56 + 1 + 1 + 1 =?; no its not some arcane formula for the timing of the end of the world as we know it, though according to a few commentators it’s pretty close. In case you missed it, it is the general election result in Scotland; 56 SNP MPs, and 1 each from Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. These singletons are the rump end of what purports to be a multi party democracy. Their legitimacy in Scotland is so totally non-existent that Westminster could see itself and a purely English Parliament. Whatever your views on Scottish independence these three parties will have to seriously consider another way of doing things if they are not to be wiped out in the Scottish Parliament elections next year.
The follies of the Labour campaign in Scotland are legion. And they look like they have buried their collective heads in the sand with a business as usual stance. For example; love or loath him, Jim Murphy should not remain as leader, he was roundly trounced both in his own constituency and in the wider election. He is branded now as “loser” and has nowhere to go.
Murphy’s problems started way back in September when he abandoned his speaking tour after he was “egged” during the “Better Together” campaign. Never the most charismatic of politicians he could have done himself a power of good if he had adopted the John Prescott attitude and thumped the guy. Scots appreciate a scrapper.
But Murphy is not the only reason for Labours demise in Scotland, as I have said before it is the party’s attitude to Scotland and the Scottish Parliament which wrought their downfall. They are in a deep pit of their own making and climbing out of it needs radical thinking; more of the same simply will not do.
- Throughout the election Labour did not present a challenge to the prevailing austerity paradigm, it should do. Not all economists are “free market – low tax” gurus. Try a little Stiglitz. Nor do all bankers get it right as we all know to our cost. It is clear to me from the campaign that the economic argument was very one sided. It was centred on discussion of the cost of everything with no mention of its value.
- Devolution played a huge role in England allowing the Conservatives in particular to play up the greedy Scots, benefit junkies’ argument. Labour said little to counteract this fallacy north or south of the border. The Labour Party trumpet that one of their founder members Keir Hardy was a fierce proponent of home rule and they delivered, but they seem to have abandoned any notion of a serious and radical change to the way the UK is governed.
- They like to portray themselves as the party which delivered the Scottish Parliament but then they abandoned it for others to make hay with. Indeed Tony Blair likened the Scottish Parliament to a Parish Council, hardly what Keir Hardy had in mind.
- Now is the time for Labour to embrace a complete rehash of our democracy. Proportional representation at all levels, the House of Lords fully democratic and not based in London. Regional Parliaments with real powers to replace the moribund county system in England (I lived and worked in England for 20 years; the counties really are dreadful).
- No selling off of bank shares; we own them the country should take its due share of dividends. Consider a carbon tax and no subsides for nuclear power. Trident must go, it is useless, expensive and definitely doesn’t do what is says on the tin, (even Michael Portillo agrees).
There are many more things for Labour to think about. The Lib Dems and the Tories also have “Scottish troubles” this will be the subject of my next blog.