Set aside, for the moment, your personal feelings about the SNP. Put from your mind, temporarily, antipathy to this or that policy or position. Take your frustration and anger at Sturgeon’s abject failure to properly lead Scotland’s independence campaign and stick it at the back of your sock drawer. It’ll still be there when you get back. Try to be dispassionate as you consider British Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer’s remarks to conference concerning Scotland.

We can’t work with them. We won’t work with them. No deal under any circumstances.

Labour Liverpool conference gives Keir Starmer standing ovation after he rules out SNP deal

If he was referring to the British Conservative & Unionist Party, this would be an entirely unsurprising statement. In principle, at least, the ideological differences between the two parties would make the idea of any kind of partnership little short of ridiculous. It would also be perfectly in keeping with democratic principles. British Labour is the official opposition party in the British parliament. To enter into some working arrangement with the party of government would represent the grossest dereliction of the opposition’s duty to scrutinise the work of ministers. Making such a statement in reference to the Tories would be a statement of the obvious so extraordinary as to elicit from Starmer’s audience puzzled murmurings rather than the standing ovation which greeted his declaration.

But he wasn’t referring to the Tories. He was talking about the SNP. And that is a very different matter.

My initial response had I been speaking on behalf of the SNP would be to point out that no deals were on offer. Starmer is rudely rebuffing an invitation which has not been extended. Privately, I might wonder why he felt the need to do this. I might consider the possibility that he felt compelled to so emphatically rule out any deals with the SNP because he is aware that any rational speculation about the parliamentary arithmetic post the next UK general election would have to reckon on the possibility of a much reduced Tory majority opening up the opportunity for progressive parties to cooperate so as to oust them. This rational analysis could hardly live up to that description if it disregarded the fact that, traditionally, ousting the Tories was British Labour’s principal objective. In the British political system, ‘opposition’ means precisely that ─ outright opposition. The relationship between the two parties in the British two-party system is, according to the common mental model of that system, inherently and markedly adversarial. It is only logical that the default assumption must be that the overriding goal of the party in opposition should be to swap places with the party in power. Starmer tells us that this default assumption is no longer valid.

What we cannot but take from Stamer’s remarks is that the overarching priority of the British Labour Party is no longer taking power from the Tories. The main priority of the British Labour Party is exactly the same as the main priority of the British Conservative Party it is supposed to oppose ─ preservation of the Union at any cost. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from Starmer’s remarks is that in the name of preserving the Union British Labour is prepared to abandon its role within the British political system. It is prepared to let the Tories hold on to power rather than put the Union in jeopardy. The shared devotion to the Union common to all the main British parties overrides all ideological differences.

If all of the parties which might form the next UK government are committed to the same overarching priority, where is the democratic choice? Obviously, there is none. When the two main political parties are as closely aligned as British Labour and British Conservatives, the distinction from a one-party state blurs almost to invisibility. This is not, however, a consideration as far as the British Nationalists (of whatever party) are concerned. The dogma of ‘the Union at any cost’ is rigid and deep-seated. It is not a rhetorical device. The term ‘any cost’ is to be taken quite literally.

To better understand what British Nationalists like Starmer are prepared to sacrifice in the name of preserving the Union we must go back where I started by asking you to set aside all your negative feeling about the SNP. If you’re saying you won’t work with the SNP even if not doing so allows the Tories to retain power, you might cite as your reason this or that policy or even dislike or distrust of this or that SNP figure. But strip away all those justifications and/or rationalisations and one fact remains ─ the choice of the people. Whatever you may think of the SNP it cannot be denied that it is the party chosen by the people of Scotland. You may disagree with that choice. You may think the people responsible for that choice foolish or misguided or reckless. You may vigorously urge the people to make a different choice at the next opportunity. You can do all that and still call yourself a democrat. But the moment you deny the validity of the people’s choice then in that instant you cease to be a democrat by definition.

However you define the term ‘democrat’, that definition must include respect for the will of the people. Indeed, an entirely acceptable and complete definition of a democrat might well be simply ‘someone who acknowledges, accepts, affirms and defends the validity of democratic choices regardless of the content of those choices’.

For Sir Keir Starmer and his British Nationalist ilk the democratic choices made by the people of Scotland are not a factor. The democratic will of Scotland’s people is not a consideration. British Nationalism is an anti-democratic creed in that it rejects the validity of any democratic choice which threatens or seriously challenges the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state. British Labour and British Tories are identical not in the sense of sharing a broad political philosophy ─ the idea of read and blue Tories is simplistic and foolish ─ but because they are defending the same thing. They are defending the same British state. They are defending the same system. They are defending the same ruling elites.

Remember that when your pencil is next poised over a ballot paper. If you are tempted place your cross next to the British Labour candidate’s name then bear in mind that you may be voting for a different set of grandiose manifesto claims and promises, but you are voting for the same system. A system in which the validity of your vote can be entirely discounted if it does not favour the fundamental status quo. The British state is a Tory state. It’s values are Tory values. You may be able to vote the Tories out of office, but you can never vote them out of power. Certainly not by voting for Starmer’s lot, intent as they are on working hand-in-hand with the Tories in order to preserve the Union at whatever cost to Scotland, Scotland’s people and Scotland’s democracy.

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10 thoughts on “Twins

  1. Yes , Peter , once again , you make the salient point/s . And , as you/we have been saying ……the next UKGE will be fought as contest between the Tweedles D n Dum Unionist Parties to see who can be the most virulent in * defeating the forces of Separatism * and defending their Pishy Union . With a few policy tweaks of difference thrown-in for added colour and the illusion of choice .

    You know though that the argument-from-Democracy angle will be completely strangled . The wishes of Scottish residents ( assuming a majority SNP victory ) along with it .

    ” Democracy ” being a relative , malleable concept in the hands of our opponents

    How long have the SNP been saying Unionists must and will be unable to resist that argument ?

    Any signs of it making even a dent on the Union Fortress ?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. A standing ovation for the millionaire knight of the realm for saying under no circumstances will his party work with the SNP, such was the delirium at the Liverpool conference that Starmer even blurted out that he will make Brexit work, and the crowd loved him for it, even more bizarre was that Starmer claimed with a straight face that Labour will deliver change. I fully expected Billy Smart and his circus to break in through the crowd when I heard that last remark, but no, all that could be heard was the clapping of hands like seals that had been thrown a tasty fish.

    I don’t know if they pump some sort of delirium inducing drugs via the air vents into the crowds during these conferences, which makes the acolytes and sycophants, act in a very adoring manner, no matter what their glorious leader says, a bit like teens at a Justin Bieber concert who swoon at his every word and gesture.

    I know one thing for sure, Labour certainly doesn’t have Scots best interests at heart, and although the SNP has lost its way, as you rightly say Peter Scots did democratically elect them to govern us.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Indeed , ROS . I see the old , long-promised – never even attempted Labour mouldy chestnut of …..zzzzzzzz ……Reform/Abolition of the HOL is being dug-up from it’s unattended grave . Again . L.O.L . Count Brownula likewise

      Liked by 2 people

  3. We get the impression Sir Starmer is trying to play to the English voters who don’t want to lose Scotland, and fear Labour would do just that, if it done any deals with SNP.
    However, he is also trying to play to the Scottish voter who wants a change from the present insane tory regime.
    “Vote for me, and I will save you from the tories” and thus hoping maybe just enough Scottish voters fall for him.

    Unfortunately, for Labour in Scotland, anyone who really wants Independence, and who wants us back in EU, isn’t gonna be voting for Labour.
    Those voters know Labour totally betrayed this country in 2014, and then into 2015 in the useless Smith Commission.
    And as I point out above, totally betrayed us on Brexit.
    Labour in Scotland has insisted all along, we must be part of Europe.
    Wel, we don’t hear MSP Anas Sarwar say that any more, nor MSP Jackie Baillie.
    None of them in fact mutter anything about being in EU, now.
    London has decided the matter for them, and that’s it!!
    So, why should we vote for Labour?

    Besides as has also been pointed out, it wouldn’t matter if every MP in Scotland was Labour these past 12 and a bit years, we’d still have gotten a tory regime.
    But as you also point out, Peter, just s’posing we did get a certain number of Labour MPs elected, in the hope of replacing the tories, if it wasn’t enough to form a majority Government for Labour, Sir Starmer is more or less saying, actually he is saying it, he’d keep the tories in power, rather than do a deal with SNP.
    We need only point that bit out to the likes of MSP Sarwar, and MP Murray in Edinburgh.
    So, why indeed should we want to vote for a party that is prepared to ignore our votes altogether if such a situation came to be?

    Labour in Scotland can’t give us any reasonable answer to that one, just as they can’t on EU, or on why Independence voters should vote for them when they tell us, they like the tories, will never allow Independence!
    Independence voters know Labour is not to be trusted, ever!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. It would appear from various recent opinion polls that around 40% of current British Labour voters in Scotland support Independence. That’s quite an amazing statistic (if true) given the number who deserted the party and flooded over to the SNP post-2014.

    I can only assume that they like the idea of Independence as a ‘nice to have’ rather than as an overriding priority. Why else would you continue to support a party that says that it will not even countenance the idea of a referendum on the matter never mind the actuality of the restoration of Scotland’s full self-governance and independent nation-statehood?

    As for me I live in Edinburgh South … otherwise known as Ian Murray Country to some. I prefer “The Heart of Darkness”. It’s a staunch Unionist, if not full-on British Nationalist, constituency. So, it doesn’t matter at the moment which way I vote. The enemy – the real one – have it sewn up for the foreseeable future.

    However, I will always vote … and I will always vote for a pro-Independence party which, in this seat, will only be the SNP. Although I have severe reservations about the current SNP – which have been detailed here and elsewhere often enough – I still view my vote as a ‘placeholder’ which indicates my support for Independence should that party’s (future) leadership regain its sanity.

    I reject utterly all and any recognition of the British parties.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What we need to get away from is the idea that Tory, Labour and Lib Dems are, in any fundamental way different from each other as far as Scotland is concerned. They are ALL English Nationalists. They will put England first, second and third always. They will totally disregard any harm to Scotland so long as they can keep the status quo. That attitude has a name and it is ‘narcissism’ – a severe and incurable form of selfishness and me-ism that goes beyond any rational explanation. Coupled with the extreme selfishness is a lack of conscience and a belief that the narcissist is actually helping you, doing you a huge favour. That you spurn their ‘kindness’ is what brings on that narcissistic rage that wants to flatten you. It is profoundly infantile. It is entirely explicable in other political/social scenarios also, and almost always leads the other party to decouple from all sentiment. This is happening in Scotland right now.

    No matter how you slice and dice it, that is what you get: English Nationalism which is nothing like Scottish Nationalism in that it is entirely inward-facing and detrimental to others. Individual Scots will rub along with individual English, but the elites will never do anything at all that is in any danger of putting England in any position that is not top of the game. Unionists in Scotland who will not see this – it is deliberate head-in-the-sand, because no one could claim rationally that Scotland is better off in the Union – are arguing from a position of insanity because of the wealth of evidence to the contrary. I am sure that some Unionists would make a case for the Union but it must always be one based solely on sentiment because no evidence exists for it other than that.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Agreed, Robert, and until we disengage from the domestic legal and political arenas, we are going nowhere. That means going back to the basics of the Treaty, CoR and all other preceding constitutional documents to gather them together. To my mind, the Treaty must be the fundamental document that we have to scupper because it is the one that underpins the UK of GB and NI. It is an international agreement that can be resiled only in international law, and, again, it is only my opinion, but it must be challenged on the grounds of misinterpretation and persistent breaching of its terms to the detriment of Scotland.

    No domestic court has either the ability or, I should think, will to give a ruling on the Treaty, except to have the Scottish version ‘sound’ in Scots Law. It is not as if the challenge would be based on fresh air alone: a wealth of evidence exists to show that England and, then, England as the UK has persistently misinterpreted it in its own favour, and breached it for precisely the same reason. Why the SNP, or, indeed, any Scottish administration, has never embarked on the work of building such a case, I can only guess at: there has been no will on the part of any of them, and, for the SNP to still refuse to do this work should lead to the electoral demise of its leaders.

    The 2014 referendum was worth the risk. This latest cauld porridge version is worth nothing and I cannot see the SNP allowing a free vote in the GE, if it becomes a plebiscitary one; it will be a variation on SNP 1 & 2 for another full term. They really do not deserve to be re elected, any of them, but they have us over a barrel – or so they think. So they think.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ‘the Union at any cost’

    In colonialism, an oppressed people only become nationalists in order to remove their oppressor and hence to be liberated (Fanon; Memmi). This basic principle applies as much to the Scots as to the Indians, Kenyans, Americans or Irish.

    British/English nationalism, in contrast, and as history confirms, is an aggressive and exploitative Imperial political and cultural ideology, much as your analysis of Starmer’s language and behaviour demonstrates, Peter.

    ‘the Union at any cost’ mantra simply confirms that there are no human values in colonialism. Which also perhaps explains the SNP’s ‘petrification’ at the final hurdle.


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