The Professor of Angry

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By Mike Small

When Labour’s Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry tweeted her terrible tweet her leader was said to be “The Professor of Angry”. The bold Douglas Alexander was parachuted into explain ‘just how angry Ed was’. We were all suitably impressed that Ed could summons such feelings.

As the UKIP victory in Strood piles up the list of easy Yes predictions – the landscape for Labour seems to get more dire each day. Mark Reckless’s victory thrust The People’s Party into third place, with only 16% of the vote in a  seat they held until 2010. Now, as the details of Nicola Sturgeon’s land reform legislation lands on doormats and tables across the land from even the most reluctant printing presses, news too of a spitting angry Labour feud.

Jack McConnell, who seems to have been unleashed further by Labour’s terrible victory in September yesterday again went off-message:

As Gary Gibbons writes: “In the Lords he expressed bafflement at the Commission’s claim that its plans gave Holyrood 50 per cent of taxation powers. Lord McConnell said that the Commission was wrongly including the VAT funds being diverted to Scotland as a tax-raising power, when the tax level would still be decided in Westminster. He sounded like a man who thought that, though much of Labour might have felt it was at the outer levels of dangerous devolution, it was actually doing nothing like as much as it needed to on devolved powers.”

While over at the Independent Andrew Grice warns (‘Broken Britain): “Scottish MPs would be banned from voting on tax changes for the rest of the UK under sweeping plans to be outlined by David Cameron. The landmark change, which could prevent a future Labour government winning Commons approval for its own budget, would mirror changes proposed today to hand control of income tax bands and rates to the Scottish Parliament. Labour fears Mr Cameron’s move would create “two classes of MP” and put the 307-year Union at risk.

There were bitter recriminations in Labour’s ranks after Ed Miliband backed proposals from a cross-party commission chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, which also called for some welfare policies to be devolved to the Edinburgh parliament. Its historic report was seen as a step towards a federal UK but politicians were divided over whether the reforms would save the Union or lead to its eventual break-up.”

Indeed.

He continues: “Some Labour MPs expressed fears that the party leadership, in a desperate attempt to avoid a meltdown in Scotland at next May’s general election, had signed a “suicide note” that would neuter a future Labour government.” Before concluding quoting a Labour backbencher: “We have not thought through the implications. This will return to haunt us”.

This presents a big problem for the Professor of Angry and his new leader in Scotland (whether that be the far-right Mr Murphy, or the (allegedly) far-left Mr Findlay or the functional but anonymous Ms Boyack.)

The Smith Commission is an over-hyped farce, and a constitutional pig-sty. But more than that it has just dealt a death blow to an already terminally-ill Labour Party. At a stroke it has taken away any reason to vote Labour for those poor souls still stoteing about under the misapprehension that Labour means “more powers’ or that they will “save the union”. Well, in a sense, they have. Well done, but now what?

While the Smith Commission has laid out in stark relief what the Unionist rates really meant by “more powers” it’s going to be a simple task to describe them in the next two year, and at the next two elections as contradictory, inadequate and manipulative.

Not only that but this has been an education for the brighter No voter:

1. When they said “more powers” they meant not much more.

2. When they said the Smith Commission would be in charge, they didn’t really mean it.

As Gary Gibbons (again) reports: “At Tuesday’s cabinet, when Alistair Carmichael read out the plans taking shape at the Smith Commission table, one after another English Tory cabinet ministers challenged the plans and their implications for their brief and their department.

Theresa May was amongst them, George Osborne too. The Culture Secretary Sajid Javid even raised questions about a separate National Lottery for Scotland. But Iain Duncan Smith was said to have been the sharpest critic of what was being cooked up in Scotland, fearing that his entire Universal Credit fabric was being unravelled.

The draft conclusions were diluted in the last 48 hours much to the irritation of the Smith Commission members. “There was panic” in Whitehall according to one Smith Commission source.”

As English politics descends into a Bernard Manning sketch the gulf between Scottish and English political realities is widening daily, not because of us crazed Scottish nationalists, but because the Prime Minister is engaged in a death-spiral with his former MPs propping up UKIP. These bitter narrow seperatists will miss the irony, but we don’t.

 



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18 replies

  1. Your post about police surveillance will not open. Strange!!!

  2. It is beyond ironic that the main obstruction to social equality progress in Scotland is the British Labour party.
    No longer the party of social justice (certainly here in Scotland),just another Westminster slave to neoliberal ideology and the politically inspired austerity agenda.

  3. It is a feeble collection of stocking fillers. To listen to the MSM its bottled lightning. Its Vow Max! or so Nick Clegg would want us to believe. Cameron on the other hand is going to tie the power sauce that is VOW MAX to EVEL. This puts poor old labour with its mantra of pooling scotlands resources to mitigate the risks of a spastic UK economy in real peril. Just watch as he and Cameron use the threat of EVEL to diminish or completely do away with the Smith commission altogether. Watch is amused wonderment as Scottish labour drowns in its own bile.

  4. I read a lot of assumption from the pro-independence side (which I am on!) that “no” voters put any stock in The Vow or the Smith Commission. In my humble, however, the vote would have been “no” regardless of either. I don’t think it’s as interesting to the world at large as it is to us. Therefore other than playing the hand we’ve been dealt I don’t think we should get too excited about an angry response from the 55% of people who are probably more or less apathetic about the whole thing.

    The pressing need is, as it always was, to continue to persuade that 55% that we can run our own damn country without the earth cracking open beneath our feet. Land Reform is a much more interesting subject in that regard!

    • Your post seems to be a bit mixed up to me. What is it that you actually want ? You are not Pro Independence but you want to persuade the 55% (which includes you) that we can run our own country without the earth cracking beneath our feet etc ?

      • No. Deewal, he/she said they were on the pro-independence side.

        Ali, as for your comment “I don’t think it’s as interesting to the world at large as it is to us.” and while that may be true, and so? Did Ireland gain its independence caring what the world thought? Did the French? Did the Americans? No, because they were fighting for their own independence, not the rest of the world’s. However, the assumption itself, though it has merit, isn’t completely on the mark. The president of the United States commenting on the issue, the UK state working its teeth off to keep from Scotland gaining it through a referendum doesn’t exactly equate not caring. If what you mean by the world is non-state actors, civilians-then besides a few people in the UK, the Catalans and a few Scottish people spread all over the globe, then you are probable right. I don’t see how that matters. One should fight for what they believe in, not what others do.

        On the vow, the content of it was meaningless and I am still wondering why Yes groups didn’t analyse it deeper.

    • I agree Ali. I think that the Yes side has placed too much emphasis on the Vow since its inception. It was clearly created and published with great haste and lack of forethought, and would never have been given the go-ahead had it reached the Commons.

      I think it’s also a tad insulting to No voters to put words in their mouths about why they voted that way, as some pro-independence voices have done (I’m not suggesting that you did that, BTW). I know several No voters who voted No in the hope of preserving things as they were; in effect, a No vote for no change. I know others who voted No in the hope of attaining a new Scotland within a federal UK. Some were simply cynical about the SNP’s promises and didn’t believe what they were hearing.

      Apart from Yes voters like myself, who in defeat had hoped for the ‘substantial new powers’ that had been spoken of, I think it’s the federally-minded No voters who will be the most disappointed at the lacklustre recommendations of the Smith Commission. But even then, I don’t imagine that they’ll be that angry.

      Saying that, I’ve read anecdotal evidence of No voters regretting their decision (for all that’s worth), and the Smith Commission’s failings will hopefully play a small part in helping to change the minds of some of ‘the 55%’. As you said, hopefully a rigorous examination of land reform, and tackling inequality in Scotland will persuade them as well.

  5. Lord Smith described himself as ‘Santa’s Little Helper’. Which begs the question, ‘Who is Santa’? David Cameron or the Three Stooges? David Cameron yesterday stated that he was ‘very pleased’ with the Smith Report. That does not bode well for the people of Scotland. Anything Cameron approves is not, usually approved by Scots, nor in Scots’ interests.

    Also on the Smith Report, I do wish that the news media would report that the Smith Report is not enshrined in law but meaningless ‘recommendations’. Indeed the Smith Commission is a glorified ‘Suggestions Box’ altho’ the Daily Record would have us all believe the Smith Report was on a par with the USA’s ‘Declaration of Independence’!

    The ‘suggestions’ need to be voted on, by the new UK Govt (both Commons & the unelected Lords) which votes won’t take place, in either House, until after the UK GE, on 7th May 2015.

    There is no obligation on the new UK Govt to do anything at all about the Smith Report’s ‘suggestions’. Furthermore, there is set timetable on when the UK might implement any of the ‘suggestions’, assuming any suggestions are kept by Westminster.

    I attach a letter from Ed Balls, Michael Dugher and Chuka Umunna to the Chancellor, Secretary of State for Transport and Secretary of State for Business, on Air Passenger Duty, sent before the ink on the Smith Report had even dried:

    “Dear Chancellor, Secretary of State for Transport and Secretary of State for Business,
    We are writing to you regarding a specific issue that now arises following the conclusion of the Smith Commission on Scottish Devolution.
    All of our parties support the Smith Commission conclusions and its principle that implementation should “not cause detriment to the UK as a whole nor to any of its constituent parts.” and ”cause neither the UK Government nor the Scottish Government to gain or lose financially simply as a consequence of devolving a specific power”
    It is important that, in implementing the Smith recommendations in relation to Air Passenger Duty, this principle is upheld. This means ensuring that English Regional Airports are not disadvantaged.
    English Regional airports cannot be faced with continuing uncertainty and risk through not knowing whether they will be significantly disadvantaged should a future Scottish Government introduce changes to Air Passenger Duty.
    It is therefore imperative that the UK Treasury leads work across Government – and working with the Scottish Government – on a mechanism to ensure that English airports, particularly in the North of England, are not disadvantaged.
    We would be grateful for confirmation that this work is underway.
    Yours sincerely,
    Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor; Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary; Chuka Umunna MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary.”

    Ends

    And so it begins. As is easily deduced from the above letter, Air Passenger Duty will NEVER be devolved, as it is not in the interest of English regions, or more specifically, not in the interest of any rUK MP to allow this Smith ‘suggestion’ to become law.

    Westminster will undoubtedly apply this test to the whole of the Smith Report, in one guise or another, and, lo and behold, it will come to pass that most of the ‘suggestions’ will not be devolved apart from devolving income tax, as this will be in the interests of the Tories & UKIP, (as EVEL will then apply and hey presto, England is run by UKIP & Tories forever more!

    The Smith Commission ‘suggestions’ i.e. ‘devo-nano’, was predicted by the Independence Movement which is why 1.6 million voted YES. The 2 million NO voters now realise that they were sold a ‘pig in a poke’. There will be no federal state; no devo-max, as promised.

    That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news. Better Together have just had their one chance to show their integrity to Scotland’s people. Furthermore, there is plenty of time (five months) for the reality of this chicanery to sink in. in Scotland. Better Together now have nowhere to hide until the GE on 7 May 2015.

    Whatever the result of that election, the new UK govt only have one year to implement the Smith Report’s ‘suggestions’, until the Scottish Parliament Election on 5th May 2016. That means there are a whole 17 months for the banality of the Smith ‘suggestions’ to be proven to be worthless to Scotland.

    The independence seeking parties in Scotland, (SNP, Green, SSP, Labour For Independence), can all run on tickets stating, “A vote for us, means we will seek another Referendum for Independence”, or, more radically, “Vote for us, and we will declare UDI if we win”. If there is then a clear majority for these parties in 2016, we could be finally independent by 2017 or 2018 at the latest. As far as I can see, Westminster’s greed and panic have created the perfect political storm which will have only one endgame: a fully independent Scotland.

  6. Why don’t we just forget about the Vow that never was and concentrate on the May General Erection ?

    • Totally agree, we all know the vow ment and means nothing. Let’s “loose the dogs of (political) war” and send Westminster a message. We are not going back in the box, we are not happy with extra secretarial duties, we will be pushing for self governance and independence.

  7. If the Scottish Parliament is to become a “powerhouse” by having only 30% control over its tax base then why don’t Cameron, Miliband and Clegg recommend that the UK grant likewise within the EU?

    This could transform Westminster into a “powerhouse” within the EU and nip the UKIP threat in the bud. Imagine the position of strength that Cameron would have over F’Arage – the UK *only* giving 70% control of its tax base to the EU! Surely Cameron could sell that?

  8. Ed Miliband, professor of angry…..shaking in my size 12 boots…..not.

  9. when the various parties stood up one by one and said their bit, i got the impression that Maggie Chapman was genuinely disappointed, John Swinney was trying to hide his happiness, Iain Gray looked devastated, Annabel Goldie was pleased and Moore didn’t understand what was going on. I now think that some labour MSPs are going to come out as independent candidates backing pro-independence.

  10. The Referendum was a significant advance in the campaign for Independence. We gained ground, we convinced many people of the potential benefits of being a nation.
    The present stage is about holding those gains and consolidating the ground won.
    Next May we advance again.
    The important thing is to keep going. It is not about politics directly but about having control in order to build a fairer society.

    Remember those hardy souls 50 years ago trying to get enough votes in the half dozen seat fought to save the deposit. A few of them are still around and I remember on the night of the count when I was very “down” one said “this is the closest we have come yet”.

    Keep going for a better, fairer Scotland even if you don’t see it. All progress is built on the foundation laid by others.

  11. Nice article Mike, thanks.

    Just want to ask, what exactly was so terrible with Emily Thornberry’s tweet ?

    She posted a photo of a house with England flags on public display for all to see and put the caption ‘Image from Rochester’ to it.

    Am I missing something ? Was there another tweet saying something outrageous ?

    Maybe someone can point it out to me because just now, I seem to be the only person in the whole of the UK trying to work out exactly what is so insulting about it ?

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