The myth of Labour’s radicalism

There’s been a load of discussion in Scotland about commentator and pro-independence left wing activist Cat Boyd’s comments about why she ”voted for Corbyn” due to his socialist credentials and how she preferred him to May.

The problem is that Corbyn doesn’t present a ‘big political change’. Corbyn presents a tweak to the existing system, and with Brexit, backs a policy which will ensure the weakest in society pays for it. I agree with Boyd (who I normally find to be at least an interesting commentator) in that Corbyn is preferable to May, but I disagree with the rest of her reasoning, and I do think she’s provided the establishment she rails against with a useful example to harm the independence movement.

But this is a problem with those who support left wing ideologically pure politics. They’ll see Labour being ‘radical’ but in fact, the ideas Corbyn presented are perfectly reasonable socially democratic ideas. The problem is that as someone who has worked within the system for several decades, Corbyn isn’t proposing changing the system except with Brexit where he, and the Tories, advocate leaving under a cloud (Labour’s vaunted internationalism clearly doesn’t extend to EU citizens) to rewrite the UK in their image. We now have a situation where the Corbyn supporting left now speak like Brexiters they sneered at prior to April, and we’re being dragged off the edge of a cliff for what? The chance that we might, perhaps, possibly, maybe see Corbyn in power and for Scotland to get maybe control of something Labour have spent years fighting to deny Scotland control of?

The fact is the system is broken. The British state is a state with blood on its hands and we’ll never know how much because the state ensures it always covers it’s tracks be it Operation Legacy, or a compliant UK media that paints the British state as an always benevolent one. And here’s another point, were Corbyn truly radical he’d be pushing to tear all this down but instead we’re promised another ‘discussion’ as frankly, all Labour want is your vote and to have the idea of radicalism as it manages your expectations from being of the left, to now supporting ideas that are making the wealthy cream themselves because Brexit will involve swingeing cuts be it May or Corbyn in power. True, it’ll be less painful under Corbyn only if you consider Labour figures and people like Owen Jones putting on their sad faces when they’re talking of job losses and families broken up, but hey, for the many right? We’ve got your vote sucker!

And here’s my problem with anyone wanting independence voting Labour. You’re supporting all this. I agree Corbyn is the lesser worse option for the UK, but you’re still voting for a party that’s spent nearly four years comparing you to Nazis, calling you a virus, filth and worse who only want your vote. They won’t give a fuck about you and we know that Labour are there to keep Scotland in check because that’s their job. How can you reconcile your position as of the ‘radical left’ by voting for a party that fights to keep the systems you’ve been fighting to break??

It’s illogical and while the SNP and Greens aren’t also as radical as they seem, both support ending the British state, which is as radical a policy as you’ll get in the UK in 2017. So if you want to go back to the days of Labour forming a government once a generation, promising jam aplenty, before the Tories come back in then great. Vote Labour. You’ll never, ever get independence and you’ll doom the most vulnerable to perjury when Brexit kicks in hard and any escape route is closed off.I’m all for sticking to principles but having seen fellow left wingers adopt messiah’s so often, I’m used to seeing crushing disappointment when people realise they’ve been had. I’m just now at the point where both personally for myself, and for those generations coming after me and yet to be born that I can’t live with the idea that we were denied self-determination and the end of the British state because of people being attracted by shiny things and rhetoric.

We do need a more inclusive vision for independence that brings people in from all political opinions but voting Labour isn’t going to achieve that. All you’ll do is empower a party that at the core only wants power for power’s sake. That won’t help the working class will it?

Why the UK coverage of this election is like this Armando Ianucci sketch

In less than a fortnight we’ll find out who will be the next Prime Minister of the UK but if you watch this election through the prism of the mainly London-based media you’d think it’s a straight fight between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. To an extent it is as only those two can become Prime Minister but seeing people talk of Corbyn as the great hope for ending tuition fees or stop the bedroom tax is frankly a tad irrelevant here in Scotland as these don’t apply. Fees were scrapped a decade ago and the Scottish Government mitigates the bedroom tax.

Many of the things Labour want in the UK is already being done or are being worked towards. True there’s more to be done, and the stuff that’s still reserved to Westminster (which is still most things) will still hurt if the Tories get back in, but in Scotland (and indeed, in all the devolved nations) we’re still at the mercy of Westminster.

As much as I wish Corbyn well in England, I don’t feel he, or his party, will work for me or for Scotland as his support for leaving the EU isn’t what Scotland, or indeed Northern Ireland, voted for. So for most of this campaign as I view it on social media is a bit like this sketch from the wonderfully but underrated Armando Ianucci Shows from 2001…

A second Scottish independence referendum is on

A second referendum on Scottish independence was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning. It has caused Tories to spit out their tea in apoplexy and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s mind to implode.

The line about ‘division’ is bollocks. You can’t sit there a cry about a ”one-party state” and then moan about ‘division’? What do you actually want? 100% of a population to agree with you or is it about denying a choice to people whether they want to remain part of a political union that sees us on the verge of doing a damaging act such as Brexit? Because this is what Dugdale and company are arguing about; stay in the UK and be part of a Tory government’s anti-immigrant, new era of empire building or vote for an independent Scotland that looks to the future rather than constantly look to the past for inspiration.

There’s going to be no ”love-bombing” this time round. It’s also a lot more at stake as when Sturgeon spoke about deciding what kind of country we live in that for me is the important question. What sort of country do we want to live in, die in, and have our friends, family, children, etc do the same in? Do we want a country that hates immigrants and looks to people like Donald Trump or worse for close allies, or do we reach to Europe and beyond to make our allies as well as making our own successes and failures?

Or do we want perpetual Tory governments opposed or supported by a weak Labour Party that shows no sign of gaining power, or even being able to make a better place should they ever somehow win an election again?

I wasn’t in Scotland in 2014. I rightfully didn’t have a say. I live in Scotland now and do have a say and I’ll be voting yes to ensure Scotland becomes independent and breaks free of a political union that’s damaging and backward. I’ll be very firmly campaigning and engaging undecided and soft No voters to make sure as many others join me in trying to make an independent Scotland a better place. It’ll be hard work but it can be done.

The media’s lack of interest in reporting Nicola Sturgeon’s trolls

Over the weekend Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed she’d tragically suffered a miscarriage when she was 40. This should be one of those things where people accept and empathise with a human story that’s hurt many of us over the years, but this is 2016 so instead some people decided to have a go, and I apologise if any of these Tweets offends anyone but these are a snapshot of what’s being said on social media.




These are some of the milder examples, there’s some utter filth out there in the badlands of Twitter, but this isn’t me as a supporter of independence in Scotland complaining because its Sturgeon being targeted, it’s because a human being is being targeted. Yet there’s nothing from the media, not even rent-a-Tweeter J.K Rowling has perfectly skewered these internet trolls being too busy setting her minions on Corbyn supporters it seems. Nowt, nothing.

There’s a reason why women normally don’t talk about these things if they’re in politics and it’s crap like this. I wouldn’t attack Theresa May is she’d said this because as much as I dislike May, I dislike her for her politics, her private life is nothing to do with me and isn’t fair game. Yet for some, Sturgeon’s private life is fair game and the idea this is a ‘sympathy’ ploy is sickening enough without the more vile stuff being said to her, and it’s being directly Tweeted to her.

Yet, the media who will report the slightest possibly offensive syllable aimed at politicians whose politics is close to their own stay silent. No condemnation. It speaks volumes.

A quick word to Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens and anyone standing against the Tories

The Tories are back in power and the sight of David Cameron’s cabinet on the news braying like public schoolboys and girls at the cabinet desk should be enough to chill the bloody because make no bones about it, there’s some vicious bastards in that cabinet.

Here’s a Tweet the Green MP Caroline Lucas made and it speaks the truth of the current situation.


And she’s right. This is essentially restating the offer Nicola Sturgeon made during during the election campaign, but thanks to the fact there’s a pure Tory government it’s now essential that all progressive people get behind the SNP/Plaid/Green alliance and that includes Labour voters, and yes, even those Lib Dems sitting there crying in their ‘I agree with Nick‘ T-Shirts that are sitting there realising that Nick Clegg doomed them those five long years ago.

Right now there’s people moping around or blaming anyone they can for the Tory victory, but forget about that. The time for post mortems is over and the opposition starts now. Show the Tories and their supporters that resistance isn’t futile. Far from it…….

An uncomfortable question for those in the English left protesting against the Tories

How many people protesting the Tories and their cuts voted for an anti-austerity party (no, I don’t mean Labour as they’re a party of austerity) last week? How many went out chapping doors for anti-austerity parties and no, I don’t mean Labour as they’re an austerity party?

How many people got their hands dirty in the schemes and estates and had the conversations needed to convince them that the Tories were not an option?

Here’s the thing as much as demos and protests are good, there is not going to be any genuine change until the left in England realises this because they do in Scotland. and they’re getting there in Wales. I’ve had a think about how the anti-austerity side failed and simply put apart from the Greens there were no anti austerity voices on the news or debates over the campaign apart from Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood.

So here’s the thing: there are groups in Scotland like Common Weal, and sites like Bella Caledonia where the talk is how the Yes campaign can help people in England on the left because demonstrations for the same of demonstrations are pointless. It’s just a shout of rage. Don’t expect Labour to suddenly get it as they’re fighting about what Blairite tosser gets the chance to lose in 2020 against Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Teresa May.

Look at parties like Yorkshire First or Mebyon Kernow as a template for the English left to get out of dreaming about the past of Labour as if you wait for Labour to catch up let alone stop being a party of austerity then you’ll be older than the mountains themselves. No, the future is to mobilise and get behind new ideas but you need to challenge your own opinions and that won’t happen in demonstrations or the online echo chamber.

Get out in the street. Knock doors. Speak to people. You don’t have to belong to a party, just say you’re an anti-austerity campaigner and once you’ve spoken to people outside your local bubble you’ll find the route you need to actually take the fight to the Tories because Labour aren’t and 56 SNP MP’s can do only so much.

Anti-SNP hysteria hits new heights

Wings Over Scotland handily gathers together some of the worst examples of the insane rhetoric being thrown against Nicola Sturgeon (a special word has to got to Dollgate), The SNP and also the people of Scotland in the press this weekend. The most insane and shocking is the Daily Mail’s cover this morning.


Once you get past the fact the Mail is giving away a whole roast chicken, the headline is probably (even for the Mail) the most hysterical undemocratic thing I’ve seen on the front page of a British newspaper in my life, and that is saying something.

The problem is that if you want the Union to continue as the Mail and all those frantic politicians, celebrities and others wanted last year, and if you are any sort of democrat then the SNP (a party that have had MP’s in Westminster for decades) MP’s are just as legitimate as any other. Otherwise it really does smack as if the Tories and their mates in the media are trying to delegitimise SNP MP’s in the eyes of the public and effectively pull of a political coup in front of everyone. This is already something people have discussed.

Now the thing is the SNP are asking for much. An end to austerity and Trident are the main two things, and you’d think Labour would support an end to austerity but as Ed Balls has admitted, after 2016 Labour will continue cutting, and they’re also committed to the pointless waste of money that is Trident to keep the UK’s place at the international Big Boys Table. The SNP are hardly left wing compared to the Labour Party before the 1980’s, but they’re far more left than the Labour Party of today, yet even these modest ideas of ending austerity and spending the billions spent on Trident spent on actually building a proper navy and on people suffering in the UK is seen as a ‘threat’.

The fact is there’s been a coup of the UK by right wing extremists that’s not happened overnight, but its happened over a few decades. It’s dragged the South of England to the right and dumped the North of England, Scotland, Wales and NI as it’s all about maintaining the power and influence of the City of London. This is just another manifestation of the lack of democracy inherent in a system where newspaper owners wield too much power over political parties and treats even the SNP presentation of an anti-austerity message as a ‘threat’ worse than WW2, Suez, the Gulf War 1 and 2, international terrorism and nuclear war.

But then the idea that the SNP is the biggest threat since the abdication is about appealing to a certain type of Tory, The type of Tory that looks at people in Scotland expressing the desire for self-determination as ‘petty nationalists’ while draped in the Union Flag, getting teary eyes at the Last Night of the Proms and getting choked up when another royal baby is born.

It’s now ten days til the election. In those ten days I fully expect things to get much, much worse, and I’d not be surprised one bit if the establishment don’t label the SNP as terrorists or worse. Whatever happens I can say that after the dust settles things are not going to be the same in the UK ever again.

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.

Get back in your box Scotland and do as you’re told.

On this morning Andrew Marr programme there was this conversation between former SNP leader Alex Salmond and Tory MP Anna Soubry. A few months back it’d have been extraordinary but in the here and now it’s actually quite restrained compared to the shrill insanity thrown at the people of Scotland because they’re not going to get back to normal after the independence referendum.

The telling thing is that Sourby thinks it’s Labour’s fault and by implication Scotland should vote Labour that this ‘undemocratic’ possibility of the SNP being powerbrokers in the election in May has arisen. There’s not an ounce of realisation that people are voting not just for the people they think may represent them better (surely the very essence of democracy) but against a system in Westminster that’s broken (illegal wars, covering up paedophiles, austerity, expenses scandal, corruption, cronyism, and on and on) by voting for people representing a party that eventually wants to remove Scotland from that system

So there’s two attitudes on display. One is the Othering and demonisation of voters in Scotland and the other is the attitude on display here that voting for a party not supporting the Union is a threat to democracy itself and Labour should be the party people vote for, even though as a Tory she’d never fully say it yet the inference is there. It displays a massive contempt for people and for the concept of democracy in a country that is itself a constitutional monarchy, not a full democracy.  There’s a confusion from these sort of Unionists and defenders of the establishment that people aren’t ‘behaving’, and that people voting for the party that they want is a threat worse than Putin!!!!!

Meanwhile in Scotland, SNP membership is past the 100k markand is still growing. Nicola Sturgeon has embarked on a series of talks and speeches to the media and economists in London that have on the whole been very well accepted as she seeks to reassure the people of England that her party aren’t baby-eating trolls (that’d be other parties MP’s that threaten children) and thanks to the No vote last year, are trying to participate in UK democracy. Yet the message is barely getting through thanks to hatchet jobs like this yet as a Scot living in England  when I discuss the SNP, Sturgeon, etc, the venom that was once on display is slipping to be replaced by a longing that many in England can’t vote for a party like the SNP. People want to vote for a party that no longer supports austerity, talks about growing the economy, doesn’t demonise immigrants, the sick, the unemployed, the disabled and wants the very wealthy to put their hands in their pockets.

The next month or so is going to be tough for SNP campaigners as the establishment goes full pelt on them, but there’s a real urge in the UK for something to break the back of the establishment and if the SNP do that so that it helps not only the people of Scotland, but the UK, then the establishment parties have to do some serious explaining to people as to how they didn’t do that themselves.