No change

Tommy Sheppard tells us that British Labour’s still highly dubious acceptance of Scotland’s right of self-determination is a “long-standing position”. Which is odd given the following from British Labour’s 2017 UK general election manifesto.

Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum. It is unwanted and unnecessary, and we will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the UK.

British Labour Manifesto 2017

That statement is still on British Labour’s website.

In September 2018, Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC,

We don’t want another referendum, we don’t think another referendum is a good idea, and we’ll be very clear on why we don’t think it’s a good idea.

Labour to block new Scottish independence vote

And, of course, British Labour in Scotland has always been fanatically committed to denying the fundamental democratic rights of Scotland’s people.

How’s that “long-standing position” looking now, Tommy?

It never ceases to amaze me how easily those who profess themselves on the independence-supporting left of Scotland’s politics succumb to the inexplicable allure of British Labour. It often seems that they spend their lives on tenterhooks just waiting for some soundbite that they can seize upon as an excuse to discount the gross betrayal of British Labour making common cause with the Tories in the appalling campaign to deny the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. The party’s participation in Better Together / Project Fear is, with ample justification, regarded as totally unforgivable by many (most?) in the Yes movement. But there are some for whom British Labour has the same irresistibly magnetic appeal as the mother ship has for alien visitors.

There is a more general feature of British politics at play here. The notion, powerfully encouraged by the media, that only the latest thing matters. History is treated as a series of discrete events linked only in those ways which happen to fit the current narrative. Everything is a one-off, unless it’s convenient that a pattern should be identified. Every wrong-doer is a ‘lone wolf’ or a ‘bad apple’ unless it’s useful for them to be associated with some out-group. The public are evidently reckoned to be incapable of dealing with anything more complex than a single soap-opera plot-line, and assumed to have an attention span no greater than the length of this sentence.

I’m not suggesting Tommy Sheppard has fallen foul of this ‘syndrome’. And there is much merit in his argument that “while we remain part of the UK, it is better for Scotland that it is governed from the left”. But the idea that British Labour offers any hope for Scotland just seems utterly naive. The idea that “there’s a deal to be done” with Jeremy Corbyn is politically misguided. The idea that any British party can be trusted relies on a ‘blanking’ of recent history that borders on the pathological.

British Labour is a party of the British establishment. It is a British Nationalist party. It will renege on any deal without hesitation or guilt because anything is justified in the name of preserving the Union. To imagine that Jeremy Corbyn’s British Labour is any different from the British Labour of Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, Alistair Darling or Richard Leonard is to embrace a dangerous delusion.

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2 thoughts on “No change

  1. “…The idea that any British party can be trusted relies on a ‘blanking’ of recent history that borders on the pathological…”

    How many times does this need to be said? Some of the worst damage done to Scotland was done under Labour. Whatever else Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are, they are English Nationalists – not even just British Nationalists. British Nationalism assumes British superiority – that is, English, Scottish, Welsh and NI superiority, as a British unit against the rest. Within it, lying fairly dormant till recently, is English Nationalism which assumes superiority over all others on these British Isles and also on all others outwith these British Isles. I think Brexit, in England, is the expression of frustrated English Nationalism, never benign, rarely inclusive. Brexit, in Scotland – I won’t answer for Wales and NI because they have never threatened my country down through the centuries – is a different kind of expression in independence circles – except, perhaps for those rUK circles which reflect the dominant English Brexit thinking – because it favours no union at all.

    I really doubt that the Union has served England any better than it has served us, in reality, because it has nailed English people to the cross of ‘Britishness’ as much as it has nailed us, albeit their ruling elites have always dominated even British discourse. In the end, the dissolution of the Union might just be of even greater benefit to England to ‘find itself’ without the constraints and restraints of the Union and ‘Britishness’ in the sense it has been understood throughout the Empire years. In the end, a new sense of ‘Britishness’ – living together comfortably in these Isles – may emerge, as it did in Scandinavia. It is certainly to be hoped for. The real problem is the English ruling elite, always ripe to its own interests and greedy selfishness, which has always tried to impose Englishness on Britishness, often successfully, and, again, Brexit is a symptom of that mindset: it cannot accept just living with its own company and jogging along on an equal footing with others; it must always try to impose itself and its ways on others, and that imposition has been an unwelcome one, mostly.

    If Labour cannot accept that Scotland will no longer tolerate its robber baron, English-dominated persona, it will die out completely in Scotland. If people are too silly or too ready to be offended to see the very genuine philosophical and political arguments that I have made in this comment, rather than simply making knee-jerk assumptions about anti Englishness, closing down the debate immediately, with no deep understanding of the almost-intractability of the problem of our political situation, then I really do not believe that we will get out of the bit. When that 2014 NO vote was realized, the SNP retreated into a hostage situation where they made themselves the hostages, terrified to offend anyone with the truth, terrified of retribution, paralyzed by fear.

    As Andrew Tickell says in The National today (Sunday), reality can be very difficult to face, but face it we must, without hurting people, taking all of our people with us, whatever their origins or anything else, and making it plain that what was done to us by our own Unionists/British Nationalists and by others, perhaps equally nationalistic, or just in dubious self-interest, in the face of a perfectly legal, democratic and internationally recognized principle of self-determination, and against our Claim of Right, was intolerable. Labour’s leading of that anti Scottish backlash against that perfectly legal, democratic and internationally recognized principle of self-determination, and against our Claim of Right, was unforgivable, as were the 40% rule, the burial of McCrone, the underhand filching of our territorial waters, et al… Betrayal of those who help them is the British way. Ask the Kurds. Ask the Indians (prior to independence). Ask the Africans who gave their lives in WW II. Labour is British, born out of the womb of Scottish poverty and political awakening by a Scot, and adhering to the principle of Scottish independence (like the old Liberal party) it is now wholly English, as are the Lib Dems and the Tories.

    Liked by 1 person

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