Starmer, leader of the City of London party, and a new first minister for Scotland

The Labour party loves to claim that it speaks for the ordinary working people of Scotland. Like so much that issues from the centre-right British nationalist flag fetishising party of Keir Starmer that claim is a shameful barefaced lie. Under Starmer the Labour party is interested only in articulating policies which will appeal to the two key groups whom Starmer wishes to court in order to secure his path to Downing Street. Those groups are former Conservative voters in England and the boards of businesses in the City of London.

According to a report in The Guardian, Starmer has created a ‘business engagement team’ tasked with wooing business leaders and ensuring that Labour party policies are in tune with the tastes of business leaders who award themselves bloated salaries even as they squeeze workers’ pay and conditions and indulge in shamelessly immoral practices such as classifying full time workers as ‘self-employed’ or the revolting policy of ‘fire and rehire’ which circumvents workers attaining full employment rights such as full entitlement to holiday and sick leave and the right to compensation for redundancy. Very often employers fire workers before they accrue such rights only to offer them a new contract on less favourable terms.

The team is headed by Starmer himself along with his shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, and shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting. The group is referred to by one corporate lobbyist as “the big four”. “They’re everywhere,” the lobbyist told The Guardian. By ‘everywhere’ the lobbyist meant City boardrooms, not union headquarters or hard pressed and impoverished communities. They’re not ‘everywhere’.

One of the most insidious myths of the Tory approach to employment law is the pretence that a job contract is a contract between two parties with equal bargaining power. That very far from the truth. The employer has far more power than the employee, that is why strong unions and collective bargaining are vital in order to maintain and improve upon the hard won workers’ rights that working people do enjoy. However Keir Starmer will not undo all the anti-union legislation introduced by the Tories in recent years, not when he clearly intends to head a government that operates hand in glove with the bosses.

Central to Starmer’s plans is a £7.3bn national wealth fund, which is being designed with help from a finance industry taskforce that includes the former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, the chief executive of Barclays, CS Venkatakrishnan and Aviva’s CEO Amanda Blanc. The plan looks suspiciously similar to Tony Blair’s public-private partnership wheeze, which lumbered the public sector with massive and often unsustainable debt while private companies reaped huge profits at the expense of the taxpayer. No wonder the City of London is so eager to cosy up to Starmer. They’re looking back to the Blair era and telling themselves “Tonight We’re going to party like it’s 1999”.

Scotland can choose a different path from the cruel and corrupt chaos of the Tories or the underhand deceit of a Labour party which betrays its own name and history by being the party of the bosses.

In today’s news, Scotland has a new first minister who has taken office with a minimum of fuss and drama, much to the evident disappointment of BBC Scotland which was clearly gearing up for a three week long contest providing James Cook with the opportunity to pop up nightly on our TV screens and eagerly tell us how divided the SNP is.

Following on from the decisions of erstwhile SNP leadership contenders Kate Forbes and party stalwart Graeme McCormick to drop their campaigns and get behind John Swinney, his path to Bute House was assured. There were dark mutterings from some of the usual conspiracy theorising figures on social media about what Graeme McCormick had been threatened with in order to get him to drop his campaign. I can tell you exactly what he was threatened with, he was threatened with the prospect of a majority Labour government.

In order to become first minister a party’s nomination must win a vote of MSPs in Holyrood. As well as John Swinney for the SNP, the Better Together parties all put forward their own nominations. The votes each received were fairly predictable, their own parties voted for them. For the Lib Dems Alex Cole-Hamilton received just four votes Tory Douglas Ross got 31 Labour’s Anas Sarwar got 22 while John Swinney was the clear winner with 64. There were 7 abstentions. This appears to suggest that Alba’s Ash Regan did not vote with Labour and the Tories this time. There are only 63 SNP MSPs making John Swinney the only nomination who won any votes from outwith his own party.

Alex Cole-Hamilton offering himself as First Minister feels a bit like a disabled guy like me offering to stand in for Andy Murray at Wimbledon. I reckon I’ve got a slightly greater chance to be honest. I’d also have a better chance of becoming first minister. But there is one area in which Alex Cole-Hamilton truly excels and stands head and shoulders above every other MSP, and that’s in the size of his ego. Astronomers have identified it as the fifth gas giant in our solar system.

Fun fact … John Swinney is Scotland’s 7th first minister in 25 years. England has had 5 prime ministers in 8 years. The Tories are the real party of chaos and division.

Following his election John Swinney shook hands with all of the opposition party leaders in the chamber after calling for politicians to look beyond differences on independence and work together. He asked: “Does our disagreement on the constitution prevent us from working collaboratively within the existing powers of the Parliament to eradicate child poverty, build the economy, support jobs, address the cost of living crisis, improve the health service and tackle the climate crisis?” The new First Minister added: “I will give all of my energy and my willingness to engage and listen to ensure that that is not the case and invite others to do the same.”

However if you’re Douglas Ross or Anas Sarwar the answer to that question is sadly, yes, and then they’ll go on to rail about how divisive the SNP is. Labour is the party of the so-called Bain principle, or more correctly the Bain lack of principle which means that Labour will not support any motion in the House of Commons if it has been proposed by the SNP – even if it’s about something Labour ostensibly supports.

John Swinney is a deeply conscientious, caring and committed politician who I have no doubt is the right person to take both the SNP and Scotland forward and to reunite his party and the wider independence movement. We’re going to need that unity and strength of purpose in the months ahead.


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