Labour’s discomfort zone for Scotland

In this week’s episode of “You’ve got some cheek” brought to you by the Labour Party’s Scottish Optional Identity Mark, Douglas Alexander has claimed that the past decade in Scotland has been lost to “constitutional squabbling,” and nothing has been achieved. To be fair, the last decade in Scottish politics was not entirely a waste, we did manage to exile Douglas Alexander, who is now attempting to get back into Westminster just as his nemesis Mhairi Black is stepping down.

But let’s help wee Dougie out, we’ve got free prescriptions, the Scottish Child Payment, 1140 hrs of free childcare, a new Social security system delivering 13 new payments, free school meals, ScotRail in public ownership, reaching near 100% renewables equivalent to consumption, free university tuition, to name but a few, none of which would ever be brought in by Keir Starmer’s Labour party, which has U-turned on its renewable energy commitments, and abandoned its promise to abolish tuition fees and to bring utilities and railways back into public ownership.

Ironically Douglas Alexander does not see himself and his fellow “we’re not nationalists we’re British” parties as part of the reason why so many people in Scotland support the idea of independence. Equally naturally wee Dougie does not accept that his own party has played any role in ensuring that the past decade has been wasted, if indeed it has, it’s all the fault of the SNP, of course. There’s not a sliver of recognition from him that in 2014 his party promised that in return for a No vote in that year’s referendum within three years we’d be living in a federal UK and that a bonanza of new powers were poised to be bestowed upon the Scottish Parliament.

In an interview with the right wing Brexit supporting Sunday Times, the spiritual home of the modern Labour party, Douglas Alexander claimed that the Labour party needs to win the East Lothian seat where he is standing as the Labour candidate at the next general election, not for what his party can do for the people of East Lothian, but for what East Lothian can do for him and Keir Starmer.

The next Westminster general election will be won or lost in England, but Alexander wants to defeat the SNP so that Scotland can be put firmly back in its box and a Starmer government can continue to ignore Scottish demands for another independence referendum or for the Labour party to fulfil its previous promises to implement meaningful reform of the devolution settlement and the Westminster system. Then the likes of wee Dougie can get back to enjoying his Westminster career and the power and privilege it gives him while implenting the right wing politics that are within his comfort zone even though they’re the discomfort zone for most people in Scotland.

The claim of stagnation is pretty rich coming from a Blairite like Alexander who was forefront in transforming the Labour party into a party whose sole objective was to stay in power by mimicking the Conservatives as closely as possible and keeping the inequalities of the Westminster system intact.

Thirteen years on Keir Starmer is doing exactly the same thing only he’s adopting even more blatantly right wing positions than even the war mongering Blair and his enablers like Alexander dared to. Vote Labour for more of the same, vote Labour for Conservative policies on Brexit, on constitutional reform, on protecting vested interests and keeping utilities firmly in the grasp of the private sector. Unlike Labour, the SNP don’t support the Tory policies that Starmer has said he will keep if he wins the next general election.

But Douglas Alexander’s Labour party also bears a large share of the responsibility for the political paralysis which he is so eager to blame on everyone else.

We all know what happened as soon as the No vote was in the bag even if wee Dougie is shamelessly hoping that we’ve forgotten. The Labour party competed with the Tories in a game of devolution Jenga in the Smith Commission negotiations, desperately back tracking on all those new powers that had supposedly been on offer. We got full fat Westminster centralising, not federalism.

More recently Gordon Brown’s much heralded Constitutional Review was published to a resounding ‘meh,’ consisting as it did of some extremely modest proposals, the highlights of which were some minor borrowing powers for the Scottish Government and the devolution of jobs centres. The great promise of thorough-going reform of the House of Lords turned out to be a claim that yet another commission would be set up to look at possible reform.  Keir Starmer has since spent his time and energy watering down that already thin gruel even further.

The paralysis that Douglas Alexander complains about could be resolved very easily if he and his party actually were to accept the democratic will of the people of Scotland. Figures from Labour’s Scottish Optional Identity Mark continue to parrot all the reasons why they don’t want another independence referendum, and to tell the people of Scotland what their priorities “really” are. But we heard all these arguments during the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, when the topic of whether to hold another independence referendum was by far and away the dominant issue in the campaign. The electorate heard all the arguments from Anas Sarwar and other Labour politicians about why they did not want another independence referendum and chose to elect a Scottish Parliament with the largest ever pro-independence majority.

Yet the Labour party along with the Tories have refused to accept the result of that election and together with the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have vied with one another to come up with one excuse after another as to why the people didn’t “really” vote for what they voted for. If Scottish politics are paralysed it is because the British nationalist parties are refusing to allow democracy to take its course because the people of Scotland had the temerity to vote in a way that they did not like.

All that Douglas Alexander offers Scotland is more of the same anti-democratic paralysis.



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