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.