Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why (x) Means That We Should Support My Politics - Part Two

And so to Scotland, where Tony Blair is probably right to say that Labour, or anyone else for that matter, will never win the electorate back by being "more Scottish" or "more left".

The ludicrous irony is that in many ways*, Labour are "more left" than the Nats and my new Scottish National Party MP is an Australian.  Seriously, she once had a bit-part in Home & Away

Nonetheless, this is irrelevant.  It makes no difference at all whether e.g. the few actually redistributionist measures in the SNP manifesto were copied and pasted from the Labour one.

What matters here is that the SNP have retained the entire 45% of those who voted Yes in the referendum, and added to them.  Barring a series of catastrophic SNP mistakes, they're never coming back to the parties that they once voted for.  Once Scottish voters decide that they fancy independence, it's almost impossible to convince them otherwise. 

The brief explanation for all this is that most of the Scottish electorate have finally tired of waiting for the Labour/Lib Dem/Whatever Parties that they've always wanted, and have decided instead that they can make a better fist of it themselves.  Possibly, the surprising thing here is that it took this long to happen.

God knows, I find their patter annoying, but I urge anyone who can to speak to the new SNP voters and to ask them why they think the Nationalists are a good choice.

None of them are much arsed about e.g. Ed Miliband, but almost all of them will raise the Iraq War and the various porkies it was sold with; Labour's intense relaxation about the filthy rich, and the party's craven fellation of Tory/Ukip voters throughout England.

They believe that they'll never, ever get the policies that they want, if they have to wait around for Labour or any other UK party to deliver them.

Even I think they're right about this** but really, it makes no difference whether they're right or wrong.  They believe it and they're going to continue voting like they believe it, for decades at least. 

And it's not like this has snuck up on us unexpectedly, but it looks like it still needs spelling out.  If Labour members want the current political situation up here summarised in one sentence, it goes like this:   

The New Labour project has just cost you Scotland, your most reliable core support, probably forever.  

Which is precisely why Tony Blair and his ilk should all drink a tall glass of shut-the-fuck-up right about now, rather than offering us their views on how best to win back voters north of the Border.

Because none of this is news - all of this is exactly what Yes voters were telling pollsters last year, and what they said consistently right up until election day.  And as best I can tell, few of the other parties seem to have believed that it was actually true.

And it showed, this last couple of months.  It's difficult to overstate the shambolic nature of Scottish Labour's campaign, but you can get an insight here.  The first big point to note is that its leader Jim Murphy started out with the criminally insane strategy of trying to out-Scottish the Scottish National Party.

In short, this amounted to wandering around making a big song and dance about representing the interests of the Scottish people of Scotland and the Scottish services that Scottish people wanted to see in Scotland and Scotland and Scotland.

And - amazingly, astoundingly! - it turned out that none of the new SNP voters wanted to buy Jim Murphy's low-alcohol lager version of what they could get tastier and sexier by doing Jagermeister shots round at Nicola Sturgeon's house.

This is, in part, because Jim Murphy is almost the perfect avatar of the New Labour machine.  Watching him work is like a chapter from a second-rate Neil Gaiman novel, in which somebody crams the abstract concept of Insincerity into a grey suit, pins a red rosette on it and has it wander the streets shaking hands and smiling like a hungry velociraptor.

Never mind failing to connect with voters, or getting across the message that you're all Scottish, eh no.  Murphy seemed to struggle with the basic task of impersonating an actual real human being.

But to repeat myself, the larger problem is this.  These SNP voters don't want Labour or anyone else to come up with new ways to defend Scottish public services.  They don't want "a new relationship with the UK".

What they want is for those parties to fuck off

Scotland already has a nationalist party.  If voters are telling you that they want an independent Scotland and you have no intention of giving them that, then why in the name of sanity would you think that they'll prefer your jibber-jabber to a party that actually will try to deliver them what they want?

Labour, the Lib Dems et al see Scotland as just one part of the United Kingdom.  They find the idea that someone in Edinburgh obviously has more interests in common with, say, an Aberdonian than they do with another person who lives 45 miles away in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, absolutely ridiculous.

And that's fine!  It is fucking ridiculous!  But if you want anyone to even half-respect you for saying so, you can't also lard it up with a lot of argle-bargle about how you're totally going to stick up for Scotland against the party that you yourself are campaigning on behalf of.

50% of the electorate is obviously unassailable, so it's going to be a long, long time before anyone else wins a major election in Scotland.  In the main, this is because most of the country believes that the non-nationalist parties are a shower of liars and frauds.

The best way to change this situation is to stop pandering by telling voters what you think they want to hear, and to start telling them what you actually think***.

The other option is to dig in your heels and stand around repeating yourself, hoping that your foes will eventually crush themselves under the weight of their own considerable contradictions.  Good luck with that strategy, folks.


*Although in some other ways, they definitely aren't, depending on how we're defining "left".

**I also think they're entirely wrong that throwing their lot in with the SNP will get them the better, more humane country that they want and have said so repeatedly, but it doesn't matter shit what I think about it.

***Step one, to be taken immediately, today - for the love of Christ, fire Jim Murphy.  Labour doesn't need to give Murphy more time to recalibrate his message.  It needs to give him a bottle of whisky and a revolver.


gregorach said...

Problem is, Labour have now spent so long triangulating and trying to craft their message and so on that they no longer have any idea what it is they believe, or if they even believe anything at all. They want to win elections. That's all that's left of them. Anybody with any actual beliefs other than "we should do whatever it takes to win elections" has either left, given up, or been effectively neutralised by the party machinery. That's how they ended up with Murphy in the first place. Let's not forget that the party hierarchy, the press, and many of their remaining supporters were absolutely convinced that it was a spiffing idea that would bring their lost sheep back in droves, when it was perfectly obvious to anybody actually living in (or even near) the real world that it was the worst possible choice they could have made.

Anonymous said...

Well said. About the only reason I can think of for keeping Jim Murphy in the role for now is that he can't do much damage without a seat, and it gives more time for the party to assess whether Kezia Dugdale is up to the job, as she is to all intents and purposes their leader just now - rather than appointing her now, then ditching her a year later...

organic cheeseboard said...

you're spot on here about New Labour.

Just to add, continuing what I was saying on the other post, that this again demonstrates the incoherence and ultimate stupidity of Blairism. Jim Murphy is a Blairite ffs, perhaps, alongisde tony, the clearest incarnation of Blairism - inage-obsessed, no actual beliefs, mad for bombing everyone, more friends onthe right than left. And he didn't run the centrist campaign that suddenly all Blairites supposedly wanted in secret. He ran a pisspoor 'out-Scottish the SNP' campaign as you say. If Blairism is all about winning, it doesn't half attract some real losers.

flyingrodent said...

If Blairism is all about winning, it doesn't half attract some real losers.

It's a pretty incredible sight, alright. Just to elaborate on a theme or two here -

One of the reasons why it's really, really difficult to convince people that the SNP are a bit of a bad joke, basically committed to making a lot of meaningless noise and grabbing independence in whatever form they can get it, is that people respond by saying - well, who should we vote for then?

And in the terms in which the question is asked, it's not easy to offer a convincingly solid answer.

Their basic point is that there's no point in voting for Labour to look after their interests. Most of these people have backed Labour all their lives and they feel they don't have much to show for it - a lot of wonkish, triangulating horseshit that always somehow amounts to: Sure, we acted like right-wing Tories on this and totally surrendered on that, but there's no alternative.

What, would you rather have the Tories?

And this only works for so long. Sooner or later, people are going to wonder what the point is in hiring a bodyguard who stands aside at the first sign of trouble and says sorry, but his contract doesn't cover mugging or theft.

I think the difference, as far as the new SNP voters are concerned, is that Labour might be bigger and glitzier, but they'll back down at the first opportunity they get.

Meanwhile, the SNP, for all their various faults, will actually fight, even if it amounts to nothing more than shouting and throwing rocks.

It doesn't really even matter whether that's true or not, so there's not really any point in the Blairites arguing against the Scottish electorate on this. They believe it, and that's that - Labour have a Herculean task on their, just trying to convince them that it might not be so.

And now, all these posing Blairites step into the middle of this perfect shitstorm, without the first fucking clue what they're talking about, and announce that the public don't trust Labour because they're not "aspirational" enough.

Not aspirational enough! This is like Craig Whyte rocking up at Ibrox again and telling Rangers that what they really need to do, is to take on 200 million quid in debt.

I don't know, maybe the Blairites know England and Wales a lot better than I do, and they're right. Maybe down south, everyone's lusting for all that good, tasty centrist self-improvement that David Miliband is talking about.

Up here, however, I can think of few things that would raise the Labour Party's profile higher than Tony Blair issuing a humble, heartfelt apology, and then chucking himself off a bridge.

redpesto said...

Jim Murphy "shaking hands and smiling like a hungry velociraptor"

...and I thought I was he only one who noticed the reasemblance.

Anonymous said...

I can't quite agree with your criticism of those who claim that much of Labour's failure in the election was down to the fact that it wasn't "aspirational" enough.

I mean, who could be more "aspirational" than the SNP? And it certainly worked for them.

organic cheeseboard said...

I think that the Blairite 'aspiration' is code for 'focus everything on the desires of innately small-c conservative voters in marginal English seats, whose tastes really make them Tories but who can be swayed by a bit of scaremongering/bribery'. And it worked under Blair - and in fact it's more or less worked under Cameron, up to a point (for a 'winner' he's not half made hard work of winning, and I still maintain he won't actually be able to get much done once the honeymoon is over).

Problem is for Blairites that there's no way this would have won Labour the 2015 election because as you say it relied on Scotland and everyone else in the 'Labour heartlands' not having an alternative. It might have prevented the Tories getting a majority, possibly by gaining a few swing midlands seats, but it wouldn't have actually won it for Labour this time around - the numbers don't add up.

dsquared said...

Most of these people have backed Labour all their lives and they feel they don't have much to show for it

A purist might say that the Holyrood Parliament is not literally fuck-all.

flyingrodent said...

A purist might say that the Holyrood Parliament is not literally fuck-all.

A purist would be right and e.g. the minimum wage or the HRA aren't zero benefit either. I don't recall much of this coming up in the Scottish leaders' debates, oddly.

Still, I'm just reading the news here. It doesn't ultimately matter whether the new Nat voters are right or wrong at this point, and trust me - I've tried to convince a good number of them that they're wrong. I'd say that it does matter quite a lot that the ones that I've spoken to, IRL and online, were very, very hard to even sway, let alone convince.