The Labour party branch office in Scotland has unveiled its slogan for the council elections Labour due a week on Thursday. In four short words it neatly encapsulates the entitlement of the Labour party which was instrumental in the fall from grace of a party which one dominated the Scottish political landscape and illustrates how it has learned precisely nothing from the electoral rejection which it has suffered ever since the 2014 referendum and its catastrophic decision to get into bed with the Conservatives. “Come Home to Labour” is the slogan upon which Anas Sarwar hopes to base a Labour recovery, it’s also a slogan which implies that the Labour party has done nothing to merit its desertion by voters in Scotland and that its repeated electoral humiliation since 2014 is the fault of the voters, and not the fault of a Labour party which has shown, and which has continued to show, that it is just as willing as the Conservatives to ignore the decisions which the people of Scotland make at the ballot box if those decisions are not to their liking.
After being rejected by the voters in election after election, the Labour party in Scotland wants us to know that it is willing to forgive us for turning our backs on them. It’s not like they have acknowledged what they did to cause the voters of Scotland to spurn them. “It’s not me honey, it’s you,” was never a formula that was going to have much success in repairing a broken relationship, but it seems like it’s Labour’s best shot.
We had a Scottish Parliamentary election just a year ago. The question of a second independence referendum was easily the most dominant issue in that election campaign. No one in Scotland can have had any doubts about what it meant to cast a vote either for one of the pro-independence parties promising another referendum, or for one of the anti-independence parties opposed to another referendum.
The result of that election was abundantly clear, at least to everyone except Anas Sarwar and the Conservatives. The people of Scotland returned a Scottish Parliament with its largest ever pro-independence majority, and that despite a well funded and concerted campaign of tactical voting promoted by a shadowy anti-independence organisation. Yet here we are a year on and the Labour branch manager in Scotland is still telling us that he opposes another referendum and that Labour will side with the Conservatives in order to block it. In January the Labour party in Scotland dismissed as “fantasy” the suggestion that it might allow candidates to support a second independence referendum or independence itself. Sarwar has said that Labour candidates in May’s council elections ” must support the Union.” Labour has since allowed as candidates former senior members of the Orange Order and has ruled out any coalition deals with either the SNP or the Conservatives. Recently the Labour group leader in Glasgow Malcolm Cunning and the deputy leader of the Conservative group on the council were photographed together at an event hosted by the über-unionist frother organisation, “The Majority” which has called on the British Government to introduce legislation to outlaw “secession.”
“Come Home to Labour, we’re still fighting an election that we have already lost” might not be a particularly appealing slogan, but it’s a far more accurate one, as is “Come home to Labour so that we can continue to ignore you and cosy up to British nationalist howlers who want to abolish Scotland’s status as a nation with an inalienable right to decide its own future.”
It’s not just those of us who support independence who think that Labour’s position on a second independence referendum is untenable and undemocratic and unlikely to win back all those voters that Labour has lost to the SNP, voters that Labour needs to attract back if it is to begin to reverse its losses of the past few years. If you used to vote Labour – like I did – but stopped voting for them because of their opposition to independence and their dishonesty and deceit with Brown’s Vow and their subsequent decision to play devolution Jenga with the Smith Commission.
Roz Foyer, the Secretary General of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, this week spoke out against Anas Sarwar’s knee-jerk unionism and opposition to a second independence referendum saying that the party needed to “take a look at itself” over its opposition to something that the Scottish electorate has given the Scottish Parliament a very clear and unarguable mandate to deliver. Foyer challenged Labour to side with the people of Scotland and not with the Tories and noted that on the issue of another independence referendum there was a “policy difference” between the Labour party and the wider labour movement.
In an interview with the Record newspaper she said : “The Labour Party has to look very carefully at this. I think just rejecting the idea of a second indy referendum ever happening is not a viable way forward,” and added, “I think we have to engage to some extent with the constitutional debate and I think that we should be actively thinking about coming up with options for the future.”
If the polls are to be believed, Labour does have a very good chance of overtaking the Tories and once again becoming the second largest party in Scottish politics, but this is not because of any revival in Labour’s fortunes but because of a potential collapse in the Conservative vote due to widespread public revulsion about Boris Johnson’s serial lies and law breaking over “partygate” and the shameful way in which the Conservatives like Douglas Ross are continuing to debase themselves by trying to defend the indefensible and insulting our intelligence in the process.
It is a sign of just how woeful the Labour party has become that they still cannot significantly improve their position even when up against a Tory party led by a habitual liar and a lawbreaker who presides over a corrupt administration which has no respect for basic human decency. Instead the Labour party of Anas Sarwar wants Scotland to remain powerless to resist the Conservative assault on democratic standards and the rule of law.
Labour in Scotland are the co-dependents who enable the Conservatives’ attack on democracy. They will never recover electorally until the self-proclaimed people’s party actually starts to listen to the people, and more importantly to take what it has been told on board. So far, despite repeated electoral defeats, numerous “reviews” and promises that Labour is going to change, there is no sign that the Conservative enablers of Labour in Scotland is about to do that.
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