British Labour’s sole electoral strategy in Scotland is to provide former British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) voters with an excuse to ‘come home’. In the election just past that excuse was Jeremy Corbyn. This was BLiS saying to their disaffected supporters, “Look! We’ve repainted your room the way you always liked it!”. That didn’t work. It failed to tempt back the voters BLiS lost to the SNP. A rethink was required.
The trouble with this is that BLiS isn’t really equipped for rethinking. or any kind of thinking. For the past decade or so they’ve got by on knee-jerk reactions powered by an intellect-crippling resentment of the SNP. That’s what drove them to collude with the Tories in Project Fear, as the anti-independence campaign in the 2014 referendum came to be called. In that campaign, it wasn’t so much their devotion to the British state’s structures of powers, privilege and patronage which drove BLiS as their mindless hatred of the party which, as they saw it, had deprived them of their rightful status. The hard-line Unionism was still there, of course. But, unlike the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS), this was overlayed with corrosive rancour towards the SNP.
Subsequently, BLiS reacted to the fact that the 2014 No vote didn’t cause the SNP to evaporate, not by developing a new electoral strategy of its own, but by trying to out-Brit the Tories. They watched as Ruth Davidson was crowned Queen of the BritNats and thought they might compete for that crown. So they engaged with BCUPS in a contest to see which could win the support – and votes – of the staunchest British Nationalists. And they lost again. !n the 2017 UK general election, the Ruth Davidson No Democracy Unless We Are Guaranteed To Win Party hoovered up all the rabid Unionist votes.
The point being that BLiS will jump on any bandwagon that looks like it might take them back to the good old days of uncomplicated two-party politics and BLiS hegemony in Scotland. And that is what they are doing now.
You can’t be a British politician in Scotland unless you have a turning circle no bigger than your shoe size. Look at how, in 2011 with the first SNP administration and the inevitability of a referendum, the British parties squatting in the Scottish Parliament went overnight from being fervently opposed to a constitutional referendum to the beneficent Brits whose natural inclination was to grant the lovely Scottish people their democratic wish. Look too at how some of those British politicians went into the 2016 EU referendum as avid Remainers only to emerge as the maddest of Mad Brexiteers.
So, it is no real surprise to find BLiS changing their tune on a new independence referendum. Yesterday’s divisive catastrophe for Scotland will, by week’s end, be an essential exercise in democracy that will heal wounds and bring the country together blah blah blah. BLiS has always been in favour of a new referendum just as Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
British Labour will betray Scotland. That simple statement has become one of the great truisms of Scottish politics. Like the BBC’s British Nationalist propaganda and John Curtice’s dandruff, British Labour’ duplicity is a fact of Scottish political life. If BLiS is jumping on the indyref2 bandwagon it is only to be in a better position to put a spoke in the wheels of Scotland’s independence campaign. We trust BLiS at our collective peril.
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