There are times, many of them indeed, when it is easy to slip into a pit of despondency. Such times may be brought on by, amongst other things, occasions when the moribund Labour party admits that policy centres on opposing each and every proposal made by the Nationalists, no matter the merits of that proposal, on the principle that a nationalist proposal cannot be a good one. To get good government we need good opposition. Labour, particularly in Scotland, can often show a quite remarkable tendency to wishing to be neither.
This state of affairs stems, it seems, not from the membership but from the leadership, north and south of the border. Having delivered devolution round these isles Labour then seem intent on insulting that process by putting the B team, the C team even, up as candidates for the devolved houses, seeing the big prize, always, as a Westminster seat. It is a situation that often puzzles me, given that those in Westminster then can have no input in many of the matters that directly affect their constituents – health, transport, education etc – whilst continuing to contribute towards decisons on the same matters for constituencies elsewhere to which they have no responsibility.
Of late, as the question of further devolution, the prospects of full fiscal autonomy, independence even, come to the fore, we have had the view of all London-based parties being, as a matter of principle, opposed to what they term as ‘separation’. A better position may be to consider how best they can serve their supporters in the event that independence becomes a reality. But instead they prefer to take the stance of doing their utmost to ensure that it never does. But, where then does that leave them should the people decide otherwise? There was a hint, in the aftermath of the crushing defeat they took at the Holyrood election last year, that such tactics may be worth a thought or three. I recall a speech from wee Dougie Alexander at Stirling that dropped heavy hints in that direction. But since then he seems to have been told how the party will operate and such thoughts consigned to the dark.
But their is a glimmer of light. I read recently of a move by Labour members, the foot-soldiers, the ordinary people, fed up with the policy from above, suggesting that Independence may indeed be the way forward, and the best way for Labour to wrest control again over the people of Scotland. Now whilst the thought of good government being guided by the likes of the current Scottish Leader, and the coterie making up the apparatchiks’ current presence in Holyrood is not one to allow me to rest easy knowing that children and grandchildren are in the best hands, the principle brings new found hope.
I will spare you a direct link to LabourForIndy, but the usual search engines will get you there – on reflection one click will get you there. I first came across this development a few days ago, with an excellent article on Newsnet, which seems now to have disappeared, though there remains an article on the subject questioning the role of our beloved state-funded broadcaster in ignoring the story that even hit the front pages of the labour-loving written press. It seems that the founder of the movement is not alone amongst members of his chosen party, if hits on the website and facebook following is anything to go by, and that gives me hope.
What many people seem to forget is that the prospect of Independence is not government for ever more by the SNP, but simply the right of Scotland to make her own decisions in the best interests of her people. There is nothing to stop any of the London-based parties from forming that government, provided of course they are able to put the right candidates in front of the people and have the sort of policies that the people want to see implemented. Any colour is better than Westminster rule, though some make me shudder. We live or die on the strength of our finances and our own decisions. If there is a move within Labour to go along with that then so much the better. Though the retort that such a proposal should be brought to conference for debate and decision brings despair back to mind.
At the moment Labour’s preference for Scotland is Tory rule from Westminster. It doesn’t have to be that way and finally some of their members are voicing their views. It remains to be seen how it all pans out, but with the likes of Allen Grogan around, there is indeed hope. Discussions have already taken place with Blair Jenkins, head of the Yes Scotland campaign. That movement grows by the day, with the coprotate structure and board taking shape. Bringing Indy for Labour, amongst others, into the debate is a huge step forward for the cross-party campaign group. I look forward to more of the same.
As an update, this article at Scottish Times, tells us exactly what Labour supporters make of their party in Scotland – and it’s not good reading, for Labour, but adds to the Hope for me.