By Allan Grogan
‘I certainly shall not be happy because I meet with very much hostility. Because I tell you the truth. Who do– who likes the truth? Nobody likes the truth. The first experience that you will make when you begin to do anything in the world is that people hate the truth.’
Labour for Independence was created on the premise that a yes vote was the last opportunity to save the soul and end the permanent decline of the Labour Party in Scotland. As I sat last night watching the results from all over Scotland come in I couldn’t help but remind myself of the many warnings we as a group gave to the Labour Party who continued to ostracise us in our pursuit to help them.
Yet there is no great pleasure in the vindication of our work. While the defeat of arch Blairites; Murphy, Curran and Alexander was undoubtedly hubris We all awoke up to the realisation of 5 more years of Tory rule, this time with no dithering uncle Lib Dem to slow down their insatiable desire to tear up the very fabric and nature of our society. Already, before feet are back under the table, plans are being formed to cut work schemes for disabled people. No one, from the left, Labour or SNP can take any joy in the future we have in store for us with a majority Conservative Government.
Despite leaving the party, despite being very critical of both the UK and Scottish Labour Party, I wanted Ed Milliband today to be working to form a workable government. The lesser of two evils, Labour would potentially have adopted more socially just policies had they came into minority power, especially if they were under pressure from a strong progressive SNP/Green/P.C alliance. This election campaign offered great hope to those who have campaigned for a better way. Finally alternatives to austerity were being discussed, removing trident, ending this anti immigration rhetoric. Suddenly these all seemed a possibility, if only the cards would fall in the right places and egos were kept in check. With a majority Tory Government all of this talk is now long gone. Trident will be renewed, immigration will still be front and centre of British politics and austerity will be accepted as the only way.
It is hardly surprising that;
The pound surged instantly as the exit poll suggested a Tory election “win” and investors toasted the prospect of continuity in Britain’s current austerity policies.
The era of those that ‘have’ continue, the persecution of those who ‘desperately need’ will live on for at least 5 more years.
In Scotland the decline of the Labour Party has been often debated and discussed. It is not, as many political commentators have suggested something which has been created since September 18th. The removal of Clause iv, the war in Iraq, Tony Blair, PFIs, supporting Trident renewal,the referendum, the attitude displayed towards the 39% of Labour voters who voted yes. We were ‘Nats’ in disguise, traitors to the party, we would be ‘bayoneted’ and left to rot. Then the final nail in the coffin. The appointment of Jim Murphy as leader, the visual and psychological acknowledgement that the Party wanted a Blairite careerist removed of principles, than the pro trade union, working class candidate Neil Findlay. Labour in Scotland in the last 20 years have signed their own death warrant many times. Now in Holyrood and Westminster in this land, they are wiped out.
Nobody likes the truth. That is why Jim Murphy is still clinging to power and why Labour politicians through various forms of media claim that the SNP are responsible for a Tory Government. Perhaps this staggering inability at addition is what frightened so many voters away. Labour lost by 99 seats to the Tories. That means even if they won every seat in Scotland they would still have lost by 41 seats.
Labour didn’t lose this election because of the SNP. It lost because it abandoned it’s base in pursuit of middle class and affluent voters. Milliband and Balls paid lip service to working class issues but only with bitty policies..
End zero hour contracts… Well the exploitative ones. Fuel poverty is a major issue. Don’t cut prices, just freeze them for a couple of years. The cost of living is too high.. Raise the minimum wage! To £8….. By 2020. ( Rate of inflation would put minimum wage to £8.20).
So petrified were they of upsetting those southern English voters who voted for Blair, that they came across to their base as half baked and to the affluent they were wooing as Tory-lite with a hint of socialist danger.
What UK Labour have never grasped is that these Tory voters wont vote for Tory-lite when they can vote Tory. The only reason they voted Labour before was that when Blair offered Tory-lite, the Tories were so toxic, mired in sleaze, sex scandals and lies that it would make even a former MSP blush through his permatan. That’s why they voted Labour. Yet believing you could convince them, you abandoned your base, you let the Tories lead the campaign agenda… That is why you lost.
Lessons need to be learned, but in Scotland it doesn’t seem to be happening where it needs to. The base surely know that the jig is up, when will the political leadership realise? When will the trade unions?
I don’t take any satisfaction in this, this article is not an I told you so. It’s not easy to hear an uncomfortable truth, but surely now even those most stubborn can see that unless there is a change of course Scottish Labour is on the road to perdition.
For those of us here in Scotland, spare a thought for those in Wales and Northern England. Here at least we have a strong parliament which can mitigate some of the worst effects of Tory rule, Our comrades over the border have no such protection. The 56 SNP MP’s will try their best, but they will have a much reduced effect in opposition than they would have in a hung parliament. The SNP are not my party, nor do I feel they represent me or the working class in Scotland, Yet in Westminster I wish them well. With so many young and/or inexperienced MPs they will need strong guidance so Alex Salmond will have a vital role to play.
For those in Scotland who celebrate tonight the landslide SNP victory I ask you all to spare a thought for those who very soon will have nothing to celebrate. If you believe in a higher power, then God help us.. And God forgive us for what we (the UK electorate) have consigned the people of the UK to.
Nobody likes the truth. The first experience that you will make when you begin to do anything in the world is that people hate the truth.
Yet I must impart some truths for the SNP and Scotland. A one party state does not benefit anyone in the long run. As a party it breeds complacency and arrogance. For a nation it ensures that those in power can select the interests in which they choose to represent rather than which they were voted to represent.
There must be a genuine alternative to the SNP in Scotland, not based on nationalism and unionism but on issues, policy and class. If the Labour Party is doomed to eternal damnation, then another party must fill that void.
This morning I awoke to a feeling of dread, jubilation made way to darkness as realisation smacked into my head. Yet we do not have to be afraid of the darkness. Darkness is just the other side of light, it’s what comes before dreams.