Will Scotland get no credit for a new politics?

08_snp_g_wBy Robin McAlpine

Well that was fun (and simultaneously awful).

I’m trying and failing to find the final turnout figures in Scotland. When I crashed out at half five it was looking like the turnout was heading for over 70 per cent. By that time I was getting frustrated that no-one on the BBC had mentioned the new voters. If you looked at the change in votes, again and again the rise in the SNP vote was bigger than the fall in the vote of the other parties. Scotland has discovered something like five or ten per cent of its citizens who didn’t use to vote but now do. And they massively, overwhelmingly vote SNP. The profile of these voters is generally younger, poorer, more disenfranchised. We have created a politics in this country that has reconnected with the people of the country. And here I really do mean ‘we’ because the whole Yes movement and the Scottish Greens have played an extremely important part in creating that politics.

This is not a stupid politics. It’s not a cheap, ‘populist’ politics. It is a politics which has actively encouraged people to talk and think about their society, their future. I have been looking at the correspondence between my poor, disheartened friends in the UK left. Almost all of them recognise what has happened in Scotland and write in what are really slightly awed tones about what we have achieved. So what chance that this is going to be part of the general narrative? Will the Scottish media and the commentator class let people understand the democratic revolution behind these results? Or rather will they simply obsess about whether Nicola got her strategy right and Jim got his wrong? Will it all be presented as a mindless hangover from the referendum? Here is a way to judge. Every time someone says that the SNP achieve a popular politics, they are right. Politics should be popular, something people like and care about. Every time someone says that it was a ‘populist’ politics (cheap and divisive), they are wrong. (I come back to this paragraph because there’s Murphy on the TV saying it was not about left and right but about nationalism and populism. Hell’s teeth Jim, did no-one have a word with you through the night?)

Don’t say this isn’t about class

I’m already hearing some Labour people suggesting that this is the end of class politics in Scotland. The argument is that nationalism has replaced class as the driving force of Scottish politics. But here’s the thing; if that was the case then you wouldn’t expect to see such a close mapping between the size and nature of the swing from Labour to the SNP and the class profile of the seats where those swings were biggest. Put simply, SNP won biggest and most impressively wherever class politics are strongest. So could Labour perhaps at least consider that this is the most class politics-driven election since the 1980s? And should they not dwell on the possibility that they lost Scotland because they gave up on class politics in the Blair years? It very clearly wasn’t only about class – the SNP was winning everywhere. But to miss just how much this election in Scotland was about the reemergence of social class as a major factor would be a mistake. The most encouraging thing is that the SNP seems (for now) to have managed to weld class politics to more middle-class progressive politics and even beyond. It wasn’t divisive class politics but inclusive class politics. This is the challenge which Labour across the UK has so woefully failed to meet.

How out of touch can our media be?

The last time I wrote for Bella with only a couple of hours sleep and eyes jammed open with matchsticks was the day after the referendum. In that piece I wrote that the next target was to work to force Labour out of working class Scotland. A journalist for a Sunday newspaper picked up my comments and retweeted them with his usual contempt – ‘Aye, right’ was his considered assessment of the direction of travel of Scottish politics.

A couple of weeks later a Scottish journalist for a UK title called me and asked me to comment on ‘scientific evidence’ he had that proved the absolutely best outcome the SNP could possibly achieve was to take a maximum of three seats from Labour. At the time I was guessing that the SNP might take between 25 and 30 seats. He was vitriolic in telling me I was being idiotic. During the campaign I was on TV with a England-based New Labour insider, interviewed by a leading London-based broadcaster. After the interview we chatted. They were absolutely sure they knew what had gone wrong and it was all about a failure of PR during the Jack McConnell years and the need for more Westminster Labour politicians to have come to Scotland. Just that. Last night I spent a couple of hours in the BBC Green Room. It was bustling with what the TV studios select to be the political insiders. Which means I was in a room full of Lib Dem, Tory and Labour staffers (along with others). They don’t seem that much like insiders this morning – but then they really weren’t on the inside of what was happening in Scottish politics last week either. I have come to the conclusion that there are now few journalists working in Scotland that have either a proper understanding of Scotland as a nation and a political entity or who have the contacts to find out.

Labour is more lost that we understood

As I write this Pauline McNeil is on the TV talking some real sense. To his credit Ian Davidson said very similar things last night. But ten minutes ago Jim Murphy was on spitting out the same self-serving crap about the SNP being right-wing populist nationalists and that only he, Jim Murphy, has a conscience in Scottish politics.

In comparison with the dignity that Ed Milliband, Douglas Alexander, Nick Clegg and many others have lost, Jim is still Mister Angry howling at the moon while stressing every sinew in his body to try and give you the impression he’s not about to murder you. I wrote a Bella piece when he was elected. I tried to suggest that Jim Murphy is a liability to the Labour Party and they’d come to regret it when he is found out. No, it shouldn’t be about personality politics – but Labour has just run the most personality-focussed campaign I can ever remember (all those ‘halo’ pictures of Jim were simply ridiculous). He failed massively. But so has Labour. Both Pauline McNeil and Ian Davidson said that Labour needs to work out what it’s for. Were the party to reshape itself heeding these voices it might stand a chance. But switch channels and there are all the London Blairites (and Jack McConnel for goodness sake) saying quite the opposite.

Labour is a total mess in England and is a total mess in Scotland. And it seems like both parts of the same body are about to take different medicines for the same ailment. It really could kill them.

We’re not citizens of the UK, we’re caricatures

I’ve heard some more decent sense from less likely sources this morning. John Reid may be one of the Blairites ready to drag Labour to the right but he is treating this result with proper respect and calling for London to recognise and respect what Scotland has chosen. Last night, in a performance I can only assume she will come to regret, Catherine Stihler blamed the SNP for Labour’s loss in England (which means she blamed Scottish voters for Labour’s English failure). Murphy, tragically, is flogging the line unaware that he’s a finished (it’s like watching Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense – someone tell him he is dead). There are English commentators who seem perfectly happy just to talk about the ‘clash of nationalisms’ – which will save them learning anything about Scotland. On the other side, the Tories and their London-based, Pravda-shaming propaganda sheets/newspapers have been happy to treat Scots as the enemy within for months and months now. So that’s where we’ve got to – we’re not citizens but caricatures. Our purpose is not to be part of a nation but to be used and abused for propaganda purposes. And so the cycle continues with England punishing Scotland because Scotland is unhappy about their last punishment. And so on. Which means for the first time I am not sure we’ll need to wait until 2020 to win a referendum. I still think that 2020 or 2021 is the timescale most likely not only to have another referendum but to win one. But the dynamics of Britain now may propel us out before then. With the wild-eyed Tory backbenchers now the real kingmakers in Britain we should remember that many of them are really English nationalists and not unionists at all. Most of them probably secretly would be delighted if Scotland just went away and gave them a built-in majority in England. I feel genuinely sorry for truly committed unionists like Rory Stewart. I suspect their time has passed. Pushed out, out by our own hand or thrown out by the centripetal force of a rightward lurch in England. Whatever. Britain is over.

We have to help England

It pains me to contrast the jubilation up here in Scotland with the desolation of my friends on the English left.

I quake to think what the Tories may do over the next few years – kill the BBC? Privatise the rest of the NHS? Scrap human rights? Shove TTIP so far up us all our eyes water? It’s awful. I have never so much wanted anyone so bloody mediocre to win as I did with Milliband. I was in the pub with friends on Sunday when they showed me pictures of the big stone tablet. I refused to believe it. It had to be a spoof. Had to be.

After 15 minutes they’d pretty-well proved it. I could only assume that he’d changed his mind and didn’t want to be PM. And still I was desperate to see Cameron gone. It is not only Labour that is lost south of the Border, the Tories are pretty lost too. In fact, politics in England are lost. We have just sat through the most inane election in history – overseas commentators are aghast at the idiocy of the issues we debate and how we debate them. The people of England deserve better. I cannot stress enough; the whole Yes campaign should be emailing the English left today offering to do anything we can to help them learn from the experience of what has happened in Scotland. I don’t mean to be patronising, I just desperately want to be that good neighbour we said we wanted to be. Be delighted but don’t be smug. Working people in England will go hungry and be cold because of the policies of the government that England has selected. It is our duty to do anything we can as individuals, or as part of the political parties and movements we are part of. What should they do? I have many thoughts and there are many thoughts flying around today on UK progressive networks. Working together is the real spirit of solidarity we talked about in the referendum. Now is the time.

SNP, live up to your triumph

I started to write down the names of some of the wonderful people who were elected last night and had to delete them – when you start it becomes hard to stop (though a special mention for Common Weal Board Members Tommy Sheppard and Philippa Whitford…). One of the most remarkable things was just the range of talent and experience that new cohort has – I was listening out last night and as far as I could hear only one or two of the new MPs had been party staffers. In contemporary UK politics that is surprising in itself.

The SNP is going to be awash with money and goodwill too. The problem is that it doesn’t look like there is going to be all that much they can do other than fight. So I hope that much of that talent turns its eye to things beyond just Westminster. Because the real challenge is now 2016 to 2020 in Scotland. The SNP will surely be in the government (though if what I hear is even nearly right I expect the Greens to pick up an enormous number of second votes and could be a very major player in Holyrood). Monumental moments like this are like a fork in the path ahead of you.

You can take that mood, that desire for change and be Tony Blair – squander it. Or you can take that mood, that expectation and be Clement Atlee – live up to it. In truth the SNP manifesto for Westminster seemed pitched to be almost exactly ten per cent better than Labour’s – enough to send out a clear message, not so much that it involved any risks. That is not enough for the Holyrood election. Scotland wants deep and far-reaching change. The SNP has everything it needs to achieve that change. If it does, Scotland will choose to be independent. And when that morning comes and I am writing something again with matchsticks in my eyes and a voice hoarse from cheering, I will be writing not about a country I’m proud of which has become independent but about a country I am proud of because of how it transformed the lives of its people and how those people chose their own future.

My old gaffer used to give us a bottle of champagne for Christmas. Being an old Presbyterian Scot I keep saving them for a special occasion. Weddings have come and gone. Birthdays. New jobs. A new baby. I never get round to opening them. I’m hunting one out right now and it’s going in the fridge. It’s going to be a great weekend. But hell, there’s a lot to do on Monday.

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65 replies

  1. Hamish Henderson said, “The non-genuine person finds it impossible to believe that the genuine exists”.

    I think some effect like this surely must be behind the bloody-minded determination of so many, pundits, commentators, “insiders” & news-hounds to mis-understand what is going on in Scotland.

    I stand in front of the mirror of my county’s media; a decent, honest, kind & fair, soft hearted middle aged man, working to carve a route to some measure of decency & fairness in my society (including the UK) and a flag obsessed, drooling, starry eyed, “fascist” zealot is reflected back.

    • I’ve not seen this better expressed. Wonderfully put.
      Thank you.

    • Pleased to see that HH quote being applied. In a comment on Dougald Hine’s post, I reflected on the Highland saying, “The slipperiest stone is the doorstep of the big house.” We’re learning non-slip; to speak truth to power in the face of misunderstanding (usually, not willful) and caricature and projection (usually willful). In HH’s words, “Freedom, come all ye.”

    • As the American left-wing author and politician Upton Sinclair wrote:

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    • Brilliant comment Wul, and a great quote.

    • Nailed it Will.

      However, Can I ask you to watch a video ?

      If you can watch this Video ?

      What you describe above also describes 90% of the people in this country. They don’t know how money is created. What it is and what role a central bank plays in all of this.

      We have deficit hawks Osbourne and the EU, Deficit doves Nicola and Stephanie Kelton a deficit owl in the White House.


      I hope Stephanie the deficit owl can bang their heads together and show them all how money is created and what part the central banks actually plays in all of this.


      The only way Scotland will ever succeed is by having it’s own central bank and currency with someone like Stephanie in charge. Anything else will be a disaster.

      If we had pegged ourselves to the pound it would have been a disaster. We would have become a subjugate colony.

      We need a deficit owl in Scotland with our own central bank and currency and quick. These loons in Westminster will destroy us otherwise. The first video I posted explains in fantastic detail why.

      We should phone the White House and ask for Stephanie as soon as possible.

    • What a wonderful comment Wul. It puts into words exactly how I feel. Actually feel quite emotional reading it.

    • When the Levy institute and the Bank of England and MTT explain to people and say, Look this is how money is created out of thin air and what it is being used for. Then show clearly how everybody is being conned

      90% of people act like the Southerners do to SNP.

      They refuse to believe the truth because they’ve brainwashed with jargon and lies all their lives.

  2. Thanks Robin, this is brilliant. I’d noticed that dismissive reference to populism and I’m glad you nailed it.

  3. Final turnout figures easily available on the BBC website.

    Election May 2015
    Total electorate = 4,093,500 approx, 71.1% turnout, 50.0% of those voted SNP (1,454,436)

    Indy Ref.
    Total electorate 4,283,392. (16-17 yr olds making the difference?), 84.6% turnout, 44.7% of those voted Yes (1,617,989)

    • 163,000 fewer voted SNP in GE 2015 than voted Yes in September 2014.

      The 163,000 figure might be due to the 16-17 year olds and the EU nationals Yes voters that were ineligible to vote in May 2015 not voting.

      The lower turn out from 85% to 70% might be due to the lack of panic in the kind of voter who can’t normally be bothered to vote, but turned out in September in a mass panic because they were scared they would lose their pensions and their banks. The union saved, for now, they just crawled back under their stones to go back to sleep.

      In short, I’m not convinced support for independence has risen. It’s just that the complacent haven’t exercised their right to vote quite as vigorously as the committed.

  4. I’ve every sympathy with left leaning folk in England. But why should 8.3% of us be expected to hold a line for 84% of them that they were unable to hold?

    Be realistic. We can’t get sucked into their quagmire. The best help we can offer them is friendly criticism. They basically need to find new ways of doing new politics.

    But they need to get up off their a***s first, and it would help them to get angry, to feel the passion.

    But they are just too self-satisfied and complacent by far, that’s the key problem.

    • Thank the Lord.
      At last…….a contribution that represents my view perfectly……it’s of course crystal clear that Scotland increasingly feels alienation from…..and often despises…the rotting corpse that is that discredited 18th century system of governance designed for a long dead imperial empire, and no longer fit-for-purpose.
      I suspect that circumstance rather than foresight may have allowed the scots to be the first to smell the stench of that same corpse, but the major practical role that we CAN play for the progressive forces amongst our depressed and confused southern neighbours, is that we constantly urge them to realise that, with the urgent burial of that stench ridden corpse, there is without question, a freshly brewed, appetising fresh pot of coffee on the stove one morning just as soon as their nostrils can be cleared.

    • I agree entirely! Last year I literally ran into an “Occupy Parliament Square” protest. I tried to tell them: this is not how it is done! You need to be standing not outside Parliament, getting arrested, but up at Oxford Circus, talking to members of the public, working on the Margo MacDonald principle: everyone signs up/convinced one person, who does the same the next day, like a pyramid scheme….

      Anyone would think there was an information blockade! If they want to be like the Scots, then they need to emulate us and set up their own Common Weals, Women Against Austerity, Radical Social Democracy Campaign, whatever… Russell Brand is all very well, but it takes hard graft and as the person above writes: they need to get up off their @$$es!

      • Agree. These protest movements like Occupy just seem so juvenile. They are totally ineffective in terms of denting the system, they just seem like so much throwing your rattle out of your pram in the hope that some parent or grown up will come along and pay you some attention. They’re not serious attempts at reform or re-negotiation. I have no wish for our movement to be dissipated by being sucked into such futile protests. Freedom isn’t what somebody else gives you on a plate but what a man or a woman takes for themselves.

        • I agree about throwing the rattle (and Brand), but there’s a difference. In Scotland, most activists can clearly see the avenues through which they can have effective political traction. When I speak in England, for example, about land reform, I get people coming up afterwards saying they just couldn’t do the same. Somehow, the wall of popular (i.e. people’s, in the Latin American sense) politics is so much higher. I end up feeling sorry for yet understanding their frustration that gets the rattle thrown about. In middle England, I too would be rather at a loss as to what to do with much sense of effectiveness. It’s just so culturally different, like standing on the doorstep of the big house the whole time (see above comment) and not having a bothy to return to for a ceilidh.

          Forgive the cliched idioms, but …

          • This makes me think about the oft-repeated criticism that the independence movement is based on “identity politics” and what a malign and unworthy thing that is.
            But maybe there’s a wee clue in there, to help explain some of the resilience that’s been shown post-indyref.

            If we don’t have any “identity”, perhaps we have nowhere to re-group (at the hearth, in Alistair’s bothy) after a bruising encounter.

          • What you’re referring to is deference. The English are more inclined to be deferential. We Scots may lack cultural confidence but we see hubris and pomposity more easily for what they are.

            I do think David Babbs of 38 degrees is doing good work though.

    • Whit?

      In the interests of fairness, you must then tar all us Scots with exactly the same brush: prior to indyref, scots were no more switched on than the English are now.

      I’m absolutely on board with Robin: we have a duty, as decent human beings, to shake the sleeping guys next to us, and share what we have learned. Information is power, and without it we can’t hope to make wise and balanced choices. Why on earth would you not want to share that information with every other person who could benefit from it?

  5. Re “Catherine Stihler blamed the SNP for Labour’s loss in England”.

    My reading of what went on is that 4m Lib Dem voters in England voted for someone else (That’s a loss of 2/3rd of their vote!) In many cases they shifted their votes from Lib Dem to Labour (and maybe Green), but the FPTP count meant that the Tories, who were #2 in that seat in 2010, became #1.

    In a way I feel sorry for the Lib Dems. For years they provided good ‘local’ MPs, and the electorate knew that they weren’t going to be in power. In 2010 they had the choice of propping up Labour, but decided that it would not be right to support the 2nd place big party.

    How they must wish they had let the Tories run a minority government…..

    • I don’t even feel slightly sorry for the Lib Dems, I still remember, very clearly, the complete shock, outrage and anger I felt on hearing that news on the morning of the last general election. I felt that they had robbed me of my vote. I could not fathom that my vote for LIBERALISM had been converted overnight to conservatism. To me it was like giving money to a charity who then used it to buy Mercedes for their friends. I’m glad they got a bloody nose and I’m glad Labour did too, for not understanding that many of us vote SNP as an anti conservative hope for the future.

  6. Another lovely piece,Thank you Robin

  7. I was encouraged watching the counts that on numerous occasions when the newly victorious SNP candidate turned to shake the hands of the others there were flashes of genuine warmth when they got to the Green. Having spotted one I looked for and found other examples.

  8. ‘it wasn’t divisive class politics but inclusive class politics’

    The same could be said of SLAB in its (very recent) heyday; winning seats in Pollok and East Renfrewshire.
    (Many people would use the word populism to describe that.)

    It is now up to the SNP to deliver where SLAB failed, even after dominating Scotland during a prolonged period when the world economic outlook was benign.

    Alex Salmond talking about the Scottish lion roaring does not fill me with optimism.

  9. Mostly agree with this article. Like others, I voted Yes, and for my SNP candidate yesterday. I really do think though, that there is still a massive way to go, to get a majority in another referendum. There is still a hard core out there, whether they are attached to the Lodges, or have been “brought up as a Unionist” , who will be very difficult, or impossible to change their views.

  10. “Take her to sea Mr Murdoch”. That’s My vision of the Tories this evening on the verge of implementing their suicidal economic policy.
    I simply cannot see us getting out of this decade without a major financial crisis. The problem will be in its portrayal. Of course the city of London power press will portray it as an unavoidable exogenous shock – not the fault of a government which continues to build an economy based on private debt – the cause of the 2008 crisis.

    You have to hand it to them, the London-based press are pretty darn good judging by some of the recent comment, even on this website and of course the GE result.

    I agree robin, we need to try and promote similar types of media and political movements South of the border but I also think we need now be coming up with more savvy and innovative ideas as to how to minimise the effects of an impending scarcity of sterling. There have been a few ideas coming out of the referendum following the narrow debate on currency, but there are plenty of examples worldwide some of which have been working for decades. We should look to emulate these starting now.

    I voted libdems most of my politically active life and also feel a certain amount of sadness about what’s happened to that party.

    • ScottieDog, I’m interested in your ideas on currency. I presume you think we need to ditch Sterling? If so what other choice do you suggest.
      I thought last year we badly needed to have a discussion on currency. I understand why SNP wanted to keep Sterling, eg easier for trading with England, or r UK. This, I believe, was shown to be wrong both by Westminster and with many of us yessirs. What is your thoughts?

      • I’ve long thought – and blogged it during indyref – that the SNP should try a very discreet approach (bug-free room because London would go berserk!) to Oslo and see if they could persuade the Norwegians to agree a currency zone between a new Scottish “Merk” and the Krone. Give the Nogs in exchange some preferential contracts in North Sea, they are excellent in the oil biz, or let them advise on our new oil fund (they are excellent at that also).

        Currency Unions always entail a certain loss of sovereignty, you have to trim your fiscal sails, there’s no escaping that, but far better cede some economic sovereignty to a sympathetic progressive social-democrtic neighbour than to a wholly unsympathetic neo-liberal regime down south.

        The international markets would have no problem at all with a Krone tie-up, the currency swell run and the Norwegian Central Bank highly regarded.

        Then after a few years we can strike out on our own.

        • Seems a sound idea but, don’t think SNP are progressive enough for something like this. We could learn a lot from the Norwegians, not least, their oil fund has grown substantially without any big hiccups, whereas, I’m sure, even if wastemonster had invested in one they would have lost it all by bad investments, banks anyone?
          Thanks for your thoughts on this, let’s hope this is worked out soon.

        • Wow – that’s an incredibly interesting idea that I’ve never come across before. I have absolutely no idea whether it would be remotely workable or desirable, and it’s possibly just utterly ridiculous. Love to hear some thoughts though!

    • Sorry ScottieDog I forgot to add, (been up for 48hrs so not quite with it lol) one of main reasons I thought/think we need to change is, I believe because of the disastrous policies of westminster and Osborne, Sterling is going to go bottoms-up very soon. In fact why it hasn’t yet is our oil and other Scottish exports.

  11. An absolutely excellent post. Well done Robin!

  12. Fabulous article!

  13. I feel we need to concentrate on Scotland. The real political observers in England will look to the example set by inclusive politics. The best the SNP can do in Westminster will be to challenge the Establishment, fight for Scotland’s rights and take whatever opportunities are presented. Cameron has a majority of 5 – he will be easily manipulated by his party as they split on Europe – it will only take a few defections and/or resignations and he is a minority without a partner. It may be yet all to play for.

  14. A rambling piece this, in my view.

    The SNP 56 will get zip from the Tories and end up withdrawing from Westminster. The election result is de facto independence as the outcome is simply unworkable. They hate us too much to do anything in our favour.

  15. Terrific post Robin, thank you

  16. I look to Bella to find often some very good political analysis, but too often there is a missing dialogue that is forensic enough to diagnose the problem and prescribe a route or pathways towards prognosis of the issues at work in our politico-cultural shift. Not enough reference to neo-liberal economic and its social engineering effects on the poorest and most vulnerable where austerity is a chosen ideological policy implemented by brutal callous-heated Neo-Feudal Tories who have always felt they were born to rule. On the higher level our fight is for the very existence of some form of democracy when the entire system of financial, corporate, media and political power is conflated into a cabal controlled by the Neo-Feudal network of public schoolboys and their crony mates. This 1% is anathema to democracy. Austerity is ideological and represent the richest elites clobbering and punishing the poorest for the financial crash of 2008. Labour have moved to the Right politically and operate under the iron fisted arches of accepting Neo-liberal economic. Until they see this disease for what it is and realign their values they are terminally dead Necromancers. And who will raise the level of debate in the South of England to even begin a narrative discourse on Neo-liberal economics? No newspaper will, so the political disease will remain undiagnosed.

    We can of course fall into old paradigm traditional pathologies about class politics and ignore totally that this result for the SNP was a simple rejection of a SLP hell-bent on not representing the people of Scotland, failing to stand up for people here and how they became the lairds of Pomp and Power and talked down arrogantly to so many Scots they ran scared of. When you cant meet people on the streets how can you represent them? They fell cravenly silent.

    There are pit-falls in the old paradigm of class politics where the under-current many a year ago was very little about politics per se and more about Alpha Male sloganism that was at a deeper level little more than dominance animal behaviour. that needs some serious thought indeed. Some socialists see themselves as Firsts among equals. Leaders need followers. Followers are never really equal to their cult leaders. How do Socialists practice equality when so many can display the absurd meglomania of the likes of George Galloway, that TV addict who needed to be on the box to exist? Profile, image, celebrity – are these the traits of a socialist? Some egoes need to be on a stage. A few years ago it was all claptrap from a few loud-mouths chanting like a mantra that the Class will Rise and Seize the means of production and there will be a Dictatorship of the Proles! What a joke. Trot tripe. Having done an Hons dissertation on the rise of the Labour Movement I find it sad that it has abandoned its core principles and sold its soul to Neo-feudalism to win in the South.

    I take my principles from Burnsian values of humanitarianism and the first principles of the democratic movement the Friends of the People of the 1790’s and not from confrontational ‘class’ based politics where the cult of the working class macho hero seems to me more about alpha male dominance rants than truly about politics. Political analyses that is more inclusive than restricted ‘class’ views incorporate intelligent people from all ‘classes’. But no doubt now that the GE is over the race will be to realign into factions and get ready for the grand National race of Ego to elbow and push into the Scottish parliament in 2016 and rip the remnants of the Yes Movement apart for the sake of ego and Me me Me politics attention seeking in the name of class politics. Strange when it comes to class politics of old that many of those who dub themselves the leading lights are indeed middle class. Plenty of oxymorons in Scottish politics. Factions followers and those First among equals!

    Austerity is ideological. That message must get out there loud and clear. But I fear the infighting will start very soon and alpha males in dominance animal struts will tell us how much they need a stage and a TV addict shot on the box. Class war eh? Mmmmmmmm. Good riddance to the idiot Galloway.

  17. Great read enjoyed that thought provoking piece.

  18. Are you taking the piss Robin ” We have to help England” We have no obligation to consider England.
    But we might consider the thousand years of abuse and misuse that has been directed towards us by England. We are us, and they are, well I don’t really know, do they?
    And by the way” have” is a very strong insinuation or demand. Do you think you are that powerful Robin? You go and help them, I’m busy.

    • Correct, leave England tae the English. And Scotland tae the Scots. That means no more Tory meddling wi’ Scotland. Scots dinnae want tae meddle in their affairs so they have nae reason tae meddle in ours. That means independence for both nations. Nicola may say she did not ask for a mandate for independence but the Scottish people gave her one anyway. The result of the GE is de facto independence.

    • “But we might consider the thousand years of abuse and misuse that has been directed towards us by England”

      Utter rubbish – you miss the point entirely.

      The ‘abuse and misuse’ comes directly from the self serving political elite, and damages England’s people just as much as Scotland’s.

      Frankly you sound like a selfish resentful little child, of the ‘me first’ variety. The new politics in Scotland is about putting #allofusfirst, or didn’t you notice?

      “We have no obligation to consider England”

      Agreed. But we also have no obligation to consider our family, friends, communities, countrymen, fellow human beings, world citizens…it’s called empathy.

      “Do you think you are that powerful Robin?”

      Robin is powerful. Rather than telling others what to think, Robin says what many are already thinking in their own heads. It’s commonality: we gravitate towards like minded others. And not only does he share that common weal vision of the future that so many would like to see, he just happened to be part of a project which threw up workable solutions. What seemed an idealistic dream of a better country, where everyone shares in our vast wealth and resources, now seems entirely possible. Hallelujah!

      And here’s the Ace card: despite your selfish outlook, you will be no worse off in a society that looks after everyone, and that’s one of the main reasons we will suceed. If your ‘type’ were losing out, you would actively fight us, but since your bubble isn’t ‘threatened’, a bit of moaning should suffice.

      “You go and help them. I’m busy”

      Yip. That’s exactly our intention. We already got off our backsides and sent 56 anti-austerity MPs to WM, in a bid to protect our most vulnerable. That happened because WE MADE IT HAPPEN! Determination, hard work, long hours and commitment: the only thing more satisfying and empowering than achieving your personal goals, is working as part of a team to achieve something much more amazing than you ever could alone. But that’s not you’re bag, so go focus on what matters to you, and we’ll get on with what matters to us.

  19. What a fantastic article. What a talented man. His writings inspire. Thanks always Robin.

  20. I don’t think the Lib Dem vote in England deserted their party and voted Labour – they voted Tory because the nasty Tories played the cynical “the Jocks are coming” card. They proved their anti-democratic and racist credentials once and for all. Milliband lost because he swallowed the Tory agenda and died of political poisoning.

    • We’ll no doubt see and hear the real hatred of us ‘Jocks’ once the SNP ‘hordes’ take their seats (assuming they are given seats in the chamber). Respect ma erse. I give the 56 three months at Westminster before they decide they’ve had enough and head back over the border and a wee declaration at Holyrood. Independence afore Christmas.

  21. yes scotland will get no credit in england. save yourselves! build a more or less classless society & you will have disciples everywhere

  22. From an Englishman:

    The ‘English left’ aren’t worth saving until they come to terms with the ‘English’ bit of their name. In the UK Labour manifesto – which has policies that cover the English NHS, schools, transport, environment, etc. they only used the word ‘England’ three times. That’s three times in a 20,421 word manifesto. They used the words ‘Scotland’ and ‘Wales’ more, even though Scotland and Wales have their own Labour manifestos. In fact, the word ‘England’ was used in the Scottish and Welsh manifestos more than it was in the manifesto that’s supposedly aimed at the English.

    The other party of the left, The Greens, do slightly better with twelve mentions of the word ‘England’ but they refer to ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘Britain’ 114 times. By contrast the Scottish Green manifesto uses ‘Scotland’ more than it does ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘Britain’ combined.

    Until the left can speak of, to and for England they deserve to be ignored by the people of England. There’s a serious case of the identity politics of the English people not being represented by the left in England.

    In the last census 60% of people in England defined themselves as English-only, compared to 19% who were British-only. The only part of England that felt more British than English was London, which happens to be where the left – and indeed the entire political class – is based.

  23. Song lyric verse written months ago! (First draft was written in 1993)

    O Spirit of Caledonia, rise up and seize the day
    Our People’s Voice is Power, politicians must obey!
    You who sell-out Scotland, for your own career
    Gatekeepers of austerity – listen now and hear!
    You took us for granted and broke the bond of trust
    The Changing of the Guard begins, New Labour bite the dust!

    Labour got a kicking because they did not represent Scotland at all. They represented their jobs, They were silent. the London LP told them to sit down and shut up and they did it. Nothing.

    So whatever happened to the Commonweal? the all inclusive interests of the entire people of Scotland must be paramount before any ‘class’ antagonism is whipped up………class can be manipulated as a pretext for attacking the SNP in Government and will only serve to create divisions..

    Murphy and Co did not meet a tide of Nationalism. Labour’s failure to represent Scotland at all left a massive void which was filled by the SNP led voice. Trust in Labour collapsed utterly. An implosion of trust killed their confidence. And still Murphy blames everything and everybody bar himself!

  24. Labour is not a mess in London .we got 11 new mps . Proud of the party members who achieved this , always have hope over hate. Nationalism is a scourge on humanity , we live in one world . London has all nationalities so it is a beacon of hope. Scotland has lost that by giving votes to a Tartan Tory party. Life there is much better than other places on the UK. I have no time for this nonsense that they are hard done by.

    • Good for you in London, but where will that take you? I think you should take the trouble to learn more about what is happening in Scotland, Myrette.

    • “Nationalism is a scourge on humanity , we live in one world ”

      There are different forms of nationalism. British/English nationalism (or imperialism) has been a scourge on the world for centuries, and still is today; it is inward looking, aggressive, exploitative, deceitful, and jingoistic to the point or paranoia. Scottish nationalism is none of these – our self determination is peaceful, non-expansionary, welcoming, and respectful of other peoples and nations. Everything British nationalism has never been. Labour folk get awfie confused by the word ‘nationalism’ thinking it does not apply to Britain/England, of course it does. You cannot ignore Britain/England’s nationalistic legacy despite the fact it is well camouflaged by the softer sounding label ‘unionist’. Maste Scots ken better noo, but London Labour seem further back the learning curve.

    • So you want one world government do you? I find that hard to believe.

  25. Robin, that’s the best article/review/ analysis I’ve read this side of the Referendum. Thanks!!!
    No cocky or academic responses from me. Not necessary! (not able!)
    I’m particularly interested in the idea of Partnership with the good folk of England . Perhaps we should be assisting them to create a Movement similar to the SNP, so that it may eventually develop the nature and confidence to change Westminster to truly represent the needs and wishes of the ordinary people of England. The Scottish Independence agents and agencies could then work with their English counterparts to create a better relationship – one where two Nation States can function as good neighbours: together in a true equal partnership and alongside related partnerships with Ireland, Wales, France, Norway, Greece ….. and beyond.
    For as long as I’ve been involved in the Scottish Independence Movement I’ve been impressed by the way that diversity and fraternity seem to be fundamental aspects of its structure and functions. I believe with organisations like Common Weal , Business for Independence , Women for Independence, Churches for Independence , the Green Party and the present SNP, links with groups in other parts of the UK can be forged to help develop a new , fairer, more progressive and exciting future for all parts of these Islands.
    However, Robin, your time and talent should focus on writing more of this stuff. We need you here!
    I think Sturgeon will lead the way to create the scene that allows the English and our compatriot ‘No Voters’ to see that the SNP is not the demon Nationalistic destroyers of Union and the harbingers of doom and gloom but the creators of a new friendly neighbour for England. Moreover, she will prove that Scotland has the skill, wealth and character to build a secure and enterprising country.
    Thanks again for a brilliant post!!!

  26. How about a decent credit for the photographer for that fantastic photograph?

  27. Oh Stephanie. How selective you were in levering up my words to fit you own narrative. Your train of thought takes some following to remain on the rails. Keep it up, you are very interesting.

  28. First we take…….Scotland, then England can follow

  29. After what I’ve read in the English press this last few days, this discussion is such a breath of fresh air, an escape from the horrible tribalism. I say this as an englishman living in Wales and wondering WTF happened in both countries. OK so I had a good idea but train-wrecks in slow motion are not good to watch. My best wishes to all north of the Border.


  1. A small word of advice for the Labour Party and Jim Murphy | My Little Underground

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