Corbyn’s Scottish Dilemma 62


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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62 thoughts on “Corbyn’s Scottish Dilemma

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  • Sixer

    “his problems with Scottish Labour will only be solved when the membership get rid of the Blairite troughers”

    Also:

    “his problems with English Labour will only be solved when the membership get rid of the Blairite troughers”

    Despite my consternation at the anti-SNP rhetoric, I’m determined to be an optimist. It’s going to take at least year, if not two, for a slow-mo purge of these hideous people. Once that’s done, perhaps we might actually see some of this grown-up politics where Labour and the SNP co-operate where they agree and debate one another where they do not.

    Then we can all make up our own minds.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    It would have been good if he’d decided to talk about a proper federal, or confederal, solution. That was the question the SNP wanted on the ballot paper and it was an option which Cameron-Clegg refused the people of Scotland. I actually think that if that option had been presented, many people who voted ‘Yes’ and also many who voted, ‘No’ would have voted for it. In the wake of Gordon Brown (and other party leaders’) “solemn vow” made when they thought they might lose the referendum vote, it would have behoved the new Labour leader to exhibit some fresh thinking on the subject – this would have been no more than people like ex-First (Labour) Minister Henry McLeish and many others have been proposing for years.

  • Sixer

    Suhayl – I’m aware although removed. Even so, I think the point (well, hope) still stands: we can’t really know whether or not a Corbyn-led Labour will be able to co-operate successfully with other parties until the established Blairites have been de-established, as it were. And, since he can’t do that straight away, we’ll have to wait until it’s eventually been accomplished. If indeed, Corbyn ever manages to accomplish it.

  • fred

    The referendum was last year Suhayl. It was a question which needed to be asked and needed to be answered for the sake of Scotland.

    Now we have to get back to being a multi party country for the sake of Scotland, back to a government which gets elected or rejected on how they perform in matters like health, education and policing.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Fred, I agree about the multi-party point and the health, education and so on point. But I do think the constitutional question needs to be addressed by Labour (as well al the other things). It really has not been resolved. And that lack of resolution is one reason for the decay in support for the other parties (other than the SNP). That would be one way of it becoming relevant again in Scotland (and the same applies to the other parties, btw).

    Yes, good point, Sixer, thanks.

  • John Goss

    I supported Scottish independence for the simple reason that Westminster politics was shit and offered no alternative. I see in Jeremy Corbyn, have always seen in Jeremy Corbyn, a man of honour and integrity who has never abandoned the Labour roots set forth by Kier Hardie. There are many similarities between the two, pacifism being one, support for women being another, support for the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the sick.

    I never wanted to see Scotland leave the island community. But the SNP was saying the right things. It had not commercialised education making it into an industry for the rich. That was the society we had when Jude Farley trudged up to Christminster (Oxford) because he had self-educated himself thinking that if you could read and write and debate you could have a higher education. He soon learnt he was wrong.

    But if Labour changes its stance and becomes an opposition party under Jeremy Corbyn (who was not to blame for Blair’s redirection of the party) I would welcome that and apply to rejoin. That poses problems for Scottish independence, many more problems than the emasculated Tories (red or blue) could ever drum up or dream up. Yes, it poses problems for for the Scottish Nationalists too. They are healthy problems though.

    Which brings me to Putin. After Putin secured the military base in Crimea I was surprised he did not try to help, in other ways than humanitarian aid, the poor people of eastern Ukraine. Many Russians wanted this too. I wanted him to prevent further bloodshed having seen the horrendous footage of Poroshenko’s genocide. I did not agree with Putin then, but now I realise he was perhaps right. Russia had got rid of Ukraine (a largely lawless country) and was I have no doubt thankful for that.

    Strategically it was the right decision I realise now. My heart was ruling my head. First of all Ukraine borders Russia and the war could have spilled over the border after the regime-change the Yanks have invested a lot of money in. But Putin stayed level-headed. He accepted the border changes from the old Soviet geographical boundaries. It was the right decision too because if there are ever elections again in Ukraine the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Tymoshenko and the even more right-wing fascists, have no chance of being returned this side of barrel of a gun.

    Finally, I am surprised that Craig is still so supportive of the SNP. It was the dirty deeds they did against him at candidate selection that opened my eyes. So I am very happy for the UK to stay united if socialist priciples can be spread across the nation. A left-wing Labour Party in Scotland could be just what it needs. After all, it was the SNP that stole the Labour emperor’s clothes. Opposition is healthy. None of us are always right. I was wrong, remember, over Putin.

  • RobG

    Craig, kudos to you for addressing this issue, which seems to have been a bit of an elephant in the room ever since Corbyn was elected.

    I’ll keep my mouth shut on the rest of it, because I don’t live in Scotland.

  • BrianFujisan

    As one Born, Bred in the West Coast..i can tell you, Sectarianism now, is Nothing as to what it was when i was a boy..We we have moved on.. Still much to do ..Like forever oppose The Jim Murphy’s – Resell Booze at the Games..Great idea Jim.. Great idea..I’ll vote Liebour And, Bow to my Masters, and buy all the children Celtic n Rangers Tops.. None of the Two can actually Play fitba..FFS.

  • Jemand

    Craig – “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.”

    That’s not going to happen when the UK sells its sovereignty to a crooked and incompetent EU and lays the foundations of its own demise through overpopulation and social division.

  • MJ

    “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”

    I don’t understand why you think Corbyn might have even the slightest interest in Scottish independence. He’s a socialist. He believes in a Labour Movement that brings together people throughout the island. He’s not interested in petty tribalism.

    Corbyn wants to win back all those Labour seats. The SNP should prepare itself for a great deal of hostility.

  • Tony M

    When are these London based parties going to get the message that we in Scotland want and will be having our country back, soonest, and don’t give a shit about their pathetic machinations and PR puff, they’re irrelevant. Labour are not just part of the problem, they are the problem, they’re the fake opposition to the Tories that took a sledgehammer to democracy before it could be got up and running. They’re incapable of change, except change for the worse and can and would plumb Blair-like depths of depravity and deceit again and again at the drop of a hat. Is anyone outside of Scotland (and some within) even aware that Labour walked hand-in-hand with lowlifes from the BNP, the National Front, the Orange Order and the Loyalist hate mobs during the referendum and these ties were long standing and are continuing. Labour are part and parcel of the Britnat establishment, the nastiest rabble-rousing elements, almost a paramilitary organisation, dare I say terrorists, they certainly terrify the voters. Every leader since Foot and before that very many other senior figures were in cahoots with the nascent Atlanticist neo-con networks. Kinnock’s price to spy on and betray Labour, CND and anything else he falsely espoused, as a mole from within, reporting to the US Embassy spooks, in the early 1970s, was the cost of a new Hillman Avenger. This situation has only worsened as the newer intakes followed that lead and sought a leg-up the party greasy pole by whatever nefarious means.

    Corbyn either hasn’t a clue or is playing a duplicitous game. He won’t get as friendly a reception if he comes back again and is still banging away at his gaudy John Bull drum.

  • Hieroglyph

    Corbyn will never get an even break in the corporate media. This is in direct contrast to Blair, who one feels could have punched a homeless woman live on camera, and still be given support by the media opinion formers. The woman had known mental health problems. The woman was an activist. It wasn’t a punch at all, he was protecting her. She had WMD. Etc. So, I think Corbyn is due a break or two from the rest of us. His parliamentary colleagues want him out, and Scottish Labour is utterly useless and\or corrupt, so he has a hard task ahead. Probably he should avoid the Bitter Together campaign, but it’s understandable if he doesn’t.

    Also, politics got interesting again. These Nu Bots Of Labour really suck the life out of everything.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    i find the latest post quite depressing because it is suggesting that my feeling of some months ago was right-the Labour party is disintegrating as we speak. Corbyn cannot really abandon Scotland in the way you suggest by finding common cause with SNP. His very raison d’etre is to restore the disaffected left -leaners who drifted towards the SNP.
    Even if there is a Corbyn effect it will be too little too late for the Scottish elections. He cannot adopt independence or any kind of federalism as that would trigger a major change in the electoral system.
    If Corbyn cannot make any inroads in Scotland he is dead in the water. The problem then becomes an English one and in that case it would have been better that Cooper or Kendall had prevailed for Labour to remain as a political presence.
    Although Labour does not receive much support here on this blog, a Labour collapse will be(is) a seismic shock to British life.
    Despite its deficiencies, Labour still represents opposition, a brake on Toryism.

  • craig Post author

    Deepgreenpuddock

    My own view is that Labour had come to represent more a collaboration than an opposition; simply and alternative career path for Tories. Should it collapse (and that is a possibility) it will be replaced by something. But I don’t think it will collapse and I suspect the media are shortly going to have trouble spinning Labour’s failure to tank in the polls in England.

    Meanwhile the depravity of the neo-con media is a wonder. For the first time in many months I saw Question Time last night, and the BBC had managed to find a Conservative packed audience in Cardiff! Lots of plummy English accents.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I like the considered tone of that, Craig, and the dilemma Corbyn faces is outlined well. But…

    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

    Does this mean that should the right of the SNP succeed – as it will obviously try to do – in getting the backing of the Scottish rightwing media, it is also getting its line on independence wrong? Going on from there, do you regard a decent society as the priority for Scotland, or does independence at any cost – say Scotland plc, the self-governing offshore scam of a global hedge fund – trump* decency? This is a genuine question.

    *geddit?

  • Mary

    Wee Ginger Dug’s take on the visit.

    Great British Weapons of Mass Destruction
    Oct 1

    So that went well. Jezza came to Scotland for a day to let us know how much he cares about us, and then went back dahn sarf. Although it’s not so much that he cares about Scotland, a country he scarcely understands, as he cares about rescuing the Labour party in Scotland from the deep pit that they are still digging for themselves. Give the Labour party in Scotland a helping hand, and they’ll only use it to excavate deeper.

    /..
    https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/great-british-weapons-of-mass-destruction/

  • James Chater

    A lot of the ammunition for the SNP came from its principled opposition to the neo-Con consensus in Westminster, for example in opposing top-up fees for universities and its opposition to Trident. Now that Corbyn has broken free of the neo-Con consensus and supports more or less the same social issues as the SNP, progressive Scots face a dilemma: continue to fight for independence or throw their weight behind a Labour Party renewed by Corbyn. It may after all be worth staying in the union if the Scots and the English together succeed in toppling neo-Conservatism. Quality of life has priority over borders.

  • Mary

    ‘Meanwhile the depravity of the neo-con media is a wonder. For the first time in many months I saw Question Time last night, and the BBC had managed to find a Conservative packed audience in Cardiff! Lots of plummy English accents.’

    As usual, I fell asleep and missed it. It seems to have been a good miss.

    This is a short thread on Medialens.
    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1443719463.html
    I chime with Redadare’s view.

  • gn2

    Corbyn was elected leader but is unable to lead.
    If Labour is “a brake on toryism” then there’s a lot of contaminating grease in the mmechanism and it won’t work till its cleaned out.

  • harry law

    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. That’s rich coming from a high octane tribalist [nationalist] like yourself. I remember you counting the number of Saltires as opposed to Union flags at a referendum meeting and complaining because in your opinion the number of flags may not have corresponded to the numbers at the meeting. Corbyn is a socialist, not a Nationalist [so that presumably puts him beyond the pale] who believes that all the people in the United Kingdom will be better off working together, and through the European Union.
    “In short, no matter how much I may like Jeremy I can see absolutely no reason to vote for Scottish Labour”. Thank you for telling us that no matter what polices Labour put forward, even if the vast majority of the Scottish electorate would benefit from those policies, you, Craig Murray are a Scottish Nationalist and could not support those policies, even if the majority of the Scottish electorate have to suffer for it.George Orwell had some unkind words on Nationalism here..http://orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat

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