No political party in Scotland is immune to viewing facts as malleable materiel to be used and bent and twisted as suits. In the hands of the Labour Party in Scotland, though, such propagandizing has been inflated to new and sublime levels that are only connected to reality by the thinnest of tattered and worn threads. Compared to the creativity of the Caledonian comrades, the spin and dissembling of Tony Blair and his colleagues seem oafish and pedestrian.
This is not a new phenomenon, sadly deceit and double speak have a long and venerable history in the Labour Party in Scotland. However Labour’s current creativity with facts contains two grave dangers for the party: not only will it end up completely divorced from how the world is seen and experienced by people in Scotland; but equally it will finally become completely detached from its origins as a party that believed in and struggled for social justice for the peoples of Scotland and the United Kingdom.
Some would argue that Labour became divorced from its past a long time ago, but this is an overly simplistic view – as well as an insult to those who remain loyal to labour, either as voters or grassroots party members. It is a trite and idiotic narrative which portrays labour and unionism as incontrovertibly bad and SNP and independence as self-evidently good. The truth is that the recent history of Scotland is as messy, dynamic and bewildering as life itself. No outcome was, is or will be inevitable.
One difficulty in trying to examine contemporary events in Scotland is deciding where to begin the story. Does it start with the current referendum campaign or with the reconvening of the Scottish parliament? Perhaps we should whizz all the way back to the mid ninth century when Kenneth Mac Alpin united the various peoples and cultures north of the Forth and Clyde rivers into a political entity known as Alba. There are of course other memorable dates, including 1915 Glasgow rent strikes organised and led by women activists in the Independent Labour Party, or the land agitation of the Highland Land League with its slogan Is treasa tuath na tighearna / The people are mightier than a lord.
These and many other dates and events are a crucial part of Scotland’s history. However, for an understanding of the debates and conflicting voices in the current referendum I would suggest it is important to examine the Decade of Dissent, the ten years of social justice agitation that preceded the first Scottish assembly election in 1999. However to understand what happened between 1989 and 1999 there is a need to examine the campaign and aftermath of the referendum which Scots mostly now try not to talk about. The devolution vote of 1979.
Now read Part Three: 1979 and all that
All these blogs can be read from beginning at: Social Justice & Scottish Independence
Follow me on twitter
* * *
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