sounds fantastic but look at the rhetoric towards Sturgeon and the SNP? Its simply extraordinary that a democratically elected leader and her party are being spoken of as if they were a bigger threat than ISIS. It’s still a bit outlandish though right?

Well the crucial paragraph in that Vice article is this one.

On Sunday, the “coup” stepped up a gear. In a fascinating piece in the Sunday Times, we learn that the Queen – who technically has the power to choose who forms the government – has had to make clear she will not get involved in propping up a government that does not have the support of the majority of MPs. It stresses that we don’t know whether it’s Miliband or Cameron who asked the question, but there is one revealing quote from a Palace source: “Cameron remains Prime Minister but he can’t borrow the Queen for support”.

As the article says that quote strongly suggests the Tories have tapped up the monarch for support. That’s simply extraordinary. Now forget for a moment about whether we should have a monarchy or not (I firmly believe we shouldn’t) but the system is that they’re supposed to be neutral, so for one party to approach the monarch and for Buckingham Palace to deliver such a statement is possibly the biggest story in the this election that’s not made bigger headlines than it has.

There’s one more paragraph I’d like to highlight and it’s this one:

If Buckingham Palace can be convinced – through the creation of an atmosphere where a Labour-SNP coalition is considered unthinkable – to retain Cameron above a Labour leader that can command a majority in the House, that really would be a power grab that would raise eyebrows in a banana republic. It would make a total mockery of the British “constitution”. The fact that the Palace have even had to brief against the idea – that it’s even a possibility to the Conservatives that the Palace would overrule the electorate – is astonishing. Yet it seems likely that is exactly what the Tories have been sounding out.

Think about this. Over the last few months the campaign against the SNP has been growing as it became clearer and clearer that Labour were not having the comeback London based hacks had predicted, nor were the SNP showing any signs of dipping in the polls. Far from it. In fact if anything they’re going up in the polls. So for the establishment it’s all hands on deck as they can’t have the SNP participate even though as democratically elected representatives they have every right to set foot in the Commons, and support any UK government.

It’s just over a fortnight til the election and I don’ t think we’ve seen anything yet but remember this article and think about just why the Tory press are trying to make you think the SNP are something they’re not, and just how much that thinking the SNP are a ‘threat’ or ‘illegitimate’ benefits Cameron and the Tories.

What I thought of The Leaders Debate

Last night was the first seven leader election debate last night and all sides are claiming their own victories. Truth is that depending upon your own political bias whomever you liked was always going to win but there’s some remarkable results in all the polls, forums, Tweets, and all and sundry after last night’s debate.

The first is that just the sight of three female party leaders, one of which is First Minister of Scotland, shook things up right away.As has been pointed out, Cameron, Clegg and Farage are all privately educated, and Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are spawned from elite universities. Sure Sturgeon went to Glasgow University but she’s from modest upper working class root, and Wood is from a similar background in Wales though Bennett has a different background but one removed from the London based political classes.All three women looked, sounded and acted differently to Cameron, Clegg and Milliband’s tired old techniques, and as for Farage, well Sturgeon and Wood did the most effective evisceration of him I’ve seen from a politician.

And Farage’s reply is to make a face. Here’s UKIP and Farage in it’s full anti-intellectual glory.

But all the leaders consolidated their core support, even Clegg as he flushed the last liberal bone in his body down the bog as he exposed himself as Cameron’s little lapdog. The interesting thing though are those people who’s eyes have been opened that the narrative of neoliberalism, austerity and constant blame of the sick, unemployed, immigrants, and all those that are the weakest in society is in fact, a false one. Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett showed that there’s another narrative, not an especially old or radical one but simply about accepting decent British values of equality, decency and fairness. It’s a debate that’s been lost since Blair dragged Labour lurching to the right creating a vacuum that’s enabled the likes of UKIP to slime its  way in and gain ground, but UKIP and Farage can be taken on headfirst as shown last night.

Also what was clear is how little, if at all, Cameron, Milliband and Clegg knew about Scottish or Welsh politics so were unable to speak about anything but the established London media/political bubble rhetoric about ‘long term economic plans’ rather than facts and details. They failed to paint a positive vision, as Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett did talk the UK’s parts up, as well as make it clear that most people aren’t bigoted little creatures like Farage.

It also brings England partly up to speed with a debate that’s seriously advanced in Scotland, and getting off the ground in Wales. Just from my English friend’s social media feeds it’s clear many were impressed with Sturgeon and would vote for her party if they could, so it’s broken the spell that the SNP are scary nationalists once and for all. It’s made Labour’s job in Scotland amazingly tough, and it’s oddly, probably helped Labour in England as the SNP have made it clear they’ll only support Labour, so people may well vote Labour in England hoping for the SNP’s support. That of course is going to hurt the Greens but I still feel they’ll add to their existing MP.

As for Cameron and Clegg, it really wasn’t a great night. Cameron spluttered and barely deviated from the script so he looked wooden and aloof, while Clegg is just a big liberal arsehole with his ‘good immigration and bad immigration’ line that made everyone instantly think of this.

Last night isn’t going to decide the result once and for all as there’s still weeks to go but is has changed things on the political landscape. Women are now seen as leaders of not only their parties, but countries. They didn’t use the same tired techniques. They engaged people on equal terms. That alone is magnificent for an English media struggling still to come to terms with the ramifications of the Scottish independence referendum.

I still think Scotland will be independent in my lifetime, but oddly enough the only result in the election that could save the Union in the next five years is a Labour/SNP government. A Tory/Lib Dem/UKIP one sees the UK die by 2020 but after seeing all the UK (bar the disgraceful lack of NI party leaders) in it’s political glory debate it’s over for the old Unionist idea that England=UK. The Union as we know it is done, it’s just the people of England don’t realise it yet, but Scotland does. After last night there’s a wee glimmer of hope that people now realise across these islands that the old order of tired middle aged men in suits arguing about the same straplines is dead, long live the future where all of us are treated the same and all of us can have the same chances.

Cameron versus Milliband: The Battle for Number 10

The first debate of the election is raging as I type this and David Cameron has just batted off some hard questions from Jeremy Paxman, and is now struggling with some of the softest, most softball questions you can imagine from the studio audience. The lack of sincerity is amazing but not unexpected, while the format has been engineered in such a way that it suits Cameron yet it’s making him look cold, aloof, fake and well, slimy. Again, this isn’t a surprise.

Cameron’s clearly learned from the debates last time and last year for the Scottish independence referendum that the status quo candidate or representative looks terrible, so has tried as hard as possible to mitigate that effect. Yet, he’s still terrible and the foundation he’s slapped on to make him look less shiny is just hilarious.

Now it’s Ed Milliband’s turn. His first question as some pish about why he doesn’t cheer up. This is blatantly ridiculous.As regular readers of this blog know I’m no longer a Labour voter having seen the party leave me some time ago, but it’s clear Milliband is getting tougher questions from the audience but is remarkably handling it well which isn’t saying much. There is however no questions about Scotland until Jeremy Paxman asks Milliband about ‘Alex Salmond’s blood money’. So yeah, fuck you Paxman.

At the end neither leader came out on top, though possibly Milliband shaved it yet even so he still looked a bloody shambles, but at least seemed not to be a shiny reptilian like Cameron. Though Cameron’s foundation to calm down his shininess was hilarious in its vanity.

As I write this now it’s the next morning and according to one poll in the Guardian, Cameron won the debate which even a SNP/Green voter like myself finds extraordinary. Now both men were playing in a one-legged arse kicking competition and as bad as Milliband was (how many millions cringed at the ‘hell yeah’ moment?) he at least came out and answered questions, and didn’t evade, obfuscate and openly lie (the UK was not ‘as broke as Greece’) as Cameron did.

Did that convince anyone? Possibly it made a few people havering to go for Labour, and all it did was to play to Tory confirmation bias, but there was a paucity of debate, intelligence and genuine actual passion for the causes both men are supposed to represent. It’s the utter opposite of the debates during the Scottish independence referendum and for me, shows not only how far behind politics outside Scotland is, but also the lack of decent, intelligent leaders compared to people like Nicola Sturgeon or Patrick Harvie. Hell, even Ruth Davison would be more palatable than that Cameron dick.

Next week it’s the only time Milliband and Cameron get to face off, albeit with Sturgeon, Bennett, Wood, Clegg and the far right UKIP leader Farage. That should be a sight to behold…

Rachel Reeves doesn’t think Labour is a party of the welfare state

I’ve just seen this extraordinary interview in the Guardian with Labour’s Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary. It starts out ok with Reeves saying the right things…

“I think it is a sign of failed welfare state that so many people are using them. I want to see the number of people going to food banks fall under a Labour government,” Reeves said in an interview.

 

That’s fine. Unless you’re a Tory, KIpper or a Orange Book Lib Dem, then you’re going to be against the idea people are so desperate they have to use food banks, and a Labour MP should say these things. This is good.She then talks about sanctions…

“Sanction policy has been about getting people off benefits rather than getting them into work and it has had a devastating impact on a lot of people and their families.”

 

Again, this is good. Coalition sanctions are purely about ensuring figures are fixed and that the ‘feckless’ are punished but then Reeves throws a spanner in the works.

Under Labour she expected the use of sanctions to fall. “There will still be sanctions. If it is clear that someone is deliberately trying to avoid work then they shouldn’t be getting benefits. But if somebody is five minutes late for an appointment because it is snowing and their bus has been cancelled … those people shouldn’t be sanctioned.”

 

Err, ok, just fall, not be eliminated or even that your party should create jobs? But the best is yet to come as Reeves kicks on…

However, Reeves said Labour did not want to be seen to be the party of the welfare state. “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” she said. “Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

 

Read that again. This is one of Ed Milliband’s top people saying that Labour (the party of Bevin, Attlee and Hardie) aren’t going to represent people on benefits or people struggling or out of work? That. Is. Extraordinary.

As pointed out in this piece about the same article on Wings Over Scotland, there are around 11 million people unemployed or on benefits of some description in the UK, many use benefits to help supplement poor pay from their job. As pointed out, the Tories don’t represent these people, the Lib Dems don’t, UKIP certainly don’t, and the Greens try but are in a major transition in England and  Wales, though are much more together in Scotland.The only parties in the UK that seriously talk about representing these people are the SNP and Plaid Cymru and they only represent a fraction of the UK’s population.

So we have a situation where a high ranking member of Milliband’s shadow cabinet not only shows a lack of knowledge of Labour Party history and ethos, but speaks of sanctions while showing a contempt for 11 million human beings in the UK. This is Labour in the 21st century. I find those people clinging onto Labour as a party of the left to be fooling only themselves, and as the election comes closer it really is a choice of red or blue Tories with the only real hope for things not being dreadful is a minority Labour government supported by the SNP/Plaid/Greens. The options of a full Tory, or full Labour government are just too horrendous to consider, but I’m no longer going to tolerate Labour tribalists defending a party that has the likes of Reeves within it’s ranks. Frankly, fuck them.

Jim Murphy is the Labour ‘leader’ in Scotland who will end Labour

A short while ago it was announced that Jim Murphy was elected (via Labour’s amazingly undemocratic system)  as Labour leader in Scotland. This is frankly the best possible outcome for not the Labour Party but the SNP who must now be scratching their heads wondering if Labour in Scotland are determined to wipe themselves out next May.

Murphy is a man who is at best, a Tory who went with Labour as it was the easiest way to gain power, and like so many in Labour (and Westminster generally) has used his position to make himself a wealthy man while taking all the founding principles of the Labour Party and wiping his arse with them. Murphy is one of those Tony Blair supporters who so enthusiastically ripped the heart out of Labour and until he realised that Scotland may have voted No in the Independence referendum (based upon lies spread by the likes of Murphy) but he now finds a Scotland moving firmly to the left while a man who supports Trident, voted and supported the Iraq war and by action is partly responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands. In a post-referendum Scotland where the majority support left wing and social democratic ideas, Murphy stands out as a reminder of the recent past when Labour stood imperious but finally died as a party of the left.

We now have an insane situation where Murphy can’t actually lead the party in the Scottish Parliament, so instead he new deputy Keizia Dugdale will speak for Labour where she’s frankly been an uninspiring MSP and will be turned into fresh mince by Nicola Sturgeon. As for the SNP they must be sitting there pinching themselves wondering how they’ve managed to position themselves into such a strong position for what may be a historic amount of SNP MP’s being returned to Westminster come May.

As for the reaction from Labour supporters, it seems somewhat muted. They know that realistically the only real candidate with a decent chance to stop Labour’s slide was Neil Findlay but he was never going to win while Ed Milliband ran the party from London, so Murphy was always going to be elected leader. They know Murphy cheated his expenses, voted for illegal wars and stood side-by-side with the Tories during the referendum, and in fact, is strongly supported by Tories who have campaigned for him. All the SNP or Greens need to do is point out he’s a Blairite and he voted for Iraq, or that he stands with the Tories and like Labour in London, supports the policies of austerity and he’s fucked.

Labour supporters know Murphy is toxic. Tories know Murphy is toxic. Both seem happy he’s elected and it’s mad that this think this Grima Wormtongue figure is going to take on Stugeon and the SNP while convincing the Labour voter who’ve left the party that they should vote Labour ever again. This is now a party of the right. A party supporting austerity. A party promising to get ‘tough’ on the deficit and puffing it’s chest out about what services it might cut. If you are of the left, or even a liberal then there’s no way you can support a party lead by Murphy and controlled by Milliband in London.

In fact outside of the odd Labour drone a quick look on Twitter reveals the main support seems to come from the right, or in this case, the Orange Order.

jimmurphysupporterSo there it is. Jim Murphy.Scottish Labour leader. Champion of the right and the Orange Order. Saviour of the Unionist parties…

 

The Smith Commission delivered it’s report on Scottish Devolution today

And it’s a joke.

Yes, I knew ‘The Vow’ was a meaningless tactic designed to swing over enough undecided voters to voting No in September’s referendum on Scottish Independence, but I suppose even in my middle age that I’m still naive enough to think that the people of Scotland (or more exactly, those havering over voting Yes but decided to vote No based upon last minute ‘promises’ of ‘near federalism’) fell for Gordon Brown’s lies.

thevowindyref

Wings Over Scotland does an excellent dissection of the Smith recommendations so I won’t do that, but look at that front page of the Daily Record that made what should have been a straight yes or no question into a yes, no, or no with added Devo Max/’near federalism’.

Scotland can’t set the minimum wage. It can’t benefit directly from oil or gas revenue. It can’t abolish the bedroom tax. In fact what few serious powers Smith recommends devolved to Scotland won’t see much difference, or indeed, sets up any Scottish government to be at best, one which is firefighting against any Westminster policy.It doesn’t create any new powers to help Scotland with it’s own problems or indeed, the problems it’s struggled with for decades now thanks to Westminster’s hopelessness.As Nicola Sturgeon has said today, this is far from the ‘powerhouse parliament’ Brown, Cameron, Milliband and Clegg promised in the last days of the referendum campaign.

Cameron tying  English votes for English laws(EVEL)  to any reform (not how there’s no great fuss being made of non-Scottish MP’s deciding what happens to Scotland)  is also going to ensure these thin recommendations get hacked down (I’d expect the tax recommendations to be toned down, or indeed, cut totally)  and Scotland hopes that whatever government sits in power after May 2015 grants whatever recommendations are left from Smith. Of course this has shown that there is a democratic problem with how the UK works but this patchwork of throwing out devolution in spurts isn’t helping anyone in the UK.

I’ve said before the only solution would have been federalism but that could only have worked 20 years ago and frankly, it was only in Scotland and Wales where there movements trying to spread democracy outside of the Westminster bubble. Now the people of England have realised they’re being had and they want some power too rather than devolve it to Westminster to be abused. I know the Tory plan is to give the big cities in England ‘more powers’ but it again is a bodge job as it creates centres while rural areas will be ignored, and probably, drained of those who can leave which will cause them to rot.

It’s a mess. Yet Scotland, the SNP and especially Scots are taking the brunt of this. It’s not the fault of the people of Scotland that the British establishment were shocked by the fact that when the referendum campaign started, it looked over before anything kicked off. The No campaign was 30% points ahead. It seemed a futile task yet over two years that was whittled down to a few percentage points and in one poll, the Yes vote took the lead. Rumour is private polling made it clear independence was coming to Scotland on the 18th September so hence this hasty load of shite that’s made a mess of everything. I don’t feel any more contempt than usual for Cameron or Clagg. They’re just Tories doing what Tories do. The contempt for Brown, Alistair Darling and Ed Milliband is searing hot, They seem to have blocked any serious reform not because it’s something they think would harm Scotland, but because it hurts them politically.  Labour’s selfishly put themselves ahead of people on benefits, or struggling with the bedroom tax, or the disabled and so on. It’s all about gaining and retaining power and no lie is too tall for Labour to push upon a people fed up with their shite.

Though one thing is true. This does make independence for Scotland likely sooner rather than later. Gordon Brown stands down as an MP in May (he did ‘promise’ he’d see this legislation through Westminster personally) mainly because he’s probably aware he’s risking losing his seat. Alistair Darling is also going in May for probably the same reasons and dozens of Scottish Labour MP’s are now probably in sheer terror of losing their jobs (and their cushy expenses) in what won’t be the landslide many SNP supporters say it will be, but it looks like it could well rewrite the shape of Scottish politics forever.

Ultimately though the feeling for me is one of immense loss as this is just rubbing in the consequences of the No vote in an open wound. This won’t help with poverty, job creation or making Scotland a better place, not to mention an example that neoliberal/neoconservative policies have failed.  What happens now is frankly anyone’s guess but today really was a kick in the bollocks.

But hey, Scotland might get the power to change its own road signs!