Daily archives: October 1, 2015

Corbyn’s Scottish Dilemma

Jeremy Corbyn held his meeting with Scottish MSP’s, quite literally next door to where I live. I considered wandering down to see, but decided the rugby was more interesting.

Corbyn faces an unwinnable dilemma in Scotland. Kezia Dugdale is a standard issue Blairite, though thankfully too absolutely stupid to be dangerous. The advice Corbyn has been getting from Scottish Labour is to concentrate on attacking the SNP, and that is what he has been doing. On Andrew Marr on Sunday he really raised the anti-SNP rhetoric and hasn’t calmed down since. The idea of any kind of anti-austerity co-operation in opposition to the Tories has been drowned in an outbreak of high octane tribalism.

As Scottish Labour’s dwindling professional cadre has no thought but trying desperately to hang on to the jobs they have left, in coming Holyrood and Council elections (where they face massacre), it is unsurprising their line is so shrill. But Corbyn adopting it is going to alienate a lot of people, including me, who wish him well.

But Corbyn is stuck with the need to parrot the tired Scottish Labour lines that did for Lamont and Murphy. If Corbyn tries to impose a more thoughtful and more left wing agenda on Dugdale, and to tone down opposition to Independence, then Corbyn will stand accused of continuing to treat Scottish Labour as a branch office and of imposing Islington’s will upon them. Just as with his shadow cabinet, his problems with Scottish Labour will only be solved when the membership get rid of the Blairite troughers, and that isn’t happening any time soon. On top of which the Corbyn rising Labour membership effect is much more muted in Scotland, because the Left has already joined the Independence movement.

There is of course a parallel dilemma which I and others face. I want to see Corbyn do very well in countering the neo-con consensus in Westminster. But I don’t want him to be another block on Independence. I genuinely hope that England will recover from its domination by Tory politics. I want to see England, Wales and Northern Ireland as progressive neighbours and decent societies.

The most amusing effect of the establishment’s efforts to deal with Corbyn is that he is ridiculed and demonised in England while precisely the same media organisations in Scotland try to promote him as an antidote to the SNP. But Jeremy should realise that if he is getting the backing of the right wing media in Scotland, it means he is getting his line on Independence wrong. It is very disappointing that he did not use his visit to Scotland today to signal that an attitude to Independence other than outright hostility is possible for members of the Labour Party.

In short, no matter how much I may like Jeremy I can see absolutely no reason to vote for Scottish Labour.

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Bombs Kill Shock

After UK and US bombs have been devastating the Middle East for over a decade, killing certainly tens and probably hundreds of thousands of people, including many thousands of children, the media have suddenly noticed this morning that bombs kill an awful lot of civilians. But only Russian bombs, of course. British bombs are cheerful, happy and their shrapnel and blast are brilliantly engineered only to go in the direction of bad guys.

The UK/US bombing of Sirte was approximately 500 times more devastating than the Russian bombings yesterday. Yet strangely there was not one single BBC report on the thousands of civilian casualties they caused in just one of many towns they bombed in Libya.

It is worth pointing out that whether yesterday’s bombing by the Russians was against ISIL or against a different bunch of crazed Islamist rebels, one still supported by the CIA and Saudi Arabia, makes no difference whatsoever to the legal position. It was at the request of the Government of Syria and thus legal. That is not to say I support it. I do not. Bombing kills civilians and just causes more hate.

I have the confidence in my fellow human beings to believe that a substantial number will see through the propaganda and realise British bombs do that too.

My optimism extends to the quite astonishing media attack on Jeremy Corbyn. The scorn and bias of the media in dealing with him has awoken many to the fact that we do not in reality live in a democratic society. People are not free to present alternative ideas to the electorate and obtain a fair hearing for them.

But still I think there will be some effect. For an entire generation, broadcast media and print newspapers had never given the slightest indication that there might be a moral dilemma involved in pushing a button to kill a billion people directly, and set off a chain of events that will destroy all human life. The spluttering fury by the establishment at the revelation that there are in existence the kind of people who would not do that, is a wonder to behold.

But all that rage is revealing the existence of the moral dilemma to people from whom it has been effectively hidden as a topic of legitimate and serious debate. People will start to think. That is why Corbyn is so dangerous to the establishment. He has opened a Pandora’s box of ideas.

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