When it became clear that a Referendum was unavoidable (the 2011 election had given the SNP a clear mandate), Labour failed to engage with local communities or grass roots organisations. Instead in 2011 Labour MP Iain Davidson suggested that nationalists and undecided voters should be ‘bayoneted’. Far from being the colourful language of a colourful character, the remarks articulated vividly the anger, frustration and hatred in Labour for the SNP and anyone who in any way associated with them.
Labour still operated under the illusion that it was the majority party of Scotland. But this was an illusion founded on a lie. Labour had never been the majority party, it had simply been, for a while the biggest minority party. Having swallowed the New Thatcherism of Blair, Brown and Darling the party steadily lost voters and – of far more serious consequence – members and activists. That it was reduced to being the second largest minority party in Scotland was confirmed in the 2012 local elections. The SNP took the most seats. However, Labour remained control of Glasgow. For all its failings, Labour remained a formidable political machine that would use any means to keep power. After the local elections it was revealed by The Herald that Glasgow’s Labour leader had met with cheering Orangemen during the campaign and promised that he would overturn Glasgow’s restrictions on Orange walks.
Later that year the new leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont, made clear that she would be an advocate of the poisonous and self-defeating New Thatcherism. Labour, she declared would defend frontline services by ending the ‘something for nothing’ culture of the SNP government Yet much of what the SNP government supported and protected – no tuition fees, no prescription charges – had actually been introduced in the heady early days of the new Scottish parliament run by Labour and the Lib Dems. It was such policies that had so threatened the New Thatcherism of the Blair and Brown government that they deliberately interfered with and undermined the autonomy of the then Scottish government. Now it appeared that Miliband had a leader in Scotland that would finally get rid of those embarrassing reminders of heritage that Labour had long since jettisoned.
Though it was resented, the referendum was seen as providing a golden opportunity for Labour. A No win would leave the SNP broken. It would allow Labour to return to power in the UK in 2015. The austerity programme of Miliband’s government’s would be copper fastened by a Labour winning the Scottish parliament election in 2016. A victorious Johann Lamont would be free to rip out the deadwood of social justice legislation introduced by the SNP and the earlier Labour/Liberal administration, and replace it with new shiny Westminster friendly austerity measures.
This new cunning plan was as utterly divorced from reality as Scottish Labour’s previous cunning plans. It was a plan that showed the Labour Party lacked any understanding or appreciation of the recent transformation of Scottish politics. It was a plan that mixed idiocy with arrogance and contempt.
Now read Part Nineteen. Tactical Voting
All these blogs can be read from beginning at: Social Justice & Scottish Independence
Follow me on twitter
for on my published books see: Rab’s Books
* * *
There’s a wheen o Yes campaigns and campaigners out there on twitter. But you might want to check out these to start with
@NewsnetScotland @bellacaledonia @WeAreNational