There’s currently a burning question in Scottish politics, although it’s not a question that gets any airtime in a Scottish media that’s obsessed with Nicola Sturgeon’s WhatsApp messages in a desperate attempt to create a political equivalence between the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic and that of Boris Johnson. So it’s not really a burning question at all. It’s more that the house is being burned down while the Scottish media obsesses about a misplaced trowel in the garden shed.
The question that ought to be burning but isn’t, is :What is the point of Keir Starmer’s Labour party? You’d think that a Scottish media which was so determined to ensure that Scotland remain a part of this so called Union would be eager to examine the precise details of the ‘change’ that Starmer purports to offer Scotland, but there is as much tumbleweed as there is about Alister Jack’s deleted WhatsApp messages, even though – unlike Nicola Sturgeon’s these do involve policy decision making.
However Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media has adopted a strategy of keeping Scotland a part of the UK by indulging itself in witch hunts against the Scottish Government while resolutely ignoring both anything positive that the Scottish Government does and anything negative done by parties which are allowed to maintain the fiction that their British nationalism isn’t a form of nationalism at all. We had a particularly egregious example of the former recently when BBC Scotland’s flagship evening news programme Reporting Fitba, Murrdurrs, Wee Cute Kittens, and SNPbad in quickly skipped over the news that the Scottish Government had successfully avoided any strikes by staff in NHS Scotland. The show had clearly been gearing up for wall to wall red white and blue pearl clutching in the expectation that NHS Scotland would suffer strikes, but when the expected strikes were avoided BBC Scotland was desperate to gloss over it and get on to the vital task of killing off Scottish neurons by waffling on about overpaid men ruining a perfectly good lawn and delivered the news that Scotland was the only part of Britain to avoid strikes in the NHS in under fifteen seconds.
So we should not be at all surprised that the Scottish press has given very little attention to Keir Starmer’s many U turns. Since the Labour party is currently the Scottish Unionist establishment’s great hope for being the Saviour of the Union, the Scottish media is not at all keen to examine the details of the Union that Keir Starmer’s Labour party is going to offer, it wouldn’t do at all to scare off any independence leaning voters who believe that the UK is in dire need of change by looking at precisely what changes a government led by Starmer is going to bring about. That’s because those ‘changes’ amount to very little of substance.
It seems that every day there’s another U turn as Starmer abandons any policy that’s vaguely left wing or progressive. Long gone are the promises to nationalise the rail, water and energy companies as are the previous commitments to end outsourcing in NHS England. Labour health spokesman Wes Streeting said he’d hold the door wide open to private sector involvement in the NHS in England. Starmer once promised to abolish the cruel and capricious Universal Credit introduced by the Tories. We are now told that a Labour government will introduce unspecified change to the benefits system but Starmer’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jon Ashworth said Labour agrees with the concept behind Universal Credit. The promise to abolish tuition fees is long gone, as is the original plan to expand childcare to all children. The promise to increase taxes on the top 5% of earners, that too has bitten the dust. Neither will there be a wealth tax or an increase in Corporation tax.
Just the other week we saw Starmer shred his previous commitment to ensure that Parliament approved any military action taken by the British armed forces when he gave his whole hearted support to the decision to bomb Yemen even though this was carried out without Parliament being informed, never mind its consent being sought. Starmer then tried to gaslight us by claiming that this promise had only ever applied to military boots on the ground. Just what other of his remaining promises have similar weasel word caveats attached to them that Starmer won’t reveal to us until after the fact?
That list of remaining promises is rapidly diminishing. Just a few days ago the much vaunted commitment to spend £28 billion annually on the green transition finally was axed after being repeatedly watered down.
Also axed was the plan announced to great fanfare by BBC Scotland when Gordie Broon’s long awaited constitutional review was published with a resounding “Meh”. Remember how we were breathlessly told that that insult to democracy the House of Lords was going to be abolished and replaced with an elected ‘House of the Nations and Regions’. Scotland didn’t need independence we were smugly informed, not only did we have the Scottish Parliament, we were also poised to have a powerful new voice in Westminster. Well colour us all unsurprised, that’s not going to happen either.
Now what we’re going to get a promise to legislate to abolish the 91 remaining hereditary peers, the remaining 692 appointed life peers will no doubt soon have their numbers boosted by new unelected appointees who are the beneficiaries of political patronage. It was only in December that Starmer insisted that the unelected chamber was “indefensible” and “undemocratic” and swore that his party would replace it with an Assembly of the Nations and Regions. Fast forward a couple of months and apparently it’s not that indefensible or undemocratic after all.
Even one of Tony Blair’s former advisers is exasperated with Starmer. John McTernan, a former senior adviser to Tony Blair has admitted to wondering “What is the point?” in response to the Labour Party under Keir Starmer.
When you’re too right wing even for the right wing of the Labour party under Tony Blair, then you are a Tory in all but name. The ‘change’ that Starmer promises is changing Rishi Sunak with him, nothing much else will change, certainly not the UK’s rampant inequality or the democratic deficit Scotland faces which was so starkly illustrated recently when a large majority of Scottish MPs voted in favour of Holyrood having the power to hold an independence referendum, supported by 57.5% of Scots, only to be voted down by MPs from outwith Scotland.
Starmer most likely will win the next general election but will then rapidly become very unpopular as millions of people look upon a Westminster system which is unwilling and incapable of change and ask themselves, “What is the point?”
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